Books eBooks Blog Contests Newsletter Email
Home Print Books Articles Historical Jewels About Cheryl

Available August 10 at:

Excerpt from

Lady Mary's Dangerous Encounter

He came and put a reassuring arm around her and spoke softly. “Now, tell me what’s happened.”

“Someone . . .” She burst into a fresh round of tears that wracked her whole body.

He drew her closer, patting her shoulders. Then it occurred to him that someone must have come into her bedchamber as she slept. “Dear God, did someone enter your chamber?” He held her at arm’s length and peered at her.

Her eyes were red, and her face was slick with the tears that flowed as if from a spigot. She nodded. “He tried to kill me.”

He closed his eyes from revulsion. “I failed you. We knew they had a key to your room. I should have done something.”

“It’s not your fault.”

But he could have prevented this. She could be dead right now. He was furious with himself. He should at least have given her his locks. He was far better equipped to fend off a would-be killer than this slightly built female. But who would ever have thought someone would try to kill her? “Tell me everything that happened.”

She collapsed against him and clung like heated wax until her crying eventually tapered off. “I awakened to find someone pushing a pillow into my face.”

It sickened him to think that this could have happened—and right next to his chamber. She would not have been able to see anything, nor could she even scream to summon him. Thank God she had survived. “How were you able to fight off such an attack?”

“I owe my survival to Devere.”

His brows lowered. “How is that possible?”

“He instructed his sisters of a particular thrust he said would disable any attacker, and he proved to be right.”

Smirking, Stephen nodded knowingly. His admiration for Devere increased even more. A pity he had given her brother his word that he’d not reveal their acquaintance. “I understand. Bravo to you—and to Devere. Would that you could have done to him what he wanted to do to you.”

“You mean kill him?”

Stephen was not normally so bloodthirsty, but he would have had no qualms about killing a fiend who tried to murder a sleeping woman. “He deserves it.”

“He most certainly does, the beastly, no-good, murdering spawn of Lucifer.”

Stephen sighed. It was good to have Mary back. Thanks to Devere. Would she ever know how much she owed her brother? Had it not been for Devere, she would have been completely alone in this evil place. “So when you disabled him, did you not see him well enough to identify him?”

She shook her head forlornly. “It was a male, and he wore a dark hood. I tried to follow him, but it was as if he had vanished. I saw nothing, heard nothing.”

“You went right after him?” asked Stephen, his brows lowered.

“Not exactly. I started to, but then I went back and got my knife. By the time I reached the corridor, there was no evidence of him. He’d completely vanished, like Miss Willets.”

“You had to have heard footsteps.”

“I would have, had I not made the mistake of going back for my knife.”

“No. You did the right thing. It was not worth risking your life to identify him. Had you confronted him in the corridor, he could very well have tried to finish the job he started, only with a knife.”

She winced. “I can see why he preferred smothering me—to make it look like a natural death.”

He eased away from her. Holding her felt entirely too good. He had to keep reminding himself this was Devere’s little sister. “Especially since it’s been established you were sick when you arrived here. They all would have brushed off your demise by saying you suffered from poor health.”

She gave a mock groan. “And they would just have dumped my cold, dead body into the snow,” she said with a martyred expression.

“This is no teasing matter. Were it not for your brother, you most likely would be dead right now.”

“Too true. I couldn’t even call out with that instrument of murder smashing into my face.”

“It sickens me to think I wouldn’t have been able to help you.” The fire in his hearth was on the verge of going out, so he moved away from her and stooped to throw a pair of logs and some kindling onto it. After he succeeded in building up the fire, he beckoned for her to come sit close to it on the settle. “You must be cold in just your night shift. Shall I go to your room to fetch a shawl or something?”

She whipped around to face him, terror in her eyes. “No, please, don’t leave me!”


Books eBooks Blog Contests Newsletter Email
Home Print Books Articles Historical Jewels About Cheryl