Holy hell in high heels!
That was my first impression of Silas MacCreedy’s sister Brigit when she appeared in all her aggravated splendor in HUNTER OF SHADOWS to chide him for not sticking to their plan to reclaim their family’s status. She was gorgeous, brash, spoiled, manipulative, and I was looking forward to hating her . . . until I got a glimpse of something that surprised me. Love. Deep and unconditional. And with came strength and a fierce protectiveness for someone other than herself. Hidden behind a mask of self-indulgence, that loyalty would demand sacrifice and unexpected bravery in the worst possible situations, making her into a heroine worth rooting for. And just the unsettling Force of Nature Giles St. Clair needs to shake him from his own determined path. Sparks begin to fly in this peek at BETRAYED BY SHADOWS:
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The big house was quiet, steeped in shadows. Brigit rolled over and tried to sink back into slumber, but she couldn’t shut her mind down. Agitation prowled like a thief bent on stealing her sense of security, making her once again that preteen girl clutching her best friend as death screams echoed below. She could hear them still in the silence of the old house. Her father. Her mother. Then nothing, which had been worse.
Because of Tina Babineau, the child her mother had been forced to bear to link two great families. The child they’d hidden rather than surrender her to the father’s brutal clan. The child who’d been raised in safety and security because of the horrendous sacrifice Brigit’s parents had made; the child who’d gotten to live a normal, happy life while Brigit’s own was a minefield of treachery, danger, and despair.
And now they were under the same roof. Like sisters.
Needing to rinse the taste of that from her mouth, Brigit slipped out from beneath the silky sheets and padded to the bathroom for a glass of water. In the mirror, her face swam like a ghost’s, features pale, eyes swollen with a grief too terrible to be expunged by the passing of years. She missed them still, their loss a huge, aching malignancy that continued to spread without ease now that she was alone and uncertain. But safe. For the moment, she was safe.
She was surprised to see that the clothes she’d left soaking in the sink were clean and pressed on a hanger. Now someone other than her burly driver knew she’d been tangled up in violence prior to her arrival. Her stomach clenched against the surge of remembered terror, suddenly so close, so vivid, she could almost smell the pungent stink of cigarette and fear. That was over. She’d survived it, escaped it, and could put it behind her.
Too keyed up to remain in her room, Brigit wrapped herself in the plush robe hanging on the door and wandered down the wide, curving staircase. To enjoy the illusion of freedom, she stepped out through the front door to inhale the cool if heavy night air. And the scent of cigarette hanging on it.
Her pulse lunged like a startled deer as she spun, eyes wide, body tensing into fight-or-flight mode.
It wasn’t the dead come to claim her. It was only Giles St. Clair sitting on an old-fashioned glider, rocking slowly while having an evening smoke.
“Evening, Miz MacCreedy.” His voice was a low, soothing rumble. “Catch up on your sleep, did you?”
Fright changing into fierce defensiveness, she clipped out “Yes, thank you.”
She made an expansive gesture. “Where would I go, Mr. St. Clair? I believe we’re in the middle of nowhere I want to be.” When he made no reply, she sighed. “I thought the night air might help me think through some things.”
The cigarette glowed bright and hot. “Anything I can help you with?”
“I can’t imagine how, but thank you for asking.”
“Your brother asked me to look out for you. Just letting you know so you wouldn’t think I had designs of my own.”
He had her complete attention. “Silas asked you to spy on me?”
“Not in so many words.”
“In what words, exactly?” she demanded. How dare Silas treat her like a wayward child who needed supervision! Turning her over to this—this stranger, this human! When the human in question remained silent, she growled in aggravation. “I don’t need someone looking out for me, so I’d appreciate you keeping your distance.”
“That’s what I told him.”
Her eyes narrowed into slits. She could see him lounging on the wooden swing, wearing the suit coat over an open-collared white shirt, though well-worn jeans and tennis shoes had replaced their dresser counterparts. He was a good-looking man in a ruggedly conservative way that usually didn’t appeal to her. She liked pretty men with pretty manners.
There was nothing the least bit pretty about Giles St. Clair. His hair was a close-cut basic brown with a touch of rather sexy silvering at the temples that made it hard to judge his age. Mid- to late thirties was her guess. His obvious time spent outdoors had left creases at the corners of his eyes that deepened attractively with his frequent smile. His big frame was as relaxed as his tone.
He appeared a gentle giant, with those calm blue-gray eyes and easy movements, but she wasn’t fooled by that impression.
“Don’t think for a minute that you can tell me what to do or that I’ll listen to anything you have to say.”
A slow smile. “I didn’t think that even for a second.”
That made her pause. “So what does he expect you to do?”
“Help you if you need it and get in the way of you doing anything foolish. Otherwise, I’ll be keeping that distance.”
“You do know that you’re just a puny human and I can tear through you like a slice of prime rib.”
His teeth flashed white. “I’ve always considered myself more of a slow-cooked, chuck-roast kind of fellow. Meaty, a bit of gristle, but tender if basted properly. And I think I could take you. I know a thing or two about your kind. You can growl, scratch, and bite, but for the most part, you can’t change into anything more dangerous than the average female.”
“You would wrestle me to the ground, Mr. St. Clair?”
“Only if I had to. And I’d try not to enjoy it.”
Why had she ever thought her thuggish jailer pleasant and vaguely amusing?
“I’ll do my best not to provoke any physical contact.”
She could feel the hair bristling on the back of her neck and wished just once she could transform to scare the ever-loving smugness out of him.
But he was right. She couldn’t go through him. So that left around him or over him.
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You got to compare my first romance cover with that of BETRAYED BY SHADOWS in Thursday’s post. Tomorrow I’ll be talking about those pictures that sell your ninety thousand words.