Madeleine knew the nobleman would recognize her. They’d spent too much time together for him not to know her upon first sight. She groaned. Where Sir Ashby was, she was positive his friend, the brooding Lord Montayne, would soon appear. She did not care to see him face-to-face, especially since he had been so angry at her when they’d parted.
Moving stealthily, she hoped to avoid attention. Just as she thought she’d made her way unseen, she heard shouts headed her way.
“Stop, thief! Stop!”
A cutpurse ran by her swiftly, throwing a cursory glance over his shoulder. She despised people who preyed upon others and would see this shabby scoundrel caught. Madeleine stepped out, ready to give chase when something slammed into her, knocking her to the ground. She tried to draw a breath but the wind had been knocked from her.
Instinct caused her to roll into a ball, her arms wrapping around her in a protective cocoon. She had spent many a time lying on the floor after one of Henri’s swift punches to her belly and knew she must guard her ribs at all costs. Oh, God, it hurt so much when one broke. Please, not again. Not again.
A hand, firm but reassuring, touched her shoulder. A voice came through the fog rolling through her brain. It wasn’t Henri! She half-laughed, half-gasped, as she opened her limbs and came to lie on her back. She even reached into her pocket and stroked Henri-the-Pebble, validating that she was alive and unharmed.
Yet who had attacked her? She peered up into the blinding summer sun but could not see who stood above her. Then the shadow moved, covering her face from the harsh light.
“Why, if it isn’t Lady Montayne,” said the dreaded familiar voice. “Where the Hell is my favorite cloak?”
*Excerpt coming September 2020
*Excerpt coming October 2020