Anyway, I’m replicating the post below (almost in its entirety)…you’ll be pleased to know Nick’s baubles survived the time travel intact—just ask Anna, in Hard to Hold when it hits the e-shelves in April 2014, because she should know.
To Catch A Thief
Dev: “I’m not arming my footmen with pistols. Chances are they’d shoot me up the arse. It’s security I’m requesting, not a damned firing squad.”
Marshall: “So you don’t trust your own staff?”
Dev: “I don’t trust anyone.”
Marshall: “Wise, given your unfortunate experience, but…”
Dev: “No pistols! I can’t abide swooning females, and they’ll fall like swans shot at the sight of a weapon. It’s the godforsaken fashion.”
Marshall: “Then I’ll use my own men. They know how to be discreet. And whilst on the subject of discretion, kindly have the place aired before tonight. Opium’s not a scent to impress, not if the ladies are as delicate as you suggest. I had thought you’d forsaken that particular pleasure.”
Dev’s response, a half-muted muttering, is too filthy to share, but suffice to say Marshall, a champion of gutter language and anatomical description, barked a laugh of respect and admiration.)
Marshall: (sobering) “My men. My rules. They’ll be patrolling the grounds and the corridors. You stick with the brandy if you’ve a need for numbness, but I want you alert. And present. No disappearing with a lady (or two). Not tonight. In fact, I’ll be sealing all doors so the only caress you can expect is if our suspicions become aroused—then I’ll allow you a search of the culprit. Count your luck should the thieving bastard prove to be female.”
Dev: “I’d best order the fires to be kept well banked then. In my experience women recoil from cold hands as readily as pistols.”
Marshall (exasperated): “Stop focusing on the damned women.”
Dev: “I cannot. They’re the downfall of all good men, me included. Not that I’m complaining. It’s a hell of a way to stumble. Spent. Satiated. One’s skin still aflame with the remnant press of soft thighs and teasing tongue—”
Marshall (cocking a brow): "Damn, but with the pistol you’ve just thrown, you’ll have the ladies swooning on arrival. Now get a grip and concentrate. No women. Definitely no opium, and easy on the brandy tonight. I’m putting you on Lady Lazuli. Keep your wits about you with that one. Watch her like a hawk.”
Dev “I always do. But it’s her companions I’m worried about. What is it you call a gathering of cats? A scratch? No, I believe it’s a destruction of cats—how very apt.”
Marshall: “Leave Lady Lazuli’s friends to me. I’ve a reputation for herding cats.”
Dev: Trust me, pretty as they are, these are no ordinary women. Maybe we should fix the punch. To subdue, and dull the sharpness of their claws.”
Marshall: “Now where would be the fun in that. At night’s end I’ll likely fancy a bit of companionship, and whilst compliance is to be valued, like all trained hunters, I enjoy a good chase.”
Dev (raising his glass) “To the chase. To comeuppance.”
Marshall (mirroring Dev's gesture) “And to the victor the spoils.”
Dev "Just so long as it’s only the family jewels that get exercised tonight, rather than gems better dangled around a throat or from an ear.”
Typical. You can hold a man from drugs, stay a man from drink, but keep them from the warm embrace of a woman…not a chance. Dev and Marshall, different eras, but peas in a pod springs to mind, both men hard, bad, and pissed off...and in dire need of the love of a dangerous woman.
My thanks to Shehanne for allowing me to skulk. There’s no better temptation than watching men, however skilled in the physical arts, set themselves up for a fall.
Related articles introducing more of Loving Lady Lazuli (out 17th January)