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Monday, July 28, 2014

NEW from @sabrina_york The Noble Passions series continues with Defiant

DEFIANT
by Sabrina York
Noble Passions, Book Five

When rakish Ned falls in with the wrong crowd, his brother decides to send him to the Continent for “seasoning”. For Sophia, this just won’t do. She’s loved Ned for ages—and also longed for adventure. She runs away from her boring suitors and disguises herself as a cabin boy on the Defiant, the ship sailing Ned to Italy.

Ned knows he’s not good enough for Sophia, but once they’re on the Defiant, he can’t stop himself from touching her, tasting her, loving her. Not when a wild tempest and a band of ruthless pirates threaten them. Not when every look from her gives him such pleasure. And certainly not when she comes, warm and wild and willing, to his bed.

If they survive their voyage, Sophia’s brother might kill him, but it will have been worth every moment and every hot, sweet kiss.

A Romantica® Regency historical erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

Get it now from: Ellora's Cave  or  Amazon

READ AN EXCERPT

Sophia stood on the bow of the boat in the dark as the wind and rain lashed her face. She loved it. Loved it. Not only was the storm elemental and fierce, it hid her tears.

Surely she hadn’t expected Ned to greet her with open arms. Not when she had barged in on his adventure as she had. But she certainly hadn’t expected him to be so horrid. His expression had devastated her.

Foolish girl, it said.

But then, her heart agreed.

She was foolish.

Foolish to ever think that he—

“You’re soaked.”

She whirled around, though she knew what she’d see. More glowering.

She was right.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m reveling.” She thrust out her chin, in case he didn’t believe her.

He gaped at her. “Reveling?”

“Yes.” She didn’t mean to shout, but his wintry demeanor annoyed her tremendously. She threw out her arms. “Look at this!”

“It’s a storm.”

“It’s beautiful. The waves are wild, untamed—”

“You could be swept overboard.”

“The wind is howling and the rain is savage. It’s glorious.”

“It’s freezing. Come inside.”

“It’s not freezing. It’s summer.”

I’m cold.”

“Then you go inside.”

“Sophia Fiona—”

“Don’t call me that.”

“It’s your name.”

“You sound like Ewan.”

“I’m starting to think Ewan is a saint.”

She glared at him. “What a beastly thing to say.” She hated that her chin wobbled a little. Hated that he winced.

“I’m sorry, Sophia. This has been trying for me.” He sluiced the water from his face. “Won’t you please come inside?”

“All right. Fine.”

“You will?”

“You did say please.”

He blew out a breath and offered her his arm. She frowned at it. “I’m a cabin boy, remember? You don’t offer a cabin boy your arm.” When he didn’t lower it, she smacked it. “Someone will see.”

That caught his attention and he slowly lowered his arm. “Right then. Come inside.” He followed her back to the cabin, his stride decidedly unsteady. If anyone was tipping overboard, it was most likely him.

When she once again stood in his chambers, she realized the folly of her actions. She hadn’t brought a change of clothes and she was drenched. So was he. Without a word, he relit the lamp and then opened his trunk and pulled out several shirts, two of which he tossed to her. “Change.”

That was it. One word. Just “change” and then he presented her with his back. She huffed a breath, but did as he asked because she was really rather cold. The feel of the cloth falling over her chilled flesh warmed her. Because it was his shirt. It had touched his skin. She wasn’t sure why the thought sent heat scudding through her belly.

“Use the other shirt to dry your hair,” he suggested, as he began toweling off as well.

She huffed a laugh. “All of your clothes will be wet.”

“They’ll dry. Are you clothed?”

“Yes.”

He turned. And froze. His gaze locked onto her bare legs. “I-I thought you said you were clothed.” A squawk.

“I am.” But the intensity of his stare made her self-conscious, so she slipped into the bed.

“Close your eyes,” he said as he unbuttoned the damp linen clinging to his chest.

“Why?”

“I need to change as well. I’m f-freezing.”

“Okay.” She did. But she peeked.

He ripped off his wet shirt and her breath caught at the sight of his broad back. Muscles rippled as he moved and she swallowed. He was beautiful. He tugged the fresh shirt over his head and she nearly whimpered as that magnificent vision disappeared. But then, he unfastened his trousers.

All pretense of not peeking evaporated.

He sat and took a moment to work off his boots. And then he stood. His trousers were tight, as was the fashion, and he had to peel them off. As he bent, she caught a flash of his bare behind.

She must have made a noise because he whirled around. His cheek bunched when he saw her watching. “You’re supposed to have your eyes closed.”

She hunkered in the covers, as though that would disguise the fact that her eyes were open wide.

“Sophia…”

It was probably wrong to grin at him, but she couldn’t help it.

“Sophia Fiona!”

“Stop calling me that. It always makes me think I’m in trouble.”

“You are in trouble. You have no idea how much trouble you’re in.”

She tipped her head to the side. “We both know Ewan will be so relieved to see me, he’ll forget how angry he is—”

Ned stilled and fixed her with a dark glare. “What makes you think I’m talking about Ewan?”

“I… ah…”

“I’ve a mind to bend you over my knee.”

Why a shiver rippled through her, she had no idea. She’d been spanked once or twice as a child and she hadn’t cared for it in the slightest. But something dark and domineering in Ned’s tone made her womb warm.

“You-you wouldn’t.”

“Wouldn’t I? Now, look away. Your brother would skewer me if I gave you the education you’re about to have.”

She attempted not to snort. Ned—and everyone—thought her a prim and innocent miss on account of the polish she’d acquired at Lady Satterlee’s. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a child, before Ewan had made his fortune, they’d lived a hand-to-mouth existence in the slums of Perth. She’d seen more than one couple rutting against a wall in a dingy alleyway. And at one point, she and her brother had taken refuge in a bordello. She’d been only seven, but if she’d had an education, she got it there. She could probably teach Ned a few things.

Still, because he seemed to expect it, she squeezed her eyes tight and didn’t hardly peek at all as he finished changing. Besides which, the spot she was interested in was mostly shadows.

With a great huff, he threw himself back into the chair. “Now, go to sleep.”

“Don’t you want me to put out the light?”

“No. I want to be able to see where you are.”

“I’m not leaving again tonight.” Probably. Unless her despair overcame her once more.

“Leave it on.” A grunt, and not a very nice one at that. Why he had call to be annoyed, she couldn’t fathom.

Blast and damn, he was an annoying man. Sophia grunted as well and rolled over, facing the wall of the cabin. She studied the patterns the swinging lamp made for a long while, listening as he shifted one way and then the other.
It was really unfair for him to have to sleep in the chair. This was his room. But he would never share her bed. She grimaced at the way the words came out, but it was true. He wouldn’t. Unless…

She rolled over again and watched him twist in the chair. He caught her eye and frowned.

“Ned?”

An impatient groan. “Yes, Sophia?”

“Ned, I’m cold.”

He stilled. Then barked, “Put on another blanket.”

“There aren’t any more.” She faked a shiver. She wasn’t cold in the slightest. She never was. Ewan said she ran hot. “Brr. My teeth are chattering.”

His glower became a frown.

“I hope I don’t get ill.”

He paled. “You shouldn’t have gone out in the rain. Why did you go out in the rain?”

She sneezed. Or something like it. “I don’t know.”

“Sophia?”

“Am I running a fever?” She put her palm to her forehead. “I think I’m running a fever.”

His brow wrinkled. He stood and made his way across the tiny chamber as though on his death march. He set the backs of his fingers to her cheeks. His frown darkened. “You are warm.”

“No. I’m cold.” She shivered and peered up at him, her eyes as wide as she could make them. “Won’t you warm me?”

He wrenched his hand away as though she’d burned him. “What?”

“Lie here beside me and warm me up?”

“There’s not enough room for both of us.”

“I’m small.”

“Sophia.” She’d never heard her name in such a strangled voice, not even when Ewan was at his wit’s end.

“Just for a bit? You can be on top of the covers. Surely that is decent.”

The muscle in his cheek bunched again, as though he were grinding his teeth.

“Please?”

He gusted a sigh. “All right, Sophia. Scoot over and make room.”

She did. With alacrity.

“And roll over, facing the wall.”

She frowned at him “Why?”

“Just do it. Please.”

“Oh, all right.” But only because he said please. And because, when she was facing the other way, he couldn’t see her grin.

He settled in behind her and a shiver rocked her. He was warm. And he smelled delicious. Not fishy in the slightest. It was delightful, lying here with him. She closed her eyes and imagined he wanted this as much as she.

If only. If only.

Check out the other books in the Noble Passions Series from Sabrina York

Follow the decadent exploits of friends and enemies as they find love and passion in the glittering world of the Regency—and its dark underbelly.

2014 EPIC eBook Award Finalist

2013 Passionate Plume Finalist

Widowed and threatened with penury by her heartless in-laws, Eleanor--Lady Ulster--hatches a plot to save herself. Determined to produce the Ulster "heir", she seduces a stranger at a tawdry masquerade. Little does she know, this magnificent masked lover is none other than her husband's greatest nemesis. And God knows Ulster had plenty.

Ethan Pennington is mortified to arrive at a house party and discover Lady Ulster in attendance. He has wanted her and hated wanting her--his enemy's bride--for years. When he overhears Eleanor's predicament and her plans to place a cuckoo in the Ulster nest, he is more than willing to oblige. The opportunity to finally claim her--while taking the revenge he craves--is more than he can resist. Ethan strikes a bargain with Eleanor, promising to provide her with the heir she so desperately needs...if she will meet his needs in return. Every decadent one of them.


The sizzling prequel to Folly
2014 Winner of the Carolyn Readers’ Choice Award

When Lady Helena Simpson flees an unwanted marriage to a revolting lord, she finds refuge with James, a charming, handsome man unlike any she’s ever known. Helena concocts the perfect solution to her problem. She asks—begs—James to ruin her. Surely her betrothed will repudiate her if she is no longer pure. And if all her efforts fail and she still ends up married to a horrid man until the end of her days, she will at least once have known true passion.

But James is not all he seems. He is, in fact, a wicked lord with a dark fancy. When Helena awakens his desire, he becomes determined to take everything she has to offer and more. No matter the cost.

Edward Wyeth, the Dark Duke of Moncrieff’s life has been turned on its end. His well-ordered home has been invaded. By destitute relatives. From Scotland. How on earth can he write Lord Hedon’s salacious novels with hellions battling in the garden and starting fires in the library? But with the onslaught has come a delicious diversion. His cousin’s companion, the surprisingly intriguing Kaitlin MacAllister. He is determined to seduce her. Using her desperate need for funds and her talents as an artist, he convinces her to draw naughty pictures for his naughtier books…and he draws her into his decadent web.

But Kaitlin has a secret. She’s fled Scotland—and a very determined betrothed. When Edward’s cousin is kidnapped and held in her stead, Kaitlin is honor-bound to return to her homeland and rescue her—much to Edward’s chagrin.



Because suddenly he can’t bear the thought of Kaitlin marrying another man. He can’t bear the thought of losing her at all. 

Kidnapped and held prisoner by menacing Scottish brigand, the notorious McCloud, Violet Wyeth does her best to persevere…and resist his rakish charms. But when she realizes The McCloud is really Ewan St. Andrews, the boy who once saved her life, the boy who once kissed her and made her heart flutter, she is lost.

Ewan has every intention of marrying Lady Kaitlin MacAllister. He desperately needs the entrée into the ton this bride can provide. But when his bride is delivered—bound and gagged—it’s not Kaitlin. It’s Violet Wyeth—the girl who betrayed him and ruined his life when he was a boy. He keeps her, determined to punish her for her sins. But when he discovers the truth about what really happened so long ago, and seething passion rises between them, he can no longer hold on to his rusty grudge. By the time he realizes how much he loves Violet—that he always has—he’s lost her.

All he can do is follow her. Follow her into the bowels of hell—and partake in the torment of the glittering London Season, where the harpies are far more dangerous than a Scottish brigand.

About Sabrina York


Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York is the award winning author of over 20 hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. Her titles range from sweet & sexy erotic romance to scorching BDSM. Connect with her on twitter @sabrina_york, on Facebook or on Pintrest. Check out Sabrina’s books and read an excerpt on Amazon or wherever e-books are sold. Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Free Teaser Book: http://sabrinayork.com/home-2/sabrina-yorks-teaser-book/ And don’t forget to enter to win the royal tiara!


Friday, July 25, 2014

*CONTEST ALERT* @SensuousPromos Presents - Book Tour for Darkest Magic @Eva_Lefoy


Welcome to Sensuous Promo’s Darkest Magic Tour

Even a wolf can be weakened by loss of love

Loss of love is a common theme in romance, and it shows up in my stories from time to time. In The Trouble With Memories, Lucy is mourning the fact Cal no longer remembers her. He lost his memory as a result of the Mars Mission and though she wants to pick up where they left off, she can’t. But the loss didn’t only affect Lucy. Later in the story, Cal discusses why he was so susceptible to the Martian’s mind games. He says, “I didn’t have Lucy. Without her, I’m weak.” With a broken heart, any of us can become vulnerable, even an alpha wolf.

In Darkest Magic, the alpha wolf, Eli, loses his mate. He’s taken a new mate, Petrina, not realizing she’s really an evil witch. In his weakened state of heartache, he invites evil into the pack and falls under its spell. Luckily for Eli, he has a very loyal beta wolf named Nik who will do everything he can to rid the pack of the evil magic while holding it together with his bare paws, if need be. The only thing Nik won’t stand for is Eli threatening his daughter, Caroline. There, Nik must draw the line. He loves her, and though they are not yet mated – for some unknown reason – he will fight to save her from the evil magic.

During the final battle, Caroline herself falls prey to Petrina’s spells. She thinks she sees Nik being killed by her father and rushes to help, only to put herself into the greatest danger. For Nik, Caroline is weak, just like Cal was weak without Lucy.

Sometimes it truly takes two to make the good magic work!

For more on Darkest Magic, see below.

Thanks for reading!
Eva

EXCERPT: Caroline is momentarily weakened by her love for Nik

Hideous cries came from the woods. Was it Petrina howling in pain or the other witch? Unable to tell, she opened the door about an inch. Nik wouldn’t mind if she just peeked a little, would he?

Outside, the world had gone topsy-turvy. Patterns of spells and energy swirled over a thin, nearly-invisible barrier in the middle of the woods. The shield separated the two warring factions. On one side Petrina, Eli, and several of his soldiers. Otis, Estrella, and Nik on the other. Caroline cracked the door a little farther to get a better view. Her gaze locked with Petrina’s glowing green eyes. For several seconds, she could not look away. She went dizzy and clutched the wall to keep from falling down. When at last she blinked, everything had changed for the worse.

Her father had Nik trapped against the barrier, his fierce, long claws raking over his body, ripping him apart, shredding the flesh from his bones. Blood pooled at Nik’s feet, and his eyes rolled back in his head. He screamed her name before falling to the ground in a lifeless lump.

An echoing screech burned through her lungs as she raced toward him. Before she reached his side, Otis was there, pulling at her, not letting her get closer. He possessed a surprising amount of strength for such a little man. Though she kicked and hit him, she was unable to break free of his grasp. Sorrow pierced her heart. She needed to get to Nik. Why were people always keeping them apart? Desperate, she cried his name over and over, but he did not move. Nik was dead. Her one true mate gone forever. Tears flooded her vision as her heart crumpled. Even though they’d only spoken words of mating to each other and not physically joined, her soul prepared to die of sorrow.

The next instant, Estrella shrieked and flew above her and Otis. With her hair flying around her and magic zapping from her fingertips like liquid lightning, she made a fearsome sight. She crossed right through a bright, swirling, magical barrier and collided headlong with Petrina. The two witches screeched as they fought, their limbs tangling around each other in a whirl of motion so fiercely bright it hurt her extra keen eyes to watch. Neither witch drew blood, but their use of magic shook the shield, the trees, and the forest floor as though they would tear the entire world apart. A thunderous roar split the air and the partition shattered, exploding in a flash of white light. When the forest returned to normal, things appeared very different. 

Purchase links:


Author Bio and Contact:

Eva Lefoy writes and reads all kinds of romance, and is a certified Trekkie. She’s also terribly addicted to chocolate, tea, and hiking. One of these days, she’ll figure out the meaning of life, quit her job, and go travel the galaxy. Until then, she’s writing down all her dirty thoughts for the sake of future explorers.

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** CONTEST ALERT **

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Heart of Stone: A Mercenary's Romance #RomFantasy

5.0 out of 5 stars No Emotion Left Untouched!

This review is from: Heart of Stone (Kindle Edition)

I've been a huge fan of Denyse Bridger's work for years now. This is one author who knows how to touch upon every human emotion and bring them to the forefront of your own mind and soul. Heart of Stone will make you feel as if you're center-stage with the characters Denyse has created. Better yet, you BECOME the characters. She weaves worlds with such rich detail and characterization you can't help but enjoy her books. Be prepared to laugh, cry, sigh, and swoon as you read this sexy tale.



Randall Stone is the stuff of heroes, a mercenary given a discharge from the army he has served with his life. But the government is still interested in using the skills they've taught Major Rand Stone, and he continues to work with his hand-picked team. Into his shadowy world a light has come, and in her love, Stone discovers unhoped for joy, and, perhaps, unbearable sorrow?

Excerpt:

“How many messages do you think he’s got waiting for him?” Blake asked as they trailed after Stone.

Rand heard Jennifer’s laughter, and suppressed a smile at his team’s banter.

“Well, we’ve been gone three weeks, and he said to call in three days. By now she might not even be talking to him.”

“That don’t look promising,” Nick Holloway, a temporary team member selected for this particular mission, noted when they entered the military hangar and spotted Brookman waiting for them. On loan from the CIA, Nick had been an unofficial presence on many missions organized by Donald Brookman over the years. He’d worked with Stone’s team several times before, and was giving serious thought to making the move permanent.

“Listen, Brookman,” Rand began when they reached the International Security Director, who was their unofficial boss. “We’re tired, and I am not going anywhere for at least a couple of days.”

The rest of the team had stopped at his back, and his assertion was echoed by muttered affirmatives. When Donald said nothing, the silence settled, a strained, tension-laden quiet that was both ominous and unnerving.

“Brookman?”

Donald ran a hand over his silvery hair and looked Rand directly in the eyes.

“She’s dead, Rand,” he said with no preamble or cushioning words.

“Who’s dead?” Rand responded automatically, his weary brain sluggish. But his body grew taut with contained panic. He knew already. He really didn’t want to know at all.

“Robin Bourne died three days ago,” Donald stated softly. “Her car went off the road. She was killed in the explosion.”

The silence held for several seconds.

“What?” It was an expulsion of air, disbelief the only emotion present in the whispered word. Rand’s smile faltered. His gut told him it was true, but his head wasn’t ready to accept it.

Behind him, he felt shock radiate from the other members of the elite mercenary team. Jennifer touched his shoulder, but he shrugged her off, not willing to accept the comfort she was clearly trying to offer him.

“What the hell are you telling me, Brookman?” Fury rose like a tide, blotting out the pain he wasn’t ready to face. “She was on her way to New York for that bastard Ethridge when I left. Is that where this happened?”

“She went directly from New York to Butte, stayed with Lucky for nearly a week then came home. She was back five days before her death,” Brookman said.

“No!” Rand closed his eyes and rubbed them as his thoughts raced at warp speed. “There’s been a mistake—”

“Forensics gave them positive identification from dental records,” Brookman told him, visibly reluctant to impart the details. “When they couldn’t reach you, they contacted Lucky. He called me.” He reached into his jacket pocket and held out his hand.

Rand lifted the charred necklace from Donald’s palm. The silver dog tags with Rand’s name engraved into them; Jennifer had given them to Robin as a birthday gift, and she’d worn them from that night on, telling him that they made her feel just a little bit more his. That lack of feminist in her was one more complementary trait to Rand’s chauvinistic nature. She was happy to belong with him and to him.

Rand’s fingers closed over the tags, and he walked a few paces away from the group, pulling himself under control as he accepted his friend’s news. He turned to stare at them, dazed.

“Lucky and D.J. arrived this morning,” Brookman told them. “They’re at the club.”

Jennifer went to Rand’s side. “I’m so sorry, Rand.”

He nodded. He had no words.

“My car’s waiting,” Brookman interjected in a quiet voice.

“Who’s in charge of the investigation?”

“Detective Eric Karmac.”

“He’s our first stop,” Stone said, mentally distancing himself from the grief he knew he’d be living with for a long time. He’d grieve later, when he could tell himself he’d done something about her death. About the death of the first woman in much too long that he’d allowed himself to love and need.

Brookman gazed at the others, worry and uneasiness evident in his wary expression.

“We’ll go back to the club,” Jennifer assured him. Nick nodded his silent agreement.

“We’re here for you, Major,” Eddie said.

“Yeah.” Rand smiled a little. “Thanks.”

* * *

“Robin’s mother, Clara Shelton, is waiting for access to Robin’s house,” Donald said, once Rand had changed into civilian clothes and they were on their way to LAPD headquarters.

“Who the hell—” He shook his head. “Never mind. Where’s she staying?”

“Nowhere, yet,” Brookman replied. “She flew in a couple of hours after Lucky and D.J. arrived. Lucky wouldn’t grant her admittance to the house until you got back.”

Rand managed a small laugh.

“I gather Robin and her mother weren’t close?” Donald noted dryly.

“You could say that,” Rand responded with a hint of bitterness. “She hasn’t seen Robin since just after her father’s death. That was back in ’92.”

Brookman’s eyebrows rose, but he didn’t comment.

“And there’s been no contact since then? Is there any other family?”

Rand swallowed the threat of real tears as he fought to contain the raging emotions that battered his heart.

“A sister,” he answered after a few moments thought. “Aureena.”

“Should I find her?”

“From what Robin said, if Clara is here, Aureena won’t be far behind her.”

When Brookman would have asked more questions, Rand turned away and stared out the window.

“Later, Donald,” he whispered, his voice thick with too much pain.

The light squeeze of Donald’s hand on his shoulder was almost his undoing, and he closed his eyes for a moment as he forcibly put the grief aside to think about what he was going to do.

* * *

Brookman wasn’t convinced taking Rand into the morgue was a course of action that would do anything but cause more pain to the younger man. But Rand wouldn’t be dissuaded from seeing what little remained of Robin’s body. Maybe it was the only thing that would make it real for him, Donald decided, and followed him into the cold, antiseptic room.

“This isn’t necessary, Rand,” Donald ventured for what he knew would be the final time.

“Have your people done the follow-up?”

Brookman shook his head. “Is it really necessary?”

Stone smiled, an expression that was a world away from the casual devilment the shift in features usually conveyed. There was nothing, only the cold mask Donald knew hid the more lethal aspects of Rand’s personality. “…He’s a stranger in so many ways. Like there are two different people living in the same body, and I only know one face in many…” Robin’s voice whispered the words in his memory, and he began to understand the statement with new clarity as Rand stared at the blackened remnants of the woman he had loved much more than he’d had time to realize.

“I want everything double-checked,” Rand said softly. “Triple-checked, if necessary. I don’t want any doubt, Donald,” he finished as he turned to leave.

“Why—”

“Because I have to know!” he snarled before Brookman could finish the query.

At the police station Rand was given the reports to read, and he questioned Eric Karmac thoroughly on each piece of evidence the police had collected.

An hour later, they were headed for the Western Star Health Club. The health club had been established a couple of years earlier as a convenient cover operation for the government affiliated mercenary team. Rand had an apartment above the club, and his fortress-like command center was below ground. He conducted most of his life from the confines of the club, when he wasn’t trotting all over the world for Brookman.

“What are you going to do about her mother?” Brookman asked.

Rand’s eyebrow rose. “Why?”

Donald decided to wait for a few minutes, until they were inside the club and he knew if he’d have to make an announcement in front of Robin’s family.

As (bad) luck would have it, both mother and sister were present, sitting well apart from the members of Randall’s mercenary team. Clara’s hostility seemed to be directed at Lucky.

“You must be Randall Stone,” she said, rising from her seat the instant Rand came through the door.

“Yes, ma’am, I am,” he replied, shaking her hand.

“I want to see my daughter’s home, and I’ve been told that will be impossible without your consent.”

Rand glanced at Lucky and resisted a smile when the other man merely shrugged.

“There may be a slight problem there,” Donald interjected.

Clara’s icy gaze moved. There was little resemblance between Robin and her mother, and the lack of warmth that emanated from the well-groomed, chic woman who glared at him was as striking as Robin’s earthy, easy-going manner.

Aureena Shelton was a mirror image of her mother—tall, slender, fair. “What type of problem?” she asked, her annoyance clear to everyone.

“Robin’s left very specific instructions on how things are to be handled, and who is to handle them,” Donald told them, feeling the various levels of surprise his words evoked. “All decisions are to be made by the person she’s left in control of her estate.”

“And that would be?” Rand prompted.

“That would be you, Rand” Brookman said. “The will is straightforward, and the executor assigned.”

“Are you telling us that Robin has cut us out entirely?” Aureena snapped.

“Of course she hasn’t.” Clara’s voice rang with impatience. “We’re her family. All the family she had.”

“Wrong again,” Lucky spoke into the lull, his smooth voice unexpectedly chilly. “We’re Robin’s family. Look around you, Mrs. Shelton. The people your daughter cherished most are right in front of you.”

Clara’s stare moved from face to face, seeing strangers who grieved more visibly than she ever would. Her gaze stopped on Lucky, and would have unnerved a lesser man. When Lucky simply stared back, she was forced to look away.

“I want to see the paperwork,” she said.

“It’s all here,” Brookman assured her.

Rand left them to fight it out. He was tired, and there were too many things he needed to look into. When he closed his office door, he looked around, feeling Robin’s presence in the room with him. His gaze went to the photograph on his desk, and he had to close his eyes to clear them of sudden haze. Eddie had taken the picture here in the office. Robin was seated between his legs, surrounded by the remnants of her birthday party.

Rand crossed the room and lifted the receiver off the phone.

A half hour later, the door to his office burst inward, and Clara Shelton stormed in.

“I want to see my daughter’s house,” she informed him, anger blazing from her entire manner.

“I can arrange that,” he said. Having just spent twenty minutes on the phone, gratefully accepting the comfort of his grandmother’s warmth, he could more readily appreciate Robin’s rancor toward her own remaining parent. Some of that hostility dimmed a second later when Clara picked up the photograph he’d been looking at minutes earlier.

“She loved you,” Clara murmured after a lengthy hesitation. She sounded surprised.

Rand nodded. “She’s… She was an amazing woman.”

Clara’s momentary softening vanished. Harsh laughter sprang from her as she placed the picture back on his desk.

“Robin’s capacity for indifference was her most amazing quality, Mr. Stone.”

“You didn’t know her very well, did you?”

“Quite the opposite.” She smiled bitterly. “I knew her too well. She was her father’s child from the day she was born, and, like Edmund, she cared for no one’s needs but her own.”

Rand shook his head. “I’m not going to discuss this with you, Mrs. Shelton.” He rose. “I’ll have one of my people take you to the house.”

“That won’t be necessary. Just give me a key.”

Rand smiled. “I’m afraid it’s not that simple, ma’am. The house has a security system. Without one of my team, you won’t be able to walk in.”

“What on earth did a man like you see in her?” Clara murmured, after a thorough and insinuating appraisal of Rand.

“Everything you didn’t, apparently,” Rand commented dryly. He didn’t give her time for further conversation. He returned to the main area of the club, Robin’s mother only a few steps behind him. “Jennifer, would you take Mrs. Shelton to the house and stay with her?”

“It’s Clara,” Robin’s mother said.

Rand ignored her.