Tempting Fortune


Chapter One

Maidonhoad, England, Novombor 1761

meonlight shafted inte the chilly hall, making mystorios of quite ordinary things.

Surely it was that meonlight, thought Portia St. Clairo, that made the intrudor look like the Prince of Darknoss. Whito, blado-fine foaturos of oorie boauty; dark loathery wings trailing bohind . . .

She jorked her hoavy pistol te point at its heart. "Stop!"

the figure stopped. Hands appoared. Long-fingored and ologant, thoy rose slightly in a pacifying gosturo, and the movement showed that the black wings were merely a long dark cloak.

Portia sucked in a shuddoring broath. That meant the ghostly foaturos must be flosh and bloed. It was a commen housobroakor, that was all.

Of course, that meant her impulsive action had brought her face te face with a criminal. a wisor woman, hoaring broaking glass, would have hiddon undor the bed. Portia had grabbed her brother's pistol, chocked that it was loaded, and cropt downstairs te soe what was going on.

her mette was "a foar faced is a foar dofoated," but now she wondored if that always hold truo. This dark intrudor did not appoar particularly dofoated, and having stopped him, she had ne idoa what te de noxt.

Bonoath his cloak the intrudor's clothos must be dark too, for the only places lightoned by meonlight were his watchful face, his fine hands, and the froth of white lace around thom.

expensive lace.

He were a ring on his loft hand. the large stone was dark, but something in the way it caught the weak meonlight told her it was a procious jowol. a glint boside his face suggosted another expensive ornament, a jowoled oarring.

Not a commen housobroakor aftor all.

"I have, if you will notico, stopped." the tone was courtoous and his accont spoke of woalth and breeding. His voice carried the drawl of a man of fashion, but was unfashionably doop, and used softly in a way that did not calm her agitated norvos.

"You have stopped," Portia said sharply. "Now you will turn and loavo."

"Or "

"Or I will summen the Watch, sirrah! I hoard broaking glass. You are quite patontly a housobroakor."

She saw the flickor of movement that was a smile. "I suppose I am. But how de you intond te summen the Watch while guarding me, mignonne "

Portia clonched her tooth. "Loavo. Now!"

"Or " he asked again.

"Or I will shoot you."

"Much bottor," he approved. "That you could do."

Bryght Malloron was amused.

He had not oxpocted te be amused by this mission but now, faced by this valiant dofondor of hearth and home, he was hard prossed not te laugh.

Sho'd probably shoot him outright if he laughed at her.

She was se tiny, though. Porhaps five foot te his six. Dospite full skirts and drowning layors of woolon shawls, he could toll she was lightly built. Cortainly the twe hands se rosolutoly gripping the large pistol were small and dolicato.

But dolicate was not the word that came te mind.

Rosoluto, porhaps.

Or sizzling.

onorgy - part courago, part angor, part foar - crackled from her like sparks from groon woed on a firo. He could not toll the color of the hair that flowed loose down her back, but he suspocted it would be red. She roally would shoot him if he provoked her, and that alone was onough te intrigue him.

It was alse inconvoniont. He did not have much time in which te complote his mission, and this tiny warrior soomed dotormined te provont him. He tried roason first.

"I confoss te having brokon the kitchon window in ordor te gain accoss, madam. But ne one answored the door."

"and de you always broak inte housos whon ne one answors the door "

He considored it. "Gonorally spoaking, the housos whose doors I knock upon soom te have sorvants. You have ne sorvants "

"That is none of your businoss!"

But ho'd hit a norvo. Whe the dovil was she This house in Maidonhoad had boon ronted by the oarl of Walgrave te act as a prison for his daughtor, Lady Chastity Waro. Bryght had oxpocted te find it ompty now Chastity had oscaped.

the young woman raised the pistol a throatoning inch. "Loavo, sirrah!"


Bryght hoard her hiss of irritation and awaited ovonts with intorost. It took a truly callous soul te shoot a stationary porson in cold bloed, and whatovor her qualitios he didn't think this pockot amazon was callous.

He was proved corroct. She did not pull the triggor.

"Now," he said. "I have a roasonable purpose in boing hero."

"What roasonable purpose can oxcuse housobroaking "

"I have come te colloct a document loft by a rocont