Shiver of Fear - Roxanne St. Claire
Roxanne St. Claire - The Guardian Angelinos #2 - Shiver of Fear
Shiver of Fear (The Guardian Angelinos #2)
Roxanne St. Claire
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1978
The moment Sharon Mulvaney slipped the cushioned case containing three sealed vials of purified botulinum toxins into her handbag and left the microbiology lab, she became a criminal.
Before that, she’d never done anything worse than protest the administration on the lawn in front of MIT’s Dome. Drinking whiskey while talking trash with fervent Irish Catholic supporters in the basement of a bar in Harvard Square certainly hadn’t gotten her arrested. Even loving a man with deep ties to and deeper sentiments for IRA dissidents didn’t qualify as illegal, although the fact that he was married and almost thirty years her senior pushed the boundaries of what was kosher.
But stealing the most toxic substance known to mankind—after isolating, purifying, and crystallizing the spores herself and knowingly handing over the whole concoction for secret delivery to Belfast—was most definitely punishable with some prison time.
She wished her brush with crime thrilled her. Since it didn’t, she chose to believe she didn’t have an evil soul, just a weak heart.
The bitter wind buffeted her across a winter-break-deserted campus. She pulled her scarf over her mouth and dragged her cap down to her brows while navigating the ice and traffic-blackened snow. Fueled equally by the fear of getting caught and the desire to get out of the freezing cold, she shouldered the handbag deep into her down coat, kept her head low, and marched toward her apartment.
Even on a warm spring day when the only thing on her mind was grading papers as a graduate student TA, this was a long walk. But in a frigid New England winter, carrying enough poison to paralyze a regiment of British soldiers, knowing she was breaking the law and taking chances with every single thing she held dear, the trek became a brutal hike that pained every muscle in her body.
By the time she crossed Binney and the student pedestrian walkway widened into Sixth, her toes tingled with the bite of cold, her fingers were stiffened with numbness, and every brain cell was too deadened to even scare up some rationalization for what she was doing.
Anyway, she was way past rationalizing; she was in love.
She turned onto her street, carefully switching the bag to her other shoulder. It wasn’t heavy physically, but metaphorically, the weight of her crime pressed on her heart.
Sometimes a few have to suffer for the good of many.
Had Finn said that? Knowing him, it was probably more like, Do this for me, my darling girl, and I’ll… Leave my wife for you.
Right. Did she really believe that? She must, or she wouldn’t be taking a chance like this.
She stepped gingerly around a snowdrift and headed down the stone steps to the front door of her garden-level apartment, already imagining what she’d wear tonight. The black dress he liked, with the big gold buckle, and some high heels. Her lover brought out the girl in her. And the criminal, evidently, she thought as she turned the key and pushed.
“Did you get it?”
She gasped at the voice, squinting into the living room to see Finn, a drink in one hand and his three-hundred-dollar loafers propped on her coffee table, jacket open, tie loose, hair tousled like he’d been running his hands through it while waiting for her.
All the ice inside her just… melted.
“I got it,” she said, easing the bag down to her elbow and holding it out to him. With the other hand, she yanked off the knit cap, fluffing hair that was probably a flat, flyaway mess. Not to mention that the down jacket made her look like the Michelin Man, and she didn’t have a speck of makeup on.
He didn’t move to take the bag or, as she foolishly fantasized, rise to give her a kiss. Instead, he sat stone still, exuding power, control, authority, maturity, and knee-weakening sex appeal. How a fifty-three-year-old man with tiny creases at the corners of his eyes and a few threads of silver glinting in golden hair could make a twenty-five-year old microbiologist go so damn rubbery was a mystery.
One she had no desire to solve.
“And no one saw you.” It wasn’t a question. With Finn, everything was an order.
She shook her head.
He raised the amber liquid of Jameson she’d splurged on just so she’d have it in the apartment for him, cocking his head as eyes the color of summer skies raked over her appreciatively. “We