About The Cracksman’s Kiss (formerly published as Guilty Kisses)
When Lady Kassandra is visited by a thief in the dark of night, she finds her body awakened in a way that her husband’s touch has never stirred her desires.
However there are consequences for even a brief stolen night of passion that leave Kassie in dire straights. She turns to the only one she thinks can help her…but will he come before it is too late?
Comte Cohen Ashton’s mission is to retrieve a priceless artifact and return it to its former country of origin. He doesn’t expect to have his heart stolen by his sworn enemy’s lovely young wife or to discover a treasure of his own making that is more valuable than any other.
In the midst of a war between England and France, Cohen must save them both from their folly and Kassie must forgive herself her own sins. Can they prevail or will their fates be sealed by guilty kisses?
The figure crept along the corridor, his dark clothing blending into the shades of shadows, and then slipped into the parlor. A single lamp burned on the table across from the Egyptian statue. Its bejeweled eyes winked in the flickering light, as if privy to some immensely wicked secret. The cracksman moved soundlessly across the carpet and stopped before the pedestal, with bated breath, listening for any sign his presence had been discovered. All was eerily quiet in the mansion. Expelling his pent up breath, the man reached up and closed his glove encased hands around the statue. With a practiced touch he eased the archaic feline from its perch, so loving the thrill of the hunt. The quest for this treasure had been exciting, although as easy as petting its loafing namesake. Perhaps thrice as risky.
With a cocky smirk, he paused to listen before tucking the ill-gotten treasure into the satchel at his waist. Pride made him stay his retreat for the briefest second and pat the object before slinking back into the inky recesses of the hallway. The man faded into the dark corridor in the hope of making an inconspicuous exit. Without a sound, the study door opened, spilling a shaft of light into the hall across his path. Caught off guard, he darted into the servant’s stairwell. Voices breached the silence.
“…retire for the night, Bernard.”
“Yes, my lord.”
A second of frustration permeated his calm. Damn! The earl should be long in bed by now. The stairwell was not a good place to hide in case a servant happened by. They would surely raise the alarm if an intruder was spotted lurking this late in the evening. Thinking quickly, he slunk up the stairs to the second floor. A smile rode his lips. The rope and grapple in his satchel would come in handy, experience telling him it was best to be prepared for any situation. It would make climbing down from one of the windows on the second floor easy.
Topping the landing, the thief peered down the long hallway. A door closed and footsteps approached the bottom of the staircase. He eased back into the murkiness. The first room on his right would suffice as a hiding place for the moment. With a last nervous glance behind him and a twist of the door handle, he slipped inside, closing it softly behind him. It took only seconds for his eyes to adjust to the meager firelight before locking the door. A pink robe lay across the back of one of the chairs nearest the fire. The female occupant of the room must already be in bed, since the fire had burned down to glowing coals. Silently he crossed the room to the window beside the bed, freezing at a rustling sound accompanied by a soft sigh; then turning and peering at the bed. The curtains were drawn to protect the occupant from drafts. He hesitated before easing the curtain back, the light from the fire cast a pale glow on the sleeping figure. She sighed again and rolled in her slumber toward the edge of the bed.
He leaned closer. The firelight enhanced her delicate beauty as her lips parted. A blonde curl caught in the edge of her sleeping mask, slid free to caress her creamy cheek. He ducked inside the curtain, dropping it back in place.
“My lord?” she murmured, still half in dream hibernation. “I have not readied myself for you. You did not tell me you would visit tonight.”
His lips clenched together to keep his amusement in check. The woman believes I am her ancient husband, come to claim his marriage rights. The thought of the withered old earl being able to perform any matrimonial act amused him.
A slamming door somewhere downstairs distracted him from his reverie. Footsteps hurried down the hallway outside the bedroom. Has the missing statue already been discovered? The front door opened and voices carried from outside. Damn! If I try to escape out the window now they will surely catch me. I have to find somewhere to hide until I can figure out another route of escape.
The woman had rolled onto her back, and now lay stiff, with her arms at her side. Good Lord! Is she waiting for the decrepit earl to make love to her?
The hounds outside began to bay. Already they are searching for my trail. I will have to lie low for a few hours until I can make good my escape, but where? A glimmer of an idea sparked, and then flamed to life. Here, with her. As long as the woman thinks I am her husband, I will be safe. No one would think to look for me with her. With the drapes pulled, can I fool the lady?
About the Author
Well, before becoming a published author I used to be a natural horsemanship trainer, farrier and English & Western riding coach. I currently live on a Canadian cattle ranch with my family, though one day have dreams of seeing the world and moving to Australia. I am still as passionate about my horses as my writing but have to work hard to balance the two these days. Which is my greatest joy? Probably my registered Thoroughbred stallion, Stamp de Gold, whom I lovingly refer to as Love Monkey. In a horse person’s life there comes that one very special equine who seems to know exactly what you want and what you are thinking. I have been blessed with two of those amazing creatures over my years of owning, training and showing, my dear departed Melderman and Stamp de Gold. For all those ‘horsey’ readers and authors out there I also have a blog dedicated to all kinds of horse info.