Authors: Danita Minnis
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #romance, #Fantasy & Futuristic, #historical, #Historical Romance, #Paranormal, #angels
Eliana turned back to Falcon, that dark promise in her eyes.
“I should escort her back,” Falcon heard himself say.
Darien turned to him. “On the Cardiff jet?”
“It can be ready to take her to Rome in a few hours,” Roman offered smoothly.
“Is that so?” Darien looked from Falcon to Roman. “Well,
will have to wait.” There was something in Darien’s eyes. It wasn’t a yes, but it wasn’t a no, either.
Whatever it was, Falcon thought the barrister would soon join in the cause against
“Half the world’s leaders are waiting to talk to her,” Darien said. “And, besides, aren’t we having a wedding?”
“The Jeweler Captured. The Organization Touted For Fine Work In Capturing Master Thief Wanted In Four Countries. The Organization Solves Ten-Year-Old Case Of Priceless Stradivarius.”
Angel read the headlines in the newspapers, sprawled on top of him. They were in the sole bungalow of a private islet just off Maui, of which they were the only two inhabitants.
Well, not exactly. The house staff was around somewhere, but only appeared when Angel pulled the red silken rope hanging above their heads and the gong sounded.
“My Falcon,” she said, running her fingers through his chest hair.
“They shouldn’t have printed it. It’s just a warning to … everyone we’re looking for.”
When her fingers stopped their movement, he opened one eye and saw that his tigress had more questions.
“You know, Falcon—I love calling you that, by the way—you need a good witch on the team.” She went on quickly as he shook his head. “Now that we both remember, you won’t remain unharmed, unscarred. Perfect, against them.”
“No, Angel. You’re not joining the team. Besides everyone has to die sometime.” Before she would say another word, he put a finger to her lips. “Hey, no discussing business on the honeymoon, remember? I’ve been starving for a week.”
“You have not.” Angel quirked up her lips. It was almost too much for him mingled with that sexed look on her face.
“Sì, tesoro, it’s your fault.”
“Just one question. Where is your next assignment?”
“Ah, about that…”
Angel lifted up on her elbows to look into his eyes. “North Korea? Afghanistan?”
He watched her carefully. “New York. A fraud case.”
Angel nodded and moved off him. “When do you leave?” She was staring up at the waving red silk hangings draped across the polished bamboo ceiling.
“I’m not leaving. I turned it down.”
She sat up. “But who will take care of it? Aren’t you the least bit concerned?”
He shook his head. “I’m giving up fieldwork to concentrate on special assignments. What’s the matter? I thought that’s what you wanted.”
“No. I want you to be happy. And I’ll be happy as long as you get them before they get you. What will the Organization think?”
“I am happy, Angel.” He sat up and placed her on his lap. “And I’m not actually leaving it. And the Organization is fine with it.”
“How can they be fine with it? You’re the best they’ve got.”
“You think so?”
“Well, there is Granger and the team.” Angel punched him in the arm. “Stop gloating. Wait!”
He stopped tickling her to reveal another truth. “I founded the Organization.”
are the Organization?” Angel pushed back to stare at him. “You’re just full of secrets, aren’t you?”
“Not too many left now. Granger and Darien are my partners. Darien was originally based in Rome, but he had several projects going in New York. We switched places for a while. I was planning to move back permanently and take over operations there before … you.” He kissed her lips.
“Me.” She nipped his bottom lip. “Mrs. Armand Falcone d’Alessandro.”
“As it turns out, Darien loves New York, and a certain lawyer he met in court.”
“So, if you’d gone back to New York I might have ended up with Darien in the alley that night in Naples instead of you?”
He started tickling her again.
“Me, a barrister’s wife!” Angel was laughing so hard her eyes began to tear up.
He was laughing because she thought she was too much of a bad girl to be a barrister’s wife. Her innocence was beautiful.
“All right, all right! I’ll be good.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and started kissing him.
Whimsical chimes swayed outside on the open bamboo balcony. With hands locked, they gazed past the fluttering red silk curtains to the blanket of blue beyond.
“So, where do you want to live, Angel?”
“Well, let me think … I’m sure Todd Forster found New York beautiful in the spring…”
“So is Paris.”
“…and Juan Garza must have loved winters in Spain…” Angel cupped his face in her hands, raining kisses all over it.
“Have you ever skied down the French Alps in the winter?”
“Ah, a sight that must have warmed Gage Martin’s heart, don’t you agree?”
He took her by the waist and laid her down on her back. She was enjoying herself with his aliases, but he was hard for her again. “You’re saying you want to live in Rouen, close to your grandparents?”
“But what would Hugh Delacorte do without the Outback. Australia, God’s country, you know! Hang on!” She ended on a squeal when he burrowed face-first into her breasts.
He took pity on her and watched the rise and fall of those luscious vanilla globes through the milky valley between them while she caught her breath.
“Right, then. Now that we’ve discussed our options and I’ve had some time to think about it, I must say I’ve always wanted to live in a castle.”
“The Castle it will be. The country is the perfect place for us, Bella. You’ll fit in well because I’m going to keep you barefoot and pregnant.”
Falcon moved over her once more.
Sacha walked along the crumbling hilltop, taking a deep breath when she passed under the olive trees. She loved the smells of this land. Everything was fresh, ripe. Here in Lazio the land ruled, not man.
The ancient path, which wound up the hillside, was really nothing more than an obscure reference detected every few feet through the soft carpet of grass. She traveled this route from
to the cliffs every day.
The castle overlooked the falls of the Aniene River. Once a sentinel for the southern coast of Italy, it had protected villagers against Algerian enemies who entered the Tyrrhenian Sea searching for conquests. The castle was home now, east of Rome in the verdant Monti Tiburtini hills where heaven was nature and the summers long.
From the moment she’d seen it, she had fallen in love with the medieval castle and its tranquil lake in the old volcanic crater, so different from the hectic sights and sounds of London. There was endurance in the atmosphere that put her in awe of her surroundings.
Armand was part of it. She felt more of everything with him. She was filled with so much love, creativity and—with Armand’s help—peace, that she shed the fears which had once weighed her down.
Armand helped her conquer the demons of claustrophobia with his stories of a young Marchese Falco and his love for the Comte d’Avril’s daughter. As her memory grew, he filled in the blanks on
After all, she would be better prepared for the future if she knew what may come.
The old wives’ tales the village women were so proud of were true. Love’s promise had woven their souls through the centuries for an everlasting celebration of life.
When Captain Cardiff and Jacqueline St. Clair met again in this life, their love brought Margaux back to where the Marchese Falco waited for her. But the most perfect part of love’s design was the gift of knowledge to save them from old enemies, giving them a second chance at happiness.
Sacha sighed and lifted her feet off the ground. Floating in the gentle breeze, she looked down the hill where summer retreats were scattered like peppermint squares in between faded palaces across the green valley. Parts of the original town wall were still visible.
This time of year, tourists came to bathe in the natural thermal springs on the plains below the town center. Visitors enjoyed fine wines from the vineyards of the castle’s nearest neighbor a mile away on the other side of the hill.
This summer the tourists would attend the classical music festival. She and Armand had organized the event after her tour ended in the spring because there would be no tour this fall. They would stay home and work in the castle’s new recording studio. They would take the rest of the year off to work on her CD, on which Armand played keyboards.
“Mamma mia, why do you play so close to the edge? What if you fall?” The alarmed Italian came from the steps below.
Sacha landed smoothly on her feet. Turning, she waved at Zia Delfina, who was squinting up at her. “I would not allow myself to fall.” She grinned at the look on her mother-in-law’s face and also at how ironic it was that her husband, who had lost his power to remain unharmed and unscarred, was teaching her to control her powers. With the violin in hand, she raised both arms to the sun. “Isn’t it beautiful today?”
“Sì, bellissimo. It is beautiful every day here in the valley. Come down from there. I made
zuppa di verdure
.” Zia Delfina started climbing the ancient steps up to the terrace walk, apparently not convinced that Sacha was able to make it down on her own.
They had decided not to tell their families about her powers.
She had kept the secret from her parents, the d’Avrils in eighteenth-century France to protect them all in those dark, superstitious times. Still, she had not been able to save them with her powers. What was to be would be. It was better for all of them not to worry about it. Better to lead a normal life. Well, as normal as their lives could be, at any rate.
However, secretly, Sacha liked to think of herself as the family’s guardian angel. All she needed was a little practice.
“I’m coming down.” Sacha put the Colossus in its case and started down the path. She would manage just fine on her own, but if she had to help Zia Delfina back down those steps she was not sure they would make it without incantations. Maybe she should learn a few.
Armand’s mother was a great cook and her vegetable soup was divine, as Granger and Vin could testify, but she enjoyed eating the results of her efforts, and it showed. The only person Sacha had ever seen eat more than Zia Delfina was Granger.
Zia Delfina took her free hand to guide her down the bottom step. “Armand is on his way home.”
“A day early?”
“I wasn’t supposed to tell you. It’s a surprise.” Zia Delfina’s smile crinkled her eyes. “He’s bringing bananas.”
“Umm-mm, I’ll have them with the sardines! What about the cannolis?”
“I made you
cannolis.” Zia Delfina chuckled as Sacha wrapped her in a big hug.
“And no shoes. You are
, like a creature of the wood, walking barefoot all the time.” Zia Delfina shook her head and took the violin case from her.
“Maybe I am a fairy,” Sacha was only half-joking. Anything was possible. “You know how I love to feel the strong earth beneath my feet.” She laughed out loud.
Zia Delfina shot her a worried glance and touched her forehead. “Dio Santo. You must have the heatstroke. Come in, out of the sun, my bohemian daughter.”
“The sun had nothing to do with it.” Sacha grinned and this time Zia Delfina laughed with her.
No, it was all Armand’s doing. She had just remembered his promise to her two years ago, something about bare feet. Now, here she was in the fertile valley, hardly able to see her toes that scrunched in this good earth.
About the Author:
If you asked Danita Minnis which is easier, writing songs or writing novels, she would say it was the former. Melodies and rhymes are second nature. What her characters want is another thing entirely. With her debut novel,
, Danita learned to listen to her spunky heroine and sinfully confident hero. They’re funny and in danger, and that’s just the way they want it. Lesson learned: don’t try to save them.
When she’s not writing, Danita exercises her lungs at her son’s soccer matches and their favorite theme park, because everyone knows it’s easier on the stomach to scream your way down a roller coaster.
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