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Harlequin

Release Date: January 2009

ISBN: 0373295308

 

Santo Domingo, 1535

 

Bianca straightened from wiping spilled ale on the counter, pushing her hair back from her brow.  She tensed at the sudden watchful air in the room, the way the great noise fell to a murmur—like the waves of the sea just before a storm hit.

 

This, then, was surely the trouble that had been coming all night.

 

She turned to the door.  A man stood there, framed in the night-darkness.  Not alone—there were six or seven others arrayed behind him.  But he was all she could see.

 

He was tall, probably taller than any other man in the tavern as he had to duck his head through the doorway.  Like the strange cloaked man from earlier in the evening, he had the lean frame of a man who spent his life balancing on a pitching deck and climbing swaying rigging.  His chest and legs were supple beneath his black leather jerkin and hose, a tall pair of worn black leather boots.  She glimpsed powerful, bronzed forearms revealed by the turned-back sleeves of his white shirt.  A man of action, then, of the sea and all its dangers.

 

His hair, a long, straight curtain of sun-streaked light brown, fell to his shoulders, bound back from his face with a black silk scarf.

 

And that face…

 

She knew it well.  Too well.  Bianca clutched at the edge of the counter, certain now that she had to be dreaming.  For that face, despite the fact that it was a bit older, the skin browned by the tropical sun and the sea’s salt spray, belonged to Balthazar Grattiano.

 

The one man she had vowed to kill if she ever saw him again.

 

 

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