Jade Lee, a USA Today bestseller, has two passions
(well, except for her family, but that's a given). She
loves dreaming up stories and playing racquetball, not
always in that order. When her pro-racquetball career ended
with a pair of very bad knees, she turned her attention to
writing. An author of more than 30 romance novels, she's
decided that life can be full of joy without ever getting
up from her chair.
London, England, February 1807
"'Ey, Fanny! 'Ow bout a diddle wi' me?"
Fantine Delarive winked as she swiveled her hips
past a group of leering men, her smile friendly as she
focused on the biggest of them all. "Ye ain't got enough t'
diddle wi', Tommy boy. Talk t' me when ye grow a mite
She tweaked his cheek as she served him his ale.
Then she passed on through the dingy pub, trading insults
and affectionate pats with the customers.
They all knew her here, recognized her face,
called her Fanny, but not a one knew the truth. They would
never guess she had played maid to a princess or caught a
French spy. They would never believe she could speak Spanish
or cook a goose fit for the king. Nor would they credit
that she planned to do such things again and again until
she was too old to blow a kiss at an aged lord.
They would never believe what she had done, and
she could never tell. So she teased the clientele like a
two-bit tart, playing her role with consummate skill,
because deep inside she did not truly credit it
"Fanny!" called the keep, his gravelly voice
carrying easily over the din.
"'E wants ye. Tomorrow. Tea."
Fantine hitched her hip up to the edge of a bar
stool, allowing a near-blind old man to feel the curve of
her knee, but no more. "Tomorrow, tea," she echoed. "Guess
I better put on me fancy togs. Not that I keep 'em on fer
Then she laughed as loudly as the rest at her
* * *
"Good morning, my lord. I trust you slept
Marcus Kane, Lord Chadwick, looked up, a single
bite of egg poised precisely on his silver spoon. "Whom
would you trust with such information, Bentley?" he asked
"Not even my sainted mother," the dough-faced
man replied with a bland expression.
"Just so long as it is not my sainted mother,"
Marcus responded. "I trust that you have seen Paolina
safely transferred from my bed to her own."
"Safely settled in, my lord."
A dozen possible responses came to mind, but
Marcus washed them down with a sip of tea. His secretary
would not understand a one of them, and so he did not waste
his breath. Instead, he opened the morning paper knowing he
could easily divide his attention between the news and
Bentley's itemized list of the coming day.
He was wrong.
"I have canceled your appointment for tea with
your sister, citing urgent matters with the Scottish
Marcus's eye caught on a column detailing
William Wilberforce's latest speech to the House of
Commons, but at his secretary's news, he lifted his
"Do I have urgent matters at the Scottish
"No, my lord. But you do have an invitation to
Lord Penworthy's home. The tone appeared somewhat
Marcus arched his eyebrows. He had not spoken
with Penworthy since Geoffrey's funeral nearly three years
ago. They had, of course, corresponded over political
matters and seen one another in the House of Lords, but this
was something else entirely. To be invited to his former
mentor's house, and so abruptly, indicated something of
Marcus set his napkin aside and rose from his
"Thank you, Bentley. I now recall why I pay you
October's crisp autumn nights are perfect for reading