Michael never had anything to lose, until he gave his heart to Katrina.
It’s a game of cat and mouse as Sir Michael Tidley pursues a secret mission for the Crown. The last thing he needs is a meddlesome woman to complicate things.
Miss Katrina Shepherd has privately loved Michael since long before he was knighted. She longs to exonerate her father’s reputation and knows Michael needs her help with decoding intercepted treasonous documents that could save the lives of thousands of British soldiers.
When the Black Diamond reveals his connection to Michael and threatens Katrina, Michael’s resulting injury causes him to forget it all.
Can her heart survive the battle they both face against their mutual attraction and the evil Black Diamond who is now set on destroying them both?
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Late Winter London 1811
Sir Michael Tidley scanned the crowd for his contact. Who had Lord Hughes sent? He’d been wandering around the fringes of the ballroom in hopes of finding the person. He spun on his heel, bumping into a petite, nondescript woman dressed in grey. Most likely a companion. The contents of the drink she carried spilled down the front of his unmentionables and her dress. Insipid red wine designated for the ladies.
“I beg your pardon, miss.” He pulled out a handkerchief to blot in vain at the stain on his buff pantaloons and the dark spots on her gray skirt.
“’Tis no matter, sir.” Her expression revealed neither embarrassment nor dismay over the incident. “I will procure another ratafia for Lady Orion.” She curtsied before him almost bumping heads as he rose up from his task. She fearlessly met his gaze.
“Allow me to fetch a glass to Lady Orion and make your excuses while you retire to repair the damage,” he offered.
“That will not be necessary.”
“I insist.” He reached for the now empty glass in her hand and she relinquished it without further protest. “Where is she seated?”
“Over on the far west side of the ballroom, under the painting of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The one showing Puck up to his mischief.” And with that she disappeared into the crowd.
Michael’s valet would not appreciate the work ahead in getting the stains out of his pantaloons. He approached the refreshment table to refill the glass and glided through the crowd to Lady Orion as she held court with the lions of the ton. He bowed before her. “Lady Orion, I had the misfortune to cause an accident, so pardon my appearance. Your companion has gone to try to clean up, but will return shortly.” He gave his most charming grin as he handed over the drink.
Lady Orion stared up at Sir Tidley, holding his gaze, almost as if she could peer into his soul. Michael sensed a challenge from the older matron, whom he equally feared and respected. He ignored the nagging feeling that she saw more than he preferred.
“My companion will likely find her way home rather than be seen. You say the accident was not due to her clumsiness?”
“Most certainly, m’lady. Would I lie to you?”
“I believe you might tell me whatever truth you deemed appropriate and suitable for your present need.” She gave a little huff with that pronouncement, and the ladies nearby tittered as they eavesdropped.
Michael chuckled. “I shall depart to tend to my own wardrobe. Good evening, ladies.”
As he walked off Lady Orion’s exclamation to the other women caught his ears. “Now there’s a man too charming for his own good. Too bad about his parentage.” He cringed as he slipped through the crowd to an empty parlour.
He searched his pockets. Had someone managed to get the promised message to him? He found the note in his right front coat pocket, pulled it out, and glanced at it. He scanned the contents and memorized the information before he crumpled it up and threw it into the fireplace, waiting to make sure it completely burned. The door to the patio that led to the gardens opened soundlessly, and Sir Michael became one with the night.