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Sunday Snippet #111

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Heart of Brass

Author: Kate Cross

Novel of the Clockwork Agents #1

Publisher: Signet

Released: 1 May 2012

REVIEW HERE

A shadow moved across the alley as the lazy fingers of a wet dawn slowly crept in.  Arden glanced up, excepting to see Inspector Grant.

Instead she saw a dirty man in need of a shave and a dentist.  Her heart stopped at the sight of him.  She knew him.  She had seen him just a few moments ago through the prostitute’s eyes.

Frantically, she groped for the pistol she always carried in her bag.  The killer came at her fast.  For a second she was too terrified to scream, her mind flashing through the gruesome catalog the woman’s eye had given her.  Her normal calm, or facsimile of it, disintegrated like sugar into tea as his filthy hands reached for her.  She opened her mouth…

There was a snap, and the killer crumpled to the ground beside his victim, his head turned at an impossible angle, sightless eyes bulging and wide.

She might have felt relief if she hadn’t looked up and met her husband’s bright gaze.

There were few people who could manage to look imposing and dangerous – and altogether too gorgeous – when dripping wet, but Lucas was one of them.

Inky hair fell over his forehead as water trickled down the lean planes of his face.  Shadows deepened the lines around his eyes and mouth, made the grim smile on his lips all the more frightening.

Rain poured off the long leather coat that hung from the strong breadth of his shoulders – exaggerated by the leanness of the rest of his frame.  He crouched before her, paying no attention to the body of the prostitute or the man he had just killed with the apparent ease of swatting a bug.

“What is it about you that makes people want you dead?” he asked, eyes glinting unnaturally bright in the gray morning.

Arden’s fingers closed around the pistol in her bag.  Now that the first threat to her safety was gone, she wasn’t about to let this one get the better of her.  “Part of my charm, I suppose.”  He chuckled and she added, “Why didn’t you let him?  He would have done the job for you.”

His gaze locked with hers, and what she saw there sent a shiver down her spine.  “You’re mine,” he growled.

“Yours to kill, you mean.”  It was tempting to let him do it.  She didn’t want to die, but he thought of him being able to kill her … Well, what was the point of going on when so much of her life had been about him and he was lost forever?

She needed a drink, or perhaps a good slap.

His hand came up, and she fought a flinch.  Instead of grabbing her already bruised throat, he cupped her cheek.  She had the pistol out of the bag.

“Are you going to shoot me?” he asked with a smile, fingers rough against her skin.  “Do you think a bullet can stop me?”

Arden placed the end of the barrel against the underside of his chin.  “I doubt they thought to armor you here.”

He grinned, white teeth flashing in the fading gloom.  “That’s my girl.”

She froze, gaze searching his face for some sign of recognition.  “How do you know I’m your girl?”

His grin faded, the light in his eyes turned to ice.  He dropped his hand to her neck, but instead of squeezing, he gently stroked the tender and battered skin.  “I don’t know.  But you are, aren’t you?”

God, it hurt to swallow; her throat was so tight – a condition that had nothing to do with the strength of his touch, but rather the gentleness of it.  “Yes,” she whispered, but did not move the pistol.

His brows dipped.  “Why can’t I kill you? I remember … I know I’ve tried to do this before, but failed.  I resolved to do it, but when I’m with you, killing you is the last thing I want to do.”

The suggestive timbre of his voice ignited a flame inside her.  It had been so long, but intimately she remembered all the times he had spoken to her in that tone – and what generally followed.

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