If I am going to go to the gallows I am going to go out with a fight, she thought, shaking his hand off her and staring haughtily at him.
‘‘What care you for these families providing your objectives are met? They are merely pawns in your games, innocents who you barely give a thought for.’’
His eyes had narrowed turning a deeper blue, his only sign that he had been affected by her insults. He was not entirely impervious to her words then. Then an impassive expression cloaked his face and he shrugged his shoulders as if to shrug her insults off him.
‘‘Well, now you have vilified me and got your feelings off your chest you will answer my question Ma’am,’’ he snapped, pretending indifference. Her words shouldn’t mean anything to a man like him, a man who enforced and almost imposed the law; a man who was de facto second in charge of the state after the Emperor.
In fact, he was lying to himself. For some reason, her analysis of his character had got under his skin. He usually cared not for anyone’s opinion of him; unless it was of the Emperor or Denman his true close friend but on this occasion the accusations this girl contemptuously hurled at him had smacked too much of the truth and pricked his conscience.
It was years since anyone had dared to challenge him or worse assassinate his character. By God she had got a nerve! He rarely executed women but it would not be the first time. She was playing a dangerous game. If it had been another man she had insulted her neck could have been on the line.
Damn the man. For a moment, she had thought she had pricked his conscience but then he had stood there silently, sinister, as if her opinion meant nothing; a mere girl and rebel supporter with a traitor for a father. It was no use protecting a man who might have betrayed her.
‘‘I had letters stating the goods had reached their correct destination but I burnt them.’’ she replied, knowing her words would mean nothing without physical proof.
His eyebrows raised sceptically. The bastard didn’t believe her. How could she persuade him she was telling him the truth? It was as she had thought. He didn’t want to believe her. He wanted her to be proven guilty for then he would be proven right about her. He hated to be wrong about human nature. It was much easier to think badly about people from the beginning and not be disappointed if a man’s nature turned out to be worse than originally expected.
‘‘Michael von Brachman was the man I charged with giving the monies to the representatives of the families,’’ she admitted wearily. He was used to these mental engagements but the battle of wills had tired her when she had no chance of winning while he had the evidence on his desk.
‘‘I will interrogate the man myself and find out the truth Ma’am.’’ He came up to her. As she stepped back he put his hands either side of her head on the wall; holding her still against it with his body when she tried to release herself.
Mocking her again, he played with an escaping ringlet, curling it around his finger, laughing out loud as she tossed her head away from his touch. He had never seen such unusual hair or eyes, the colours reflecting the sunlight, making her seem almost on fire. He had the sudden desire to see her lying in his arms in his bed, her hair splayed across his pillow.
Shocked by his lust for his suspect he reverted to harshness to cover up his desire for her.
‘‘So, defiant still! You had better learn respect for the Emperor’s officers Ma’am if you want to avoid a prison cell, even if you are innocent of paying for the rebels’ arms. You could still be imprisoned on a lesser charge. Criminal sedition covers aiding the rebels in any way the court can interpret as against the interests of the state.’’
‘‘Oh, it is clearly seditious to provide warmth in the bellies of starving children Officer Dreda,’’ she mocked. ‘‘Try conspiracy also as I joined others in my actions.’’
‘‘Don’t test my patience Ma’am. You are walking a tightrope and could easily be pushed off! You may go now but stay within the city walls. I will summon you when I need you.’’
H, I am Dawn Bolton writing suspense and crime novels under the name of Toni Bolton. My latest crime novel is about a team investigating the murders of young women by a serial killer. The murderer keeps a body part from each woman and appears to be collecting them. Kate Masters undertakes the autopsies and works with Darrell Defoe a criminal profiler and Detective Raymond Chase to try to find this murderer before he finishes his collection and escapes the area. This is a gritty suspense novel with many twists and turns and keeps the reader guessing until nearly the end.
Night had fallen and the window was lit by a single lamp. Shadows were enveloping the room, blurring her angles as she stood with her back to the window. The moon outlined her figure, obscuring all but its silhouette; only allowing his vivid imagination to fill in the details. She came to the window and drew the drapes close, forbidding him that last surreptitious look at her.
He shrugged and smiled. He could be patient. ‘Soon my love and that beauty of yours will all be mine,’ he whispered softly to himself and left the observing place he had made in the meadow flowers in the garden.
This sweeping historical romance follows the fortunes of two people on opposite sides of a civil war. Felea Whelani is investigated by Francis Dreda of the Taylian State Security Bureau when he suspects her of helping the rebels. Dreda enforces the law by use of the noose and attracts and repels Felea. He in turn is intrigued by this intelligent, beautiful and resourceful woman. Will civil war keep them apart?
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