Sir Geoffrey cleared his throat and pierced the silence. “We escorted you without delay, as Lord Colchester commanded.”

“’Tis the reason why we were kidnapped?” Earl or no earl, wrath burned through her, heating the last coils of her control. Squirming in his grasp, she twisted around to glare at him. “Without delay? Because of your selfish whims, Yolanda and I did not finish placing stones around our mother’s deathbed. Because of your arrogance, we were unable to destroy our mother’s possessions, a grievous offence for all Romany. And because of you . . . ” she glowered into his exasperated eyes, “ . . . we were unable to complete our mother’s burial ritual.” Her breath hitched, stinging her lungs.

The earl can kill me for speaking to him this way.
She tossed her hair back. Te les o beng. Devil curse him. Let him try.

His muscles went rigid against her. He scowled at Sir Geoffrey, then back at her. “I am unaware of your gypsy ways. I am sorry about your mother’s death, but you are required here.”

“Because your needs are more important than ours?” Reckless, the challenge raised her spirit. “Because your life is more important than her death?”

With a regretful sigh, he dropped his hands.

The realization he had little sympathy for her mother’s death snapped Valentina’s mind into action. Men like the earl were only interested in themselves. But this heartless noble would pay for his callousness. Ripping her mother’s double-edged dagger from the cord along her gown’s inside seam, Valentina tore off the sheath and raised the weapon.


  1. Beth Trissel // August 29, 2008 at 1:06 PM  

    Congrats on your recent final with this, Joanne!

  2. Mary Ricksen // August 29, 2008 at 6:32 PM  

    Sounds like a winner.