TWICE TEMPTED By Eileen Dreyer

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fiona Ferguson's troubles began with a kiss . . .

It feels like a lifetime ago that Alex Knight saved Fiona from certain doom . . . and stole a soul-shattering kiss for good measure. Wanting nothing more than to keep her safe, he left her in the care of her grandfather, the Marquess of Dourne.

But Fiona was hardly safe. As soon as he could, the marquess cast her and her sister out on the streets with only her wits to keep them alive.

Alex has never forgotten that long-ago kiss. Now the dashing spy is desperate to make up for failing his duty once before. This time he will protect Fiona once and for all, from a deadly foe bent on taking revenge on the Ferguson line-and anyone who stands in the way . .



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Exclusive Excerpt of TWICE TEMPTED

For the fifth time that day, Fiona Feguson thanked the education she had received at Last Chance Academy. It had been an awful school, but it had definitely beaten the maidenly arts into its students. Because of it, Fiona could draw a figure, sing a tune, play a reasonably melodic piano, sew a sampler and set a table. All of which she was teaching the neighborhood girls, along with Latin, Mathematics, Globes, and Science.

Anyone from Hawesworth Castle would have been appalled at her living conditions. She and Mairead had one female helper and one male, a man-of-all-work they shared with two other families, and they were more often than not paid in foodstuffs and services. They taught on an old table Fiona had scrounged from the rag and bone man, and practiced their music on Margaret's old spinet. The formal salon held on three-legged faded brown setee and two spindle-back chairs, and Fiona and Mairead shared a room. They sat at the school table if they were working together, and in the kitchen with Mrs. Quick if they weren't. The only rug resided in the schoolroom, and the only artwork had been done by her students. Other than that and the roof over their heads, they had nothing.

They had everything. They were off the streets. They had food and heavy boots and heavier cloaks and a bit of coal for the fires. They had their correspondence from their friends around Europe, which was their only frivolous expense, and the Royal Observatory up the hill. And they had each other. For that Fiona was most grateful. Now that her brother Ian was gone, Mairead was all she had left in the world.

Fiona also had a blistering headache, but that was because of the sleep she was forfeiting trying to keep their heads above water. For a long moment, she stood there in the schoolroom arm full of primers, overcome with the temptation to lie down for an hour or so.

It was inevitable then, that she heard the front door knocker.

She should go out and answer it. She spent a moment making sure her lace collar was flat against her ubiquitous black kerseymere dress, knowing quite well that she was delaying as long as she could in the hopes she would hear Mrs. Quick's footsteps crossing the hall.

“Don't you worry yourself,” she heard the strident notes of sarcasm out in the hall. “I was just dyin' to open the door.”

Fiona couldn't help it. She smiled.

And then she heard a man's voice. “Excuse me. Is Mrs. Margaret Bryant at home?”

Fiona swore she stopped breathing. It couldn't be.

Before she could think better of it, she threw the library door open to see Mrs. Quick poised before the open door, hand on hip, face pursed in displeasure at the sigh of two rather large men on the stoop.

“Mrs. Bryant don't live here anymore,” the housekeeper snapped, ready to close the door again.

“Wait!” Fiona cried, frozen on the spot. “It's all right, Mrs. Quick. Let them in.”

“Don't think I should,” the woman retorted with a squint at the two town bucks.
“Don't need their kind nosin' around the school.”

Fiona almost laughed out loud. “I sincerely doubt they're here to ravage our children,” she said.

She hadn't imagined it. Alex Knight—no, Lord Whitemore, now-- stood in her doorway, staring at her as if he'd seen a ghost.

She couldn't believe it. She had been thinking of him for so long. He was the only good memory she had carried away from Hawesworth. His compassion. His strength. The unshakable sense of comfort he'd shared as he'd taken her hand.

She seemed to have forgotten his beauty. Wind-chapped and tousled, he exuded life, with his broad shoulders and warm hazel eyes and strong, angular features. Just the sight of them sent her heart skidding around in her chest.

She'd never thought to see him again.

“Don't look helpless to me, old lad,” his companion suddenly said.

Her feet finally unfroze, and she stepped forward. “She isn't,” she greeted him. “Please. Would you care to come in? I can at least give you Mrs. Bryant's current address.”

Mrs. Quick only conceded ground grudgingly, finally shutting the door behind the men with an impatient briskness that conveyed judgment. The men stepped into the bare little foyer and removed their hats.

“Actually,” Alex said, still staring. “We came to see you.”

A retired trauma nurse, Eileen lives in her native St. Louis with her husband, children, and large and noisy Irish family, of which she is the reluctant matriarch. She has animals but refuses to subject them to the limelight.