WARNING: One sexy male psychic known for taking risks falls for a woman with a questionable background. The Reckless Rockwoods never shy away from danger or a challenge. This Rockwood is no different as he plunges into danger to save the woman he loves and prove to her that she truly is redeemable.
As a Reckless Rockwood, Percy has a tendency to find himself in situations that aren’t good for his health. Unfortunately for him the an dara sealladh (the “sight”) showed him a beautiful pair of violet eyes that he found at the same moment he was shot. Left for dead, he survived the bullet and a year later meets Rhea Bennett and her violet eyes once more. Her connection to the man responsible for his attempted murder makes him determined to find the bastard, but he’s even more resolved to save and protect the woman at the heart of the matter.
Sold into slavery at nineteen, Rhea Bennett escaped the horrors of prostitution and thievery, but there are children she knew during that dark time that need to be saved. Rhea’s rescue operation is well underway, but Percy Rockwood’s reappearance in her life is making matters difficult. Rhea never thought it possible to feel anything when a man touched her, but Percy is different. She feels things when he touches her. Emotions dangerous to her heart and soul, but even more dangerous for Percy if her enemies learn she cares for him.
“Damn it to hell,” Percy Rockwood muttered under his breath as he emerged from the softly-lit New Library into the near darkness of the British Museum’s main reading room. In the shadows he made out the night watchman sprawled on the floor a short distance away.
Quickly crossing the carpeted floor of the large room, he knelt beside the man. Fingers pressed into the side of the policeman’s neck, Percy breathed a sigh of relief. Alive, but out cold. A small sound in the distance echoed in the large, oval-shaped room museum patrons used daily.
It was the same noise he’d heard while reading the latest Coptic scrolls Wallis Budge had brought back from Egypt. Although how he’d not heard Smythe crash to the floor was surprising. The officer was quite a burly man. He could only surmise that the guard’s assailants had eased him to the floor after subduing the man.
Once more the sound whispered through the air. Percy cocked his head to one side and determined the noise was coming from the Egyptian wing. Without thinking twice, he pulled a small pistol out of his coat pocket. He’d taken to carrying the weapon since he’d had his vision two weeks ago. The vivid imagery of his body lying prone in a dark place wasn’t the type of omen a Rockwood who possessed the an dara sealladh ignored.
Over the years, he’d learned to accept the fact that he’d inherited a small amount of the family’s gift of sight. But the an dara sealladh rarely offered up as much detailed, graphic information as his latest vision had. The vision of the woman had haunted him for the past two weeks. With the exception of her eyes, the woman’s features had been hazy at best. But it had been impossible to forget her eyes. They’d been the dark color of wild violets that grew in the meadows around Melton Park.
He had no idea what the vision meant. Even now, he wondered what the woman and the vision of him lying on a dark floor had to do with each other. But it was the hopelessness Percy had seen in her beautiful eyes he couldn’t forget. She was in trouble. He was certain of it. His tread quiet and cautious, Percy approached the wide archway leading into the Egyptian section of the museum. With his back pressed against one of the ceiling-high columns marked with hieroglyphics, he peered around the cylindrical architecture.
At the far end of the north wing, he saw a light where the pendant of Nephthys was displayed. The jeweled necklace that was said to have once been worn by Nefertiti had only recently been put on display. Other than a glass enclosed display case and the police who guarded the museum night and day, there was no other protection for the precious artifact.
Anger made his jaw hardened. He’d warned Budge this might happen, and the director had agreed. Percy didn’t like being right, but he would love to be a fly on the wall when Budge lambasted the board for their resistance to reinforce security. As Director of the Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities, Budge would not withhold one iota of his contempt for the men who’d blithely discounted his request for more policemen on duty during the night hours. Aside from Smythe, there was only one other policeman on duty tonight as the third one had taken sick and gone home for the night.
A sharp pop followed by the brittle sound of shattering glass confirmed his worst fears. Someone was stealing the pendant. Slowly, he made his way past one of the mummy displays as he headed toward the end of the exhibition hall. The soft murmur of voices drifted toward him, but it was impossible to hear what was being said.
Percy crept forward, avoiding the small stream of moonlight that had found its way past the clouds and through the glass ceiling of the long room. Ahead of him, he saw a small movement in the dark recesses of the exhibition room.
“Whoever you are, come out now before I shoot,” he said quietly.
The sudden loud click of a pistol being cocked made Percy draw in a sharp hiss of air between his teeth. Whoever they were, they’d just called his bluff as nicely as if they were playing a competitive game of brag.
“Then you and I are at an impasse, sir. There are three of us, and only one of you. I think the odds are considerably more in my favor than in yours.”
The disembodied voice sounded different from what one might expect a thief to sound like. He frowned in puzzlement. The voice echoed with the cultured inflections one might expect to hear from someone of noble birth.
A shadow emerged from the pitch dark into the area just on the edge of the patch of moonlight. Percy narrowed his gaze at the dark figure. The fellow stood just a foot shorter than him, and seemed more round than angular. A youngster no doubt, but he knew better than to discount his opponent. Age had nothing to do with criminals and their street savvy. The boy would do what he had to do in order to survive.
“If you’re willing to leave the necklace you’ve taken, I’ll not stop you from leaving.”
“Unfortunately, that’s not possible.” The shadow’s voice reverberated softly in the darkness with a distinct note of regret. Percy scowled in the direction of the voice.
“You’ll find it incredibly difficult to sell the pendant.”
“Perhaps, but that’s my employer’s problem. Not mine.” Despite the nonchalant note in the thief’s voice, Percy could have sworn there was a significant amount of regret as well.
Muscles taut with tension, Percy watched the dark figure slowly walk toward him. Overhead, the clouds opened more widely, and the narrow stream of moonlight widened its path across the museum floor. Almost as if he knew it was dangerous to stand in the moonlight, the other man hesitated. The increased amount of light outlined Percy’s opponent more clearly.
A black mask covered half the man’s face, and although he was in process of committing a crime, there was a politeness to his manner that said he regretted his actions. In fact, the thief projected an image of respectable gentility, despite the patches covering his coat and pants.
In his swift appraisal of the man, Percy realized the distance between them was smaller than he thought. The moment he took a step forward, the other man leveled his gun at him. The light from the moon danced off the barrel of the pistol pointed in his direction.
“Do not mistake me for a fool, sir.” The sharp words made Percy stiffen. A woman—a well-bred woman. The familiarity he’d recognized in her voice earlier was rooted in his knowledge of the female sex. He’d heard the soft, womanly cadence and pitch of her voice, but had unconsciously dismissed them. He took a step closer.
“Stop.” Was that a hint of fear in her command?
“I’m afraid I can’t do that,” he murmured with growing irritation. “I can’t allow the pendant to leave the museum.”
“Then you’re a fool. Your life is far more valuable than a trinket, no matter how old.” Her sharp words made him frown. She almost seemed worried for his safety.
“Nevertheless, I have no intention of allowing anyone to leave the museum with the pendant,” he said grimly.
He’d no more finished speaking than his senses alerted him to a new threat, and the instant the premonition sailed through him, he uttered a soft oath beneath his breath. Someone was approaching him from behind. In a swift move, Percy sprang forward. Behind him a pistol shot cracked loudly in his ears. Surprisingly, the bullet was more of a sting than anything else as it entered his back. The impact of the bullet made him stumble and his gun flew out of his hand. He sank to his knees, and she was there to catch him.
“You are a reckless fool,” she chastised him in a voice filled with agonized regret.
“It’s a family trait,” he rasped as pain slowly seeped its way across his back. He looked up at her and went rigid.
“Bloody hell, it’s you.” The tension in her body pulsed its way into his. He understood her fear. Murder, or even just accessory to the crime, carried a stiff penalty.
“How do you know me,” she whispered as her violet eyes widened with horror.
The dark purple hue of her eyes was even more beautiful than in his vision. His thoughts were suddenly cluttered with all manner of images. The fire at Westbrook Farms, his grieving family at the cemetery at Caleb’s and Devin’s funerals. Sebastian glaring at him. Patience’s bandaged face, Aunt Matilda with an expression of dismay on her lined features. One by one the faces of his family drifted past his eyes. They’d been through so much in the last four months. Now another Rockwood would be dead soon. The thought surprised him somehow. He was dying. He’d never actually believed his vision would have such a negative outcome. Percy had simply expected to be knocked unconscious, not shot. A violet gaze met his. Her eyes shimmered with unshed tears.
“I’m so sorry. This wasn’t supposed to happen.” The sorrow in her voice equaled the pain in her eyes.
“I don’t understand…my vision…” he mumbled as the pain intensified and continued its way across his back. He tried to move, but only managed to increase the searing pain slashing through him. Unable to help himself he closed his eyes and slumped deeper into her arms.
The harsh, uncultured voice penetrated the cloud of pain slowly pulling Percy under. Desperately, he fought to remain conscious. If he lived, he needed to remember the man’s voice and everything he could about this miserable incident.
“Why did you shoot him?” The woman’s question reverberated with a fierce anger. “You could have knocked him out like you did the guard.”
“Don’t matter none now, does it? The bloke is dead.”
“You’re a bastard, Ruckley.”
“So you keep saying, my poppet,” the man said in a salacious manner. It made Percy long to get up and pummel the son of a bitch until the man begged for mercy. The thought evaporated as pain tugged him closer to the abyss.
“I’m not your poppet or anything else.”
“Go easy now, dearie. We both know I have a soft spot for you, but unless you want the little ‘uns to suffer ye’ll let me call ye whatever I please.”
“One day I will kill you Ruckley.”
The anger and hopelessness in her voice was the last thing Percy heard as a yawning hole opened up. He struggled not to fall off the cliff into the darkness below. But it was the touch of a warm hand on his cheek that told him he had to live. She needed his help. It was the last thought sinking its way into his head before the black engulfed him.