Twice the Temptation
Samantha Jellicoe: Book Four
A Regency Romance
Two unforgettable tales. One dazzling diamond!
Summer 1814 . . .
When Evangeline Munroe inherits the exquisite but supposedly cursed Nightshade Diamond, she considers it a bit of good fortune. Then she literally runs into Connoll Addison, Marquis of Rawley, the most sought after bachelor amongst the ton. Surely her immediate attraction to the rogue is bad luck. Could the diamond be more dangerous than she ever imagined?
Present . . .
Samantha Jellicoe thinks it's good luck that has her—a reformed cat burglar—providing security for a museum exhibit. Then she discovers the Nightshade Diamond, with an accompanying note that says the thing is cursed. Cursed indeed! How else to explain Scotland Yard breathing down her neck, the appearance of an ex-boyfriend, and her lover Rick Addison suddenly testing the boundaries of their relationship? She needs to unload the gem and soon, or she may lose her dreams forever.
"A cursed diamond necklace is a link between centuries in Enoch's clever two-stories-in-one romance. In the first, Evangeline Munroe is on the hunt for a husband in London. She narrows her choices to two men, each bland and sure to leave her alone. When she inherits a stunning necklace, she refuses to believe that it's cursed. But as soon as she takes it out of the box, her carriage collides with another carrying the drunken Marquis of Rawley, who falls upon her and kisses her. At first he seems to be the curse, but they fall in love despite their continual bad luck. The marquis hides the necklace with a warning note for future generations. In the present day, Rick Addison, the current marquis, has an American girlfriend, Samantha, a former jewel thief. When she finds the necklace, neither takes the warning note seriously, until everything starts to go wrong. Sassy and smart, Enoch's two tales of luck and love are thoroughly enjoyable." -- Booklist
Connoll Spencer Addison, the very intoxicated Marquis of Rawley, watched Miss Munroe’s coach as it rolled over someone’s cigar – probably his – and a thick book – probably not his. Leaning a hand against his carriage’s wheel to steady himself, Connoll squatted down and retrieved the tome.
“The Rights of Women,” he read, flipping it over. “Not a bit surprised by that.”
“Nothing, Epping,” he said to his coachman. “Take me home, and for God’s sake don’t hit anything else. It’s been the devil of a night, and I do not wish my sleep interrupted again.”
“Yes, m’lord.” The driver climbed back up to his perch. Connoll returned to the coach’s dim interior, tossed the book onto the seat opposite, and sank back to resume his sleep and try to forget about a certain mistress who’d decided to marry – though thankfully not him. Blasted Daisy Applegate.
Abruptly he sat forward again. He’d kissed the chit, Miss Mun . . . Mun something. Yes, he’d kissed Miss Someone, and that could be bad. Not unpleasant, but bad. Kissing a Miss in public was always bad. He was generally much more careful about the setting for that sort of activity.
Finally he realized that the coach had stopped rocking, and that the usual noise of London seemed rather subdued. And his head ached like the devil. “Damnation,” he muttered, and thumped on the ceiling with his fist. “Epping, if we’re lost, I will toss you out of my employment on your bloody backside.”
Frowning, Connoll stood and shoved open the coach’s door. They were indeed stopped. They were stopped to such a degree that the horses were gone from their harnesses, and a pair of geese waddled between the near wheels in his stable yard.
He grabbed up the chit’s book. Avoiding the geese, he stepped to the ground and stalked around the side of the house to his front door. It swung open as he topped the steps.
“Good afternoon, Lord Rawley.”
Afternoon. “Winters, how long was I asleep in the damned coach in the damned stable yard?”
“Nearly three hours, my lord. Epping said you’d expressly requested that you not be disturbed.”
“By his wrecking the coach again, yes, that halfwit. I didn’t mean for him to leave me boxed up and ready for delivery.”
“I shall inform him of his error, my lord.”
Connoll headed for the stairs, shedding his coat as he went. “And send me Hodges. I want a bath.”
“Very good, my lord.”
He needed a bath, and a shave, and a change of clothes. With a glance at the book he carried, Connoll shook his head. However much he would have liked to busy himself in his office study until nightfall, he’d done some damage – and he needed to determine its extent. The chit was a Miss with a good-quality carriage, and she read progressive literature. And that was all he knew about her. That and the fuzzy memory of frighteningly intelligent hazel eyes, a soft, subtle mouth, and curling honey-blonde hair. And what had she been saying about a diamond?
“Yes, my lord?” echoed up from the foyer.
“I want to have a word with Epping.” He could hear the unspoken query in the ensuing silence. “No, I don’t mean to sack him, but I make no promise about murdering him.”
“I’ll send him to you at once, my lord.”
He wanted an address – to return a book, and to inquire after any damages to a coach. And to discover whether that female’s dismissive practicality had been a ruse to set him off balance while she chose a wedding gown. Women had attempted to trap him into marriage over the Seasons, but he’d never made it so bloody easy for any of them before. Damnation. And still he continued to contemplate that kiss.
Richard Addison went up the stepladder and peered into the small, irregularly-shaped hole in the wall of his old stable. After several renovations in over two hundred years, and especially with the massive one he’d commissioned seven years earlier, the fact that this hiding place had remained intact was something of a miracle.
Deep in the far left corner his fingers touched something, and he pulled it free. An old lead soldier, its paint flaked and faded away to nothing, emerged into Sam’s expertly-lit exhibit room.
“What is it?” she asked, standing on her tiptoes to look.
“A fusilier,” he returned, handing it to her and stepping down. “George the Third, I would think.”
She gave him a quicksilver grin. “I knew you were an expert in Georgian painters, but I had no idea about the toy soldiers.”
“I was an English lad, you know.” He glanced around the cluttered room. “Where’s Armand?”
“Mr. Montgomery took your diamond outside to examine it in the sunlight.” Samantha handed him back the soldier. “I’ve never seen an English guy look so excited.”
Richard lifted an eyebrow. “I beg your pardon?”
She snorted. “Well, not outside a bedroom, anyway.”
“I just hope he doesn’t try to run off with it.”
“I could totally run him down if he tried,” she commented, heading with him to the door. “Besides, jewels are his life. And that one’s a stunner. Even if it is bad luck.”
“There’s no such thing as an object causing luck,” he said, taking her hand as they left the stable and walked over to where Armand Montgomery stood with the diamond in one hand and his cell phone in the other. “Peoples’ reaction to an object, yes,” he continued. “The object itself, no.”
“How logical of you, Mr. Spock.” She pulled free of his hand as Armand ended his call. “So, what do you think?” she asked him.
“It’s a blue diamond,” he returned, a muscle beneath his left eye jumping. “Expertly cut.”
In his career as a buyer and seller of properties, Richard had become very proficient at reading people. Their Mr. Montgomery was upset about something. “Armand? What’s troubling you?” he asked.
“I, um, was just called back to London. A question about the authenticity of a very prominent item in the museum collection.”
“But the exhibit opens here in three days.”
“Yes, I know. I’ll send my assistant up here with the delivery tomorrow.” He cleared his throat. “Abysmal timing, I know. And it’s been a pleasure working with you, Miss Jellicoe. And you again, Mr. Addison.” He opened the door of his Mercedes and slid onto the seat.
“Eventually, I will convince you to call me Rick. And Armand?”
The assistant curator looked up. “Yes?”
Montgomery blanched. “Oh, good God.” He handed the necklace over. “My apologies. I’m just, well, a bit distracted.”
Richard took a step back from the car. “No worries. Have a safe trip.”
As soon as the Mercedes left the gravel parking lot, Samantha clapped her hands together. “Great. I get the assistant’s assistant to help me put together a showing of a shitload of jewels.”
“You don’t need anyone else, my dear,” he commented, beginning to regret leaving the house barefoot if they were going to keep treading about on the gravel. “You know Montgomery was just window dressing.”
“Except that the exhibit belongs to his museum and goes where he says. And this is my first big gig like this, and I only got it because you own half the countryside, and the–“
Richard grabbed her around the waist, pulling her in for a long, soft kiss. Green eyes, auburn hair, slim and athletic – she’d attracted him the moment he set eyes on her, and that had been while she’d been in his Palm Beach house, trying to rob him. But it was the rest of her, the way she could disarm an alarm system in five seconds flat but refused to rob museums, the way she would full-on tackle an armed bad guy but hated killing spiders – she mesmerized him.
Obsession, heart, whatever he chose to call her, he loved her. So much that it frightened him sometimes. And she’d thought he had planted the diamond for her to find. And she hadn’t screamed and run away into the night. She’d thanked him, and kissed him – which made a certain item he’d picked up a few weeks ago even more interesting.
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