Kate Noble Revealed (Berkley Sensation)

ISBN 13: 9780425233085

Revealed (Berkley Sensation)

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9780425233085: Revealed (Berkley Sensation)

From the acclaimed author of Compromised comes a tale of love and war among the ton.

Phillippa Benning is the unrivaled beauty of the Season. But when another lady challenges her for a marquis's attentions, Phillippa entices him to a secret rendezvous only to stumble upon The Blue Raven, England's most famous spy, lurking at the site of her planned tryst.

The Blue Raven has uncovered an enemy plot directed at upcoming society functions, but he's unable to infiltrate London society. Phillippa makes an offer: in exchange for entrée among the ton, he agrees to have his true identity revealed at the Benning Ball, guaranteeing her unrivaled notoriety. As the danger draws closer, the mysterious spy and Phillippa give in to mutual desire. But when the game turns deadly, betrayal waits around the corner, and Phillippa must decide once and for all, is it the myth that captured her heart, or the man?

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About the Author:

Kate Noble love books. Romances especially. But, being born into a family of doctors, scientists, and mathematicians, she didn't discover she was adept at writing until, oh, about junior year of high school. Which came as something of a relief, as she was hopeless at memorizing the Latin names for all the bones in the human body. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle eludes her to this day. Kate lives in Los Angeles.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

 

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-one

Twenty-two

Twenty-three

Twenty-four

Twenty-five

Twenty-six

 

Epilogue

Berkley Sensation Titles by Kate Noble

COMPROMISED

REVEALED

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

 

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

 

This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Kate Rorick.

 

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

BERKLEY® SENSATION and the “B” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

 

PRINTING HISTORY

Berkley Sensation trade paperback edition / March 2009

 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

 

Noble, Kate, 1978-

Revealed / Kate Noble.—Berkley Sensation trade pbk. ed. p. cm.

eISBN : 978-1-101-02475-1

1. London (England)—Social life and customs—19th century—Fiction. I. Title.

 

PS3614.O246R’.6—dc22

2008048320

 

 

To my father and brother, the two wisest

and most unflappable gentlemen I know.

Prologue

THE setting sun reflected off the inn’s bronze door knocker, blazing orange light like a beacon to the weary traveler. He had been on the road for days, on the trail of his enemy, and at last, the inn at the end of the road beckoned him as if to say, “This is it. The final place.”

It would end now. He was certain of it.

The building sat on the jagged edge of land and sea. He felt, he feared, it was the right place. His sinking stomach told him it was. He took a swig of water from the leather pouch he kept hooked to his waist. Squaring his shoulders, he ruthlessly combed his fingers through his hair, willing himself out of exhaustion. Then, as he approached, the building came into focus.

His instincts had been right, and tonight there would be blood-shed. But would it be his or his enemy’s?

His contact’s information was very good, he thought, as he read the choppily carved text beneath the inn’s name on its mast-head. Fin de Rue Poisson. Literally translated, End of Fish Road. His contact had told him that the encoded communiqué they had intercepted had been translated to say “fish fin.” And thus, he had been searching every stall, every ship, every pub in every small coastal village in this northern region of France for a “fish fin.” The Fin de Rue Poisson may not be a literal translation, but as an amalgam of English and French, it fit the bill.

The sea lapped jawfuls of water nearly at the base of the inn. If he looked hard enough, stared long enough, could he see England? Could he see home?

No. All he could see was the water and the looming building, beckoning him closer.

It was time to find the man who had eluded him for so long.

The Frenchman stood at the window in the westernmost room of the uppermost floor of the seaside inn at the end of the rue Poisson. He faced the cobbled street that led from the village to the seashore, the farthest corner of the structure, yes, but it was strategic. Here, he could see what was coming. The copper sun burned his eyes, but he had to remain vigilant, had to stay aware, had to stay alive.

He knew the man they called the Blue Raven was due to arrive. He knew, because he had leaked the clue to the safe house whereabouts himself.

Tonight he would prove his worth.

The Frenchman glanced at his pocket watch. Who knew it would take so damned long?

Movement on the street caught his eye. The Frenchman squinted into the sun and leaned into the glass, searching. His heartbeat quickened, the blood rushing to his temples, his muscles tensing, ready for fight or flight.

The clacking of horse hooves on cobblestones reached his ears as a carriage came into sight, a large, burly man driving the team. His face was shaded by an oversized leather hat, his form covered by a heavy cloak. The Frenchman watched and waited as the carriage approached . . . and turned a corner, out of sight.

A breath held too long fell from his lungs in a staccato rhythm. The Emperor had waved the white flag at Waterloo nearly a fortnight ago, but he knew the loyal were still being hunted. He was still too used to that rush of noise in his ears that woke him up in the dead of night. They would come together again. They would not surrender as easily as their leader. But for now, he kept his hand on the beautifully scrolled pistol at his waist, squeezing its cold, hard length for comfort.

“That will not help you now,” said a deep, rasping voice from the door.

The Frenchman turned, his hand remaining still on his belt, and took his first look at the Blue Raven.

He was dressed in the worn oilskins of a local fisherman, but the ornate pistol leveled at the Frenchman’s fair head was not part of a fisherman’s costume. That deadly weapon, as a matter of fact, was an identical match to the one he held at his waist.

“So,” the Frenchman spoke in perfect if accented English, “the little pigeon has arrived. Finally.”

“I apologize if I kept you waiting,” the Englishman replied in perfect if accented French.

The Frenchman leaned back in the comfortable, leather, winged chair. “I must say, you look different than I expected.”

The Englishman’s eyes narrowed. “You look exactly as I expected.”

“Do I?”

“Yes, but then again, I have the advantage. I saw you once at a distance.” The Englishman cocked the pistol, the metallic click echoing in the small room. “You were slitting the throat of one of my countrymen.”

A sudden flash of feeling ran down the Frenchman’s spine, so unfamiliar, it took him a moment to identify it as panic.

He knew, in that spare second, that he had greatly miscalculated his adversary. He had neglected to factor in the hate he saw burning in the Blue Raven’s eyes.

“You’ve been tracked through cities and across battlefields,” the Englishman said, his voice breaking with bitter spite. “And too many lives have been taken or destroyed by you.”

“Monseiur,” the Frenchman said, managing a cold smile in spite of the wildness of his heartbeat. “Surely we can settle our dispute as gentlemen.”

The Englishman regarded him, his arm and gaze steady and strong. “No,” he replied. “I tire of being a gentleman.”

The Frenchman’s hand came up in a blur of movement, and the air rang with the sound of gunfire.

The Blue Raven remained standing in the doorway until the weight on his leg gave out. The hole three inches above his knee leaked smoke, then a warm red spurt began trickling down his calf. But the Frenchman, the adversary he had hunted for the better part of a decade, who had seduced secrets from England’s top leaders and spilled the blood of those who weren’t so easily charmed, remained seated.

He wouldn’t be getting up any time soon.

The red stain grew and spread on the white lawn of the Frenchman’s shirtfront. His eyes were opened in surprise.

Until the end, he had believed he would win.

The Englishman hobbled over to the Frenchman’s body and removed the pistol from that man’s limp hand. He stuffed it ruthlessly into the waist of his trousers, reuniting it with its mate after so many years. A small glint of metal from around the dead man’s neck caught his attention. He pulled it free of the bloody shirt: a crucifix. Quietly laying it back on the man’s chest, the Englishman took a moment and then gently closed his enemy’s eyes.

The Blue Raven straightened, wincing as his weight fell on his wounded leg. He didn’t have much time; the English had won the war, but he was still on French soil. He could hear the innkeeper’s boots on the stairs already; there was only time for one last detail.

From the pocket of his oilskin overcoat, he pulled out a black feather and laid it gently on the dead man’s lap.

As he departed the inn via a window, he couldn’t keep the elation from flowing, adrenaline overcoming his injury and powering his escape.

It was over.

Finally.

 

 

One Year Later

“Will this work?” the first man asked, more nerves in his voice than he liked. He prided himself on maintaining an air of nonchalance, but the jostling evening crowd at the Bull and Whisker and the company of the man next to him had him slightly on edge.

“But of course. While your English imagination is lacking, I see clearly,” his companion answered, his French accent smoothing over the cruel bite of his words. “But I’m counting on your English prejudice.” He rapped his knuckle on the bar once more, and the beefy man behind brought over the bottle and refilled his glass again.

The first man held up his hand, refusing to let his own drink be refilled. “I don’t think imbibing so much is good for our . . . operation.”

C’est la difference. England seems to have better French brandy than France. Even in this”—he gestured at the crowded, common merriment about them—“place. I will take my share of its pleasure. The pigeon robbed me of much, but he did not rob me of that.”

“But when—”

“When it is necessary that I be sober, I will be. For now, we are nothing more than two commoners meeting for a drink. So I suggest you have another,” the Frenchman bit out. “Non? Fine. As for our arrangement, I am prepared. I suggest you prepare as well.”

And with that he stood, picking up his silver-handled walking stick, and turned, perfectly balanced. He loped to the door with the grace born to those of his nationality, and exited.

The first man turned back to the bar, signaled the man for another drink. He let out a low, unsteady breath.

He knew what he did was for his good and the good of England.

But damned if he wasn’t making a pact with the devil.

Outside the Bull and Whisker, it was a generally quiet evening, as evenings down at the docksides go, Johnny Dicks thought, chewing the stub of his cheroot. He watched as the sober went into the pub, nodding as they doffed their caps to him as they passed, and then watched them leave, drunk and sloppy. Sometimes he had to stand up off his somewhat comfortable stool and keep the rougher sort from entering the Bull; sometimes Marty would poke his head out and bring him inside to remove someone who became a bit rougher with drink than Marty liked.

When he and Marty were mates in the Seventeenth Regiment, he was a rum one for a good fight, but ever since he bought the Bull, he’d said the cost of replacing all the broken chairs and crockery made the fighting a touch less the crack.

So it was that Johnny Dicks was contemplating the last time Marty had bemoaned a splintered chair and how his brother-in-law the carpenter was like to bilk him, when the reedy gent came strolling out the Bull and Whisker, swinging his stick like he owned the world and the sky above it.

“Have a good evenin’, Cap’n,” Johnny Dicks called out and nodded as the man passed. The man swung around wildly, his cane connecting with Dicks’s shin.

“Hey!” he called out. “That hurt, that did!”

“What did you call me?” the reedy man spat out, his Frenchy accent slurred by drink. The man held himself together when walking well enough, but with his temper up, the drink showed through. Johnny Dicks gained his feet. The height and weight that made him an imposing doorman was put to work now, leaning over the Frenchy. But the Frenchy’s face took on a peculiar sheen, a glint of anticipation in his eye.

“I am not your captain,” the Frenchy bit out. He swung out with the stick, like a cricket bat. Johnny caught it in his hand and swung with his meaty fist. But the Frenchman was faster, ducking and landing two quick blows to Johnny’s body, one to his liver and one to his spleen. The silver-headed cane clattered to the ground as Johnny Dicks fell to his knees.

“The pigeon did not end me; neither shall you,” the Frenchy spat out, and with one swift, vicious motion, his heavy Hessian boot landed on Johnny Dicks’s jaw.

Johnny fell back, tasting the grime of the cobblestones. He lay on his side, breathing heavily, his jaw on fire, and watched as the Frenchman picked up his cane and, easy as you please, strolled down the way and disappeared around the corner.

“Oy! Johnny!” came a high, soft voice. Johnny rolled over and saw Miss Meggie, a local “lady”—couldn’t be more than twenty years old, but long since initiated in her professions of part-time prostitute and full-time pickpocket.

“You all right? That bloke just felled you like you was made o’ sawdust!” Miss Meggie said, helping Johnny to sit up. Johnny felt his jaw, happy to find it unbroken, but he found it necessary to spit out a small bit of blood and a tooth or two.

“What’d you say to ’im?” Miss Meggie asked.

“I said good night.”

“Yeah, and I reckon he said it right back,” Miss Meggie snorted.

“Actually he said somethin’ odd—somethin’ about a pigeon.” Johnny’s brow furrowed, only a little painful. “Meggie, you think you can follow the gent? I have a mind to find out more about ’im.”

“No worries, Johnny; there ain’t been a gent yet that Meggie could’na track down.”

And with that, Miss Meggie...

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