Wishes in the Wind (Kingsley in Love)

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9781511318952: Wishes in the Wind (Kingsley in Love)

Will wishing on a star save her life...and bring her love? Die, Aldridge. The painted threat oozes down the stable's walls. Nicole Aldridge, the only child of England's finest jockey, is driven by one goal: to protect her father from merciless blackmailers. To make ends meet, she disguises herself as a boy to compete in a celebrated derby. But her new employer is Dustin Kingsley, the marquis of Tyreham, a devastatingly attractive nobleman who soon ensnares Nicole in his sensual thrall. London's most eligible bachelor, Dustin has despaired of finding a woman who can be his equal in every way. When he discovers that his new jockey and the restless beauty he meets under a starlit sky are one and the same, he uses his seductive wiles to coax out Nicole's deepest secrets. But their passion spirals out of control, plunging Dustin and Nicole into a world of shadow and mystery. With enemies all around and hope fading fast, destiny grants the desperate lovers one last wish.

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About the Author:

Andrea Kane’s groundbreaking romantic thriller, Run for Your Life, became an instant New York Times bestseller, which she followed with No Way Out, Scent of Danger, I’ll Be Watching You, Wrong Place, Wrong Time, and Dark Room. With a worldwide following and novels published in sixteen countries, she is also the author of fourteen historical romances. Kane lives in New Jersey with her family, where she is learning to sharpen her firearms and investigative skills like a more seasoned FBI special agent. Between target practices, she is researching and writing the sequel to Twisted. www.andreakane.com

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

Newmarket Suffolkshire, England April 28, 1875

Die, Aldridge.

The painted words pierced Nicole's soul like the fatal stab of a dagger.

Bloodred, they trickled down the stall's rear wall, sending shards of terror streaking up her spine. Unconsciously, she gripped Oberon's reins more tightly, unable to enter the thoroughbred's quarters, equally unable to back away.

All semblance of the past hour's reveling vanished in a heartbeat, the jubilant celebration spawned by her father's victory in the 2,000 Guineas forgotten in lieu of this grotesque spectacle.

Die, Aldridge.

Nicole's eyes squeezed shut -- a futile gesture, for it could not erase the imprint of that pointed, sinister threat.

"Nickie?" From thirty feet away, Nicholas Aldridge sensed, rather than saw, his daughter's reaction. Extricating himself from his fellow jockeys, he made his way through Newmarket's stable to her side, patting Oberon affectionately as he passed. "What's wrong?"

His question died in his throat as he followed Nicole's gaze. "Damn," he swore softly.

"Papa," she managed, turning to face him. "What...?"

"It's paint, Nickie. Only paint. Not blood."

"I realize that." She wet her lips with the tip of her tongue. "But its meaning is clear." Violet blue eyes studied her father astutely. "It's because of the race, isn't it? Because you wouldn't cooperate?"

Her father glanced furtively from side to side. "How did you know about that? Sullivan swore to me he wouldn't say a word."

"Sully told me nothing. He didn't need to. I'm not blind, Papa. Nor am I deaf. I've heard you tossing about at night, just as I heard your hushed conversations with Sully. Thus, I know what pressure you've been suffering these past weeks. But I had no idea the consequences of your refusal could be as serious as -- " Nicole broke off, her tormented stare returning to the ominous crimson letters. "Who painted that?" she demanded. "Exactly who are these horrible men? Are they capable of making that threat a reality?"

"The scum who painted that message are merely pawns, Nickie. They deliver messages with their fists." Shoving back his cap, Nick dragged a forearm across his brow, then gulped at the bottle of ale he held. "As far as who issued their orders, I have no idea. But will he make sure they're carried out? I fear -- " His mouth snapped shut.

Nicole needed no further reply. Her chin came up, determination overriding panic. "Then we must act. Now. Before they have time to do so first."

"Act?" Fatherly protectiveness surged to life in Nick's eyes. "Nicole, you don't understand what -- who -- we're up against. These men are experts at coercion. There's no way for me to escape. I knew that from the instant I was approached, just as I knew there'd be hell to pay if I didn't throw this race. My visitors made that very clear." His somber gaze returned to the painted message. "Consequences," he muttered. "Pursuit. Harassment. Hell, even a beating. I expected all that. I also figured they'd try to blacklist me. None of it would have worked. I'm too damned tough to whip into submission and too damned good at what I do to be banned from the course. But murder?" His expression grew haunted, as if by uttering the word aloud he'd made the prospect all the more tangible.

"Let's go, Papa." Nicole was already in motion, having urged Oberon into his stall and untacked him with the skillful speed of a professional head lad. Snatching up a rag, she seized her father's bottle of ale, dousing the wall and vigorously scrubbing until the warning was no more than a muted blur. "There. Now no one will know the reason we fled."

"Fled?" Nick's head jerked around. "I just finished telling you -- "

"Hey, Nick!" Gordon Sullivan's deep voice interrupted them. Seconds later he strode into Oberon's stall. "We're celebrating your victory. What's keeping you and the elf?"

Unsmiling, Nick turned to his longtime friend and colleague. "They were here, Sully. They left their calling card."

Sully's grin vanished. "Dammit. I was afraid this might happen." He broke off, his uncertain gaze flickering to Nicole.

"Say what you like," Nick supplied. "My clever elf has figured it all out."

An unsurprised nod. "What type of calling card?'

"A threat," Nicole supplied, inserting herself between the men. "Painted in red. Bloodred. Sully, they mean to kill Papa. I've got to convince him to get out of here. Before it's too late."

"Kill him?" Sully echoed. "They used those words?"

"Their precise message was, 'Die Aldridge.' That's terrifying enough for me."

Beads of perspiration broke out on Sully's brow. "Nick, something's not right here. You know as well as I do that these bastards don't kill. Pressure, thrash -- yes. But kill? No." A flicker of apprehension. "Unless they're backed into a corner."

"You're talking about Redley," Nick supplied with a scowl of disbelief. "He was a bloody fool, Sully. Besides, we have no proof those lowlifes killed him."

"Don't we?" Sully's tone was ominously quiet. "You and I both ran the course at Doncaster last September. We both heard Redley boast to everyone within hearing distance that he'd thrown the St. Leger trial for himself, not for the scum who'd browbeaten him. He vowed to turn the tables, blackmail them out of thousands of pounds. Three days later, his quarters were ransacked and he was found dead."

"Oh, my God." Nicole went sheet white. "I thought he'd been robbed."

"It's possible he was." Nick wrapped a protective arm about Nicole's shoulders. "Stop it, Sully. You're scaring Nickie. Besides, the point is moot. I didn't give those hoodlums any cause for alarm. All I did was refuse to throw the race."

"Then why are they threatening to kill you?"

"The reasons don't matter," Nicole intervened. "Papa's safety does. I won't gamble with his life, Sully. I'm taking him away. Now."

Sully took in the all-too-familiar set of Nicole's jaw. "I agree, Nick must disappear, but not through your efforts, through mine."

"No." Nicole's veto was instant and fierce. "That would endanger your life as well. I won't have it."

"Nor will I," Nick concurred. "We'll find another way."

"Neither of you is thinking clearly," Sully accused with an exasperated shake of his head. "It's not my life that's at stake here. Nor is it solely yours, Nick." Scowling, he gave voice to the unpleasant truth. "These men aren't amateurs. They know everything about you -- including the existence of your revered only child. If you're in danger, so is Nicole."

"Damn," Nick hissed, all the color draining from his face. "I never considered that."

"Even if that's the case, Sully, you won't ensure my safety by risking your own," Nicole interrupted, her mind racing for answers. "So please don't get involved. This problem is mine. Mine and Papa's."

"Really?" Sully arched a brow. "And how do you intend to handle it? By dashing off to parts unknown like a reckless filly, Nick in tow? By running away with no strategy or means of survival?" He assessed Nicole's mutinous expression in utter exasperation.

Raucous laughter reached their ears.

"We haven't time for this argument now," Sully pronounced, glancing swiftly over his shoulder to confirm that none of their fellow jockeys had drifted close enough to overhear him. Confident that, for the moment, they remained alone, he dug into his pocket and extracted a key.

"Take Nick to my quarters. They're less than a mile from yours and a whole lot safer. Undoubtedly, whoever left that message knows where you live. By tomorrow they might have figured out that you've taken off, and come looking for you. I'll slip into your rooms tonight, before that happens. I'll fetch your things and bring them to you. By morning we'll have devised a plan to get you out of Suffolk -- both of you -- to transport you somewhere secluded. And I do mean secluded, not London during the heart of the racing season. Once we get you settled, you'll stay put until those bastards find a new victim. They can't hurt you if they can't find you. Now go."

"No bloody way," Nick denounced with a hard shake of his head. "Sully, have you lost your mind? I'm a jockey. How do you suggest I ride if I'm stashed away like some hidden treasure?"

"I don't suggest you ride. I suggest you stay alive. For your sake -- and Nicole's." Sully wasn't mincing words. "Now get the hell out of here before those ruffians come back to effect their threat." He groped in his jacket, pulling out several folded bills. "Take these. It's not much but it's all I've got, and, combined with your prize money, it'll be enough to buy you food and a place to stay."

"Keep your wages." Nick shoved his friend's hand away. "You're as noble -- and as rash -- as my daughter. Even if I were willing to give up racing and drop out of sight to protect Nickie, she and I need an income in order to survive. How long do you think we'd last on a few pounds?"

"We'll have an income, Papa," Nicole inserted, fists clenched at her sides. "I'll provide it."

Simultaneously, both men glared at her.

"What crazy idea are you thinking up this time, Elf?" Nick demanded, eyes narrowed in suspicion.

"It's not crazy. It's perfectly reasonable. Sully just claimed that I, as well as you, are in danger. Or rather, that Nick Aldridge and his daughter are. Well, I can eliminate both the danger and our lack of money."

"And how will you do that?"

"By ceasing to be your daughter."

Another silence, more ponderous than the first.

"Listen to me, Papa." Nicole gripped her father's forearms, excitement tingeing her cheeks as her plan took shape. "Those men will be hunting for Nick and Nicole Aldridge. Well, we won't be found. You'll be in hiding. And I'll no longer be Nicole Aldridge."

"And who, may I ask, will you be?"

An unconcerned shrug. "I haven't invented a name. At least not yet. But what I call myself doesn't matter. What matters is what I shall be, not who. And the answer to that is any one of a dozen things. A stable hand. A...

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Book Description Audible Studios on Brilliance, United States, 2016. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. Will wishing on a star save her life and bring her love? Die, Aldridge. The painted threat oozes down the stable s walls. Nicole Aldridge, the only child of England s finest jockey, is driven by one goal: to protect her father from merciless blackmailers. To make ends meet, she disguises herself as a boy to compete in a celebrated derby. But her new employer is Dustin Kingsley, the marquis of Tyreham, a devastatingly attractive nobleman who soon ensnares Nicole in his sensual thrall. London s most eligible bachelor, Dustin has despaired of finding a woman who can be his equal in every way. When he discovers that his new jockey and the restless beauty he meets under a starlit sky are one and the same, he uses his seductive wiles to coax out Nicole s deepest secrets. But their passion spirals out of control, plunging Dustin and Nicole into a world of shadow and mystery. With enemies all around and hope fading fast, destiny grants the desperate lovers one last wish. Bookseller Inventory # BRI9781511318952

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Book Description Audible Studios on Brilliance, United States, 2016. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. Will wishing on a star save her life and bring her love? Die, Aldridge. The painted threat oozes down the stable s walls. Nicole Aldridge, the only child of England s finest jockey, is driven by one goal: to protect her father from merciless blackmailers. To make ends meet, she disguises herself as a boy to compete in a celebrated derby. But her new employer is Dustin Kingsley, the marquis of Tyreham, a devastatingly attractive nobleman who soon ensnares Nicole in his sensual thrall. London s most eligible bachelor, Dustin has despaired of finding a woman who can be his equal in every way. When he discovers that his new jockey and the restless beauty he meets under a starlit sky are one and the same, he uses his seductive wiles to coax out Nicole s deepest secrets. But their passion spirals out of control, plunging Dustin and Nicole into a world of shadow and mystery. With enemies all around and hope fading fast, destiny grants the desperate lovers one last wish. Bookseller Inventory # BRI9781511318952

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Book Description Audible Studios on Brilliance, United States, 2016. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. Will wishing on a star save her life and bring her love? Die, Aldridge. The painted threat oozes down the stable s walls. Nicole Aldridge, the only child of England s finest jockey, is driven by one goal: to protect her father from merciless blackmailers. To make ends meet, she disguises herself as a boy to compete in a celebrated derby. But her new employer is Dustin Kingsley, the marquis of Tyreham, a devastatingly attractive nobleman who soon ensnares Nicole in his sensual thrall. London s most eligible bachelor, Dustin has despaired of finding a woman who can be his equal in every way. When he discovers that his new jockey and the restless beauty he meets under a starlit sky are one and the same, he uses his seductive wiles to coax out Nicole s deepest secrets. But their passion spirals out of control, plunging Dustin and Nicole into a world of shadow and mystery. With enemies all around and hope fading fast, destiny grants the desperate lovers one last wish. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9781511318952

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