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Authors: Kay Hooper

Velvet Lightning

BOOK: Velvet Lightning
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“You’re early,” she said, her arms full of folded linen. “Let me put this on the bed.”

He watched her as she moved past him toward the bed, and he caught a fleeting scent of cinnamon. Desire washed over him so abruptly and strongly that he caught his breath. ‘‘Never mind the sheets.”

She turned to face him, surprised. ‘‘For heaven’s sake, Tyrone—” It was a breathless protest without strength.

He stepped to her, taking the sheets and dropping them to the floor. His hands pulled the pins from her hair and cast them aside until her hair fell about her shoulders in a shining dark brown mass. The heat of an inner fire was rising in her cheeks.

Tyrone thought she was beautiful. He always had, even before seeing this hidden part of her. He reached for buttons and began unfastening them slowly, one by one, beginning at her throat. It took a tremendous effort to keep from crushing her in his arms, but he held on to his control with all his will.

When the dress was unbuttoned to her waist, he drew the edges apart, leaving her barely veiled in her shift, her pale, soft skin gleaming in the half-light.

“This is how I think of you,” he muttered roughly. “Wanting me as I want you, until nothing else matters.” He yanked her against him suddenly, and he kissed her with a driving, punishing hunger, taking, demanding everything.

And his lady, her mind and senses whirling, refused nothing. Her heart was pounding, and she was burning . . . burning for him....

THE DELANEYS, THE UNTAMED YEARS II

 

Velvet Lightning

Kay Hooper

 

VELVET LIGHTNING

A Bantam Book / November 1988

 

 

 

 

All rights reserved.

Copyright © 1988 by Kay Hooper.

Cover art copyright © 1988 by Dino Daeni.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

For information address: Bantam Books.

 

ISBN 0-553-21980-4

 

Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada

Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10103.

scanned by fullybook v1 8/26/12

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

 

Prologue

 

Aboard
The Raven

New York Harbor, November 1871

 

C
aptain Marcus Tyrone stood on the captain’s deck and absently watched his unusually small crew scurrying about the ship. He had taken on volunteers this trip, explaining that
The Raven
would be at anchor for an extended period, and that those accompanying him would be expected to behave themselves.

His men took the mild warning to heart. Twenty of those who had been to Port Elizabeth on previous trips had elected to sail this time, knowing there would be rest and ease, and that they would be well paid. Bored, most likely, but well paid.

Tyrone gazed briefly back at the city, then sighed and looked ahead. He had left instructions in his office for Jesse, as he had on past occasions, and smiled a little as he thought of that young man’s probable reaction. Jesse Beaumont had developed a strong liking for the sea these last years, and hated being forced to remain on dry land for any length of time. Still, he would take good care of Tyrone’s business during this trip.

He was the only man Tyrone trusted to do so.

Tyrone hoped that business affairs were all Jesse would be forced to cope with. However, since Jesse had gone west to find his long-lost sister, Tyrone had had time to think everything through, time to curse the vagaries of fate. When he had received Jesse’s telegram saying that all was well and that he was returning to New York, Tyrone had swiftly made his own plans to slip away.

Falcon Delaney wouldn’t be stopped, Tyrone knew. That man had been on the trail of stolen gold for too many years to abandon the search no matter how obscure and tangled the path had become. And there had been too many deaths tied to the gold, the most jarring to Tyrone being the man to whom he owed so much.

 

REGRETS—MORGAN FONTAINE IS DEAD.

Jesse's telegram, the statement made baldly. Tyrone shook off the memory, but he couldn’t help thinking of how two separate webs of intrigue and deceit spun so many years before had somehow overlapped, catching both himself and Falcon Delaney in the sticky strands. And now neither could escape.
It would be over soon. Tyrone could only hope that there was enough time yet to see his plans to their completion.
But for now he was going home.

 

 

1

 

Falcon Delaney's journal

November 1871

New York

 

               

The discovery of Morgan Fontaine’s hiding place for the gold shipment stolen from the Union by him and his conspirators should have ended my long search at last. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The grave had been undisturbed for years, of that I am sure. Victoria is certain Fontaine never returned to the old mission after he had buried the gold there eight years ago. The group of conspirators he betrayed are all dead; only two, in fact, survived the war, and those two were killed while still searching for the gold.

It seems obvious that no member of the group could have found and recovered the gold in the years immediately after it was secreted. That trail has ended, and I know of only one other.

Victoria and I arrived back in New York yesterday to find that
The Raven
had sailed south with Captain Tyrone aboard and in command himself. I can only believe that, as in the past, he will sail to some point between Florida and the Bahamas.

Though I cannot as yet know what lay behind it all, and though I find myself reluctant to accept it, the conclusion seems inescapable. Marcus Tyrone was Fontaine’s friend; he delivered the gold to Fontaine rather than to the group that had commissioned its transport. And I have discovered that back in 1865 while
The Raven
was anchored in Charleston harbor for a period of several weeks Tyrone journeyed inland alone.

I can find no witnesses to his return.
The Raven
raised anchor and left the harbor with a midnight tide. She did not return to any port along the coast for six months.

A simple theft by Tyrone of the gold seems to me incredible and unbelievable. Still, I must discover the truth. I have been too long on the trail of the gold to stop now.

Victoria’s brother, Jesse, was almost continually aboard
The Raven
in those days, and could doubtless provide me with at least some of the answers I seek. He, however, refuses to discuss the matter at all, and how can I press him to forget his natural and understandable loyalty to Tyrone?

I am in the unhappy position of requiring information from the man who, yesterday afternoon, stood witness to my marriage to his sister.

Camelot

F
alcon, bending over a desk in a dark and silent office near the waterfront, squinted in the faint light of the desk lamp and frowned. He was staring down at a ledger which for the most part seemed to detail business transactions during the year of 1863. He had found the ledgers stacked neatly on a shelf behind the desk, with this particular year on top.

The heading on the page he stared down at was simple: only the month—
April
. There was no mention of gold. There was no explanation of a business transaction. There was only the word
Camelot
beneath the month. It was heavily underscored and followed by a list of names.

After a brief hesitation, Falcon drew a notebook from his pocket and copied the list neatly. He thumbed through the remaining pages of the ledger but found nothing of interest. He returned the ledger to its place and put out the lamp, then, soft-footed, went to the door.

Minutes later he was striding soundlessly through the dark, dangerous streets of the waterfront. Behind him, the business offices of Marcus Tyrone were left undisturbed, as though he had never been there. Tyrone wouldn’t discover the illegal visit, of course, since he had left New York. But Jesse—reluctantly and with a great deal of swearing—was occupying the office in Tyrone’s place, and Falcon had no intention of further upsetting his new brother-in-law.

Entering an uptown hotel a considerable time later, Falcon nodded briefly at the sleepy desk clerk and went straight upstairs. She was waiting for him, dressed for bed but awake, and relief eased her delicate features as he came into their room.

“You’ve been such a long time. I was beginning to worry.”

Falcon pulled her into his arms and kissed her lingeringly. “Nice to have someone to worry about my hide,” he murmured, then grimaced faintly. “A poor honeymoon for you, sweet.”

Victoria Delaney smiled broadly at her husband. “I believe I can bear it.” Then she sobered. “You won’t be content until you find out what happened to that gold, and neither will I. The job has to be finished.”

“Yes. The trail's getting hellishly tangled though.” “You found something.”

“I’m damned if I know.” He pulled her down on the bed beside him and showed her the list he had copied into his notebook. “Look at this. You’ll probably recognize at least a few of these names. James Sheridan and Ryan Stewart are senators; Steven Franks is a judge; Paul Anderson is a cabinet member. And you remember Leon Hamilton.”

BOOK: Velvet Lightning
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