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About the author:
Chloe Glint is the writer of erotic romances. Her titles include A Gypsy’s Bridge, A Pirate’s Prisoner, and Love in Ribbons. Her short story has appeared in the Darkest Desires anthology. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys playing with her animals, running, and taking dance classes.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Edmund crawled through the window of the grand, three-story estate with an empty bag in hand. When his soles touched the floor with the grace of a cat’s feet upon the ground, he glanced around the darkened halls of the manor. Rich red rugs covered the floor and elaborate portraits hung upon cream colored walls. The ceiling had a mural painted upon it, though he could not make out the image. He smirked. If the people of this manor had enough riches to hire a grandeur artist to make their ceiling a work of art, then they were bound to have enough gold to keep his and his daughter, Mary’s, belly full for weeks.
With that thought in mind, Edmund snuck forward, then paused at a six foot tall case filled with decorative white and blue china. He stole a glance at the staircase which twisted tightly along a single pivot point and had black iron handrails to grip. Nobody was there. He turned his attention back to the decorative case, then opened one of the bottom drawers. Inside of the drawers was silver cutlery, cutlery fine enough that he could already imagine the money he would get in return for it. His mouth watered at the thought of putting a fat chicken upon the table and watching Mary’s blue eyes illuminate, turning her dark oceanic pools to bright, sparkling lights. He picked up the cutlery, then began to shovel it into his bag quickly, though being careful to not make too much noise.
Once Edmund had cleared the drawer, he reached up to seize china from their shelves. Just as he touched the black metal handle in order to open the glass pane display case, however, he heard the sound of rustling behind him and whirled around. There, standing with some sort of wooden club in hand, was a blonde-haired woman in a lilac nightgown with her face pink. Her chest heaved and a sheen of sweat covered her forehead. Edmund was so shocked by her sudden arrival that he froze. His stomach plummeted and his heart sped up. The woman, though she trembled with every footstep she made, headed toward him.
“Get away from my grandmother’s china,” the woman said. “Now.”
Edmund stepped away from the dresser, then dropped the bag of goods on the ground. His breath came in uneasy gasps as he imagined the police arriving in their carriages at the door. If he left Mary alone, she would die. Her mother, Bianca, had deserted them for a rich man and he had few he could call friends. His eyes dropped to the woman’s thin waist. The mousy creature couldn’t have been more than one hundred and ten pounds soaking wet. She was so small every bone in her body jutted out. It made him wonder who was the poor, starving person, she or him. Her smallness may have been a lucky break. He could knock her out and run.
But would you really be willing to do that? said a small voice in Edmund’s head. The answer was obvious. No. Edmund may have been a thief out of necessity, but he had never hurt another human being in his life. He wasn’t going to start with this thin, though strangely strong, woman who stood before him. Maybe he could reason with her.
“I won’t hurt you,” Edmund said. “You can put your weapon down.”
The woman shook her head adamantly. “So you can overpower me in a matter of seconds? I think not.”
I could overpower you whether you had that bat or not, lady. “Alright. If holding it makes you feel more comfortable, then so be it.”
The woman eyeballed him sourly, then glanced up at the staircase. She opened her mouth to yell, probably for a servant, and Edmund rushed at her and forced his hand over her soft lips. She trembled against him, then hit him on the back with her bat. It felt as though she was pummeling him with a twig. He pushed her against the wall and felt guilt and pity rush over him as he gazed into the woman’s startlingly green eyes. It pained him to see such fear in them.
“I promise I won’t do anything to you.” Edmund knew that she would not believe his words, but he had to say them anyway. “I have a daughter. You have no idea what it’s like to be poor. You have no idea what it’s like to be on the streets and wondering how you’re going to feed your baby girl the next day. That’s why I’m doing this. I’m begging you. I’ll leave all of your things, but please let me go.”
As Edmund gazed into the woman’s face, he could see her brain stirring. Her trembling lessened, but only by a little.
“I’m going to let your mouth go, but you must promise not to yell for help.” Edmund gazed into her face probingly.
For a second the woman did not move, but then she nodded slowly, as if she was unsure of her answer even as she gave it. Edmund released her face, half expecting her to scream, but she didn’t. He stepped away from her, grateful he didn’t have to pin her against the wall anymore. He was sure the action hurt himself as much as it hurt her.
“You have a daughter?” the woman asked quietly, suspicion dripping from every word she spoke.
Frowning, Edmund nodded. Images of his brown-haired, blue-eyed daughter tangoed in his head. When Mary smiled, it was as beautiful as it was ugly. Her face was so thin her skin stretched out upon bone. Even imagining it made him shudder.
“Why should I believe a thief?” the woman asked. “I could call my servants or my father who would have the police here within moments. How do I know this isn’t just a story to make me let you go?”
Edmund stared at the woman, then began to dig around in his pocket. From within it, he pulled out a small rag doll with button eyes he had stolen from a fine black carriage earlier that day. The people hadn’t even realized he had taken it, and he knew it would bring some comfort to Mary, though not as much as a full stomach would. The woman laid eyes on the doll and stilled.
“I know this isn’t much proof, but why would anyone but a father have a doll in his pocket?” Edmund studied her face, praying to see kindness.
As the woman considered him, her green eyes narrowed. She released a sigh as she tugged on a strand of hair.
“I really shouldn’t believe you…” The woman sighed. “This girl of yours. What’s her name?”
“Mary.” Mary Ellen, named after her grandmother, Edmund thought.
“Mary. A Christian name.” Once again, the woman eyeballed him. The irony was not lost on Edmund. “How old is she?”
“Ten,” Edmund said. “And smart. Far smarter than me.”
The stare the woman shot him suggested she thought everyone was smarter, but he shook off the look. He stared into her green eyes which reminded him of the thick green moss in the forest and wished he knew what she was thinking. The woman, still shaking, tucked a strand of curly blonde hair behind one ear and then bit her lip.
“Alright. Alright.” The woman sighed, then hung her head go. “You can go, but only because you have a daughter.”
Relief washed over him. It was like sunshine after weeks and weeks of French rain. He released a shaky breath.
“Thank you,” Edmund said.
Deciding to leave before the woman changed her mind, Edmund turned toward the still open window and headed toward it. He had made it three strides before he heard the woman call, “Wait!” Edmund stilled, his stomach sinking with dread. Once again he imagined being forced backward into a police carriage where he would be carted off to court.
“Yes?” Edmund did not dare turn around.
“Take the china,” the woman said. “My grandmother was a nasty beast. I hate to be reminded of her anyway.”
For a second he didn’t believe the woman’s words. But when he saw the woman held out his bulging bag, he knew she meant what she had said. He took the china from her and fought down the urge to kiss both of her thin cheeks.
“I know you likely don’t believe me about Mary, but it’s the truth.” Edmund pressed the bag against his chest. “This will feed us for quite a while.”
The woman nodded at him, then headed for the staircase. Though the woman was all pale skin and jutting bones, he felt the fleeting fires of attraction as she began to climb the steps. He exhaled a sigh, fought down his confused emotions, and rushed toward the window, grateful for the only kindness this world had showed him in so many years.