Read Revenge of the Barbary Ghost Online
Authors: Donna Lea Simpson
Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Supernatural, #Werewolves & Shifters, #Women Sleuths, #Romance, #Historical, #Historical Romance, #Mystery & Suspense, #Lady Julia Grey, #paranormal romance, #Lady Anne, #Gothic, #Historical mystery, #British mystery
Books in the Lady Anne Mystery Series
by Donna Lea Simpson
Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark
Revenge of the Barbary Ghost
Curse of the Gypsy
Revenge of the Barbary Ghost
A LADY ANNE MYSTERY
Donna Lea Simpson
Beyond the Page Books
are published by
Beyond the Page Publishing
Copyright © 2012 by Donna Lea Simpson
Material excerpted from
A Deadly Grind
copyright © 2012 by Donna Lea Simpson
Cover design and illustration by Dar Albert, Wicked Smart Designs
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Also Available from Donna Lea Simpson
To all the dedicated readers and fans
of Lady Anne Addison
and her dashing Marquess of Darkefell,
here is the continuation of her story.
for your wonderful letters
asking what is to become of her!
How should a lady go about forgetting an utterly unforgettable man?
Lady Anne Addison huddled in the dark on the grassy lip of a cliff overlooking a Cornish cove, watching the moonlight dance on the waves that broke on the gleaming beach, many fathoms below. The tide was rising, and the sound was a hushed susurration, a whisper that blended with the rustle of the long grass around her. It reminded her of a husky voice whispering in her ear, a wicked, devastatingly masculine voice, familiar to her and ever-present in her dreams.
Two weeks before, she had fled from Yorkshire to this lovely spot in Cornwall to enjoy time with Pamela and Marcus St. James, effervescent brother and sister, friends since Anne’s disastrous Season many years before. But if she was to be honest, her flight had been prompted by a need to get away from the infuriating, impenetrable, exasperating and completely dazzling Marquess of Darkefell, the man who had inexplicably proposed to her moments after saving her life. She had teetered on the brink of oblivion, shoved to the edge of a cliff above a waterfall by a murderous madman; the marquess risked his life to save her, then bellowed that she had to marry him.
As spring blossomed in gaudy profusion in the Cornish sunshine, she had begun to wonder why she had run away. Not that she believed she should have accepted Darkefell’s proposal. They barely knew each other. Shared kisses, as breathtaking as they were, were not a sturdy base upon which to build a union that would last many years and see as much sorrow as joy. She had only
to take the marquess’s measure when he shouted at her that she must marry him.
Must. Marry. Him. The words taken separately did not threaten, but together … oh, the overwhelming panic! She fancied herself courageous, but it was fear that had sent her scuttling south away from a fearsome urge to throw herself into the marquess’s arms and shout yes.
Her cowardice was not a welcome revelation. She put her chin on her knees and stared at the moon, but a noise below on the shore made her peek over the edge of the cliff again. She couldn’t see a thing, and so returned her gaze to the waning full moon above.
If not for that idiotic proposal and her odd reaction to it, she reflected, she would not have departed from Yorkshire so hastily. It wasn’t that she couldn’t see herself married to Darkefell—Tony, as he was known to his intimates—it was that she feared she would too easily become entranced, then infatuated, and finally sucked into a swirling vortex of adoration. He was intelligent, forceful, handsome, a skilled seducer, and maddeningly,
fascinating. His kisses suffocated her with strange desires she knew not how to defeat. And his wretched proposal, as infuriating as it was, had threatened to undermine her determination to delay marriage until she knew her own mind on the subject.
He was a dangerous man.
She sighed and stared up at the blanket of gleaming stars, idly picking out constellations her father had shown her through the lens of a telescope many years before, as she pondered her marital prospects. It seemed the longer she remained a spinster, the more difficult it was to imagine being married. She had been her own woman for so long and now, at the age of twenty-four, did not want to become a mere appendage, a burden, a moral obligation to any man. Some would argue she already was her father’s burden, and too long a weight on his purse, since she had not deigned to yoke herself with a man in holy wedlock. But her father, the Earl of Harecross, abstracted, scholarly and buried in his ancient Greeks and Macedonians, his language studies and cultural research, never made her feel that she was a encumbrance, legal or otherwise.
She stretched out on the ground, cradling her head in her bent arm, and lazily played with the long grass, weaving it in and out of her fingers as she contemplated her mixed feelings toward the marquess. While Darkefell kissed her she could think of nothing but how she wished it would go on forever. But when he released her, he was still the same commanding, wretchedly stubborn man! Preposterous to think that marriage to him, apart from the obvious physical delights he could offer and the wicked pleasures he would no doubt teach her, would be anything less than a parade of exasperating arguments and endless aggravation.
But lying out on a moonlit cliff in Cornwall in the middle of the night while her cat, Irusan, played with the toads and rodents, would solve nothing. She should go in and sleep. The next day promised another round of visits with new acquaintances in the seaside village of St. Wyllow, on the north coast of Cornwall: flirtation with Marcus St. James, shopping with Pamela and perhaps a fete or party with the officers of St. James’s regiment, billeted in nearby St. Ives.
She heaved a sigh, weary at the thought of it, and began to rise, brushing dried grass from her full skirts and petticoat. “Come along, Irusan,” she called out, softly. As she stood, a movement on the water caught her eye. And on the beach! She hunkered back down and stared over the cliff through the curtain of dancing grass. Irusan returned to her side and rubbed against her legs.
“What is that, puss, on the beach?” Anne whispered, squinting. He answered with an inquisitive “mrow?”
Moonglow caught the movement and lit it from above like a chandelier above a theater stage. She watched men on the beach, creeping out from the shadow of the cliff, and spotted a boat approaching, oars swishing through the choppy water. Anne frowned and stared as she put one staying hand on Irusan’s thick mane of fur. The moonlight path delineated a boat lumbering low in the water and manned by many oarsmen. A cresting wave carried the boat forward and it surged onto the sand. The men on the beach dashed forward to pull it up further, and the activity became frenetic. An oilskin cover was thrown back, then barrels and boxes were plucked from the laden boat and passed along a line of dark-clad men. Some slung rope-tied tubs over their shoulders and beetled up the shore to a dray with a draft horse hitched. One figure stood out, alone, waving a cutlass and directing the activity with bold motions.
Smugglers! There was no other explanation, and Anne shivered; she was familiar with sordid tales of the brutal tribe, so-called free traders, near her Kentish home. Wondering what she should do—stay down in the grass to avoid detection, or depart to the safe confines of the house—she watched, breath held.
Cliff House, Pamela’s rented home, was a good ways back from the cliff from which it took its name. A rocky cut divided the bluff where she huddled from another prominence beyond, which jutted above the sandy beach at an equal height. As she glanced toward that other cliff, she noted movement in the moonlight, something more than the tall grass rustling in the quickening breeze. Several men stood, suddenly, and with a shout surged toward the rocky path along the cut, down to the beach.
But another figure appeared that same moment, floating impossibly in midair beyond the cliff’s edge where Anne crouched. She fell back on her rump in the long grass and scuttled, crablike, backward. It was a black-bearded, turban-clad man, dressed in a banyan made of rich, glowing fabrics, and ballooning white pantaloons; he slashed a scimitar through the air with one hand while holding a lantern in the other. His mouth opened as if he shouted, but no sound came out, and the men who had been moving down toward the smugglers halted in the rocky cut, the whites of their eyes gleaming in the moonlight, faces bleached with fear. The Mussulman—for that is what the specter appeared to Anne to be, though she had only oriental portraits to go by—gestured wildly, then, with one grand motion, produced smoke. The men fell back and Anne, trembling, put one hand to her mouth to keep from crying out.
An explosion accompanied by a brilliant shower of sparks shattered the quietude and echoed in the sheltered bay. Another crack of sound down on the beach echoed against the cliff wall, and sand arced up, bright lights lit the night sky; the zinging sound of fireworks followed the explosion. Anne stumbled to her feet and cried out, staggering further backward from the cliff edge as some of the other group of men retreated in a panicked scramble of movement, back up to the far prominence. Irusan had already streaked away, back toward the house.