Title: Devil Disguised
Author: Karolyn Howard
Release Date: May 23, 2014
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A dark cloud hovers over Lady Lily Montgomery. Her future is no longer her own. She is betrothed to a man she cannot recall meeting, and worse; many close to her have perished under mysterious circumstances. For her protection, her guardian sends her away from London to stay with his friend, Lord Duncan Cavanaugh, the Earl of Westbrook. Duncan is not convinced Lady Lily is a virtuous victim and steels himself to unearth what lies beneath her beauty and boldness. Does she orchestrate the tragic deaths of those close to her or is someone covering his or her tracks too well? He vows to solve this deadly mystery and to ignore her charming spell. As he begins to uncoverthe truth, Duncanmust decide if Lily is an angel of misfortune or the devil in disguise.
An arm was raised near him and he reached for the arm as he spun and pushed the intruder into the wall. He heard a gasp as he shoved the intruder into the wall and pressed his body forward holding the arm above him. His body shifted against surprisingly feminine curves. Shifting, he looked down to see Lily's eyes widen in fear as he held her arm above her head and the dagger at her throat.
He stepped away immediately. "Lily! What the hell are you doing?"
She looked down and replied, "I heard a noise."
"You should have woken me and not come down here by yourself," he whispered harshly.
Even in the dim moonlight he could feel her penetrating stare. She shifted the candlestick she carried and placed it under her arm as she rubbed the wrist that he had just held.
"I wanted to be certain someone was there before I alerted anyone. A strange noise should not instantly cause alarm," she scoffed.
"Did I hurt you?" Duncan asked as he watched her continue to rub her wrist.
She shook her head and looked away from him again, as if embarrassed. Duncan's eyes adjusted to the dim light and he looked over her to make sure she was uninjured. He gaped. She wore a white nightgown, but her entire form was visible through the nearly transparent material. The perfection of her form did not surprise him, but seeing her nipples harden and the dark triangle between her legs was about to undo him. She was an angel who could tempt the devil himself.
He gently placed his hand on her shoulder and said, "Stay here."
His voice sounded much harsher than he intended, but he watched Lily shake her head.
"No. I will be safer with you."
Duncan opened his mouth to protest, but his stomach tightened at the confidence of her words.
"Fine. Stay behind me and try to be quiet."
He moved forward and then reached behind him as he felt her delicate hand move into his. Staying close to the wall, they moved together towards the kitchen. They went behind a wall near the library and he saw someone moving towards them. He put his finger to his lips to signal Lily to be silent as he crotched down and then leapt on the person, slamming them down on the ground.
The man cried out, "Villain!"
Then the man swung and struck Duncan on the side of the face.
His cheek stung as he recognized his butler's voice. "Simon, you fool, it's me!"
"Oh, my lord! Beg your pardon, sir!"
Duncan moved off Simon and they stood up together. "What the hell are you doing?"
Simon replied, "I heard a noise and came to investigate."
"So did I. What did you find?"
"Nothing, but the back door was open and I am certain it was closed before. I was going to search the grounds when I heard another noise in the hallway, which I assume now, was you."
Duncan nodded as he saw Simon gape as he turned towards Lily. "My lady!"
If Duncan had a coat he would have taken it off and thrown it over her. Simon looked at Duncan obviously at a loss for further words and then removed his robe. Handing the robe to Lily, he said, "Please, for you."
Taking the robe from his butler, she blushed and said, "Thank you."
Duncan said, "Simon, check the grounds. I will take Lady Montgomery back up to her room and I will check on Eleanor."
Simon nodded and walked away from them. Duncan turned and looked at Lily. "We should go."
She shook her head. "Wait."
"Must you always challenge me," he asked harshly.
"I just think you need some ice for your cheek."
She gently touched his face where Simon had struck him and then pulled her hand back swiftly as if she touched fire. Glancing over him, she appeared uneasy before she stepped back.
He took a deep breath and said, "I will take care of it later, but I appreciate your concern."
Duncan took her elbow to lead her upstairs. As much as he would enjoy her administrations, he needed to get her as far away from him as possible. He opened her door and did a quick check of her bedroom. Satisfied no one was in the room, he stopped in the doorway as he felt her hand gently touch his arm. She whispered, "Thank you."
Turning to face her, he sighed before he said, "If you hear a noise in the future, please wake me or one of the staff." He stepped back slightly into the hallway. "Also, Lily, please remember to wear a robe if you venture out in the middle of the night."
She narrowed her eyes as she placed one fist on her hip. "Certainly, as long as you remember to wear a shirt!"
She glared at him just before she slammed the door in his face.
Karolyn Howard resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and their two canine companions. An avid reader of romance novels, she enjoys diving into the past with the creation of her own characters and stories. The Regency Period, with the handsome lords and beautiful ladies continues to beckon. Devil Disguised is her second novel. Her first novel, A Lady's Choice is also available. Other stories are in the works, including a sequel to Devil Disguised. When Karolyn is taken away from her writing it is usually by a television show involving a vampire or by a show involving someone known only as "The Doctor". Between working full-time and writing, she spends some of her time volunteering at a local animal shelter.