Anne Pierson was a top-notch Washington journalist until a liaison with the wrong man implicated her in scandal. Years later, she’s hiding out in backwoods Turkey, working as a translator near the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu, determined to keep her past a secret and avoiding personal relationships. But her quiet little world is turned upside down when she meets American archaeologist Renaud Townsend.

          Renaud knows little about this foreign country or the project he’s been sent to manage after the former boss disappeared. Anne’s refusal to be his translator troubles him, but instinct tells him he can rely on her. Or is that only desire speaking? A lusty love affair for the duration of the summer dig would definitely help him adjust.

          When Anne’s reputation links her to stolen artifacts and murder at the site, their budding romance comes skidding to a halt. To clear her name, she must sacrifice her safety and reach out to trust Renaud. But is there enough time to give love a second chance?




The Turkish Affair

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Chapter one

                Anne watched whirlpools of dust rise, shimmer briefly, and vanish. Like phantoms. Ghosts of a forgotten world. Four thousand years ago, this stubborn earth felt the weight of Hittite warriors, of merchant convoys with cargoes of fragrant spice.

But those days were long gone. Now, no armies clanged over the plain; there was no tang of cardamom in the burning air.

            “Lost anybody?”

            The mocking voice sliced into her reverie, snapping her back to the present. Turning abruptly, she saw archaeologist Nick Carlson coming up the passage leading out of Karakuyu. He was right, too: where were the American tourists she was translating for? Gone. Asim, their Turkish guide, must have led them into the ancient city while she’d been standing here, dreaming. That didn’t make her look very competent. Even worse, Nick, a man who didn’t like her much, although she had no idea why, had caught her out.

            She managed a nonchalant shrug. “Not lost, Nick. Just temporarily misplaced.” Then sauntering past him, she headed down the sloping walkway into a forecourt lined with the booths of souvenir sellers. And there they were, clumped around site’s entry. Not ghosts, but her group of tourists, frazzled looking in their heat-wilted shorts, gaudy shirts, and shapeless sunhats.

            “What a strange place,” someone was muttering disconsolately. “So empty feeling.”

            “Sinister, that’s the word for it,” added an even more negative voice.

            Sinister? Ridiculous. Anne loved this archaeological site and its unique atmosphere. She forced a breezy note into her voice as she joined them. “Call it desolate, if you want. But not sinister.”

            Keeping a lighthearted atmosphere and maintaining cohesive calm were important when tour guiding. Unfamiliar surroundings and a difficult climate could change nervous folks into rebellious tyrants in a few, shattering seconds. When—and if—that happened, the Turkish Tourist Board would hear about it; in this part of the world, jobs weren’t easy to come by, particularly for foreigners.

            “There’s an ancient Hittite legend about Karakuyu’s decline,” she began. Faces turned toward her, waiting for words to highlight what was of interest. “One day, right here in this city, the storm god and the great serpent went into mortal combat with one another. Another god, Teleinou, watched the battle, and when he saw the destruction they were wreaking, he was disgusted. So disgusted he abandoned the city and took all that was good along with him.”

            “Leaving only dust, emptiness, and terrible heat.” Mrs. Bland, the Connecticut dowager, mopped at her sweating face with a much-used, very limp tissue.

            “And definitely no Tastee Freez,” quipped Mr. Forster, who passed himself off as the group wit. A few snickers were heard from those not too hot to react.

            At a wooden hut where an armed guard sat, Asim pushed a wad of money through the opening under the glass window and dourly mumbled, “Merhaba.”

            “Merhaba ,” the guard, habitually unfriendly, mumbled back before shoving the money into a drawer and glaring. Ignoring his hostility, Anne and Asim led their group along the outer city’s ramparts, bypassing throngs of tourists, circumventing strewn rocks. When the crowds were far behind, they turned down an arched passage, arrived in a broad

space of tumbled pillars and cool, dry air. Here, there was evidence of the ongoing archaeological dig: heaped stones, deep gouges.

            “We’re now in the inner city, Karakuyu’s real heart.” Anne couldn’t keep the enthusiasm out of her voice. Enthusiasm? Love. Guiding might sometimes be stressful, but the surroundings were magnificent. Her eyes swept over the shattered stone, the vestiges of past glory. “And this was a bustling main square.”

            “A main square?” Mrs. Bland stared at the crumbled remains, shook her head slowly.           

            “Pretty hard to imagine.”

            “Rocks,” stocky Mr. Topp muttered. “All I can see is rocks and more rocks.”

             Anne smiled. “Now, yes. But, three thousand years ago, Karakuyu was the most important city in the Hittite Empire. The Hittites are mentioned in the Old Testament and in Egyptian inscriptions, so just close your eyes and try to picture the chariots, the costumed traders, the warriors who once thronged here.”

            Near-perfect silence seemed to mock her words.

            “What happened to them?”

            “No superpower lasts forever. The Hittites were attacked by Assyrians who took over some of their lands, then by Aegean Sea Peoples who cut off trade routes. In the second century BC, written records ceased, and Hittites became ghosts on the historical scene. They were forgotten for thousands of years.”

            Anne took a deep breath of the dry air. There weren’t many places left on earth as tranquil as this. Karakuyu was a paradise of sorts. One that knocked life’s tedious banalities right back into proportion and—

             “You shouldn’t be in this area.”

            The voice—clipped, imperative—came from somewhere on the left. She saw a figure detach itself from the shade of a vaulted doorway. A man. Skirting the strewn rocks and smashed pillars, he approached languidly, as if all the time in the world was his for the taking.

             Did she know him? No, she’d never seen him before—if she had, she wouldn’t

have forgotten him so easily. Tall, broad shouldered, with long, muscular legs encased in faded jeans. A blue T-shirt stretched, pinch tight, over his strong chest. Yet, despite his unhurried advance, he carried himself with authority. He stopped when he was directly in front of her. Who was he? A volunteer participating in the summer dig? No, they were usually much younger. Not someone from the Turkish police either; they had weapons hanging all over their bodies and confident sneers on their faces. And they didn’t address people in English. So this man, whoever he was, had either recognized her or had been watching her, had heard her talking to the group.

            Anne curved her mouth into a polite smile, an attempt at courtesy that collapsed in the face of the man’s unrelenting expression. He looked like he was about to make trouble. She needed trouble as much as a pair of furry hands.

            “What are you doing here?”

            “I beg your pardon?” she asked slowly, almost insolently. Then noticed his golden, sun-bleached hair, bronzed skin, unwavering blue eyes, chiseled explorer’s face.

            “What are you doing in this part of the site?”

            She fought back a sigh. She and Asim had been bringing tourists through all of Karakuyu for years now, and no one had ever challenged their right to do just that. So what was going on? She couldn’t lose face in front of her clients. And she didn’t like his attitude either. Tilting her head back, she looked up at him with feigned naïveté.

             “Good question. What am I doing here? What do visitors usually do in an archaeological site? Look at it, perhaps?”

            “Visitors are restricted to the outer city near the ramparts. The inner city isn’t open to the public until two in the afternoon.”

            The words—coolly stated, conclusive—were nonetheless softened by a warm, lingering drawl. Another American. From some place near the south. Missouri? Kentucky? There was a faint suggestion of British there too, the mixed accent of a man who’d been away from home for a long time. Stop musing about accents. Concentrate on his words.

            “Two o’clock? Since when? I always bring people in here in the morning, before roads sizzle in the heat.”

            The blue eyes were examining her more closely now, skimming over her hair pulled back into its high ponytail, progressing across her cheeks, lingering on her mouth. He was appraising her. As if I’m a horse he’s thinking of buying. In another minute, he’ll start examining my teeth. Annoyance flooded in, then vanished under the weight of other sensations: an awareness of his deep scent, the heady, appealing mixture of skin, sweat, and soap—how did that tie in with his rudeness?

            His voice remained imperative. “Didn’t you read the notice on the gate?”

            Notice? She hadn’t even seen one. So, what was she supposed to do now? Kill time by forcing everyone to trudge around the outer walls under that merciless sun? Admit defeat, load everyone onto the bus and go back to town? No way. Behind her, the tourists were silent. Waiting like a bloodthirsty crowd at the games in a Roman coliseum, wondering which gladiator would knock the other off.

            She tried being conciliatory. “I’m sorry. I really had no idea the hours were changed. But even so, it doesn’t matter. Go ask Mike Benton, the archaeologist in charge, if I can stay here. My name is Anne Pierson, and Mike will vouch for me. He lets me bring tourists all over the site whenever I want. Into the inner city too.”

            “Mike Benton’s permission no longer counts,” the man announced flatly.

            “Oh? How so?”

            “Because Mike Benton has left. For England. I’m the new site director, and now I set the rules. My rules stipulate there will be no visitors to the inner city outside of official hours.”

            Anne blinked with surprise. “Mike’s gone back to England?”

            The man nodded slowly and watched her, obviously trying to gauge her reaction.

            “For how long? When’s he coming back?” She was sounding idiotic, she knew.

            “He won’t be.”

            “Mike won’t be coming back?” Silly parrot. What was going on? Mike had never mentioned he was leaving Karakuyu. He loved the site. Each new discovery, even something as small as a decorated shard, made him glow with enthusiasm. Why hadn’t he told her he was leaving? But this was hardly the time for musing.

            “Why?” she blurted finally. “Why isn’t he coming back?”

            “There was an illness in his family.”

            “I see,” she said slowly. And noticed the subtle change in his features, fleeting but uncomfortable, that told her he was lying. Ruining her day, her expedition, her image, and lying to her. So why were her eyes drawn to the fine blond hairs dusting his forearms as he folded them across an amazing chest? To his strong-looking hands with their long, tense fingers? Concentrate on essentials.

             “It must have been a very sudden sort of illness. Otherwise, Mike would have said something to me the last time I saw him.”

            “And when was that?” His mouth tightened mirthlessly.

            It was a very nice mouth—or it had been a few seconds before, she thought. No, actually it still was a nice mouth. But humorless. The physique was really good, whether or not you liked the personality.

            “Is this an interrogation?”

            He rejected her mocking question, waited for an answer. Might as well give the man the information he wanted. There was nothing to hide. “Okay. I last saw Mike around ten days ago. Not out here. In town.”

            “I see.” There was definite innuendo in those two words.

            What did he see? It was anybody’s guess. She could hear the tourists behind her shuffling their feet, muttering to each other.

            “Who are these people with you?”

            “American tourists. Asim is the official Turkish guide. We work together. I’m the translator.”

            “The last thing I need. Tourists, guides, and translators creeping around the site whenever they want. We don’t have the proper security here, especially when the volunteers and workers are busy elsewhere. Accidents could happen. Important artifacts could be damaged.”

             Anne’s hackles rose. “You can hardly say I’m creeping. I’m simply walking around Karakuyu in the same way I’ve been doing for years now.”

             He almost looked chastised. Almost. Was that a smile on his lips? “Sorry. Point taken.”

            “And I’m well aware of the risks. And of damage that could be done.”

            He didn’t answer. His unwavering blue eyes had never left hers, but she sensed his thoughts were elsewhere. As if he’d lost concentration. But before she could interpret what was happening, another voice cut into the air.

            “Do you mean we have to go all the way back to town without seeing this part of the site? Climb back into that smelly bus in this heat?” Elderly Mrs. Bland had pushed herself forward, her jaw set in irritated bulldog position. “The condition of those roads would make a cat sick.”

            The man’s face relaxed slightly. “No.” His eyes flicked back to Anne. “Since you’re here now, I’ll let you look around.”

            Anne felt relief wash over her, although she didn’t like the word “let,” either. It put her in the begging position. He’d “let” them “creep” around. The guy had a put-down vocabulary.

            “And the next time you bring tourists, adhere to opening hours.”

            Just the sort of person who insists on having the last word. And even though she’d won the battle—in a way—the confrontation had taken the fun out of the morning. This new director, he wouldn’t find it easy to win her over … although he’d try. Eventually. If he stayed out here long enough, he’d learn that foreigners stick together in such out-of-

the-way places. Especially in a politically unstable, potentially dangerous part of Turkey.

            “Then we’d better get on with our visit,” she said briskly. She didn’t feel like thanking him.

• •

                As Renaud Townsend watched the group disappear down the lane, the last of his evil mood trickled away. He hadn’t meant to be so brusque. Not at all. He was just stressed out. This was his first time on a Turkish archaeological site. He didn’t speak the language; he found the dusty, hot climate hard to endure. And he’d been parachuted in as site director, bypassing the more obvious candidate: Nick Carlson. He’d wondered why at first. Now he knew.

            “They want an outsider to take charge,” Nick had said to him. “They don’t trust any of us.”

            And now that was his problem too—the biggest problem of all: knowing which people he could trust. And his employers were expecting him to be a detective as well as a scientist. Important treasures—statuary, clay cuneiform tablets dating back to the Hittite period—had vanished from Karakuyu, and there was no chance of ever finding them again, not in this century. They were smuggled out of the country and on to private collectors within hours. Even more important than their loss was the fact that, when taken out of context, artifacts lost their historical value. That didn’t please a Turkish government intent on keeping priceless objects as part of the country’s patrimony; the threatening appearances of insolent, cocky-looking police officers testified to that.

            “Problems?” Bob Williams, field assistant and Mike’s right-hand man, strolled into the square.

            Renaud turned. “We have to be careful, Bob. We can’t have the place crawling with visitors outside regular hours, especially with the police watching our every move.” He looked down the lane thoughtfully. “Although those tourists look fairly harmless.”

            “What does a harmless tourist look like?” Bob’s eyes behind the lenses of his wire-rimmed John Lennon glasses were non-committal.

            “Sorry,” said Renaud quietly. “I’m being stupid.” Incredibly stupid. He’d let shining hair and high arching brows fog his judgment. “You know who they are?”

            “I’ve never seen those particular tourists before, but I do know the two guides. Asim Kaya lives in town, in Guélkale, with his family. The woman is an American. Anne Pierson.”

            “Yes, that’s what she said her name was. What do you know about her?”

            Bob frowned. “Not a lot. Nobody does. And that makes people suspicious.”

            “Suspicious?” Renaud was well aware his interest in the woman went a bit further than the problem of missing artifacts. “She’s a translator. Or so she told me.”

            “Been out here for years. Speaks Turkish fluently, lives in town with Asim and his family—wife, children, sister, parents—the usual, crowded, family set-up. I suppose you could say she leads a pretty discrete life.”

            Not the sort of life an expert antiques smuggler would lead, Renaud thought. Then chided himself; he couldn’t allow himself to think like that. If the thefts continued while he was here, this site might be closed to international archaeological research, and an important study in early human civilization would be terminated. It also meant that, untended, Karakuyu would become a playground for pillagers. And he, Renaud Townsend, would end up with a lousy reputation—just as lousy as Mike Benton’s. He might have to go into hiding like Mike too.

            Where the hell was the man? Because, Mike Benton hadn’t gone home to England. Just like the vanished artifacts, he’d simply, and mysteriously, disappeared. A disappearance that didn’t make sense—unless he was implicated in the thefts. But Mike was an excellent archaeologist, a friend, and a man with integrity. Renaud couldn’t believe he was guilty. Or, perhaps, he was just refusing to believe it: if Mike really was innocent, why had he vanished so suddenly?

             But Bob hadn’t finished. “Fact is, she knows a lot of people, mixes with everyone. Everyone except the police, of course. People run into her in the strangest places: outlying villages, for example. One of the student diggers told me he’d even seen her in a rough part of Ankara, a place where strangers—women in particular—wouldn’t normally venture. In Gülkale she hangs out in a café in town, a place called Necmettin’s. She stands out, of course, because women don’t normally go to cafés in Turkey. Especially not to seedy places like Necmettin’s.”

            She’d stand out café or no café. With her dreamer’s mouth, those slightly upward-slanting, unflinching brown eyes, that almost sassy way of moving.

            “The night Mike disappeared, he’d been seen in Necmettin’s café. With Anne. No one saw him after that.” Bob raised a cautioning hand. “I’m not suggesting she knows where he is now. I’m just putting facts together. I’d also like to add that Necmettin is an odd character. How does he make a living selling glasses of tea? He only has a few clients.” Thank goodness Bob had been out here for the duration of several digs. Thank goodness he hadn’t vanished with Mike. Renaud needed to depend on someone in this utterly foreign, problem-ridden atmosphere, and Bob seemed to know his way around, how to tie people together.

            “Where’s Anne Pierson from originally?”

             Bob shrugged. “No idea. But this is a pretty good place for rumors. According to rumor, she ran away from something—or someone—in the States. Came here to hide out.”

            “No facts, though?” Renaud hoped he didn’t sound too curious.

            “Facts? She doesn’t give out information about herself, about her past, about anything. She’s a mystery. Nick Carlson also thinks it’s pretty strange. I can’t tell you how many times he’s mentioned it. But that didn’t seem to bother Mike.”

            “She and Mike are friends?”

            Bob looked uncomfortable. “Yes, I suppose some people say they’re very friendly.”

            “Meaning?” Renaud prompted, although the insinuation seemed clear enough.

            “Well … According to Nick and a few other people, Mike and Anne are … very intimate  friends. And that doesn’t please everyone.”

            “Go on.”

            “Well, that means she always has a good excuse to come out here. With or without tourists. But that’s all I know. Nick can probably give you more details. Or Lisa Tree.” “Sure,” Renaud said. Lisa Tree, pottery expert, was a great admirer and old friend of Mike’s. If Anne and Mike really were having an affair, she’d know about it. Women always seemed to have a second sense about that sort of thing. But the news was surprising, nonetheless. Mike with a mistress? A mistress who spent a lot of time out here on the site, who had access to information about important artifacts, who spoke the local language, who knew people, who got around.

                She’d looked nice enough, though. Not just nice. Tough somehow, and gutsy. That’s what was confusing him. Anne Pierson had an indefinable, compelling aura. She was the sort of person he’d like to know better—and not just because of the softness of her throat or because of the way the faint breeze had molded the thin fabric of her dress to her body.

            Renaud pulled himself up short. What a jerk he was being. Hadn’t he always prided himself on his ability to judge a person’s character correctly? As Bob had pointed out, any guilty person could look harmless, any devil could appear in angel’s clothing. And Anne Pierson was a woman who knew how to use her attributes, that was certain. Without so much as flirting, she was already seducing him. That beautiful mouth of hers promised the sort of passion that would send a man wild. All men—even men like

Mike Benton who had a wonderful wife back in England and two great kids. He turned back to Bob.

            “You don’t like her very much.”

          “Wrong.” Bob’s smile was resigned. “I do like her, although I don’t think she even notices me. She’s a good-looking woman, and she’s intelligent, but she’s always poking around the site, asking questions. And because she’s so aloof, she makes enemies. Believe it or not, I’m the one who defends her. Not that she knows or cares.”

            Renaud nodded. “In that case, it wouldn’t hurt to get some reliable information about the woman.”

            “No, it wouldn’t. I’ll do what I can. I never did like the idea of outsiders knowing too much about what we’re finding up here. I said that to Mike thousands of times, but he never listened.”

            But Renaud did listen. It was a warning, and he couldn’t afford to make a mistake like Mike had. He shouldn’t have let himself admire the suggestion of soft curves, the tight swoop of a slender waist, the natural warmth, the wonderful hint of intelligence and humor.

            Of course, Mata Hari had looked wonderful too, and look what she’d gotten up to. Yet the more he thought about Anne Pierson, her faintly triangular face and how the light had kissed her high cheekbones as she’d angled her head toward him, the more his investigation took on appeal. Every one of her gestures had tugged at his gut. Unconsciously feminine movements, subtle suggestions.

            There was something familiar about her face, although he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Did he know her from somewhere? No, he was certain they’d never met. So why did he have the niggling feeling he’d seen her before?

• •

                He was there an hour later, waiting in the shadows of the main alley. Just sitting there, sending small stones sliding across the powdery surface. Anne could hear the soft, dull noise echoing through the vast, empty passageway. She’d expected to run into him again, although she couldn’t say why. And there he was, perched on a rock. Lurking. His back was propped lazily against a crumbling wall; the long, muscular legs in those tight jeans were stretched out in front of him, crossed over at the ankle. As if he had nothing better to do in life than flick stones. Was he waiting for her? And if so, why? A million fanciful reasons raced through her head followed by a million objections. Calm down. More than likely, he was checking up on her, making certain she’d respected his injunction. That was more his style.

            She felt the penetrating blue eyes examining her again as she approached with the group. Perhaps if she just ignored him, walked past, she could avoid further confrontation. No such luck. When they were only a few yards away, he rose to his feet and slowly, surely, strolled over. Anne forced her eyes away from the length of the sinewy torso, tried to squash the sharp little thrill rippling under her skin. Failing that, she attempted minimizing its intensity.

            “Visit finished?” He came to a halt.

          It was impossible to avoid eye contact. He was so close—mere inches, a breath away. He was one of those people who stood too close—or was that just his playboy body language coming into play? She took in his broad forehead, square jaw, and sculptured cheekbones. He wasn’t conventionally good-looking—his features were too uneven, too rugged—but, strangely enough, he was one of the most handsome men she’d ever seen. And the way he moved warned her he was aware of his own appeal.

            “Visit finished,” she confirmed and waited for him to step to one side. He’d put himself directly in her path, and if she walked around him, she’d look downright silly. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Asim and the tourists continuing on ahead without her, heading toward the exit.

            Her first line of defense was down—or was it the second? He continued studying her. She controlled the muscles of her face, kept it calm looking, confident, as though she weren’t in the least bit flustered. Deep inside, a tumult of confused emotions struggled vainly with self-control. This man in front of her evidently wasn’t having the same problem. He was merely impassive, and that irked her beyond all logic. She had a wild urge to throw him off his guard, to provoke him. But she didn’t know how to begin.

            He was the one who continued the conversation. “Bob Williams confirmed what you said. You often come up here with tourists. Or to see Mike Benton.”

             So he’d been talking to Bob about her? So what? Wordlessly, she waited.

            “He said you and Mike are very close.” She felt his eyes as they skimmed her hair, her skin, again. There was something else in his gaze now. This man was warm, sensuous, and alive. And he’d been waiting for her because she interested him.

            “Mike and I are friends, yes,” she said cautiously.

            “Intimate friends.” Lovers?  That’s what he was implying, wasn’t it? Had Bob told him that? Her mind whirled. Why would Bob say that? A little knot of fear formed, tightened in her chest.

            “Just to keep the record straight, Mike’s a friend of mine,” he continued. “Mike’s wife, Daisy, is also a friend. You know he’s married, don’t you? That he has two children?”

            He expected a reaction of some kind, but she wasn’t quite sure which one. And who did he think he was? Someone with the right to lecture her about morals? Wrong. He was merely a man who listened to rumors and took them as truth. She knew all about people like that; she’d been dogged by them before. Rumors had once destroyed her life.

When you denied them, they somehow twisted themselves, became everyone’s truth. There was no point in fighting. Let him think what he wanted. She wouldn’t let his suspicions touch her.

            “Mike needed my help,” she managed to answer mildly. “My help as a translator. And, I know Daisy too. I met her when she came out to Turkey on a visit.”

            “You translated for Mike?” He wasn’t sounding so high and mighty now.

            “As I told you earlier, translating is what I do for a living. French, English, German, Italian, Turkish. Mike needed to keep in touch with the Turkish authorities—site directors do, you know.” She paused long enough for a brief, saccharine-sweet smile. “So I help with official papers, contacts, and lists of finds. In exchange, Mike lets me bring tourists here whenever I want.”

            “You speak French, German, Italian, and Turkish?” He stared at her for a minute with something like admiration, then, abruptly, shifted gears. His movements eased; his face relaxed. “Look, I’m sorry. I’m going about this in the wrong way. Could we take it from the beginning? My name’s Renaud Townsend.”

            It threw her off her guard, the sudden, apparent friendliness. She could react to his coldness with polite indifference. But friendliness invited the same, and that was risky: she knew perfectly well she wasn’t indifferent to him. Far from it. Confused, she hesitated. And, too late, saw he’d noticed.

             Amusement teased the corners of his eyes. “You’re American?”

            Watching him warily, she only nodded. He looked like a man determined to pry. No, she wouldn’t make this conversation easy for him. Wouldn’t give him an opening.

            “You’re interested in archaeology?”

            Neutral territory: She could answer a question like that. “Strictly as an amateur.” She relaxed, failed to bite back a little smile. “I’d never have the patience to actually participate on an excavation. Fluff away centuries of dirt with a tiny brush? No way. I’d grab the first pick and shovel I could get my hands on and dig in.”

            “A disaster.” He grinned openly now, shook his head.

            An awkwardness fell between them. Unspoken thoughts, unanswered questions, too much intensity all hovered on the heavy, dusty air. A soft, sensual haze was weaving them together in its subtle way. And she had to put an end to it. Close herself against it, because too much was at stake. She forced her lips to stop smiling, her voice to sound brisk, efficient.

            “I’d better be on my way now, Mr. Townsend. My group is waiting for me.”

            “Renaud, please. Not Mr. Townsend.” He hesitated, as if wanting to detain her but knew he couldn’t.

            She nodded briefly, then continued down the ancient way, keeping her stride smooth and casual, not allowing herself to look back, even though she could sense his eyes on her, watching the movement of her hips, lingering on her legs.

            And, once more, had the feeling she’d be seeing him again before too long.


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