Is this summer flying by, or is it just me? Please tell me it isn't just me. How could it possibly be mid-July? Yet, here I am at RWA in Atlanta, having a wonderful time, so the calendar must be telling the truth. This summer is halfway over, and in about three weeks on August 6, 2013, Sourcebooks will be releasing my first digital novella, The Spy Wore Blue.
The Spy Wore Blue features Agent Blue, a supporting character from my Lord and Lady Spy novel and his estranged wife, Helena. I was thrilled to get the opportunity to write this novella, because Agent Blue was one of those special secondary characters that my readers connected with. So many readers have asked me if Agent Blue was going to get his own story, and now he has.
I hope you enjoy the excerpt below, where Helena finds that absence does not always make the heart grow fonder.
She had not left the door unlocked. She might have been in a rush. She might have forgotten her gloves—again—but she remembered locking the door because she’d dropped the key three times. She remembered because her nerves were frayed. This was the last night they would perform Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri before closing for a fortnight to ready the next production. She wanted her last night on stage as Elvira to be perfect.
Her fingers had been shaking badly, as they did at times when life felt particularly overwhelming, and she hadn’t been able to lock the door. She’d clenched her fists tightly and willed her hands to still before successfully inserting and turning the key.
Now, when she put the key soundlessly in the keyhole, she found the door unlocked. Helena held her breath, and the cheers and applause of the audience faded from her mind. All she could hear was the rush of the blood thrumming in her ears. She touched her cloak, where she’d had a pocket made for the delicate pistol she carried when she had to be out alone at night, and felt its reassuring weight.
The intruder, were he still inside, could not have heard her. Signora Giansante, the woman who lived across the hall, screamed at Helena in rapid Italian and threatened to have her thrown out on the street if Helena made even the smallest sound in the wee hours of the night. Helena wanted to keep this flat, so she’d had much practice at moving soundlessly through the building when she returned home after a performance.
She removed the key from the lock and pushed her well-oiled door open ever so slowly. Avoiding the creaky floorboard in front of the door, she stepped over it, and entered her room. It looked as she’d left it. Tommaso, her striped ginger cat, blinked at her from her table, where he was eating the remains of her dinner, and she relaxed slightly. She’d half expected her room to be ransacked, but nothing appeared out of place. Her gaze traveled over the space and then came to rest on the black boot peeking out from the screen beside her bed.
There was a man in her bed. She drew in a sharp breath, irritated now. Did Damiano think this was the way to win her? Surprising her in her own bed? She would oust him quickly and unceremoniously. She didn’t care how perfectly angelic his face. She stomped over to the bed, her slippers making a barely audible humf on the rug, opened her mouth, rounded the screen, and stared. She managed to stop the scream in her throat only because she’d had years of vocal training.
It was not Damiano.
And oh, how she wished it were. She’d rather anyone be in her bed than this man, though she supposed if any man had a right to be in her bed it was he, her husband.
As though sensing her presence—and knowing him, he probably had—he opened his eyes and stared at her. His eyes were still impossibly blue. She’d never seen another person with eyes that color. They were so startlingly blue that they were all most people could see when they looked at his face. But she’d seen him too many times, and she could look past the eyes—to the high planes of his cheeks, the tousled brown waves of hair curling about his ears, and the soft, sensual mouth. Oh, the things he knew to do with that mouth. She loved the things he did with that mouth.
“Mrs. Bloomington,” he said.
Speaking was not one of the things she loved. In fact, she suspected, were they to have never spoken, their marriage might have lasted several months longer.
Do you have a secondary character that readers want to see more of? Or as a reader, is there a character that you’d love to see get his/her own novel or novella?
The Spy Wore Blue
A Lord and Lady Spy Novella
An enigmatic spy...
Blue is the best of the best. A top agent for the elite Barbican group, he's on the trail of an assassin targeting his fellow spies. Blue's search leads him to Naples, Italy and the Teatro di San Carlo, where a string of suspicious events makes him believe he may have found his man. Unfortunately, he's also found a woman—his long-neglected wife.
A brilliant opera singer...
Helena Giles is beautiful, talented, and furious. She taught Blue how to be a master of disguise, and to thank her, he disappeared. When they married, he promised to give up his work for the Barbican group. He gave Helena up instead. Now Blue is back, and he wants a place in the theater and in her bed. Helena doesn't believe, as the rest of the theater's cast, that the murders have anything to do with a theater phantom, but she isn't ready to believe Blue's theories either.
A dangerous passion...
It's soon clear the real object of the theater phantom is Blue. And when Helena catches a glimpse of the assassin called Reaper, she becomes a target herself. In Reaper, Blue is finally pitted against his match, and in Helena, he finds a passion he thought he thought impossible. But can this chameleon be true to himself when love is the most dangerous sport of all?