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THE TYBURN WALTZ
by Maggie MacKeever

Genre: Regency Period, Historical Romance

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Her hands were tied in front of her. Wisdom dictated that he leave them safely bound. Surprisingly elegant hands they were, the fingers slender and graceful underneath their dirt.

Ned set aside his firearm, unfastened the cords that secured her ankles, rubbed the soft flesh where the bonds had chafed. Her bones were small, delicate, finely formed. She cursed and tried to kick him. He experienced an absurd impulse to pick up this defiant scrap and hold her safe from the world.

Well, why not? If he could hardly hold a housebreaker safe, he could certainly still hold her. Ned untangled his captive from the chair; scooped her up, drapery and dirt and all, and sat her on the desk. The fabric parted, revealing one smooth and slender shoulder, and the curve of one plump breast. She clutched the curtain closer and scowled.

Here was a female unimpressed by his title. Ned trailed one finger down her soft cheek. “Tell me your name.”

She turned her head and bit his wrist; at the same time planted her bare foot in his groin. Abruptly, Ned released her. “Point taken,” he said and then cursed as she grasped the ugly statue in her bound hands and aimed it at his head.

Caught off balance, Ned stumbled backward. The thief scooted off his desk. He grabbed for her, caught the curtain. She brought the statue down, hard, on his skull. Tangled up in dusty draperies, Ned crashed to the floor. He’d not soon forget his last glimpse of the housebreaker, scrambling mother-naked out his library window, clutching his ugly statue in her hand.

Damned if he’d enjoyed anything so much since he departed the Peninsula. When Bates returned to the library, he found his master holding a bloody handkerchief to his head, and laughing like a loon.