The Pickpocket [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Rebecca Vinyard
eBook Category: Romance/Historical Fiction
eBook Description: Trader Captain Peyton Sewall goes uncover in Renaissance Venice to catch a traitor for Henry VIII. His trap nets a most peculiar thief, Caroline, a cross-dressing woman with a mysterious past. Thrown together by fate, Peyton and Caroline find love on the run and among the ruins. They'll have to fight for it from the back alleys of Venice to Henry VIII's throne room, through plague-infested villages and out on the high seas. But most of all, Peyton and Caroline must wrestle with their own doubts and fears. What is more important? Honor and duty? Or love?
eBook Publisher: Awe-Struck E-Books, Published: 2004
Fictionwise Release Date: November 2004
7 Reader Ratings:
"...a thoroughly engrossing read. It's brimming with adventure, passion, and romance. The intriguing plot entrances the reader as it smoothly unfolds. The dynamic, well-developed characters are so delightful. Caroline, strong and clever, knows how to survive. Although it takes Peyton a while to get his priorities straight, he is a strong, likable hero. The intense passion shared by this couple makes this a very titillating read. Ms. Vinyard has given her readers a well-written, very original historical romance that is absolutely superb. 4 1/2 HEARTS!"--Renee Burnette, The Romance Studio
The pickpocket sat in a corner hugging the shadows; eyes hooded, but never wavering from the intended victim. Conditions seemed favorable for the success of tonight's mission. The mark's companions were boisterous and drinking heavily from the ewer of drugged wine. Every seat in the dockside tavern was taken with many customers left standing. The stench of cramped, unwashed bodies, coupled with the acrid odors of spilled wine comforted the thief.
With so many sailors and merchants about, there was adequate cover for an escape. Once Marta went into her dance--which had better be soon, the thief thought irritably--once the beautiful Marta went into her dance, it should be simple to take the man's pouch and melt into the crowd.
Still, it might not be that easy. The Englishman looked alert. Though the tall man affected a bored attitude, his keen eyes swept the room constantly. As his gaze passed over the darkened corner, the pickpocket stiffened in response, then took a deep, calming breath.
"I am Carlo tonight," the pickpocket whispered. "Madonna forgive me, but tonight I must be Carlo. Please help me master my fear and give me the strength to do what I must do."
Taking heart from the prayer, Carlo assumed a relaxed pose, propping poorly shod feet on the table. Where was Marta? If she did not hurry and begin, the drug would soon render these men senseless.
All except their intended victim.
To Carlo's anxiety, the Englishman had not taken a single sip of wine. The pouch dangled tantalizingly from the man's baldric. Perhaps it would be better to dart in and make the grab now. Anything would be better than these jangled nerves and--
"Gentlemen! For a few paltry soldi, I will dance for your pleasure! And for much more--" The buxom beauty let the sentence dangle enticingly.
Carlo sighed in relief, even as the men whistled and leered over Marta's bold offer. At last! Now the deed could be accomplished safely.
No man could resist Marta, not even an annoyingly alert Englishman. She stood a table away from the mark; hands on her full hips, her spectacularly endowed frame dressed in a flowing gold and black silk gown, her bodice purposely left untied to exhibit her assets. Gold hoops dangled from her ears and bracelets jangled on her wrists. A wide belt cinched her waist. Her feet were bare. Her flawless face was an angel's, but her unbound coal black hair and voluptuous curves were as alluring as a siren's.
Every male eye lit up with lust while the few females present averted their gaze in envy. A common reaction to the incomparable Marta. Carlo had witnessed it many times before. Their guild master, Sergio, often paired them for special tasks...like tonight. Marta for her ease in creating distractions and Carlo for quick wit and agile fingers.
The tavern owner, Parma, produced a lute and began strumming a lively folk tune, just as he'd been paid to do.
Paid for this and for allowing them to drug the wine, Carlo corrected. Sergio would want to know the full extent of the man's cooperation.
Marta's lush body moved in a slow, suggestive undulation. Silence, stares, tongues licking lips gone dry greeted her as she drew the hapless men into her lure as easily as a fisherman casting a net into the Adriatic.
Except for the English fish, curse him! He seemed unmoved...his expression set in stone. As the candlelight played across the hard planes of his face; he looked even more bored, if that was possible.
In the recesses of the darkened corner, Carlo slowly uncoiled, sliding feet off the table as if entranced by Marta's dance as much as the simple-minded men.
Time to strike!
A half-circle had formed about Marta. The men tossed soldi and lira at her feet as they urged her on. Some thumped the tables and hooted with raw male lust. To show her disgust, Marta leapt onto the Englishman's table and displayed her legs. The crowd cheered, too ignorant to know the gypsy had just insulted them.
Carlo crept forward to stand at the fringe of the knotted group. Meeting Marta's eyes, Carlo gave an imperceptible nod.
Copyright © 2004