Everything Lord Danbury and Baroness Chauncey have done for Nelson’s Tea has led to this moment…
Gillian, Baroness Chauncey has only been an English spy for Nelson’s Tea for four years, but she truly thought she had seen it all. Yet as war continues off England’s shores, from the sea to the continent, and victory is won at great cost, a devastating betrayal threatens the men she has come to know and love. And her love for one man in particular is tested when she makes a life-or-death decision that could destroy everything she holds dear.
As members of Nelson’s Tea, Admiral Horatio Nelson’s mercenaries have never questioned Lord Simon Danbury’s authority—until now. Death’s darkening veil is descending over London, and as a new hierarchy within the group begins to rise, a hostile mole prepares to strike. Surrounded by the greatest spies in England, can Simon unify the clandestine group without losing the baroness? Or will she be the price they have to pay for peace?
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK
With a heavy but stubborn heart, Gillian walked toward the sturdy oak doors. If Simon thought she meant to leave him, he was a bigger fool than Fouché or Barère or any French spy believed. She had no intention of abandoning him, of walking out of this room, this townhouse, his life. Not now. Not ever. Simon was all she had left in this world, especially if the group decided to disband Nelson’s Tea. He was her life. And she would do everything in her power to keep him from shutting himself off from everyone, including her—or maybe especially her.
Almost an hour had passed since Simon and the viscount had arrived with the terrible news of Lord Nelson’s death, and yet it seemed as if years had come and gone since then. How cruel that a few succinct words could completely and irrevocably change one’s perception of the world.
In the four years she’d lived in the townhouse, held risqué parties for the upper crust, and dallied among the ton to ferret out information, which she gladly passed on to Simon and their cohorts, she’d never once thought of giving up her clandestine existence. She was Baroness Chauncey, a worldly woman often escorted by the foulest of creatures: double agents, spies, assassins, foreign dignitaries, philanderers, smugglers, and gamblers. Inside these townhouse walls, however, she was still the girl Simon had discovered at Drury Lane, the poor soul eagerly seeking to escape an abusive father and his equally violent and insistent debt collectors.
Now, as her gaze assessed the study entrance, the very same threshold Lord Nelson had stepped through the day he’d come to initiate Nelson’s Tea in 1801, she grabbed the handles of the double doors and pulled them closed, determined to see this through.
Her pulse raced. She was tired of waiting, of living two separate lives—him on Curzon Street, her on Bolton Street. She inhaled deeply and straightened her shoulders, then turned back around to face the man she adored with every fiber of her being. He stood at the window, exactly where she’d left him, like a sentinel, the watchman who never slept.
Butterflies fluttered in her stomach. She clenched her fingers and worried her lower lip. Only one thing would ease their pain—love. Throwing her last misgivings aside, she left the doorway and approached him, forgetting everything but the isolated world they’d created in Number Eleven. This was their haven, their sanctuary, a place free from the prying eyes of those who meant to do them harm. At least she prayed it was so. If Simon’s suspicions were well-founded and a mole had infiltrated their organization, there was no way to be sure at present. Anyone, or any number of persons associated with them, could be the culprit, her staff included.
Nevertheless, she was determined, and she would always be so. Her love for Simon was an unquenchable fire in need of oxygen. She returned to his side, admiring his lean form. Emotion welled in her breast as she slid her hand over his arm.
He glanced at her, a hint of helpless yearning sharpening his voice. His face had grown pale, emotionless. “What are you doing?”
“I want to prove to you that I am not going anywhere.” She moved in front of him, sliding her other hand over his chest, longing to absorb his heat, to feel anything other than the sorrow tugging at her heart. “And neither are you.”
“Gillian . . .” His stare burned through her, increasing her need for him.
Carriages clattered down the cobblestones. Voices rose outside. Somewhere in the house, a clock chimed the hour.
He shook his head. “You—”
“Shh.” She actually trembled as she placed the tip of her finger over his mouth. “Don’t speak, my lord.”
His probing eyes widened, and a spark ignited in their gray depths.
In one fluid motion, Gillian placed his arms around her waist. “Hold me,” she whispered. “Kiss me.”
“There will never be a day when I do not want to,” he said. “You are not an easy woman to resist.”
“Then don’t.” Her heart took a perilous leap. She licked her lips. “Make me yours.”