Authors: Robin Gideon
Ecstasy in the Old West
Desire of the Phantom
Pamela Bragg is a woman on a mission to destroy Jonathon Darwell, a corrupt businessman. What she never counted on was falling in love with the Midnight Phantom, a masked man who rescues her from certain arrest. As the masked Midnight Phantom, he seduces her mind and body. Pamela doesn’t know her lover’s real identity, only that his caresses make her feel more alive and passionate than ever before in her life.
When Darwell hires Pamela’s brother, a bounty hunter more known for the criminals he’s killed than arrested, to track down the Phantom and kill him, Pamela’s world is thrown into chaos. Can a love founded on double identities and secrets survive when the truth is revealed? Can the Phantom avoid death at the hands of a bounty hunter known for bringing back his prey strapped over the saddle of a horse?
Note: This book was previously published with Kensington Zebra and has been extensively revised and expanded.
DESIRE OF THE PHANTOM
Ecstasy in the Old West
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IMPRINT: Erotic Romance
DESIRE OF THE PHANTOM
Copyright © 2012 by Robin Gideon
First E-book Publication: November 2012
Cover design by Harris Channing
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DESIRE OF THE PHANTOM
Ecstasy in the Old West
Copyright © 2012
Pamela Bragg stood in the dark, her back pressed against
the high brick wall surrounding the finest mansion
in all of Whitetail Creek. Her heart was thundering in her chest, and her palms were moist with fear. What she was about to
do was illegal, and if she were caught, she knew she hadn’t
a prayer of getting a fair trial.
She heard laughter from inside the mansion. Gath
ered in the enormous, lavishly appointed ballroom, the
cream of Whitetail Creek society, made wealthy with cattle contracts for both the Army and the Cavalry, probably sipped chilled cham
pagne. Making deals to expand their already considerable
personal fortunes, the gentlemen undoubtedly laughed among themselves and pretended that life for everyone was as deliciously satisfying as it was for themselves.
Easing cautiously along the wall, Pamela felt a loathing
for the people in the ballroom. She resented their wealth
and their smug condescension as she imagined them standing with cool champagne glasses in manicured hands, congratulating each other on how magnanimous
they were to have planned, then financed, the charity hos
pital for those less fortunate.
But these folks didn’t fool Pamela for a second. She knew
the charity hospital was just a ruse to promote themselves.
Worse, the journalists who chronicled the event were will
ing pawns duping the public into believing the
wealthy weren’t simply manipulators of society’s good na
Another carriage rattled down the street. Pamela moved to her left, stepping into the darkest part of the shadows. She
could hear a woman laughing inside the carriage. Who
was having such a wonderful time on this sultry summer
Pamela forced the question from her mind. She didn’t care
who occupied the carriage. The only person she was in
terested in was the mansion’s owner, who was already par
tying inside. And that man Pamela Bragg would destroy.
A bitter smile compressed Pamela’s lips. Darwell and his fam
ily had been linked to every major criminal enterprise in
the territory for the past thirty years, from bribery of
elected officials to cattle rustling and extortion. Pamela and
the authorities knew of Darwell’s involvement, yet he’d never
spent so much as a single day in jail.
Tonight Pamela would even the score however. Tonight,
Jonathon Darwell and his thieving family would be the vic
tims, not the villains. They would finally get a taste of
their own medicine.
Inhaling deeply, filling her lungs with the night air
scented with wildflowers, Pamela jumped up to reach the
top of the stone wall with her right hand. Strong and agile,
she quickly pulled herself atop the two-foot-thick barrier,
paused to reassure herself that she hadn’t been seen, then
leaped soundlessly to the thick green grass below.
The mansion was surrounded by two hundred and fifty
feet of lawn on all sides. Crouching, Pamela covered the gap
in less than a minute, her gaze darting right and left, searching for the multitude of gunmen parading as guards who always surrounded the Darwell residence. Whenever Jonathon Darwell left his fortress, some of these men served as his bodyguards.
Pamela pressed herself against the mansion wall, waiting,
forcing herself to be patient, willing her erratic heartbeat
to become steady and slow, her breathing normal. To her
left, the darkness was heavy, though she’d spotted two
guards walking slowly back and forth along the perimeter
of the wall. She would avoid that area. To her right was
the main entrance to the mansion, which, though well lit,
lacked the armed guards who were the greatest threat.
As more people moved in and out of the huge, double
front doors, Pamela was glad she had spent the money
to purchase new Levi’s for herself. They were dark blue, and they helped to conceal her in the shadows. She didn’t care that the so-called good people of Whitetail Creek scoffed at
her because she wore men’s denim trousers, and she didn’t
care that the local preacher had once given a sermon using her as an example of the moral decay infecting womanhood,
citing the fact that she was never seen without a Colt revolver at her hip.
The metal grid placed along the south wall of the man
sion to encourage the vines to grow upward was suitable
for a makeshift ladder, so within seconds, Pamela was scaling
the wall and pulling herself onto the balcony of a second-
Dropping to one knee, she then crouched low, her eyes
narrowing as she looked in the window to search the in
terior darkness. Her ears were now attuned to the slightest
sound that did not belong. Several times she resisted the
urge to pull her revolver from the holster. She feared that,
tense and nervous as she was, she might shoot too quickly
or inaccurately and could not chance that.
This war—her personal, private war against Jonathon Darwell and the evil he represented—would be one fought intelligently. And in the end, when Pamela failed—she had
no doubt that she would fail, because the Davids of this world defeated the Goliaths only in the Bible—she would
be able to say honestly that she’d never hurt an innocent
Satisfied at last that no one was in the dark room, she
stepped inside, easing her way past the immaculate white
An eerie sensation overcame Pamela the moment she was inside the Darwell mansion. She’d dreamed of this moment for so long that she’d expected the air would smell differ
ent, foul in some way, as though the greed ingrained in
all the Darwells had an odor to it. The room, in fact, had the
pleasant aroma of cleanliness and freshly cut flowers.
Pamela was a little disappointed. She had, in her mind, imbued Jonathon Darwell with so many foul traits that it
disturbed her to discover, in even a small way, he was really just a man—though perhaps more clever than most,
certainly more treacherous and greedy. Just the same,
Jonathon Darwell was only a man, and as such, he could be
defeated, even by a frightened but determined young
woman like Pamela.
She looked over the room, wishing she could light a candle but not daring to. It was pleasantly, though cer
tainly not elaborately, appointed, with a few feminine
touches. Pamela suspected the room belonged to one of the
servants, perhaps an upstairs maid. Having made this de
termination, she moved to the door. She had nothing
against the servants working for the Darwells, only the Darwells
themselves, and those willingly involved in
the Darwells’ criminality.
She slipped out of the room and peered left and right down the hallway. Two lamps, one at either end,
yellow light. Pamela heard music
up from downstairs. She smiled. The twelve-piece orches
tra Jonathon Darwell had hired for the evening would help cover any sounds she might make.
She checked the next room down the hall, pressing her
ear to the door briefly to listen for sounds from inside.
Opening the door slowly, she found this room, also dark,
was clearly a man’s. Much larger than the first bedroom Pamela had entered, it contained, along one wall, an enormous glass-walled gun case.
She paused a moment to look at the weapons, hating the fact that she herself found it necessary to constantly keep the Colt with her. But the Darwells did not keep guns
to provide needed food for their table. They were so-called
sport hunters, which meant they killed indiscrimi
nately and, after decapitating their quarry for display, left
the carcass behind.
To Pamela’s thinking, it was a sinful waste of an animal’s
life not to eat it or use its hide.
She walked over to the dressing table and sat on the small bench seat. The brushes and combs she saw were
inlaid with the gold initial
Although it could be either
Richard Darwell or Jonathon, Pamela suspected it would be the
of himself, the elder Darwell would have
elaborate bedroom, she suspected.
Her hands shook slightly as she searched through the chest of drawers. Countless fine shirts, snowy white and
made of the finest silks and cottons, neatly filled the draw
ers. Pamela found a small box containing cuff links, and for several seconds, she thought of stealing it. She replaced the box. The cuff links were probably one of a kind and, as such, would be difficult to sell. Most likely if she did sell them to reimburse victims of Darwell’s greed, the sale would be traced back to her.
She closed the last drawer, careful that everything ap
peared exactly as it had when she entered the bedroom.
Pamela looked around. She was surrounded by wealth, from
the exquisite silver candleholder to the gold-plated Remington revolver on the nightstand beside the bed.
Another bitter smile pulled at Pamela’s lips. Why on earth
would Richard sleep with a revolver on his nightstand table?
Did he really need it for defense? The mansion was pro
tected by a high stone wall, and there were always guards
on duty. Could it be that the Darwells, understanding how
much pain and suffering they had caused over the past
thirty years, knew that sooner or later someone would try
to even the score?
Pamela hoped, in fact, that Richard Darwell did sleep fitfully, always worrying whether some honest soul would decide
enough was enough and enter his bedroom with gun in hand, intent on murder, not theft, as Pamela was now.
She thumbed through a small book on the bedstand,
hoping that she might find something of value there. The book contained the names of women, apparently those
Richard was intimate with, or hoped to be.
“What a swine,” Pamela murmured aloud when she read the name of a young woman she knew. Beside
the name, Richard had written that the woman’s father was having financial difficulties. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that Richard was hoping to exploit the father’s un
fortunate situation and coerce the woman into his bedroom.
On a writing table in the corner of the room, Pamela found
a small leather pouch, with fifteen or twenty gold coins
inside. Without determining exactly the value of the coins,
she stuffed the pouch into her back pocket. Not a fortune,
but a start, she told herself, moving on, glad that she had
been able to strike out at Richard. But it wasn’t the son
who was the evil heart of the Darwell family. It was the father,
and Pamela wasn’t going to stop until she had metaphorically
drawn blood straight from the heart of the Darwell criminal