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Authors: Delphine Dryden

Gossamer Wing

BOOK: Gossamer Wing
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“Steampunk erotica at its best.”

RT Book Reviews

“Something I couldn’t resist. Ms. Dryden delivered one hell of a great story!”

Risqué Reviews

“Smokin’ hot.”

Two Lips Reviews

“Only Delphine Dryden could pull off a beautiful, funny, sexy-as-sin story like this!”

—Mari Carr,
New York Times
bestselling author

“One of the coolest . . . books I have read.”

The Romance Man


—Jennifer Probst,
New York Times
bestselling author

“The plot is captivating, the intimate moments are scorching!”

Sinfully Delicious Reviews


Seriously Reviewed

“I really loved the story.”

Just Erotic Romance Reviews

“A fun and exciting read that kept me entranced from beginning to end.”

Night Owl Reviews

“Well-written, sexy . . . and intriguing . . . Highly recommend.”

Romancing the Book


Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

USA • Canada • UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • India • South Africa • China

A Penguin Random House Company


A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author

Copyright © 2013 by Delphine Dryden.

Excerpt from
Scarlet Devices
by Delphine Dryden copyright © 2013 by Delphine Dryden.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.

is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA),

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-61369-6


Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / November 2013

Cover photos:
© Claude Marinesco;
Vintage Image of Eiffel Tower, Paris,

© Javarman/Shutterstock.

Cover design by Rita Frangie.

Interior text design by Kelly Lipovich.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.



Title Page



























Special Excerpt from
Scarlet Devices




Jacques Martin kept an eye on the heavy clouds, but his primary focus remained on the hunt. The scrawny Dominion rat had left him with a knot the size of an egg on his head, and the sickest of headaches. He was keen to return the favor.

And he has my freedom in his hands.

The documents, all wrapped up and tidy in their leather pouch, that Martin had planned to present Dubois once he knew their agreement was at an end . . . the boy had them, and probably didn’t even know their importance. Didn’t know an agent—a brilliant agent, a beautiful woman, Martin’s friend—had died for the information on those sheets. He’d taken them because they were there, because they might be worth something to his employers.

The cold raged through Martin’s arm and raised a scorching chill below his elbow where metal met skin. He’d forgotten to oil the spring-clamp hand again this morning, and he’d left off the compression sleeve because of the itch. Never again. Already he felt the thing seizing up, become
instead of
, defeating its own purpose.

Martin ran through the streets of Paris, light and silent on his well-trained feet. Even with his enhanced ear he could barely make out his own footsteps, but he suspected the boy from the American colonies would not be so quiet or so fleet of foot. He’d looked like an analyst, a desk clerk, not a field agent. He could never have defeated Martin in a fair fight. He’d barely gotten away as it was, even with Martin’s head still reeling from the first crack it had received.

, Martin chastised himself. His ears had been covered by a cap, again because the cold made the metal unbearable where it met skin. He hadn’t heard the boy sneaking around the corner, had been so certain of his own security that he’d literally plowed into the fool. Then, caught off guard, he’d careened into the sharp brick corner of Dubois’s building.

There it was, the sound he sought. A patter of rapid footsteps on a parallel street, the rough breath of a man near the end of his endurance, trying to be quiet as he pushed past his limit. The rat was fitter than Martin had thought, he had to give him that. They were a block apart, Martin calculated, but he could catch up to the boy on the Boulevard des Italiens, which was only a few paces away.

Martin paused at the intersection as the fool broke from the shadowed side street and darted across the broad boulevard, making straight down the block for the Opéra Garnier. Steam cars rattled by, not many of them at one in the morning but enough to make Martin proceed with more caution than the American had demonstrated.

“Paul Girard,” the boy had introduced himself two days ago, in flawless unaccented French. He’d cornered Roland Dubois at the opera, as ambitious young men were wont to do on occasion. This young man had raised alarms in Jacques Martin’s mind. His French was too smooth, too perfect. The cut of his costly clothing was off, a few years out of fashion. Most of all, Martin had been struck with an impression that the boy was both smarter than he presented himself to be, and lacking in the particular type of puffed up, self-important false confidence that invariably filled these up-and-coming industrialists.

With his enhanced ear covered by a prosthesis and his judgment still cloudy from the morphine he’d taken to manage the pain from his new implants, Martin had been far from alert. When Dubois dismissed his caution about the boy, he didn’t pursue it. Dubois had been late for a rendezvous with his new mistress. Martin had been late for his next dose of morphine.

He felt vindicated now, in an ironic way, remembering the young man’s startled curse when they collided.

“Bloody hell,” the rat had hissed, revealing his true accent in that moment as clearly as if he’d hung a sign around his neck. It was always those little things, those unguarded seconds, that tripped one up. The American boy was still a baby spy, evidently. Martin would not enjoy killing him. But the baby spy had made a mistake in not killing Martin when he had the chance, and Martin would not make the same mistake.

Untimely traffic made crossing the boulevard impossible for several tens of seconds, and Martin cursed under his breath as the boy disappeared around the side of the Opéra. The brief rest refreshed him, however, and he sprinted after his quarry with new vigor once the street cleared.

This time he swung wide around the corner of the building, half expecting the boy to jump out at him. Instead Martin drew to a slow halt, staring at an empty plaza and the street beyond. Nothing. No boy, no cars, no sound from so much as a cat to disturb the night.

He’d lost him. He’d lost the documents.

Horror as cold as the metal biting at Martin’s skin filled his mind as he contemplated what Dubois might do if he returned without those pages. Without proof of the device that could secure the martial future Dubois so fervently desired, a weapon of such breathtaking potential that it could change the course of this war . . . and all wars.

“A little insurance,” Dubois had told him while he was still groggy from the anesthesia. “To make sure you do follow through on your promise to surrender the papers Simone stole from those English scientists, I had the good surgeon-engineer provide you with an additional implant.” His piggy eyes had squinted in delight as he told Martin of the vial of poison planted in Martin’s body, and the radiomagnetic trigger device that he, Roland Dubois, would carry with him until Martin had delivered on his end of their exchange.

Martin had gambled with the devil and lost, it seemed. He’d persuaded the engineering giant to provide a pair of implants his own employers refused him, enhancements he thought would make him the greatest spy the world had ever known. Without the documents, however—or perhaps even with them, Martin acknowledged—he was now bound forever to Dubois unless he wanted to die.

Martin did not want to die. He sent up a silent prayer to a God he wished he could still believe in, and like an answer to his prayer he heard a soft scuffle overhead.

The Dominion rat was scrambling up and over the lip of the roof, high atop the Palais Garnier. How he’d scaled the wall Martin couldn’t begin to guess, unless the baby spy was an unparalleled second-story man.

Martin didn’t linger to guess. He was no second-story man, because he didn’t need to be. He could pick any lock ever made and was as silent as death. Within seconds he was inside the building, darting up the stairs that led to the roof. The Opéra was dark that night, but warmer than the outside air, and Martin felt almost hot by the time he topped the final stair and leaned, listening, on the door leading to the roof.

The scuffling sounds of feet on slate told him the boy was still up there and not close to the door. It was as good an opportunity as Martin would get. He swung the door open, silently praising the worker who must have recently oiled the hinges, and scanned the dark rooftop in front of the green glass dome. He saw nothing at first, then movement near the abutment on the opposite side from the wall the American had climbed.

The boy had evidently planned to go up and over, escaping on the opposite side of the building once Martin had given up the search. A decent strategy, Martin supposed, if it hadn’t been for the implant that allowed Martin to hear him. That implant, and the metal throughout his forearm, were already chilling again as he crept across the roof toward his prey. Though it felt almost too cold for it now, snow started to fall, dusting all the surfaces. Martin slowed even further to minimize the risk of slipping. His head and arm started to throb all over in the bitter wind.

What the hell is the fool doing?

The boy’s back was to Martin, his hands busy at the lip of the abutment, and Martin was still a few steps away when the American stepped up to the railing, turned, and leaped off the side of the Opéra. Martin saw a split second of utter shock as the boy registered his presence, then only blackness and snow where his face had been.

In the second it took for Martin to recover and spot the grappling hook and cord, the American had already made it to the top of the first tier of windows. Leaning over and shoving his coat sleeve up, Martin watched his enemy’s progress as he fumbled with his implant, trying to recall by feel exactly where the forearm panel released to reveal a blade. The boy looked up in terror, seeing his death, and whispered, “Charlotte.”

But he kept skimming down the wall.

Later Martin would blame the morphine, and perhaps the fear, for his stupidity. He was warned, after all. He had to snatch his fingers away from the icy metal once, because it was so cold it burned. Like a child, he popped one of those fingers into his mouth and sucked the end, warming it up. Then he reached down again and finally found the seam at the panel’s edge near his wrist, pressing there firmly with a surge of triumph.

The triumph lasted only until he realized he couldn’t pull the finger away. It had frozen to the metal, like a tongue to a water pump handle. In his village, as a child, the boy who would later become Jacques Martin—
Coeur de Fer
, the notorious Iron Heart—had never been foolish enough to take that dare.

A few seconds’ delay were all the false Paul Girard needed. Martin didn’t bother to yank his finger away from the metal, though the prospect of the blood and pain was hardly enough to deter him. He simply saw no point. The Dominion rat was already gone, escaping into the night with one last look over his shoulder.

Martin didn’t have enhanced vision, but he didn’t need it to know what the boy’s face must have looked like. Utter astonishment, incredulous relief.

That was exactly what Martin had felt when he’d first spied the pages of notes in his dead mentor’s office, and realized what they meant to him. What they could do for him. Simone’s parting gift, a piece of intelligence so valuable Martin could use it to strike a Faustian bargain.

Now they were gone, and his hope along with them.

BOOK: Gossamer Wing
13.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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