Read Underground Warrior Online
Authors: Evelyn Vaughn
Tags: #Romance, #Romantic Suspense
Crawling into his bed, surrounded by the smell of him, Sibyl couldn’t possibly sleep.
She listened to the shower across the hall. She imagined Trace in there, washing off all that blood and sweat. Why hadn’t it bothered her more?
Because it’s his.
The horror she’d felt when she’d thought him hurt or dead…the odd ache in her chest when he’d all but dared her to be disgusted by him…. She didn’t need experience she didn’t have, or the IQ she did, to face what this had become. She needed only a little courage.
She was falling in love with Trace Beaudry. Trace LaSalle-Beaudry…no. That confused things too much. Let him be just Trace.
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If this is your first Evelyn Vaughn title, thank you for checking me out! If, however, you’ve been looking for
Knight in Blue Jeans
came out, then I also thank you for your patience. I’ve been writing more slowly lately, which, unfortunately, resulted in a long wait for you. My apologies.
Trace and Sibyl’s story gave me the chance to explore human resilience, from that of a girl falsely imprisoned to that of a city striving to rebuild itself after disaster. If New Orleans can keep going, then why can’t the rest of us?
I hope all of you enjoy
Books by Evelyn Vaughn
Silhouette Romantic Suspense
Knight in Blue Jeans
Her Kind of Trouble
believes in many magicks, particularly the magic of storytelling. She has written fiction since she could print words, first publishing in a newspaper contest at the age of twelve. Thirty(ish) years later, she’s publishing her eighteenth novel. Evelyn loves movies and videos, and is an unapologetic TV addict. Luckily, her imaginary friends and her cats seem to get along.
Evelyn loves to talk about stories and characters, especially her own. Please write her at [email protected]
I owe many thanks for
including Juliet Burns, Paige Wheeler, Natashya Wilson, Patience Smith, Shana Smith, Kayli Rhodes, the Texas Read’ems (who helped me come up with the idea for the Blade Keepers) and the First Thursday Romance Reader Bookclub (who kept me going). Because of them, I dedicate this book to my readers.
You complete me!
Dallas, West End, August
e said to come alone,” said the pretty woman.
Her partner answered, “They
say to come alone.”
Silently spying on the couple from her corner of the sun-drenched restaurant patio, Sibyl analyzed her discomfort. It wasn’t fear. Fear she understood—had understood since, as a twelve-year-old, she’d watched her world end.
Red-and-blue flashing lights. A pounding on the door. Mama’s cry…
Sibyl pushed the memories safely behind a wall of reason. She’d come here for information. Exposure was the one thing her enemies—a secret society of powerful men, of killers—feared.
A pounding gavel. “The court finds Isabel Daine guilty of arson and manslaughter.” A public defender too drunk to sugarcoat it. “Some people in this town, you just can’t fight.”
Why not just say secret society?
And no people willing to admit who really started the fire that killed her father.
The wealthy, powerful society wouldn’t allow it. Perhaps Sibyl could catalog her newest discomfort as frustration. Arden Leigh, socialite daughter of a Dallas Comitatus leader, had broken her emailed promise. Sibyl—anonymous under the handle of Vox07—
specified that they meet alone. Instead, Arden brought a suitor. Despite his old T-shirt and faded jeans, his posture and speech patterns bespoke wealth. Power.
“Thank heavens I have a big, strong man to protect me,” Arden teased her beau. Sibyl’s stomach twisted as she watched. She had to get out of there.
Across a wide parking lot, a yellow-and-white light-rail train slid to a halt with a ringing of bells. While disembarking passengers distracted the pretty couple, Sibyl scribbled a simple, angry note onto a strip of paper placemat—
Risky or not, she couldn’t just ignore people lying, cheating and getting their own way at the expense of others. Not powerful secret societies descended from bloody conquerors like Charlemagne or Genghis Khan. Not beauty queens with false smiles and doting, disguised lovers. Not anyone.
Swallowing back her hurt, Sibyl stood to leave the patio. She dropped the note surreptitiously into the socialite’s purse as she passed.
Suddenly, the woman’s partner blocked the one exit. “Hiya, Vox.”
Sibyl spun and ran, vaulting the iron fencing of the patio and racing across a hot, Texas parking lot toward the train stop. She dodged surprised tourists. She threaded between cars. The 2:18 pulled away from the historic district, but she could lose herself in the crowd heading for El Centro Community College just beyond, if she…could…just….
The obstacle of a second man, angling toward her from behind the train stop’s handicap access ramp, forced her to a stumbling stop.
Tailored suit, despite the August heat wave. Expensive sunglasses. An air of absolute entitlement, even for nobility. More Comitatus.
If her years of uncovering every scrap of information she could find on them had taught her nothing else, it taught her how to recognize their agents.
Fight. No, move. No—fight!
Sibyl pivoted—but here came the couple who’d chased her. She fell an instinctive step back and spotted a third enemy—privileged walk despite his cheap clothing and beach-blond hair—closing in from another direction. They’d surrounded her. They’d won. Again.
“It’s all right, honey!” lied the beauty queen, reaching for her. “You can trust—”
The scream of a train whistle drowned her out.
Sybil spun to face the light-rail train that loomed down on her with an urgent wail of warning. A blow hurled her into brick pavement.
Wouldn’t a train’s impact hurt more? She curled her hand on the hot bricks beneath her…and smelled the earthy, unmistakable scent of man on top of her, sheltering her. She felt the rub of coarse skin on her bare arms, of denim on her bare legs. Despite the gruff cursing over the screech of metal brakes, she felt safe.
Someone saved her.
Someone who weighed almost as much as a train, even so.
Opening her eyes, Sibyl turned her head to the man who rolled off her. His size momentarily blocked the sun and blue sky. Swarthy, she noted. Angry…she’d been angering men for a long time now. This one, at least, had some cause.
He could have died. Which meant he, at least, didn’t want her silenced.
“What the hell were you doing?” her savior demanded, cutting through her shock. His accent held the familiar trace of Louisiana—rural Louisiana. He pulled her effortlessly upward with one huge, rough hand around hers, and she let him. “When a train’s about to hit you, you move, you don’t just stand there!”
Sibyl barely reached his broad chest, even in her cowboy boots. The muscles of his shoulders bulged under his T-shirt; the muscles of his thick arms she could see for herself under sun-browned skin. Substantial, she thought. Blue collar, not white collar. A two-day beard shadowed his jaw. Primitive. And he'd risked his life for her.
A strange sensation filled her. After a decade alone, she searched for a label, then surprised herself.
She trusted him. Completely.
“Oh, thank God!” Arden Leigh put on a surprisingly good show of concern. So did her beau and the blond man, with their prep school postures and thrift store clothes. The one man who’d dressed Comitatus-wealthy had vanished.
“We didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“I guess you just don’t have the way with women that Trace does.” The blond man laughed. Sibyl’s hero grunted casual disgust, but she didn’t hear his reply.
They were together. This man—Trace—who seemed like the anti-Comitatus, knew people she’d assumed were her enemies. And yet, as the others crowded around her, Sibyl instinctively pressed back against her savior’s solid body. Fear, she understood. It shouldn’t stop her from finding out more about these not-quite-Comitatus types…or their friend.
she could trust him.
Needing time, needing proof, Sibyl rolled her eyes upward and dropped into a feigned faint, like some damsel in distress.
Her hero caught her, swept her into his hard arms, held her close to his broad, warm chest—and growled an unheroic, “Crap.”
Sibyl had no intention of analyzing the feelings that swept past her wall of reason, this time.
Some truths were just too dangerous to consider.
“Doubt separates people…it is a sword that kills.”
New Orleans, three months later
race Beaudry didn’t consider himself a big thinker.
Big? Hell, yeah.
A thinker? Not so much.
But even he couldn’t ignore the significance of finally entering his ancestors’ once grand, now ruined, home. This house could have been his inheritance if he’d been smarter, classier,
He’d tried. He’d failed. Now the house sat empty and rotting.
And here Trace stood, the bastard end of his genetic line—hefting the sledgehammer that would take it down.
Even through the bandanna across his face, even with a fresh stick of peppermint gum in his mouth, the fancy “bungalow” stank as thick and awful as any other New Orleans flood house. It had stood empty for years before Hurricane Katrina turned even nice areas of New Orleans into Southern Lake Pontchartrain. But what really trashed the building were the months it sat untouched, afterward. The Judge—Trace couldn’t think of the man he’d first met on his fifteenth birthday as a
—had apparently fought the city’s attempts to force his hand. For once, the Judge lost.