The Second Lie
by Anna Richland
The Immortal Vikings #2
To reassure wealthy clients, Christina Alvarez Mancini invented a jet-setting British owner for her Napa Valley wine collection service. Success has brought her close to buying her own winery, when irregularities at a London wine auction threaten her business.
A man in love with a good plan.
Stig, an immortal Viking thief, knows he’s found the perfect role. The California woman who created his character won’t discover what he’s up to in England until after he’s pocketed the money he needs. Then Christina walks into the auction preview, ready to ruin his plans, and he knows his boredom has ended.
Secrets that turn deadly.
By the end of the night, these two rivals must cooperate to escape kidnappers, British authorities, media and a pair of mysterious watchers. That’s when a game Stig’s played for a thousand years puts Christina’s life at risk.
Can two people whose identities are based on lies trust each other enough to survive?
After a night evading kidnappers, Christina is too tired to object to Stig’s plan to cross underneath London on a disused mini-cargo train system.
She shouldn’t let his English manners lull her into forgetting that he was a swindler, but the way he phrased simple requests was musical to a woman used to California’s casualness.
Their ride chugged away from the platform into the circular mouth of a tunnel. Returning to the absolute darkness was disorienting after the fluorescent lights, and she inched closer to Stig while also trying to find a comfortable position. “Where are we going?”
“Now that you ask —”
“You’ve got a plan,” she said at the same time as he said, “I have a plan.”
As they both laughed, her elbow bumped the low metal side of the car, and she pulled back sharply. “What—” Then her skull thunked into an equally hard object, which caused her to bite her tongue. “Oww.”
“Unn.” Next to her, Stig grunted and flicked on the flashlight, revealing that he had one hand pressed to his chin and lower cheek.
“I’m sorry,” she said through her own fingers.
“I’m glad that was an accident.” He removed his hand and turned his cheek toward her. “D’you want to kiss it better?”
“No.” Yes. She straightened and tried to move away, but holding a stiff pose against the swaying of the little wagon was a losing battle when last night’s tackle made itself felt in her aching shoulders and left knee, which throbbed in time to the rotations of the steel wheels.
“You must be sore.” His hand squeezed the clenched triangle of muscle where her neck and shoulder met. The rhythmic pressure and release made the motor’s whine recede enough to feel more like white noise. It was much warmer in the small tunnel than it had been in the larger platform space. A lack of ventilation, she assumed.
“Close your eyes.” He spoke so close to her ear that she could feel his breath move her hair. “We’re about to reach Bird Street station and another flash.”
She saw the flicker of bright colors through her eyelids, but instead of worrying about cameras, her head bobbed forward. As they reentered another section of dark tunnel, he used both hands on her shoulders and rearranged her position. Instead of sitting side by side, she was turned at an angle so his hands could access more of her back.
“Wimpole Street, next stop.” If his murmur was played for bus stop announcements, females between fifteen and ninety-five would ride transit just to listen. Especially if the ride included a massage. The rhythmic motion was lulling her into forgetting why she should move away from him and bringing up thoughts of what would happen if she turned to face him. His hands took her to the world of not-quite-sleep, the point where she could sense events happening around her, but through a veil.
“The total ride takes less than twenty-five minutes.”
“That’s—” Her mind was a blank, the sibilant final sound stretching between them as she wondered what she’d intended to say, her words all chased away by the overwhelming urge to sink deeper into his arms.
“Not enough time.” Then he turned her around and his lips replaced the questions she might have asked with one simple need: him.
Anna lives with her quietly funny Canadian husband and two less quiet children in a century-old house in Seattle. The perpetual drizzle is a good excuse to drink more coffee. She’s a former US Army officer who now writes The Immortal Vikings series from Carina Press and also the author of His Road Home, a novella which Publishers Weekly called “Tantalizing … a raw, emotional story” and the website SmartB*tchesTrashyBooks gave an A rating.
She donates a portion of her book proceeds to two charities: the Fisher House Foundation, which provides housing for families of wounded soldiers in the US and Great Britain, and Doctors Without Borders, which delivers emergency medical care in more than sixty crisis zones world-wide.
Anna will be awarding a set of En Route notecards, gorgeously illustrated by Kate Pocrass (because falling in love with an Immortal Viking is a wild journey!) to a randomly drawn winner (INTERNATIONAL) via rafflecopter during the tour.
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