posted by Christine Wells
Former British agent, the Duke of Lyle (aka The Dangerous Duke) sits, scowling, on the floor of the Bandit Lair. He is gagged. His hands and feet are bound. Mud mottles his knee-high boots, his blue coat is rumpled and torn and his breeches hug a pleasing expanse of muscled thigh. His black hair is overlong, tousled, as though in a high wind. Lightning grey eyes glare with cold fury at his captors.
Aunty Cindy cracks her whip and then her knuckles. She and her fellow Banditas are breathing a little heavily and it's not wholly due to the man's rugged good looks.
Trish: That was unexpected.
Vrai Anna: He's a former agent for Her Majesty's Government. We should've been ready for him to try something. Glances to the corner. Poor Sven. He suffered the worst of it, didn't he?
Christine: Yes, well, Lyle had a score to settle after Sven gave Lady Kate that massage.
Jo nodding sagely: And the cocktails. Don't forget the cocktails.
Christine: Right. Listen, we have to get him to cooperate. There isn't much time until The Dangerous Duke comes out and I want him working hard for me, meeting and greeting and making nice with readers. But he's a tough one. It was difficult enough getting him to do what I wanted when I was writing his story. Don't know how I'll persuade him to cooperate now.
Tawny slinks towards him, running her gaze over his manly form: Leave him to me, Banditas. I know all about persuading handsome, rich dukes.
Beth (pouting): Aw, Tawny gets all the fun. And the great shoes...
Foanna: I think we should torture him. Shrugs. That's what I do to all my heroes.
Suz: You know, I'm a nurse. I'm familiar with any number of unpleasant things you can do to the human body.
Cassondra, stepping forward: If y'all would just let me--
Banditas (as one): No!
Christine: No. Placing a gentle, restraining hand on Cassondra's arm: We still want some of him left when we're finished, C. Let it go. Looks around at her comrades. V-A's right. The man's a former spy, not an easy nut to crack. You know what this calls for, don't you?
Kate: (gasp!) You don't mean...
Christine: Yes. Yes, I do.
Susan: But he's at Jennifer Y's house & he won't leave her. You know it's against his religion to disappoint his lady friends.
Kirsten: Nothing gets between the Golden Rooster and his duty. Except maybe Tim Tams. Do we have Tim Tams?
Christine lowers her eyes and toes the floor with her bucket boot: Sorry. I was on deadline. I'll get some more.
Jeanne: The rooster's a double agent. How do we know we can trust him? Let me plant a bug under his wing so we know exactly what he's up to.
Joanie T: Sigh. I wish Demetrius was here.
Nancy: You and me both. But I'll settle for that ripped cabana boy over there. Later, though. We have Bandita Business to do. Looks around. Where's KJ?
Caren: She's off snowboarding on Everest, bless her heart. Didn't you know?
Christie (hurrying in, covered in dust from house renovations): OMG what are we, kidnapping characters now? Hey. Not a bad idea.
Donna: I tried it with my Moonlight heroine but she kept disappearing.
A voice cuts through the chatter: If you're quite finished discussing my future in this godforsaken dungeon, might I have a word with Ms. Wells?
All eyes turn back to Lyle, who has managed to spit out his gag. Cassondra sends Christine a withering look.
Christine looks guilty and shrugs: Would you mind?
Cassondra (to Lyle): Just don't try anything. I'll be right outside the door. Eyes narrow. You got anything in your pockets?
Lyle: Breeches don't have pockets. Anyway, that husky voiced redhead just searched me. Twice.
Cassondra: That's our Tawny. (nods to the other banditas)
Sven and the Banditas file out, leaving Christine alone with Lyle.
Lyle turns his piercing gaze on Christine. Where's Lady Kate?
Christine: I'm afraid I can't tell you that. She gestures at the laptop next to him. Read her diary. You can see for yourself, she's perfectly well. With Sven for company, I'm sure she hardly misses you at all.
A low growl rumbles from somewhere in that big chest. In spite of herself, Christine takes a quick step backwards, then recovers her sangfroid: You know, you do that glowering thing extraordinarily well. It was one of the reasons I cast you for the role.
Lyle (dripping sarcasm): I'm obliged to you. Yes, I've read the damned diary. Edited it, too. But she looks to me like she's ready to make her escape. And I don't think you Banditas are equipped to deal with Lady Kate on the loose.
Christine: Never you bother your handsome head about that. As long as we have Lady Kate, you'll do as I say. And now, I've got some friends I'd like you to meet . . .
Over to our readers. What do you think? Should the banditas:
(a) bring in the Golden Rooster to subdue the prisoner
(b) reunite Lyle with the lovely Lady Kate
(c) let the more bloodthirsty Banditas have their way with him
(d) let Tawny have her way with him
(e) send Lyle on a mission to forage for more Tim Tams
Who or what (fictional or real) would you like to kidnap and bring to the Lair. What would you ask them?
My favourite comment will win an autographed Advanced Reader Copy of The Dangerous Duke. I'm also giving away 5 gorgeous signed coverflats, so come and join in the fun!
And if anyone wants to read about Lady Kate's adventures in the lair and Lyle's pithy commentary on the same, go here.