Scene: The deepest depths of the Romance Bandits' lair--a place unlovingly referred to by its inhabitants as the deadline cave.
Two furtive figures appear from nowhere. One distracts the two cabana boys guarding the cave entrance, allowing the other to steal up behind and knock the CBs' pretty heads together. Stunned, the cabana boys crumple to the floor. Clearly, the Bad Banditas were not in charge of security in the deadline cave tonight.
The two intruders separate and move in different directions through the dark corridors, systematically riffling through desks and filing cabinets in each room.
Most of the cells are unoccupied--there seems to be some sort of party going on above--but in one room sits a little dark haired Bandita tapping away at her laptop, chugging instant coffee and muttering to herself.
In one swift motion, a tall, dark (and handsome!) figure steps up behind and puts a blade to the Bandita's throat. The muttering becomes a strangled shriek, but the intruder clamps his hand over the Bandita's mouth to smother the sound.
A voice, which the Bandita knows only too well, murmurs in her ear...
The Marquis of Jardine: Mrs. Wells, I presume? Stand up, now, slowly. In a moment, I'm going to take my hand away from your mouth. You know me well enough to guess what I'll do if you make the slightest sound. Do you understand?
Obediently, the hapless author rises and turns around
Christine Wells: [Thinks] Wow. He really is as devastatingly gorgeous as I imagined when I wrote him. And scary. Mustn't forget the scary part. Careful of the knife blade, she nods.
Jardine slowly removes hand from her mouth but keeps the knife too close for comfort.
Jardine: It has come to my attention that you mean to publish a book. One that contains top secret information about a recent mission of mine.
Christine: [Thinks] I didn't write this part, but I'm willing to go with it. Forget Lady Louisa! Take ME as your prisoner, Jardine!
[Says] Well... it's mainly a romance, really. I mean there are some suspense elements but they're, um, you know... larger than life. Highly improbable. She shrugs and looks apologetic. I made it all up.
Jardine: Romance?Jardine's eyes narrow dangerously. Mrs. Wells, are you mocking me?
Christine: Me? Mock? You? No! Mocking is not at all what I had in mind, actually...
A tall, slim blonde woman enters the room, reading a blue covered book.
Christine: [Mutters] Oh, nuts.
Lady Louisa Brooke: Jardine, do stop terrorizing the poor woman. It is a romance, after all. See? [Reads aloud] "Damn you, Louisa.” The soft growl was all she heard before a savage, beautiful mouth found hers." Louisa tilts her head and stares at Jardine's savage, beautiful mouth. I think that's rather good.
Jardine: Good? Have you taken leave of your senses, my lady?
Louisa flips the page
Louisa: [laughs] Oh! Were we really that naughty?
Christine: Most of it was unprintable.
Jardine: Hand it over, Louisa! I'll be the judge of... Good God!
Christine: [whispers to Louisa] Don't worry, everyone knows that's just a body double on the cover.
Ahem! Anyway, it's too late to stop publication, I'm afraid. In fact, SWEETEST LITTLE SIN will hit bookstores this very day. Christine looks at watch Oh, no, is that the time? I'm supposed to be at the release party by now! Sven! WHERE'S MY COCKTAIL? Demetrius, where's your shield? For that matter, where's your tunic, you naughty Roman!
Christine hurries away, leaving Jardine and Louisa engrossed in the story of how they lied, spied, schemed and fought their way to their happily ever after.
Louisa: Looks around. It appears we're alone, darling. Shall we join the party upstairs?
Jardine: I've never been one for parties. But, having read this book, something rather more interesting does rather leap to mind. Grins evilly. Come here, my love...
At this point, the CCTV footage goes blank. Even in the 21st century, the Marquis of Jardine knows a thing or two about maintaining the utmost secrecy regarding his affairs.
Upstairs, the party is in full swing. Sven the Swedish masseur has the baby oil in one hand and a cocktail shaker in the other. The Romans are organizing shield sledding teams and the hockey hunks are relaxing with some of the Bandita Buddies by the pool. Sundry Banditas are giving fencing, shooting and chandelier-swinging lessons and drinking raspberry mojitos out of bucket boots.
Two figures emerge, a little dishevelled, from the deadline cave.
Louisa: Gracious! What a party!
Jardine: That's not a party, that's a ...................!!!
For the chance to win one of three signed copies of SWEETEST LITTLE SIN, fill in the blank at the end of Jardine's sentence!