Nell MacInnes can spot a forgery from a mile away. After all, she learned from the best -- her father is one of the art world's most notorious thieves. His brutal beating by the very authorities who claim to keep the world safe from harm taught her one more valuable lsson --trust no one. The last thing rugged navy SEAL Dakota Smith needs on his mission is a tempting woman he doesn't trust. But a sketch by Leonardo da Vinci has gone missing, and the art conservator's skill in detecting forgery would be invaluable, if only her ties to the criminal world are as dead as she says they are. Soon an edgy partnership and white-hot attraction are forged between Nell and Dakota as they race to Draycott Abbey to track down a ruthless criminal with terrorist ties before time runs out -- and the da Vinci is lost forever.
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1 . it was ..
Posted July 22, 2010 by turcato , conroeokay not the best from this writer but worth a read
August 31, 2008
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Excerpt from To Catch a Thief by Christina Skye
The Isle of Skye Scotland
She was cold and tired and hungry. Her blistered feet ached and right now all Nell MacInnes wanted was a hot bath and a steaming cup of Earl Grey tea, followed by a warm bed to rest her weary body.
She closed her eyes, listening to the buzz of quiet pub conversation around her. The little inn nestled up against a pristine loch with towering mountains on three sides. The locals were far too polite to intrude on Nell's reverie, and when she dumped her mountain gear and backpack on the floor, sinking into a worn wooden chair, no one raised an eyebrow.
It was heaven to be warm and dry after six days of climbing the nearby peaks, battling rain and wind on every ascent. If not for her climbing partner, Nell might have curtailed the trip three days sooner, but Eric's enthusiasm was hard to resist. No doubt he would appear from his room upstairs within the hour, after taping his badly sprained ankle.
Warmth began to seep into her bones, as gentle as the low burr of the Scottish voices around her. Scotland was truly heaven, she thought.
"And I'm telling you it was no such thing as my imagination, Angus McCrae. A grand fish it was-- bigger than two arm spans, I'll tell you this."
Over the muted, good-natured argument about a lost fish, Nell heard the pub's front door open. Cold wind snapped through the room as two men entered, scraping booted feet. "Where is the American man, Angus? We need the climber called MacInnes."
Nell stiffened at the flawed description. Who wanted her now, when all she craved was one precious night's rest? No one from San Francisco even knew she was in Scotland.
The man at the door wore a muddy parka and broken-in boots. A satphone was gripped at his chest. "We've bad weather up on the hill and I need the American--assuming the man's as good as I'm told."
Nell took a short, wistful look at her half-eaten shepherd's pie and the cup of tea, but a request for aid was never refused.
She gulped the rest of her tea and stood up. "I'm the American named MacInnes."
"You--a woman?" The man looked startled.
Nell nodded, used to the surprised glances after twelve years of climbing on four continents. "How can I help you?"
"A team of young climbers has gone missing on Blaven, and there's bad weather already, with more due through the night."
Nell recognized the name of the dark peaks that girded the valley on three sides. "They're on the peak now?"
"Aye. They were expected down three hours ago and no sign of them yet. We have just now received word that they're stranded." He raised the satphone, his eyes grim. "A German climber saw them scattered out over the south slope like lost sheep. They did not answer his hails, and at least two had the look of being hurt." His voice fell. "Badly hurt."
Nell thrust her arms into her waterproof jacket, already making mental notes. "How many are in the group and what level of climbing experience? I'll need to know the exact coordinates where they were last seen, too." Even in a blizzard, the GPS would help Nell track those missing.
"I'm assembling that information now."
Nell unzipped her pack, assessing her resources. "I'll need drinking water and dried high-energy food, along with a more extensive first-aid kit."
"I will have it prepared for you, Ms. MacInnes, and our thanks to you for your help. My SAR team is understaffed, all but myself sent over to assist in the recovery of plane crash victims on Uist.A terrible thing, that. I only wish I had two more people and I'd climb up myself."
"No, you're right to stay here. Someone experienced needs to be available to coordinate resources and guide the authorities. Besides, I'm familiar with Blaven." She smiled crookedly. "I worked SAR here myself nine years ago during my summer vacation."
The man looked pleasantly surprised--and a little relieved. "So you know the Cuillin, do you now? I'm glad to hear it. There are those who take our Cuillin lightly. Some of them do not live to learn their error, I'm afraid."
"I won't make that mistake, rest assured." Nell's voice was firm. She had seen enough dazed climbers and shattered bodies during her rescue summer to know just how fast conditions could change up on the nearby peaks. Within minutes an exhilarating climb could turn into a zero-visibility nightmare. "What's the weather prediction up there?"
"Northerly gale force eight. Snow already falling on the summit. Temperatures dropping to minus nine Celsius."
Nell made the conversion to Fahrenheit quickly, taking the bottles of water and zippered food bags that the local SAR coordinator handed her. "One more thing." Ruefully, she looked down at her feet. "I'm afraid I'll need dry socks. These are fairly well soaked after walking down through the rain all day."
Without a word, every man in the now silent pub bent down and began to unlace shoes or unzip boots, hearing her quiet words.