The moment Luke McMillan opened the antique box, the mild-mannered computer expert gave way to a brazen warrior.
A warrior whose spirit had been locked away for centuries. Now unleashed, he spoke of curses and world destruction--unless Luke and 43 Light Street associate Sidney Weston could bring the artifact back to its rightful place.
However, their journey was plagued by a band of thieves seeking the relic for their own dark purposes. Sidney had suspected its power, but the way it changed Luke both frightened and aroused her. Empowered with strength greater than any mortal's, Luke found it difficult to balance his needs with the fiery warrior's. Until both spirits found solace in Sidney. But when it came time to take a stand, whose spirit would emerge from that battle? Luke's or the warrior's?
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October 09, 2007
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Excerpt from Return of the Warrior by Rebecca York
Is this shipment of antiques stolen?
Sidney Weston kept the question locked behind her lips as she glanced from her boss, Carl Peterbalm, to the wooden packing crates that sat on the floor of her office.
Peterbalm was a short man in his mid-forties, with small, beady eyes, fleshy lips, and thinning hair. Not a very attractive package, especially accompanied by the garlic smell of his breath.
He was standing nearby, his arms folded across his ample middle, waiting for her to bring out more of the items he'd acquired from a French dealer who got his stock from God knew where. Wishing the crates weren't so deep, she leaned into one of the containers to get another antique, aware of Carl's hot gaze on her ass and legs.
On her worst days, she suspected that he'd hired her because he liked to show her off to clients and pretend they were having an affair.
As distasteful as that thought was, she needed the salary he provided, so she'd have to wait until she got another job before she went after him for sexual harassment.
She clutched the newspaper-wrapped object in her hand, then ordered herself to relax as she carefully peeled off the paper to find a delicate Limoges pitcher, which she set beside the Louis XIV clock and solid silver altar candlestick that she'd already unwrapped.
She'd been working as a research assistant, secretary and gofer at Peterbalm Associates for eighteen months, and she longed to tell Mr. Grabby Hands to go to hell. Really, she wanted to open her own shop, where she'd have an appealing mixture of affordable collectibles and expensive antiques.
But for now, that was just a dream. She was still paying off the college loans that had allowed her to get a degree in fine arts at the University of Maryland.
When she turned, her breast brushed against his arm, which he'd positioned right where she would collide with him when she went back for more pieces from the shipment.
"Sorry," he said, the insecurity dripping from his voice. Biting back a sharp retort, she reached into the carton and brought out another antique. Through the paper she felt a rectangular object. With the wrapping still on, she couldn't see the thing, but she felt the hairs on the backs of her arms stand up. Whatever she was holding, she suddenly wanted to put it back into the shipping container.
Instead, she clenched her teeth and started to unwrap it. As she pulled away the paper, she saw a wooden box with elaborate carvings of vines, flowers, animals and moons. When her hand touched the wood, her fingers tingled. Setting the box down abruptly on the table, she took a couple of steps back. Even from a few feet away, the thing seemed to exude a kind of invisible power that she had never felt before.
Behind her, Carl sucked in a sharp breath. Did he feel something too?
"What?" she asked.
He waited a beat before saying, "I just remembered that I'm late for an appointment." He swept his arm toward the wooden crates. "I want you to finish unpacking the shipment today, and enter everything in the computer file."
She flicked her eyes toward the time stamp at the bottom of her computer screen. It was already four in the afternoon. To finish on time, she'd have to work overtime, and she knew from past experience that Carl Peterbalm was unlikely to pay her for the extra hours.
"That may take awhile," she murmured.
"You can clock in an extra hour," he said.
"Thank you," she answered.
When he left the room and marched down the hall, Sidney breathed out a little sigh.
She knew Carl was still trying to prove to his father that he could do better on his own than by joining the family business. No doubt he'd ordered this shipment from some under-the-table source, and now he'd left her with the result.
Still, she could work a lot faster without him breathing down her neck.
She glanced at the clock again. At this hour, the rest of the staff had probably had already gone home, which added to her uneasy feeling.
Ordering herself to settle down, she got up and locked the door. Then she returned to inventory the shipment.
It wasn't going to be a simple task. In addition to listing each item, she also had to write a description, which might require some research on the Web or in the reference books that lined the shelves above the computer table.
She unwrapped a couple more pieces from the shipment, setting them on the table. Then, almost against her own will, her hand was drawn back to the wooden box. When she touched it, she felt the same tingling sensation she'd experienced before, as though it had an electric current running through it.
No, it was more than that. Somehow she felt the tingling inside her head.As if it was getting into her mind.