Must Have Been Moonlight

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-12-02
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
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In this brilliant followup to her Avon debut, Melody Thomas captivates us again with a rich and emotionally satisfying 'marriage of convenience' story that will delight fans of Judith McNaught. Michael Fallon is the third son of a Duke, and when the love of his life was betrothed to his older brother, Michael left England to serve in the military. Now he's a captain stationed in Cairo, and he inadvertently rescues Brianna Donally from the deserts. Michael is the most exciting man Brea has ever known, and the attraction between them is undeniable. A 'modern' woman, she sees nothing wrong in initiating an affair, but when Michael unexpectedly inherits the family dukedom, the 'marriage of convenience' Michael proposes is anything but, and Brianna suddenly finds herself falling in love with a man she vowed never to trust with her heart.


Must Have Been The Moonlight

Chapter One


Major Michael Fallon squatted on his heels, his facedark with a beard, and squinted against the harshglare of the Western Sahara. He looked for the object thathad caught his eye when he'd crested the last dune -- a darkflutter of silk on sunlight. Finding it now amid the loose clutteron sand -- a wisp of cloth snagged on rock -- he broughtthe veil to his nose. English roses and something elseuniquely feminine touched his senses. Turning the cloth overin his hands, Michael turned his attention to a steel-dust Arabiantrailing its reins some distance away. Where was thesecond rider he had been following?

Bending over the field glasses beside him, he adjusted theleather hood over the lenses to prevent the fading sunlightfrom reflecting off the glass. An ancient watchtower andstone wall, relegated back to the desert some centuriesbefore, made a somber landmark against the indigo sky asnightfall lowered its sleepy eye over the terrain. He knew that good rifle scope would pick him off at this range if hestepped into the open.

He swore softly as he looked back at his white camel,couched in the sand like some bored Sheba oblivious to thegrowing chill. He pulled out a tin of peppermints, slid onebeneath his tongue, and again brought the veil to his nosebefore shoving it into his shirt.

Holding the carbine in one hand, his burnoose slapping athis boots, he remained on the backside of the dune andtrailed the Arabian on foot through the growing darkness tothe outer perimeter of the watchtower. Three days withoutsleep -- or perhaps it was the beating three Kharga slavershad given him last month -- made him feel every muscle inhis legs as he kept low to the ground.

The horse ambled up a path -- and stopped.

Michael dropped to his haunches, his fist tighteningaround his rifle. He carried a brace of pistols across his chestand a knife in his other hand. Such ancient watchtowers hadbeen built around springs. He didn't see any livestock, butguessed they were corralled behind the tower against therocks. One small heel print crossed the worn path almost athis feet. Shifting his weight, he raised his eyes to the rocks aheartbeat before he heard the click of a pistol behind him.

And froze.

"The only reason you're still alive," said a decidedly femininevoice, "is because my rifle is out of bullets."

Michael rose to his feet and turned slowly. His tagilmusthung loose and draped his shoulder. Each hand gripped aweapon. Their eyes met, and for a breathless heartbeat theyfaced each other. He wasn't sure how many people werepresent in the camp. Whatever he'd expected to find, itwasn't a blue-eyed houri in the Sahara Desert holding alethal-looking revolver on him.

Wearing a dark robe, half draped in moonlight, her bodywas detailed against the flimsy cloth as she stood betweentwo boulders. Her cheeks were pale, and a wisp of dark hairhad fallen from the wild braid down her back.

His gaze glinting with hard humor, Michael respected gritas much as he did the seven-inch barrel aimed at his chest."It is fortunate for me that your rifle had no bullets, amîri,"he said impassively, raising his arms in a gesture of submission.

His movement revealed to her the baggy white sirwalbeneath his robes, trousers tucked in soft leather knee-highboots.

Her light-colored gaze held his. Those striking eyes hadkept him from possibly killing her. That and the fact thatshe'd spoken in English -- and he'd answered in kind.

He didn't hear movement behind him, only felt the starsexplode in his head. Then he was falling, and his face hit thesand.

Brianna Donally could barely breathe as she held thefield glasses to her eyes and scanned the desert, the sickfeeling in her gut increasing with every moment. The whitecamel she'd been watching earlier had not moved from itssolemn place in the sand. She would have to go out there.Yet, she knew there was someone else in the darkness.Somehow, despite all of her efforts, they'd been tracked.First by the pair this morning. Then by the man on the whitecamel.

She knew that one man lay on the desert floor becauseshe'd put him there earlier that morning, and the man on thewhite camel lay behind her.

Her sister-in-law slumped against the stone wall, herbreath coming in quick heaves. They'd both been running.

"Do you think that I killed him, Brea?" Lady Alexandraremoved the wide-brimmed beater hat from her head anddropped it onto the sand. A visible bruise marred her cheek."We can't just leave him to . . . to the scavengers. Like theother one."

They had escaped two assassins. Closing her eyes, Briannalowered her forehead against the stone wall. It was coldagainst her cheek. How long would it be before those who had pillaged the caravan sent more people to hunt down thetwo Inglizi missies who had escaped the massacre? Shewould not allow Lady Alexandra's compassion to intrude onher conscience. Nor was she going to expend her energies tobury murderers. Some things were better left alone.

Unlike Brianna, her sister-in-law wore a long-sleeve cottonshirtwaist and collared jacket over a divided skirt, theblouse and jacket torn and spattered with blood. How muchcame from the wound on her mouth or shoulder, or from thesoldier who'd been beside her when he was shot, Briannadidn't know.

"If that man wished to be buried in accordance to his custom,then he should not have attacked us, my lady."

Blinking to clear her vision, Brianna forced herself to refocus.The moon was a scimitar in the sky, lying over thedesert terrain like a half-lit lantern ...

Must Have Been The Moonlight. Copyright © by Melody Thomas. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Must Have Been the Moonlight by Melody Thomas
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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