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The Pickpocket

The Pickpocket by Rebecca Vinyard
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Trader Captain Peyton Sewall goes uncover in Renaissance Venice to catch a traitor for Henry VIII. His trap nets a most peculiar thief, Caroline, a cross-dressing woman with a mysterious past. Thrown together by fate, Peyton and Caroline find love on the run and among the ruins. They'll have to fight for it from the back alleys of Venice to Henry VIII's throne room, through plague-infested villages and out on the high seas. But most of all, Peyton and Caroline must wrestle with their own doubts and fears. What is more important? Honor and duty? Or love?

Awe-Struck Publishing; October 2004
377 pages; ISBN 9781587494758
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Title: The Pickpocket
Author: Rebecca Vinyard
He could not see the tears flowing down her cheeks, but Caroline felt them. When he'd asked her to take this walk, her hope had soared in anticipation of Peyton losing his new-found reserve. Instead, she realized he'd only brought her out here to once again stress the difference between them. The realization hurt more than she thought possible. Was she so unattractive then? Nay, she'd seen herself this afternoon and had seen the look in Peyton's eye this evening. It was just his high-minded ideals that kept him from kissing her, touching her the way she craved. He thought he was protecting her honor, but she had decided a week ago her honor was not worth protecting. He had awakened these strange desires, this passion within her. And by God, he was going to finish what he had started if she had any say about it! More angry than hurt now, she again tried to jerk her arm free and this time was successful. Peyton wasn't even looking at her, his eyes were lifted to the stars. She stood and moved to stand on the lower terrace before him. Slowly, his stare shifted from the night sky to meet her own. "Peyton, I would have this out," she announced, defiantly placing her hands on her hips. "What? That you should be wary of swains whispering sweet nothings in your ears? You've just told me you were too wise to be deceived in that way." "Tis not what I mean at all, and you know it," she growled. "The only swain I am concerned with is you. Was everything you said and did with me a lie?" "No!" he half-shouted. "How can you ask me that?" "Well, you could not prove it by me, Monsignor. I have sensed a coldness in you of late." "I thought I explained this to you on the beach, Caroline. It would not be right for us to continue because I have nothing--nothing at all to give you." "So what you are saying is, what I want doesn't matter!" Peyton grew very still. Then he whispered, "You are too innocent to know what it is you want." "Am I?" Swift as lighting, she leapt onto his lap, her legs straddling his thighs, her knees resting upon the stone on either side of him. Catching his face in her hands, she murmured, "This is what I want." With that, she lowered her mouth over his. She felt him go rigid with surprise, then his lips parted to accept her kiss. She fed on the liquid heat she found there hungrily, using every crumb of her meager experience to express the extent of her desire. Her fingers slid from his cheeks to tangle in his hair, crushing his lips against hers, forcing him past his noble intentions into the passion she knew so well. When she felt his arms slide about her waist to pull her closer, she lifted her mouth from his to whisper triumphantly, "Aye, Peyton, that makes ten and one left in the bargain. Give me more." "Sweet Jesu, woman," he groaned. "You don't know what you are doing to me." She chuckled softly. "You think not? Ah, then let me show you that I do." Claiming his lips again, she evened the number of kisses to ten. He kissed her back. Hard. Hot. The embers that had smoldered between them for so long, now flared into a blaze. Never had the blood thundered so hard, so fast, in Peyton's veins. He could not believe this woman he held in his arms was his sweet virtuous Caroline. Her lips and tongue scalded him with exquisite heat. It was time for him to put a stop to this. It was time for him regain control. But when he tried to pull away, she flicked her tongue against his lips and whispered, "Nine. Give me more." He was undone. She had unleashed the passion he'd always known lurked in the depths of her soul, and his defenses crumbled to dust as surely as the ancient stones surrounding them. Reason meant nothing now. All that mattered was Caroline. Her touch. Her mouth. Her body. Yes, he wanted this. He wanted this and more.
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