The Book of the Seven Delights

Free The Book of the Seven Delights by Betina Krahn

Book: The Book of the Seven Delights by Betina Krahn Read Free Book Online
Authors: Betina Krahn
Tags: Fiction - Historical, Fiction - Romance
felt.
    "Locals, most likely… who've decided to have a look at your blessed "treasure map" for themselves."
    "How do they know—I said I don't have a treasure map!" It came out much louder than she intended.
    She clamped a hand over her mouth and looked to the door.
    A heartbeat later, an alert was being shouted from the loggia to the central courtyard below.
    "Dammit!" He took the gun from her, turned her around, and shoved it down into the back of her belt.
    Then he pushed her toward the bed. "Grab one of those sheets!" He seized the dusty cover and by the time he had finished tying one corner to the sheet, the sound of running outside the door was growing louder. " Damn, Damn, Damn !"
    There was just time for one more knot, before the Legionnaires arrived at her door and started pounding and shoving, yelling to each other, "Take them alive!"
    Them ? Abigail froze for a moment with disbelief.
    Smith pulled her to the window and shoved her out onto the tiny balcony, where he tied one end of the sheets around the rickety railing. "Over the side," he ordered through gritted teeth as he finished fastening the end to the ironwork. "There are horses waiting in the alley. You better be able to ride."
    When she hesitated, trying to think whether escaping with him was the best thing or the worst thing she could do, he roared, " Now !" and her flight instinct took over, propelling her to the edge and making her swing her leg over the rail. Below, she could indeed see horses and someone waiting.
    "My journals—my maps!" She tried to swing her leg back over the railing, but he prevented it. "I have to have my bags!"
    "Go!"
    "I can't go without them!" She tried again to climb back onto the balcony.
    "I'll get them!" He ducked back and grabbed the first of her carpetbags and flung it across the room and onto the balcony. She lifted the bulky bag, slung it over her shoulder with both hands, and then looked down. Three storeys below, she could see the waiting figure waving, beckoning, and she freed one hand to grab the railing and slip her other leg over the edge.
    Nothing in her orderly college-to-library-to-museum life had prepared her for letting go of a solid iron railing and trusting her body weight to a rope of hastily knotted bedsheets as she was being chased out of a hotel room by force of vengeful soldiers.
    The fabric groaned as she grasped it and slid her weight down over the edge of the balcony. She could see the knots tighten, slip, and finally grab again, and abandoned her grip on the carpetbag to use both hands. The bag fell into the darkness below with a sickening thud, and seconds later, her second bag went hurtling past her to join the first on the ground.
    "Whaaat—" She looked up to see Smith on the balcony with her third bag. Before she could call to him not to throw it, he already had.
    Thudding, splintering sounds now came from the room behind him. He climbed over the railing and lowered himself so that he hung from the edge of the narrow parapet by his hands.
    "Slide, dammit!" he roared. She realized he was swinging his legs over to grab the sheets above her and that the knots would never hold them both.
    "Oh, God!" Slamming her eyes shut, she relaxed her hold and flew down the bulky rope that ended a good six feet above the ground. Somebody grabbed her as she fell and the next thing she knew she was in a heap on the ground with her hands on fire.
    "Ow, ow, ow… ow, ow…"
    Staggering to her feet, trying to right her vision, she spotted four horses and a rotund little figure in a turban dragging her bags toward the horses. A familiar figure.
    "Haffe?" It was disorienting seeing him here.
    "Merchant M'am." The Star's steward gave her a breathless grin as he deftly threaded a rope through the handles of two of her bags, then heaved them across what appeared to be a packhorse.
    Something hit the ground behind her with a thud, but before she could turn to see what, she was pushed wholesale toward the nearest

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