The Master's Mistress

By: Carole Mortimer

Chapter One


‘…HE STOOD in the shadows of the night. Dark. Dangerous. A lethal predator. Glittering black eyes stared in at the woman through the window as she moved about the bedroom wearing only a towel draped about her silken nakedness. A slight smile curved her lips and she remained completely unaware of the danger that lay in wait for her outside in the darkness.’



Elizabeth felt a shiver down her spine as she looked up from the book she was reading to her own bedroom window, wishing now that she had thought to draw the curtains before getting into bed. Except, like the woman in the story, Elizabeth had believed no one would be able to see into the second storey bedroom window of this remote house, perched high on the rugged Cornish cliffs. The tide must be in, covering the sandy beach, Elizabeth realised as she heard the roughness of the sea pounding against the cliffs.

She repressed another shiver before reading the next paragraph of her book.

‘Shoulder-length dark hair framed a face of hard, sensual magnetism. Those intense black eyes focused on the long creamy column of the woman’s exposed throat and he could see the blood pulsing hotly through her veins. He possessed harshly hewn cheeks, a fierce slash of a nose, and chiselled lips that now drew back in a hiss to reveal elongated incisors as the woman dropped the towel to reveal the naked perfection of her body—’



Crash!

So intent had Elizabeth been on the description of the sexy predator stalking the heroine that the sound of glass breaking somewhere downstairs made her gasp out loud, even as her fingers tightened about the book that had already succeeded in frightening the life out of her without this added scare!

What the devil was that?

Not a good choice of words, Elizabeth admonished herself shakily as she clutched the book to her before slowly sliding out from beneath the bedcovers.

There was something—or someone—downstairs!

More than likely someone. Elizabeth didn’t believe for a moment that her own intruder was a real live vampire; the reason she enjoyed books like Dangerous as the Night was because she knew that the night monsters and predators in these stories were totally fictional.

No, the intruder wasn’t any monster or a demon. More likely a burglar. There had been several break-ins in the area recently, and no doubt every burglar within a twenty-mile radius was aware by now that Brad Sullivan, the American owner of Sullivan House, had died of a heart attack almost a week ago.

What those burglars probably didn’t know was that academic Dr Elizabeth Brown had arrived two weeks ago, employed for the summer to catalogue the books in the Sullivan library, and, because she didn’t know what else to do until one of Brad’s relatives arrived or contacted her, she was still in residence!

What should she do about the noise downstairs?

What could she do?

Mrs Baines, housekeeper at Sullivan House for the last twenty years, lived in a flat above the stable complex, to where she had disappeared once she had served Elizabeth her dinner and cleared away in the kitchen. Meaning the other woman probably had no idea that the main house had been broken into. There was no telephone extension in Elizabeth’s bedroom, either, and she had stupidly left her mobile in the library earlier, on charge overnight.

Elizabeth’s heart began to pound as she heard more muffled sounds from the floor below. It sounded like a voice muttering. A male voice, its tone impatiently aggressive.

Great. She couldn’t just have a burglar break in; he had to be an angry one into the bargain!

Well, Elizabeth couldn’t just stand here and wait for the man to come up the stairs in search of valuables, only to find her cowering under the duvet in one of the bedrooms, hoping not to be noticed. Burglar or not, she would have to go down and confront him. But obviously not without a weapon of some kind!

Tucking her book distractedly under her arm, Elizabeth moved stealthily across the bedroom to the door, opening it quietly to step out into the hallway, and pausing long enough to pick up the heavy brass ornament that stood on a table in the wide corridor. She made her way softly to the top of the stairs on the first floor so that she could look down into the huge reception hall. An eerie glow told her that someone had put a light on somewhere downstairs since she had gone up to bed half an hour or so ago.