Copyright @ 2011 by Anne Osterlund. Used by permission of Speak, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1: Tempting Danger (Part 1)

Robert could have killed her. What had she been thinking endangering her life by dismounting into that crowd? All day he had to keep his mouth shut as she worked her magic on the stubborn tradesmen, wealthy financiers, and common laborers of the city. He listened to her debate the merit of city tariffs, support the call for improved roads, and decry the practice of child labor without the benefit of an education or skilled apprenticeship.
Anyone would think she had expressly chosen to honor Sterling as her first public stop. Instead of simply stating that the expedition should head north, leaving all the arrangements—for lodging, meals, navigating—to him to either achieve on his own or delegate. He would have preferred to avoid Sterling altogether, but it was the country’s crossroads. He had had no choice.
When at last the expedition party arrived at the inn serving as their quarters for the duration of their stay, he marched up the stairs, ignoring the smell of roast lamb from the common room, dropped off his pack, and hurried across the hall. There he disregarded all manner of good convention and barged through Aurelia’s open door. “Are you insane?!” he demanded.
She gave him a cool gaze, her eyebrows rising in perfect arcs over her brown eyes, matching cheekbones, and smooth jawline. Then her fingers continued unbuttoning the printed sleeve of her travel jacket. “Not that I am aware,” she replied, “but I am not certain one would be aware of such a thing if one was insane.”
He could have pummeled her. It was such a wretchedly rational answer for the young woman who had ignored all rationality that morning. “You could have died,” he said, wrestling his voice under control.
“Well, there’s something new.”


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