Amanda Quick is one of the three pen names used by bestselling author Jayne Ann Krentz. A prolific writer with an impressive string of New York Times bestsellers to her credit, she like to explore different subjects in her work, and uses her various pseudonyms to let readers know which world they’re entering. Amanda Quick is reserved for her historical romances. As Jayne Ann Krentz (her married name) she pens contemporary romantic suspense. And as Jayne Castle (her birth name), she writes futuristic/paranormal romances. When she isn’t writing, she works tirelessly as one of today’s most ardent advocates of romance books. As she eloquently says, "These are books that celebrate women’s heroic virtues and values: courage, honor, determination and a belief in the healing power of love."
Crystal Gardens LP
The muffled thud of the shattered lock echoed like a thunderclap in the deep silence that drenched the cottage. Evangeline Ames recognized the sound at once. She was no longer alone in the house.
Her first, primal instinct was to go absolutely still beneath the covers. Perhaps she was mistaken. The cottage was old. The floorboards and the ceiling often creaked and moaned at night. But even as the commonsense possibilities fitted through her head, she knew the truth. It was two o’clock in the morning, an intruder had broken in and it was highly unlikely that he was after the silver. There was not enough in the place to tempt a thief.
Her nerves had been on edge all afternoon, her intuition flickering and flaring for no obvious reason. Earlier, when she had walked into town, she had found herself looking over her shoulder again and again. She had flinched at the smallest rustling noises in the dense woods that bordered the narrow lane. While she was shopping in Little Dixby’s crowded high street, the hair had lifted on the back of her neck. She had felt as if she was being watched.
She had reminded herself that she was still recovering from the terrifying attack two weeks ago. She had very nearly been murdered. Little wonder her nerves were so fragile. On top of that, the writing was not going well and a deadline was looming. She dared not miss it. She’d had every reason to be tense.
But now she knew the truth. Her psychical intuition had been trying to send a warning for hours. That was the reason she had been unable to sleep tonight.
Cool currents of night air wafted down the hall from the kitchen. Heavy footsteps sounded. The intruder was not even bothering to conceal his approach. He was very certain of his prey. She had to get out of the bed.
She pushed back the covers, sat up quietly and eased herself to her feet. The floorboard were chilly. She stepped into her sturdy, leather-soled slippers and took her wrapper down off the hook.
The assault on her person two weeks earlier had made her cautious. She had considered all possible escape routes when she had rented the cottage. Here in the bedroom, the waist-high window was her best hope. It opened onto the small front garden with its lattice gate. Just outside the gate was the narrow, rutted lane that wound through the dark woods to the ancient country house known as Crystal Gardens.
Out in the hall floorboards creaked under the weight of a booted foot. The intruder was moving directly to the bedroom. That settled the matter. He had not come for the silver. He had come for her.
There was no point trying to silence her movements. She pushed one of the narrow casement windows wide, ignoring the squeak of the hinges, and clambered through the opening. With luck the intruder would not be able to ? t. “Where do you think you’re going, you bloody stupid woman?” the harsh male voice roared from the doorway. It was freighted with the accents of London’s tough streets. “No one slips away from Sharpy Hobson’s blade.”
There was no time to wonder how a London street criminal had found his way to Little Dixby or why he was after her. She would worry about those questions later, she thought, if she survived the night.
She jumped to the ground and stumbled through the miniature jungle of giant ferns that choked the little garden. Many of the fronds were taller than she was.
To think she had come to the countryside to rest and recuperate from recent events.
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