Black Jack (Elite Ops 4)

Page 6

Two months later
Hagerstown, Maryland
he was there again.
Lady Victoria Lillian Harrington glanced out of the corner of her eye as she pretended to survey the dresses in the shop window while she and her mother strolled down the crowded sidewalk of historic Hagerstown, Maryland.
She could see him, there in her periphery, standing dangerous and tall, his gaze narrowed on her, watching her with almost complete absorption.
She should be terrified. She should be fighting against the dark shadows, the terrors that rose inside her at night and the visions that haunted her even when she was awake. He brought to mind the one vision she couldn’t get away from even when she slept. The figure standing by her bed, watching her with such intensity, holding her with gentleness and compassion as agony screamed through her brain.
It was a vision her mother had sworn time and time again couldn’t have been real. It was one she knew had to be real. It was too intense, the echo of that pain too agonizing.
She didn’t fight her mother over it, though. Lady Angelica Harrington was too determined, too certain of herself and her own rules to admit she could be wrong.
Lilly rarely argued with her mother.
No, Lady Victoria Lillian Harrington rarely argued with her mother. But Lilly was finding it harder and harder to keep from doing just that.
“Darling, you’re too quiet again.” Her mother reached out, her fingers trembling as they still did whenever she touched her daughter, as though she couldn’t quite believe she was there.
“Sorry, Mother, I was thinking about that dress.” Glancing back to where she had glimpsed the aloof figure moments before, she felt disappointment tear through her.
He was gone. Dark blond hair, or was it light brown? Those eyes, what color were they? she wondered as she turned back to the window of the shop. Brown. They had to be brown. A raptor brown. Mixed with green. Intent and brooding. Eyes that could fire a woman’s arousal and her imagination. Not to mention her confusion why she would know that.
“We could go in and try it on,” her mother urged her, the soft lilt of her Engl
ish accent drawing gazes from the couple that passed by them. “I’m certain it would look positively gorgeous on you.”
Would it?
She looked beyond the dresses to the other attire the store offered. Jeans, close-fitting, and shirts that would have her mother gasping in shock, she was certain. Not because they were revealing, but because they were common. Her mother strictly detested whatever she believed was common.
“Victoria, we could look at the dresses.”
She frowned at the image that greeted her in the glass.
She didn’t see Victoria there. She saw an unfamiliar image, a woman she was comfortable with, yet those weren’t the features—the face, the eyes, or the hair—of the woman she’d been before. Lady Victoria Lillian Harrington of the London Harringtons. She was related to royalty, though admittedly, the kinship was a distant one at best. Still, she couldn’t quite acclimate herself to who she knew she was, the person she knew she was supposed to be.
“Victoria.” Her mother’s voice echoed with exasperation now.
“I don’t think I need another dress, Mother,” she stated absently as she moved for the door of the shop. “I see something else I might like, though.”
Where the hell was her British accent? She remembered having one. She remembered once being proud of that accent. It didn’t exist now, though. Her voice was smooth and cultured, but it lacked any accent, any inflection, that could have identified her as a member of any particular country or indicated her social status.
“Victoria, you’re acting rather odd.” There was a note of fear in her mother’s voice as she entered the shop and moved beyond the dresses.
Was she acting odd? She was sure as hell feeling damned odd, she thought, before a brief moment of shock hit her. More and more often she found herself cursing. There were moments it was all she could do to hold back the earthy vulgarity when she was talking.
“I’m fine, Mother,” she assured her again as they moved through the small store.
She was going to obey the dictates of what she wanted rather than what her mother would consider acceptable. It was a dangerous urge to follow. At least, six years ago it would have been.
And there they were. Snug, low-slung jeans. There were low boots made of soft, supple leather on a stand beside them. Boots that looked sexy and stylish while being practical and easy to run in. Which made her wonder. What would she be running from?
“Victoria, we’ve discussed this denim fetish you seem to have acquired,” her mother stated worriedly as she moved closer and fingered the denim jeans. Tension seemed to thicken the atmosphere. “Really, Victoria. The dresses are much nicer.”