The Royal Spy's Redemption

By: Addison Fox

Chapter 1

Growing up with five brothers, Gabriella Sanchez assumed she’d experienced everything the male of the species could throw at her. From the gross to the ridiculous, she was quite sure she’d seen it all.

That was, until a sexy British cop with a gunshot wound stumbled through the front door of her shop.

“Knox!” Gabby screamed his name as the man stumbled into her, a solid wall of heat and flesh as he wrapped his arms around her in an awkward hug.

She screamed his name once more and half staggered, half dragged him a few more feet before spreading her legs and resetting her grip. Whatever adrenaline had carried him to her shop door had given out, and he’d passed out judging by the deadweight that pressed against her.

A large stack of wine boxes still stood where she’d left them earlier; she’d been unable to get to the inventory for an upcoming tasting series after the excitement of the afternoon. Her friends, Violet, Cassidy and Lilah, had needed her help after they’d accidentally come into possession of a cache of rubies.

And clearly they weren’t the only ones who needed assistance.

Knox St. Germain was a British MI5 officer who had shown up recently and inserted himself into the whole mess with the rubies. Although she didn’t fully understand his job, Gabby had expected his influence and, frankly, his interference would have made the evening’s events—a sting operation in a downtown park—go more smoothly.

The blood currently covering his shoulder suggested otherwise.

Her friends had only discovered the cache a few weeks prior. And it had taken them several days to let her in on what they’d found. Gems, buried in the concrete floor of their shop, placed there more than fifty years ago when they were hidden away by their landlady, Mrs. Beauregard.

Mrs. B’s father had moved them from Britain after World War II under the auspices of the Crown.

So how did MI5 even catch wind of their rediscovery?

Cassidy, Lilah and Violet hadn’t shared, nor had the men who’d come to their aid. Gabby certainly hadn’t told a soul.

Yet Knox St. Germain had found out anyway and had been dispatched with all haste from Mother England to recover them.

Shifting Knox once more, she used the thick line of heavy boxes to support him as she shuffled them forward. Settling his weight against the wall of wine cases, she held him still to avoid his falling.

“Knox!” She added a light slap to his cheeks along with his name, pleased when it pulled him from the faint.

“Just need...some downtime.” He tightened his arms, the move was enough to pull her off balance, and she staggered beneath his weight, glad she’d traded the day’s heels for a pair of slippers.

Something warm covered her bare shoulder; the tangy, coppery scent of blood only added to her awareness. “What happened?”

“Park. Drop. Rubies.”

His voice faded on the last word, and she struggled to keep him upright. “Stay with me!” The sharp order was followed immediately by an image of her friends. Violet, Cassidy and Lilah, along with the men who’d come to their rescue, had planned a sting operation for that evening to finally capture the evil Tripp Lange, the man at the heart of all the violence they’d dealt with since discovering the gems. Since Knox’s arrival in Dallas, Gabby knew he had inserted himself into the operation and had gone along to the park.

Although they’d already texted her they were fine and had promised to share details in the morning, she now began to wonder. “Violet? Max? Are they okay?”

“Fine. Away.” Knox seemed to right himself, his arms tightening briefly before he stopped and summoned himself to his full height, stepping away from the supporting boxes. She had a quick flash of something she intimately recognized—sheer, stubborn, gritty will—before the pain he was dealing with returned to his crystal-blue gaze. “They’re fine. This isn’t about them.”

Not about them? Hadn’t that been the whole purpose of the private meet at Klyde Warren Park? Her friends had come into possession of three matched rubies—the famed Renaissance Stones of legend—and they needed to ensure they stayed out of enemy hands.

Gabby had done some quick internet research after Violet had shared the discovery of the gems. The rubies had a nasty history. Since their initial discovery as one large stone by the British East India Company in the seventeenth century, the gems were cut down into the trio they were today. The stones had led men to vile acts of depravity and madness, and murder trailed the stones, leaving blood as red as the rubies in its wake.

And now there was more blood.

A fresh stack of kitchen towels she’d set out early for the tasting caught her eye and she snagged one to press against his shoulder. “Take this and try not to bleed all over my clean floor.”

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