There is only one law in his world...his.
Shiloh Montgomery-Moore is the queen of hiding in the shadows. This penchant is an avoidance dance meant to stave off her father's fists and her mother's barbs. Hot tempered, distrusting, Shiloh is determined to forge her own path in the world. Little does she know, that the path leads her to the strange anomaly know as The Veil. Whisked back in time, she finds out danger lurks everywhere and nothing can save her from a bleak future except a man of war, a master and commander.
Captain of the H.M.S. Predator, Jacob Christopher Wolfson, has his official orderscapture the French war vessel, The Bordeaux. It isn't in his strategy to be chained to a 'supposed' time traveler. Immediately attracted to the mystery woman found aboard his ship, Jacob has but one chance to save his sanity and his mission; he'll take Shiloh Montgomery-Moore to his bed or wherever the opportunity presents itself.
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Be sure all your chicks are in one basket and all your eggs are in a row.
Downtown Washington, D.C., present day.
Shiloh Montgomery-Moore was just picking up her purse from where she'd stashed it in the bottom drawer of her desk when the phone started ringing. She checked the caller ID in a state of frustration. The LED didn't help her any. Unknown.
Great. It was probably some salesman.
What part of the office closes promptly at six do you not understand?
Her gaze skittered to the clock situated in the corner and beneath the broad shelf of her area then to the wildly chaotic contemporary painting hanging across the room from her position. "Three minutes," she said on an angry sigh. Three short clicks of the clock before she could leave. Snatching the phone from the cradle, she drew in a deep breath before answering. "Miles, Layton and Thornberg, how may I direct your call?"
She ought to have said, 'can I take a message', since there were only a few employees left in the office. Her gaze drifted over the heavy, mahogany chairs in the reception area to the small expanse of hardwood flooring not covered by the Oriental carpet.
"Shiloh, it's Mom," the sad voice of Mabel Montgomery-Moore sounded through the ear-piece. "Junior is in trouble."
"What now?" Rolling her eyes, Shiloh inched closer to the end of her station. She didn't stop until the cord wouldn't reach further without pulling the phone off the counter.
"The bitch has filed for child support."
"Tell him to take the paternity test."
On that 'makes sense to me' response, Mabel attacked. "You're trying to get him in more trouble, aren't you, Shiloh? You were always jealous of your brother. I don't know why you do this. Why can't you love your brother? Why can't you love me? We're sitting here trying to do the right thing by Junior while you stir up trouble." Mabel whispered the ending, 'jealous brat', just loud enough for Shiloh to hear.
Yeah, I'm jealous of the twenty-seven-year-old guy living in my parents' basement and whose biggest aspiration in life is getting transferred to the day shift at the 24-7 minimart. Rather than engage her mother in the same lop-sided debate they'd had over and over again, Shiloh shook her head. "Mom, this isn't getting us anywhere."
"Shiloh, you need to help him."
And what exactly would you like me to do? "There isn't much I can do until paternity is determined." Toying with the loose button on her second-hand blazer, she shook her head.
"You can do something. This is your brother we're talking about, not some down-on-his-luck son-of-a-bitch who is about to get the needle."
Leave it to her mom to bring up her volunteer work with Project Amnesty. At least that work had some real weight. It wasn't like those people sitting on death row, guilty or innocent, got a second chance of life after they were executed.
Still, Shiloh knew this argument was like spitting in the wind. Until everybody stopped talking and started to listen nothing would get accomplished. "Mom, make him take the paternity test, then we'll go from there." Rejecting the urge to slam the phone down, thoroughly sick of saying the same thing over and over again, Shiloh listened to her mother breathe, take a drawn-out drag from her cigarette and then blow out what she knew was a stinky plume of smoke.
God, why couldn't they just shut up and listen for a change, Shiloh wondered, waiting for her mother to continue. Three huge breaths and releases later, she rolled her eyes when Mabel started to gag. Nothing like being bent on self-destruction, was there? Rather than remind her mother of her doctor's advice she give up the cancer sticks, Shiloh took the high road. "Mom, are you okay? Do you need me to call 9-1-1?"
A hacking, choking cough was her answer.
Tapping her fingers on the countertop, Shiloh snuck a peek at the clock. Five minutes after six. She was going to miss her bus if she didn't get a move on. What to do? What to do? Finally hearing the cough subside, Shiloh quelled the urge to take a deep lungful of air for the woman suffering Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
"I'm... okay. Let me just get a... drink of... water."
"Look, I have to go to study group. I'll call you tonight after I get home." No, Shiloh knew she wouldn't. If she was lucky, she wouldn't spend her whole night but only half of it researching the impact of the Magna Carta on modern day law. She heaved a frustrated sigh remembering the professor everyone from faculty to students called Ha Ha Hensley delivered the assignment to his undergraduate class.
In reality, Ha Ha was the prof from hell. The weeder who separated the men from the pussy whipped wimps who really didn't want to take on law school.
With her heart pounding in her chest, Shiloh knew she had to pass this course and that grade now hinged on a research paper which ought to be deemed a guided tour of Purgatory.
Oh why couldn't she have picked the Nuremberg War Crimes trial out of the bucket Hensley used to pair his students for projects? That question was right up there on her list with how did she end up with the arrogant ass, Tim Cummings, as a study partner.
The self-assured jack ass was on a full ride and didn't give a damn about how he did in his course studies. He firmly believed his daddy's wealth would buy him a degree, then get him a job in the same law firm his great grandfather had founded. After which, he'd probably marry some ditz who had the intelligence of cotton candy yet whom he could dangle off his arm at charity auctions and Republican fund raisers.
God, she rubbed her forehead with her hand. Why me?
Unfortunately, she really didn't give a flying flip about King John and the document he signed in 1216. What did it matter? The long-dead monarch only ignored the writ and went about creating merry mayhem until he died in 1217.
Fuck, she was a law student, not some Joe Schmoe trying to get himself out of a parking ticket. What good were laws nobody paid attention to? What good did it do for her to study the charter?
If he could get away with laughing in the face of his barons, like her father and brother had done to the police with their antics, why couldn't she?
Because, nitwit, you don't have a choice.
"O...o...kay," Mabel gasped for air, still fighting off what Shiloh said was the next closest thing to asthma. "I...I won't be up after ten." A long pause dragged out between them. Only the sound of Mabel gulping down air broke the tension between them. It was akin to the cat-dancing-on-a-high-voltage-line anxiety that had grown since Shiloh moved out almost four years ago. "Daddy might."
Of course her dear father would be awake. The man didn't understand that to keep your job you had to get up in the morning. He'd probably be parked in his favorite duct-tape repaired recliner watching video tapes of pro-wrestling and drinking himself into oblivion. Rather than tempt her father's anger, Shiloh took the easy way out with a quick clarification. "If I don't talk to you tonight, I'll get with you this weekend. Promise." The lie slid easily from Shiloh's lips.
"You take...care," Mabel muttered. "Give me a call. I need you to handle this."
Shiloh held her breath until her mother hung up. Mopping her face with her hand, she heaved an angry sigh. It was like talking to a wall.
She turned to gathering her purse and briefcase, ready to make the mad dash for her bus. Two minutes to make the corner Metrobus stop. Argh.
"This could have been fixed a year ago with the simple addition of a condom," she whispered under her breath, her fury still in place. Hell, this whole problem could have been fixed twenty-seven-years ago by Jonathan and Mabel never having children.
Not that she regretted her life, just the chaos her family created. Neither would she wish her nephew had never been born, she didn't.
She loved Daniel. He was so sweetpure. He was like heran innocent soul literally dropped into the middle of hell on earth.
About to pick up her purse, she checked her hand in mid-move. Shiloh's step faltered when a bang sounded behind her. "Mr. Layton?" she called, wondering if one of her bosses was still in the office. As was his control-freak, suspicious penchant, she didn't doubt he'd stayed late, probably to make sure she hadn't stolen a pen or something equally ridiculous.
The man drove her nuts, but she figured his eccentricity had to do with his advanced age. In his early seventies, Mr. Layton handled the firm's low risk cases. He also couldn't drive anymore because of his failing eyesight. He had a car service on retainer, and he called them at all hours of the day or night.
Thinking back over her day, Shiloh nibbled on her lower lip. She knew he hadn't left with Mr. Miles, who'd been in court all afternoon. There was no way in hell that the last senior partner, Mr. Thornberg, would offer Mr. Layton a cup of coffee let alone an offer to walk him to his 'rent a taxi'.
The two were like fire and gasoline. You couldn't put them in the same room without an errant comment igniting a verbal inferno. Her ears still rang from their last shouting match.
A ripe sigh broke from her throat. She ought to check on him just for her peace of mind. "Mr. Layton? Is that you?"
Imagining him caught in the throes of a geriatric seizure, she moved down the hall to his office door, forgetting all about needing to make her bus. Bangs. Thuds. She swore she even heard glass crash. With every step her concern grew until it leveled off on terrified.
Frantic, heart pounding, she shifted her gaze across the short expanse of hardwood flooring to her station at the receptionist's desk. Should she call for an ambulance? Should she call the police?
The company handbook didn't cover sounds of destruction happening after closing hours.
Gingerly, she reached for the rattling doorknob. "Mr. Layton, are you hurt?"
Shiloh snatched her hand back. Stop waffling, Shiloh, she ordered herself.
Without further hesitation, she flicked the door open with the twist of her wrist.
Good God. She felt her eyes widen, terrorized by the sight of hundreds of books and files swirling in the air. She took a step back when their pages fluttering viciously as they rode the cyclonic wind that had grabbed them up.
She couldn't move.
Fear paralyzed her.
A scream built in her throat.
A long, loud shriek of absolute terror shouted when Mr. Layton's abridged dictionary lifted off his desk to aim straight for her head. She didn't have time to duck, or even think.
Shiloh couldn't name the next sensation, but whatever the prickling tingle was, she swore it was sucking her down through the floor. Her fingers dug into the door jamb with all her might.
Lost, she thought. She felt lost forever. Lost for all time.