The Second Lie (The Immortal Vikings #2)
by Anna Richland
A woman desperate to achieve her dreams.
To reassure wealthy clients, Christina Alvarez Mancini invented a jet-setting British owner for her Napa Valley wine collection service. Success has brought her close to buying her own winery, when irregularities at a London wine auction threaten her business.
A man in love with a good plan.
Stig, an immortal Viking thief, knows he’s found the perfect role. The California woman who created his character won’t discover what he’s up to in England until after he’s pocketed the money he needs. Then Christina walks into the auction preview, ready to ruin his plans, and he knows his boredom has ended.
Secrets that turn deadly.
By the end of the night, these two rivals must cooperate to escape kidnappers, British authorities, media and a pair of mysterious watchers. That’s when a game Stig’s played for a thousand years puts Christina’s life at risk.
Can two people whose identities are based on lies trust each other enough to survive?
After another escape from the men tailing them, Stig and Christina give in to their hunger, even though his charade as her boss still looms between them.
“Shall we find a restaurant?” With a hand lightly guiding the small of her back, he steered her across the street to stand by a metal post with a bus logo. “My hospitality has been atrocious. I’ve offered you plastic sandwiches from a pharmacy and cold eggs.”
“And bacon.” She patted the bag she’d carried since the first tunnel. “And one bottle of 1947 Perlus.”
“I promised we’d drink it in France.”
No arguments on that. “Promise we won’t skip on the bill.”
He threw his hand over his heart as a white bus with rainbow-colored markings pulled up to the curb. “I would never stiff a working stiff.”
“What exactly am I?” She waited for an elderly woman carrying a plastic sack to descend. “I have a small business I built on my own, the definition of ‘working stiff.’” Bantering with him, or perhaps the lingering satisfaction of escaping the men on the train, made her realize she wouldn’t give up on Morrison and Mancini without a fight. “If you kill off Geoffrey Morrison, maybe I can blame the mess on him and reinvent myself as Mancini Fine Wines.”
“It’s a deal. Geoffrey’s offed as soon as we’ve finished with Ivar.” He motioned Christina to precede him on the bus stairs. “I suppose you expect me to pay for the bus ticket.”
“You’re the one who keeps choosing, let’s call them unusual transportation methods.”
Fifteen minutes later they stepped off the bus in front of a restaurant with the name L’Histoire Française painted in gold-and-red script on the window. Striped bistro curtains concealed the interior, but the flower tubs by the front door beckoned with the cheerful profusion of daffodils and purple pansies identical to the ones she’d potted at the front door of her shop.
At this point, if the food was anywhere on the dial between raw and carbon, she’d be happy, so realizing that Stig had brought her to a restaurant worthy of the bottle was a bonus. He spoke quickly to the maître d’ in excellent French, and they were led to a small table in a side alcove near the back. Heavy curtains hung from the sides of the arch, not completely enclosing the space but giving the illusion of a secret chamber. The host set two long leather folders in front of Stig, one in front of her. Women rarely received the wine list. Perhaps she should host a restaurateur education seminar on the topic of upselling wine to women.
The server who approached the table wore the classic uniform of white shirt, black pants and long white apron tied at his waist. In English, he asked what she would like to order.
She replied carefully and precisely in French by requesting a first course of the fava beans and a main course of the tiny lamb chops with asparagus.
“And to drink? May I recommend a carafe of the house red?”
Stig slid the leather-bound wine list to the end of the table. “The mademoiselle has a bottle. Perhaps the sommelier will provide a decanter?”
Christina set her prize on the table. The dust had long since been wiped off by the cloth she’d wrapped around it, and the copperplate script on the cream-colored label announced itself as a vintage that eschewed decoration or design, needing nothing more than a year and a name to make its way in the world.
“Mademoiselle?” The waiter’s voice rose on the last syllable, as if taking a wine order from a woman was akin to being handed chewing gum. Chewed.
She smiled from her seat. Watching his retreating back, she muttered to Stig, “Sommelier, four minutes.”
“You underestimate the French obsession with their own wine. Two.” He looked at his watch. “Go.”
“You’re on.” She sipped her mineral water. “I win, you tell me how you made the fakes.”
“I win, you leave your shoes off for the whole meal.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Anna lives with her quietly funny Canadian husband and two less quiet children in a century-old house in Seattle. The perpetual drizzle is a good excuse to drink more coffee. She’s a former US Army officer who now writes The Immortal Vikings series from Carina Press and also the author of His Road Home, a novella which Publishers Weekly called “Tantalizing … a raw, emotional story” and the website SmartB*tchesTrashyBooks gave an A rating.
She donates a portion of her book proceeds to two charities: the Fisher House Foundation, which provides housing for families of wounded soldiers in the US and Great Britain, and Doctors Without Borders, which delivers emergency medical care in more than sixty crisis zones world-wide.
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Anna will be awarding a set of En Route notecards, gorgeously illustrated by Kate Pocrass (because falling in love with an Immortal Viking is a wild journey!) to a randomly drawn winner (INTERNATIONAL) via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.
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