Exclusive Excerpt: The Bishop - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Skye Warren comes the next installment in her Tanglewood series.

A million dollar chess piece goes missing hours before the auction.

Anders Sorenson will do anything to get it back. His family name and fortune rests on finding two inches of medieval ivory. Instead he finds an injured woman with terrible secrets.

He isn’t letting her go until she helps him find the piece. But there’s more at stake in this strategic game of lust and danger. When she confesses everything, he might lose more than his future. He might lose his heart.

Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.

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Exclusive Excerpt: The Bishop
By Skye Warren

Exclusive Excerpt: The Bishop

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Skye Warren comes the next installment in her Tanglewood series. THE BISHOP is out tomorrow, but I’m thrilled to share an excerpt with you today!

The underside of a moss-damp rock. The insides of a rotten stump. The Rose and Crown Motel attracts those who slink away from the light. It breeds violence and decay. The idea of the mystery woman here makes me uneasy. Men will assume the worst about her. They’ll think she’s for sale. They may not even ask how much before taking what they want.

Of course, she might be a prostitute.

She also might be the thief who stole my chess piece.

A series of inquiries through the fabric of criminals and lowlifes in Tanglewood led me to this motel. That’s a generous word, motel. It implies there would be a place to rent rooms, for one thing. Instead there’s a phone number written in black marker across a dark window. A pair of cats yowls their battle cries from somewhere close. A woman in fishnet leans against the broken brick. She smiles at me, revealing black spaces where teeth should be. “Do you good for twenty?” she says, her voice slurring. I really shouldn’t, but my mind can’t help but diagnose her ailments. A disturbing number are visible. I can guess the rest. I pull a hundred dollar bill from my wallet and hold it out.

Her fingers tremble as she reaches for it. I don’t let go.

“A woman. Dark hair. Lush body. A voice that sounds like music.”

She licks her cracked lips. “You aren’t gonna hurt her?”

For years I’ve lived by that edict—do no harm. It came to me as easy as breathing. There’s only one thing that could make me break the rule. “Not if she gives me back what’s mine.”

A brief pause. “Room forty-nine.”

I step over sleeping bodies and around used needles in the breezeway. Murky water ripples gently in an ancient rectangular pool, hiding trash and vegetation and possibly more than one dead body. A palm tree looks disturbingly cheerful in the silhouette of the sky. It took me twenty-four hours, almost a lifetime when it comes to a theft involving a million dollars.

The sensation inside me is almost… hope. That she would be long gone. I don’t want to hurt her. Do no harm. As easy as breathing, unless you made a promise on your father’s deathbed.

I sense the difference before I turn the corner. A disturbance. Danger.

The door to room forty-nine stands open an inch.

No one would leave their door open here. No one would leave their door unlocked in the entire west side of Tanglewood. This isn’t the goddamn Little House on the Prairie.

No one would leave a million-dollar chess piece unguarded.

I don’t carry a gun. It’s a matter of principle. What you carry, you might use. When you use a gun, no matter how good your aim, people tend to die. Which means I’m walking in unprotected. Not harming people increases my own likelihood of dying. Such is the way of the animal kingdom.

A bed in disarray. White sheets. A bedspread with faded pink roses half on the floor. Cigarette burns on worn carpet. That’s what I can see in the sliver through the doorway. I push it open another two inches. Someone searched this place. The table leans on its side. A thin cushion has been cut through, spilling yellow foam. Clothes lie scattered around a duffel bag, as if there was a small explosion.

I step into the room with caution. Silence. Stillness. I’m alone here.

Or the person in the room with me is dead. Both sensations feel about the same. More things torn apart, flipped over. I reach the bathroom. Feminine lotions and makeup criss-cross the counter. No dead bodies. Relief flickers inside me. I’ve learned to stay detached. That mother from before. The baby. They die often enough that I can’t get attached. But if I’d found the woman, the body full of vibrancy dead in this motel room, it would have hurt. Even knowing she’s probably a criminal, and most likely working with the men who killed my parents, doesn’t mute the strange warmth I have for her.

A sound, like a kitten. No breathing. Not even my heart can beat in the second I listen for intruders. Have they come back to search more? Then I hear it, the haggard breathing of a human fighting to live. I’ve heard the sound enough to recognize it. I turn the corner, my senses on alert to danger, but there’s only one body in the alley.

I bend and check her pulse. Thready.

“Can you hear me? Wake up, sweetheart.”

 

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