The thundering of horses’ hooves grew fast—too fast—and Yiannis wasn’t watching. He was focused on crossing the boulevard to get to the small, residential lanes beyond. They looked much more promising than the uncertain streets he’d passed through, where men snored from alcoves reeking of gin, and women of questionable morals gave him sleepy come-hither looks. He hoped these quieter, cleaner streets heralded the end of this interminable journey.
A week to get to the port in Athens from the archaeological site where he and his father had been working, three weeks on board the ship from Greece, and then this brilliant idea of his to walk from the London docks to the home of Lord Pemberton-Howe, his final destination. He hadn’t realized just how big London was, nor how lost one could get in it. Luckily, it was early morning so the pick-pockets weren’t out yet. He couldn’t imagine walking some of these areas in the afternoon or evening. This neighborhood he was approaching looked much more affluent.
“Move, you bloody idiot!” The woman’s voice screamed from Yiannis’s left. He spun toward the voice but was too late. He stood frozen as a horse, at least sixteen hands tall, bore down on him. The animal reared, its forelegs coming within inches of Yiannis’s face.
As it came back down to earth, a large dray cart rumbled past in the other direction, taking up a good portion of the street.
Another horse galloped past, crossing between Yiannis and the edge of the road, barely three feet away. Yiannis’s hair ruffled with the breeze caused by the passing horse, it was going so fast.
“Ha, ha! Finally, you will lose,” the man on the galloping horse called out as he disappeared down the street.
“Oh, no you don’t,” the woman called after him. To Yiannis, she shouted, “Will you get out of the way?”
Yiannis hastily stepped to the side of the road, just catching a glimpse of a soft, rounded face, full, pink lips, and large eyes blazing with excitement. Were they green? He couldn’t quite tell from where he stood, but he wished he could get a closer look.
“Imbecile!” he could hear her growl as she spurred her horse forward once again, the dark material of her dress flapping behind her as she rode away.
Yiannis could only shake his head in wonder as the woman urged her horse into a full gallop, once more in pursuit of her competitor.
What sort of place was this? Women running races down major thoroughfares? Cursing at people?
He’d thought London to be a civilized place. He was quickly coming to realize that he’d had a lot of misconceptions regarding this city. He hoped his father wouldn’t be proven wrong in sending him to his friend, nor in Yiannis’s ability to carry out his instructions and the whole reason he was here in this strange country.
Thalia’s heart was pounding as she spurred Thunder into a gallop once more, but it had little to do with the race she was riding in and more to do with the man she’d nearly run over. She’d never in her life come so close to actually hitting anyone, and then for it to be the most handsome man she’d seen in years—dark with deep-set eyes you could drown in, broad shoulders, and a narrow waist. She was sure there was much more to see, but that was all she’d had time to notice in the few seconds she’d had, while trying to control her horse.
The utter shock that had shown on his face hadn’t detracted from his masculine beauty at all. In fact, he’d hardly flinched under the threat of her horse’s hooves. It had seemed to Thalia that it was more the fact that a woman was riding neck for nothing down the street that caused his expression—at least that was the impression she’d gotten before the idiot finally had the wherewithal to remove himself from her path.
She couldn’t help but giggle as she rode down the street in Roddy’s wake. She looked over her shoulder; she just needed one more glimpse of that man. No, even better, she had to find out who he was. Oddly enough, he reminded her of some of the Greek men she’d met on her parents’ archaeological dig when she was growing up. She’d always watched those men while sitting hidden in a tree or behind a rock. They’d laugh and flirt with her sister, Laia, before their mother had died, and Thalia’s entire life had been destroyed.
No, it had to be her imagination. While there were a few Greeks in London, she’d met most of them, and there was no doubt that she would have remembered if she’d seen this man before.
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