When Jack Dalton escapes from Dunmoor Prison, he has only one thing in mind—finding the nobleman who murdered his sister and making him pay. But when he reaches the inn where the Lord Rockley is rumored to be staying, three well-dressed strangers are there to meet him instead. And the pretty blonde is aiming a pistol right at his head ...
Joining Nemesis, Unlimited has made Eva Warrick much more than the well-mannered lady she appears to be—one who can shoot, fight, and outsmart any man in the quest to right the injustices so often suffered by the innocent. She's not afraid of the burly escaped convict, but she is startled by their shared attraction. She and her partners need Jack's help to get to Rockley, but Eva finds she wants Jack for scandalous reasons all her own...
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Yorkshire, England, 1886
Most prison escapes took months, sometimes years, of planning. Jack Dalton had one day.
He stood in the rock-breaking yard of Dunmoor Prison, hammer in hand, waiting for the warder to secure a shackle around his ankle, chaining him to the other convicts. Unrelenting afternoon sun beat down on him and the two dozen men. Squinting, Jack stared up at the sky.
Bloody perfect. The only sodding day it's clear on the moors, and it's the day I have to break out of this shithole.
It didn't matter if ten thousand suns shone in the sky. He had to get out today.
Lynch, the warder, moved from convict to convict, fastening iron bands around each man's ankle, and the band attached to a chain that stretched between the prisoners, who stood in two parallel rows. The chain rattled whenever someone moved. A scar encircled Jack's ankle, a thick ridge of skin he had developed after five years of hard labor. The first few months had been rough. The shackle had dug into his requisition striped worsted stockings, gouging into the flesh beneath until he'd bled. The wound had gone putrid, a fever had burned through him, and he had almost lost not just the leg but his life. Yet Jack was a tough bastard. Always had been. Hatred kept a bloke tough. He lived, kept the leg, and got stronger.
Today he would need all of his strength. Impatience stung like hornets beneath his skin. Lynch was almost done with the first row of convicts. In another minute, the warder would start moving down Jack's line, and then the window of opportunity would slam shut. Already, Jack's gaze moved through the yard, looking toward the thirty-foot-high wall that kept the convicts of Dunmoor from the miles of rolling country, and the freedom that lay beyond.
"D.3.7., eyes straight ahead!"
Jack's gaze snapped back to a blank stare, retreating behind the false front of apathy. No one had called him by his name in over five years. Sometimes he forgot he had a name, just a letter and a number. Once, he'd been Diamond Dalton—not because he favored diamonds. Hell, he had never owned a single diamond, and had seen a real one only a handful of times. No, they called him Diamond because he'd been formed by crushing pressure into the hardest thing to walk the streets of London.
Only Edith had called him Jack. Sometimes, when she was feeling nostalgic for their childhood, she had called him Jackie.
"Jackie," she had whispered, reaching up to him with a blood-spattered hand. "Jackie, take me home." And then she had died.
Even after all this time, the memory scoured Jack. The burn of rage pulsed through him. He knew it better than his own heartbeat. It was more important than the beat of his heart, for anger remained the only thing that kept him alive. Anger, and the need for vengeance. He would have his revenge soon.
Lynch reached Jack's row. It had to be now.
"Oi," Jack whispered to the convict standing next to him. "Stokes!"
The thick-jawed man flicked his gaze toward Jack, then straight ahead. "Shut it, idiot!" The punishment for talking could be the lash, or if the governor was feeling particularly brutal, time in the dark cell, deprived of light and all human interaction. Sometimes for weeks. Men went mad in the dark cell. God knows Jack almost did.
He didn't fear punishment now. The only thing that scared him was not making his escape in time.
"You hear Mullens is getting out next week?"
"So what? I ain't gettin' out for eight months."
Jack's sentence had been much longer, thanks to the manipulation of the justice system. If he didn't try this breakout, he would be stuck in Dunmoor for thirty-seven...
By: ZoÃ« Archer