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Page 116

Collard appeared to be perfectly ordinary, with the exception of his eyes, which were like cold steel.

Daniel saw those eyes turn to him as he walked to Collard’s table. Collard took in Daniel’s expensive suit and gold-headed walking stick with the air of one who could calculate worth in the space of a moment. Daniel looked like a wealthy Briton come to Paris to spend his money, which was exactly how Daniel wanted to appear.

As Collard assessed him, Daniel reached the table and leaned to him. “A word in private, if you please, Monsieur.”

Collard looked him over again. Daniel had set this up carefully, making certain Collard learned that a young, wealthy Scotsman who liked to gamble sought to borrow money from him. The young man had gotten himself into a bit of a bother, went the rumors Daniel had made sure circulated. He would put himself completely into Collard’s hands.

Collard nodded, unhurriedly laid aside his cigar, excused himself to his friends, and led Daniel through a door in the back of the restaurant. On the other side was a room full of ladies and gentlemen gathered around five roulette wheels. The clacking of the wheels, the heat of the bodies, the scent of smoke and perfume, and the groans or laughter of the players filled the space.

Daniel followed Collard through another door and into an office, where Collard offered Daniel a brandy and poured it himself. Daniel accepted the brandy, took a sip, then dashed the rest of the liquid into Collard’s face.

Collard blinked a moment in surprise, then dangerous rage flared in his eyes. He reached for a bell on his desk, but Daniel brought the walking stick down on Collard’s wrist. Collard struggled, but Daniel held his wrist firmly.

“I’ve come on behalf of a friend,” Daniel said, amazed his voice was so steady. “You knew her as Violette.”

Collard’s face remained blank. He’d never heard of her.

This was the man whose face Violet had seen as she’d lost her innocence, as well as any sense of comfort in the world. Because of him, Violet had faced pain, terror, and humiliation, followed by years of fear, confusion, and shame. Collard and Jacobi between them had robbed her of a normal marriage, a family, and any idea that life could be punctuated with moments of happiness.

And Collard couldn’t remember her name, if he’d even bothered to learn it.

Collard had ruined Violet in all ways, and Daniel wasn’t about to let him get away with that. And who knew how many other young women he’d destroyed before or since? Or would destroy in the days to come?

“I’m not going to tell you about her,” Daniel said. “Who she is and what she’s like. Because you don’t deserve to know. I’m not going to share one single second of her with you. I’ll just say that though you did your best to destroy her, she wouldn’t stay destroyed. Because she’s far stronger than you, far better than you can ever hope to be. And the fact that you don’t even know what a monster you are means I’m ending this conversation right now.”

Daniel let up on his walking stick but drew it back and swung it at Collard’s head. Collard raised his hands, snatching the stick as it came down, jerked it from Daniel’s grip, and tossed it aside.

Daniel didn’t mind. Before Collard could recover, Daniel was on him, his fists coming down on Collard’s face again and again. The man fought back, and Daniel struggled with him, his still-healing torso aching.

Daniel’s ancestors had been warriors. Old Malcolm Mackenzie had survived Culloden by cutting his way out of a pack of Englishmen who’d just slaughtered his four brothers and his father. Then he’d turned around, killed his family’s killers, and gone on a rampage of revenge.

Only a few generations stood between Daniel and Old Malcolm, who hadn’t been old at the time. Malcolm had been twenty-five when he’d cut his way to freedom, the same age Daniel was now. Tonight Malcolm lived again in Daniel, and Daniel’s bloodlust responded. Revenge was something Scotsmen knew all about.

Daniel had little memory of what he did in that room. He only saw the bearded man’s face, which quickly grew red with blood, and Collard’s eyes, which lost their anger and filled with fear and desperation. Daniel heard Collard begging for mercy. But Violet had asked for mercy too, and Collard hadn’t given it to her.

People did come; the fight wasn’t silent. Hands tried to pull Daniel back—French police, he saw dimly—but Daniel’s madness had taken over.

Ian felt this way, a part of Daniel realized. This same black rage had risen within the younger Ian when he couldn’t make himself understood—when Ian hadn’t understood himself what he was feeling. The rage had come out in violence, the only thing that could assuage it.

Even stronger hands pulled at Daniel now. Daniel thought he recognized Hart Mackenzie, but when his vision cleared a little, he realized the man was Lloyd Fellows, Hart’s half-brother and a Scotland Yard detective.

Daniel shook off Fellows and kept fighting. Collard had curled into a ball, whimpering and bloody. Daniel was bloody himself, his beautiful new jacket a mess, and he didn’t give a f**k.

“Daniel.” Fellows shook him. “You’ve got to stop.”

Daniel swung to him, feeling blood on his face, madness in his heart. “Why? He didn’t stop for Violet.”

Fellows’s hands clamped down on Daniel’s shoulders, and he spoke loudly and carefully. “You have to leave, Daniel. If you stay, I might have to arrest you for murder. Go. I have this.”

Daniel looked up at the uncle who’d lived the first part of his life enraged at the Mackenzies for robbing him of what he thought was his. The anger was gone from Fellows now, replaced by contentment, especially now that he’d married. But he too possessed the steely rage of the Mackenzies. The blood of Old Malcolm ran in his veins as well.

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