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Charlie's Bargain
An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication
Charlie’s Bargain
ISBN 9781419916601
Charlie’s Bargain Copyright © 2008 Evangeline Anderson
Edited by Shannon Combs.
Photography and cover art by Les Byerley.
Electronic book Publication June 2008
With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this is book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in
part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing,
Inc.® 1056 Home Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.
Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal
copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is
punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. (
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales
is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.
Evangeline Anderson
Evangeline Anderson
Lynx watched her walk by, the unconscious sway of her hips making his mouth
water. Her subtle fragrance drifted enticingly through the air, coming from the sweet
spot between her thighs he longed to taste. Even through the long skirt made of woven
synthi-wool, he could still scent her. She dressed different from the other barmaids at
the Triple Sickle—dressed to deflect attention rather than attract it. The fact that she
didn’t show any cleavage or even a hint of leg probably hurt her tips but Lynx got the
sense that she didn’t care. He cared though—she had always been slender but since the
last time he’d been in the bar, she was looking painfully thin. It had only been a few
days since he’d last seen her and he wondered if she was getting enough to eat.
Probably not on the salary she got here.
Catching her eye, he waved her over, pointing at his empty mug. She nodded
briefly and threaded her way through the evening crowd of miners, grimy from their
day underground in the platinum mines, and the other barmaids, all of whom were
dressed in thigh-high skirts and see-through blouses, the better to show off their assets.
Lynx knew that some of them worked overtime on their backs after the Triple Sickle
closed but she wasn’t one of them. If she was, it would make his life a hell of a lot easier.
Then again, if she was easily available to anyone who wanted her, he would probably
have had to kill half the damn settlement.
He had already had to make an example of one grabby bastard who couldn’t keep
his hands to himself where she was concerned and then there was the matter of the
Bent-head who had attacked her… Lynx shook his head. She didn’t know about that
and it was better she never found out. He hadn’t meant to kill the man but he couldn’t
help himself. Even though Lynx had never even laid a hand on her yet, her scent
provoked his protective and possessive instincts so strongly that just seeing another
man touch her arm while she refilled his mug made him flinch.
He watched her as she made her way toward him. The clink of thick, copper-
bottomed mugs and the low, trollish laughter of the regulars filled the air, along with
the yeasty scent of hops the humans used to make their ale. In a tavern like this, a
human-owned and -operated one, he wouldn’t have been welcome without his wealth
and power. But even Mama Trash, the owner and an acknowledged Xorn-hater, didn’t
dare to deny him entrance, though she cut her eyes at him and sneered when he
appeared at his usual table every third night. Lynx had a reputation for ruthlessness
and even the roughest regulars of the Triple Sickle left him strictly alone.
Lynx never spoke to anyone but her and he never allowed any other barmaid to
serve him. He only came every third night because that was as much as he could
Charlie’s Bargain
stand—her scent drove his body into a frenzy of needing and it was all he could do to
sit still and watch quietly while she worked.
At last she stood beside him, the thick-bottomed pitcher filled with dark brown ale
clutched in one hand. Lynx could see the tendons in her slender wrist stand out with
the strain of holding the heavy vessel as she poured, but her hand didn’t tremble. She
was strong—she had to be to survive in this kind of environment that was alien to
everything she knew, everything she was used to. He knew about her past, the way
she’d been born to wealth and brought up in luxury only to lose it all in a cruel twist of
fate, but none of that mattered now. What mattered was that she was here beside him,
close enough to touch. Close enough to smell.
Lynx couldn’t help himself. Leaning slightly toward her, he inhaled deeply,
drawing her into his lungs. The scent of the alcohol filled his senses but it couldn’t
drown out her fresh, sweet musk. Goddess above, it made him so thirsty, her female
spice. He could drink a thousand pitchers of ale and none of them would slake his
parched thirst. He needed different nourishment for that.
“That’ll be a credit fifty,” she said in a clear, low voice, holding out her hand.
Lynx could have picked her heartbeat from a dozen others across a crowded room
but he wanted her closer so he shook his head and frowned to indicate he hadn’t heard.
She bent closer to him, her long reddish-brown curls hanging down her pale throat
and repeated the price over the noisy hum of the room. “A credit fifty.”
Deliberately taking his time, Lynx reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a
cred chip. Cupping her soft hand in his, he pressed the hard plastic chip into her palm
and closed her fingers around it. At once he felt her reaction. He had brushed her arm
or hand once or twice when she poured his ale but he had never touched her so
deliberately before, had never prolonged the contact. The skin-to-skin touch sent an
explosion of emotion through her body, kindling her nerves like dry branches struck by
lightning in an electrical storm. Fear was uppermost in her mind, he could feel it like a
fence of jagged thorns keeping him at bay. But under it, so deep she probably didn’t feel
it with her conscious mind, was desire. A warm flood of need to match his own, waiting
to get out.
Lynx felt his heart thump like a hammer in his chest. His cock was suddenly stiff
and aching, pushing hard against the confines of his pants as his body acknowledged
what his soul had known all along. She was the one. Her reaction to him proved it
beyond a doubt.
“Let go of me.” She kept her voice low even though she was so nervous he could
hear her heart racing over the clink of mugs and the blast of what the humans called
music filled the air.
Lynx released her wrist and she stepped back, rubbing it as if he’d hurt her, though
his grip had been loose. Her face betrayed no emotion but he could taste her relief like a
bitter spice at the back of his throat. Relief that he was no longer touching her? Or relief
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