The lady neared their table, two tankards in hand. Ramon beckoned her with the crook of a gnarled finger.
Poisoned honey, Lucien thought. For all her sweetness in face and form, a lady as immoral as this one could destroy a man if she crept into his veins. But, oh, how she tempted! Her hair draped her face in silver mist. Apple green eyes danced with amusement. She wore a plain cotton gown spotted with colorful stains of various shapes and sizes. Regardless of her shabby apparel, she walked with the carriage of royalty. She smiled, warm and indulgent, and Lucien’s groin sat up to take notice.
“What are you about now, Ramon?” Her soft, lyrical voice only enhanced her ethereal qualities.
In truth, she had the features and stature of a delicate fairy. Yet, if he believed Ramon, this charming sprite spent her nights as mistress to a villain.
Ramon drew her forward, one hand cradling her slender waist. “Señores, may I present Señorita Marisa Álvarez, the proprietor of El Castillo de Plata?”
She placed the tankards on the table with an echoed thud. “Buenos días, señores. Bienvenido al Castillo de Plata.”
Swallowing his distaste, Lucien rose. He bent only enough to show manners, but no approval. “Muchas gracias.”
Ethan’s chair crashed to the floor as he scrambled to rise and take her hand. “I’m Ethan Greene, dear lady.” He kissed her fingertips. Hooded eyes simpered over her knuckles. “I do hope you speak English since I’m completely ignorant of your lovely tongue.”
The goddess exchanged a glance of impatience with Ramon, who shrugged. “And you, sir?” she asked Lucien in English.
“Lucien St. Clair.” Each barbed syllable stung his lips.
“The gentlemen have come from New Orleans on business,” Ramon said.
Her gaze settled on Lucien. “You’ll need rooms?”
“Yes.” In order to break the spell cast by her sultry eyes, he lifted a tankard and sipped cool ale. “If you have any available.”
“Of course.” She turned to a brawny bald man behind the counter. “Santos, ven aquí!”
On a series of eager nods, the brute strode around the bar. His heavy footfalls shook the tables and sloshed ale before he came to a halt beside her. “Sí?”
Lucien bit back a smile at the contrast. The giant and the diminutive fairy.
“Would you show these gentlemen two rooms upstairs?”
“Marisa!” a drunken voice slurred. “Come be my good luck charm.”
“Excuse me.” She flashed an indulgent smile at a circle of soldiers dicing in the nearest corner and floated away as gracefully as she’d appeared.
“I leave you in capable hands, señores.” Ramon rose stiffly. “Santos will take care of your needs and see you’re made comfortable.” With one last smirk, he added, “La Venganza is a very lucky man, is he not?”