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An old love. A giant kraken.

A dive into the infested canals of Venice.

Time has run out. Rules must be broken and her patron’s wrath risked. To save the woman who raised her, Lady Judith must visit the underwater grotto of a giant lagoon kraken. Survival isn’t guaranteed, but Arturo will not let his love face the dangers of the canals alone.

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“HANG IN THERE, GINO.” Arturo Piatti wound the tourniquet tighter about the man’s wrist while struggling to keep his voice calm as his field engineer howled in pain. “Help is on the way.”

Overhead, an emergency dirigible transport made rapid progress in their direction over the clay roof tiles of Venice. Gino’s hand was badly mangled — far too much blood pooled on the pavement beside the canal. He’d lost a lot more while still in the water.

Crack! The sound of an air rifle tore through the air.

“Nailed him,” his sharpshooter announced, though it was small satisfaction. Luigi set aside his weapon to grab a hooked pole and drag the lagoon kraken’s limp body — glistening and still twitching — from the foul-smelling canal. “Indio kraken. Should bring a good price at market. Pay for the doctor.”

Jaw clenched, Arturo nodded. Even if it didn’t, he would see the bill paid.

Damn kraken. Bane of his existence, they’d stolen too much from him already, including the woman he loved.

Twenty-three years ago he’d proposed. She’d declined. Gently. But her work on the Thames river kraken — her career — took precedence. The resulting wound had never fully healed. Then — half a lifetime later — they’d found each other again. A look. A touch. A whispered flirtation and once again they were love-struck fools.

In the distance, he could make out the roofline of the palazzo where she worked upon a new, mysterious research project. Though another rejection would slay him, he meant to try again.

Soon.

Shoving the ache of old regrets aside, he focused on the job. If not for these miserable cephalopods infesting the canals, his team wouldn’t be diving in them to begin with. Walking beside the Venetian canals was dangerous enough, but sending men into the canals? That required hazard pay.

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