Elletra barely registered the maelstrom of noise coming from below while the Earl stared at her. Her eyes screamed ultimatum but the Earl seemed to be asking a million tacit questions in his gaze. She couldn’t even guess at what he was conjuring with his diseased psyche but she would wait him out until he capitulated.
The Earl fingered the thick sheaf of papers and smiled mirthlessly. “You think you win tonight? You don’t. Take the papers.”
Elletra reached to grab them and too late realized her mistake. The Earl’s left hand shot out, side-stepping out of view of Hawkeye as his right arm snaked around Elletra’s neck in a vise-like grip. Elletra choked out a curse as Hawkeye instinctively stepped forward with firearm at the ready.
“Don’t do anything foolish, Ilse-Lorenz.” The Earl warned, his left hand clamped to Elletra’s side.
Hawkeye froze in his tracks. Protruding out of the Earl’s coat sleeve was a thin, wicked-looking needle, hovering a centimeter away from Elletra’s waist.