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*****


Just as Carver Moreau finished playing "Caravan" on the piano, someone hoisted him off his bench. Someone, no doubt, who didn't realize they'd bitten off more than they could chew.

Because Carver was a world-class hand-to-hand fighter in the employ of none other than Sister Mayhem, bane of the underworld.

As powerful hands held Carver aloft, two men lunged from the shadows of the smoke-filled Kansas City dance hall. Both men wore pink tuxedos with white carnations in the lapels--the trademark attire of the Dreamboats, the big band for which Carver had been auditioning.

Lashing out with his legs, Carver kicked one of the men--the bald one with the black goatee--in the chest, knocking him down. The other man, however, landed a two-fisted blow in Carver's stomach.

Before the second man could hit him again, Carver pumped a knee into his side. As the man cried out and spun away, Carver swung both legs back hard, cracking his Oxfords into the shins of whoever was holding him.

The strong hands gripping his upper arms let go, and Carver dropped to the floor. Pivoting, he saw a man with shaggy blond hair and the brawn of a gorilla.

Before the gorilla-like goon could recover, Carver--trained in hand-to-hand combat by Sister Mayhem herself--belted him square in the jaw. As the gorilla-man went down, Carver whirled, expecting an attack from another direction. Instead, he heard someone clapping beyond the spotlit stage.

Carver shaded his eyes from the spotlight with one caramel-brown hand. Squinting at the shadowy tables, he saw that one woman was doing the clapping...and he recognized her. As she rose from her seat, the folds of her red satin dress draped over her voluptuous body, highlighting every curve. Her long red hair seemed to catch fire when she glided into the blazing spotlight.

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