Colonel Luis Ramirez Montoya was not a man ruled by his passions. It was a matter of some pride to him. Control was all important because if he could not control himself then how could he hope to control the world around him. And Montoya had every intention of being in full control of the little empire he was carving out for himself.
If a resident of Santa Helena had suspected that the Colonel's sleep was troubled, and most would not have dared to entertain such thoughts, then they might have guessed that the spectre that haunted him came in the guise of a woman in black, her face disguised with lace. They would have been wrong. While the Queen of Swords was a thorn in Montoya's side, and one that he would take great delight in plucking out, she did not unduly bother him. Yes, it was tedious that she kept escaping, but she didn't seem to realise that her very existence often made things easier for him. Without her threat he would have a lot less leverage over the Dons, without the hope she represented he would not be able to push the people as hard. He couldn't have planned it better himself. And in some ways it would be a shame to stretch her pretty neck. It was invigorating to see a well-born, young lady who did not swoon in response to the smallest thing.
No, the fly in Montoya's particular ointment was the purveyor of such substances. Doctor Robert Helm; British, impudent and far too clever for his own good.
It wasn't just the intelligence that caught Montoya's eyes, although in the lessor Hell that was Spanish America it was refreshing to see, it was many contradictions that made up the man. A soldier turned doctor, well brought up and educated voluntarily tramping across the country like a vagabond. Who railed against Montoya's methods but recognised the need for his authority.
How could you not admire a man who held one up so charmingly with an empty weapon? And who surrendered so prettily.
Grisham did not appreciate the good doctor's finer qualities, but then Grisham did not have the wit to recognise such things. He saw only the challenge to his power and reacted with violent simplicity. Still, there was something to be said for base instinct. Watching Grisham and Helm roll around on the floor like common labourers had been a sight to behold. It had been a shame to stop them but, really, brawling in the street like that had been quite inappropriate.
It was a memory that stayed with him: the doctor, undone and ruffled, the fire raging in his blood. How could a sight like that not stir a man? The doctor was just temptation incarnate. There was something about his ridiculously long legs that made you want to spread them, something about his razor sharp tongue that made you want to stop his mouth with your own and steal the breath straight from his lungs.
It was most distressing, but there was only one thing to be done...
At least until Robert got back from Monterey.