ONE WILD WINTER’S EVE releases on October 27, and here’s a short excerpt for you…
She was tired of being dismissed, deserted, and forgotten. Years might have passed, but the ache in her chest was a permanent, palpable thing. Mama was missing; Papa was dead. And now Charles was here, in the flesh, exposing all the hurt and the grief once again.
She couldn’t walk away.
“Why do you want me to leave, Charles? Does it make you uncomfortable that the girl who once visited you in the stables has made an appearance in your new life?”
“No.” His brows, several shades darker than his golden hair, drew together. It was a glimpse of the old Charles–the one who would sooner die than hurt her, the one who looked at her with undisguised longing. “I heard some of the staff in the hallway. I didn’t think you’d want to be discovered here. With me.”
Well, that did make sense…but wait. As of this moment, she was through with giving people the benefit of the doubt. Especially the ones who’d let her down.
“If you are truly concerned for my reputation,” she said, “why don’t you leave? It’s what a gentleman would do.”
She regretted the words the moment she’d uttered them. She’d only meant to point out that his behavior was less than gallant, not to belittle his station or to wound his pride.
Throwing off the mask of polite behavior, he leaned toward her and curled his mouth into a wicked smile.
“You should know, Rose, that I’m no gentleman.”
His breath was a caress on her neck, his words a heady elixir. This was the closest he’d ever come to flirting with her. And she had to admit…she liked it. So much so, that she almost forgot he had caught her brazenly riffling through the contents of his employer’s desk drawer.
But the suspicion in his beautiful brown eyes told her that he hadn’t forgotten.
“What were you really doing in here?” His whispered question invited her confidences and promised understanding.
But this was not the Charles she’d known before–predictable, solid, and safe. As his heavy-lidded gaze shifted over her, her pulse leaped in her throat, confirming her thoughts. There was nothing safe about him.
“Excuse me, I must go.” Just as she started to sweep past him, footsteps sounded in the hall. Charles grasped her upper arm, pulled her away from the desk, and almost carried her to the shadowed area between the large open door and a bookcase. He pressed her back against the shelves and held a calloused finger to her lips.
Rose’s whole body tingled.
Charles stood very close, his torso a mere inch from Rose’s. It was too dark to see his face–to see anything, really–but somehow she felt the intensity of his gaze upon her, heating her skin. The air fairly crackled around them. And his finger still rested on her lips.
It was funny how one little transgression led to another. Her heart pounded in her chest from fear, desire, and delight at her own daring. No one would believe that the always obedient and demure Rose was hiding in the shadows of Lady Yardley’s drawing room. With a man. The same virile, breathtakingly handsome man whom she’d once believed she loved. The man she’d never been quite able to forget.
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