“What woman-loving woman taught you to kiss that way?”
His massive head jerked back as if she’d slapped him. “Well, that’s a first. I talk about cattle, and you ask about kisses.”
“No man knows how to kiss like that. Only women do.” A bushy eyebrow rose over a countenance suddenly darkened by suspicion. “How would you know? Your experience has only been with women...or so I understood from your letter.”
Embarrassment warmed the tips of her ears. She brushed her fingers along the excited flesh, uncomfortably aware a similar excitement troubling her nether lips.
“All my pleasurable experiences have been with women.” Until your amazing, conquering kiss. “I’ve known the brutality of male lips and tongues and...” She looked down at his bulge again. “Certain appendages.”
“Brutal, eh?” He smirked. “So you’ve chosen my brutal lips and tongue and appendages over those of the brutes you knew in Philadelphia.”
“If you must know, yes.”
He angled his head and eyed her. “But isn’t the adage better the devil you know?”
She fisted her hands in her lap. “Not for me it isn’t.”
He put his attention back on the road. “Well, if you must know, my wife Emma trained me.”
His features softened. Queen glimpsed melancholy in his smile.
“Our first kiss was nectar.” He closed his eyes and inhaled. “Each kiss after that tasted sweeter than the one before.”
She had her suspicion confirmed: ecstasy did look good on him.
He cleared his throat and flicked the reins against his horse’s rump. All traces of sadness vanished. “You needn’t worry. ‘Twas memory of her I embraced before Reverend Warren. Not you. ‘Though...” He looked her up and down. “I had not expected such a warm response from an ice princess.”
Ice princess. Her belly clenched. The phrase shouldn’t have hurt. She wanted the arctic between them. The unanticipated thaw created by that kiss proved she needed a frozen emotional wasteland between them more than ever.
He let his scrutiny linger in her lap. “Where else do your fires burn?”
She squeezed her thighs together and kept her sight on the horizon. “I wouldn’t recommend you try to find out.”
Here's a taste of my 2016 novella, One Breath Away, first place winner in both the Passionate Plume and Kathryn Hayes Where the Sparks Fly Contests:
Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.
Wealthy, freeborn-Black, Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing the mysteriously exotic woman was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.
Wild Rose Press: https://bit.ly/2Bim5o7
“Why not you, Mary?”
“Because someone like you only looks at someone like me out of pity.”
Of course. His aunt put him up to this. Anger warmed Mary’s ears.
“Let me go.” She made to pull away. “I want to sit.”
“Please. Not before the music stops.” He timed his plea to the rhythm of the waltz. “I’ve waited all week for this moment.”
Mary gritted her teeth. Heart hurt joined her injured pride. She needed no one’s charity.
“That was cruel of you, sir. No one counts the days until they can ask me for a dance.” Tears pooled behind her closed eyelids. “Anyone in town could tell you that.”
The grip on her hand tightened, forcing her eyes open. The light in his gaze darkened. “Anyone who’d lie to me like that would be taking their life in their hands.” He leaned in so his mouth nuzzled her ear again. “And if you use that I’m-not-worthy tone of voice again, I’ll be forced to prove you wrong with a kiss.”
Alarm shuddered up Mary’s back. “Is—is that a threat?”
“A certainty.” He winked.
A chilly thrill replaced the alarm. She blew out a breath to steady herself. Threat or certainty, both treated her to a delicious revelation—she wanted that kiss. She eyed his lips, imagined their soft yet demanding press against hers. Once more the voice of caution repeated its warning.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Oh, to be forced to flee from such a devil as he. She sighed. What a wonderful problem to have.
“May I visit you at Harvest Home?”
Eban’s voice overpowered her thoughts. She frowned out of her musing. “You know where I live?”
“I have an authoritative source.”
She glanced toward Widow Hawthorne who gave a favoring nod. That kiss no longer seemed a flight of fancy. Her belly quivered. Her lips pursed in a thoughtful pout.
“Why would I let you visit me at Harvest Home?”
“You know better than I.” He stroked the back of her hand as he eyed her throat. She swallowed hard as excitement and fear rippled across the flesh his thumb caressed. Her head swirled, whether from the dance or the danger posed by her partner she couldn’t tell. “It—it would cost too much to say.”
He bent his elbow, pulled her forward again. “Am I not worth the price?”
This time his chest crushed hers. The pressure imitated the closeness of that threatened kiss. A closeness she could no longer deny she desired. Would she let him? Should she let him? Her throat tightened.
“You’re worth the price, but I can’t afford you.”
He smiled that nether-lip-tickling smile again. “I accept gifts in kind.”