Is that wild, or what?
THOSE VIOLET EYES also won first place in the NERFA (National Excellence in Romance Fiction) a few weeks ago.
Evie rolled her eyes and stepped behind him, tapping him on the back. The metal strainer clattered in the sink and a blur of motion barely registered before steely hands gripped her forearms. Oh my God! In a flurry of movement, he snatched her off the floor and backed her against the stainless steel counter. Cold wet hands viced her arms. Her eyes snapped wide and the air whooshed from her lungs when his body slammed into hers.
Win’s eyes were narrowed, his breathing rapid through a clenched jaw and a vein bulged in his forehead. “Don’t do that.”
The man was every inch the warrior, every hard tensed inch. He held her mid-air, so close they were nearly eyeball to eyeball. As his gaze traveled over her face and awareness evidently crept in as to the sex of his attacker, several inches of his frame hardened even more.
Evie swallowed. Oh, good Lord.
He glared and his nostrils flared.
“I…I’m sorry, Win. I called your name, but…but you didn’t answer. I was only trying to get your attention.” Her lips twitched at the humor in the situation—hadn’t Keira told her the man lost part of his hearing? Evidently she’d startled him. Poor soul. She felt a portion of herself return. A portion she’d hidden for so long; that light-hearted part of her soul that teased and cajoled. “Honest, I wasn’t trying to attack you.” She placed an open palm on his defined pecs and patted. “You’re safe with me, big guy.” Just to rattle him some more, she winked.
Win’s hazel eyes flashed for a second, then he slowly leaned in and whispered in her ear, “You’re not safe with me.”
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“So you came to town to find me?” How much sense did that make? She knew women were scarce. Mary Jamison, a mail order bride, was married within the hour after arriving in Deadwood. Her ecstatic groom certainly didn’t mind her snaggle-tooth and crossed eyes. Widow Stoltz was married the day after her husband’s funeral and birthed a wee babe a week later.
Appearances and family heritage didn’t matter in the wilderness. Hadn’t she fought off her share of suitors? Then why? Why had she hitched herself to this mountain of a man? She had no clue.
Cam turned the team of horses to the right and encouraged them to climb the hill. Leather creaked and fittings jingled in the evening quiet. The smell of pines grew stronger. An owl hooted and something rustled off to the left. She wasn’t used to large open spaces without the lighting of civilization; unease crept up her spine. It was so dark out here.
Finally, her husband answered, “Eli needed warmer clothes for winter, and we needed enough food to stock the pantry for winter.”
“So, you just added wife to your shopping list?” She’d married an odd man. Handsome, but odd. “How much further till we get ho…”—she couldn’t say it—“to your place?”
“You’re my wife now, Sophie Catherine. My home is your home. My son is your son.”
“Most people simply call me Sophie.”
“A husband should have a name for his wife that no one else uses, don’t you think?”
Foolish her, she’d always hoped a husband would call her a name of endearment, like darling or sweetheart. Simple-mined notions to be sure. What man would find her attractive? Hadn’t her Tommy called her plain?
Now was the time, she supposed. “You…ah…you never mentioned sleeping arrangements.”
His voice carried deep and quiet in the night. “I run a ranch, not a hotel. As my wife, you’ll be sleeping with me.”
Her heart pounded in her ears and her breath came in shallow bursts. “Will…will you expect…”
Merciful heavens. She twisted the ends of her shawl between her fingers. “Surely you’ll give me time to get to know you. I…I only met you today.”
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