Top Ten Sexy Reads!
I was delighted to learn this week that Bride of the Solway, my September Harlequin release in North America, has made the Top Ten Sexy Reads on eHarlequin! To whet your appetite, I thought you might like to read an extract from a later stage of the story, when things are beginning to get...well…a little interesting. So here it is. Enjoy!
Ross and Cassie are escaping on foot from their dangerous pursuers. It is freezing cold, clouds have blocked out the last hint of starlight, and the pouring rain has soaked them both. Ross has managed to find a ruined barn where they shelter together in the pitch dark. They can smell and hear and touch. But they can see nothing at all…
He started to search through the pockets of his coat but stopped with a curse so violent that Cassie gasped. ‘Forgive me. I did not mean to shock you, but I am an idiot. Just look what I have found.’
‘I would if I could, but I’m afraid my cat’s eyes seem to have deserted me for the moment. What is it?’
‘My brandy flask.’ He started to unscrew the top. ‘This will help to ward off the chill, Cassie. You need to get warm.’ He pulled her against him and put the flask to her lips.
She pushed it a way, with a cry of protest. ‘Ugh! I can’t drink spirits. You will make me drunk.’
‘Cassie, you are as stubborn as a Spanish mule. You are soaked through, you’re shivering with cold, you haven’t eaten all day, but you refuse the only thing we have that might help?’ He picked up a handful of hay and thrust it at her till it touched her skin. ‘You could always eat the hay, of course, but since you are not a horse, I venture to suggest that the brandy would do you more good.’ His anger was perilously near the surface now. Did she not understand the danger she was in? He almost wanted to shake her. And to force the brandy down her throat.
Very gently, she opened his fingers and removed the wisps of hay. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said quietly, putting her hand in his. ‘I didn’t mean to vex you. I know you have my best interests at heart.’
‘Then, will you—’
Without letting him finish, she took the open flask from his hand and swallowed a large gulp.
‘Cassie, you can’t—’ It was much too late. She was already coughing and spluttering as the spirit burnt its way down her throat.
‘I—’ Her voice was a barely audible croak.
Ross quickly set the flask down and pulled Cassie into his arms, kissing the top of her head. His anger had evaporated on the spot. He only hoped she would not realise that he was laughing.
But she had. ‘You rogue,’ she wheezed as soon as she had a little control of her voice again. ‘You’re laughing at me.’
‘Well, you did rather remind me of a frog.’
‘Oh? I’m happy to admit that I am wet and cold, as frogs are, but I didn’t think I was green.’
He laughed again but this time she was laughing with him. ‘You may indeed turn green if you stay as wet as you are. Seriously, you must get warm. I dare not build a fire, just in case. So we shall have to make the best of what we have. Lie down here with me. My coat can cover us. It’s heavier than your cloak and perhaps not so wet on the inside.’
She did as he bade her, apparently without a qualm. Most other ladies would have had a fit of the vapours at the thought. But most other ladies would not have been alone with a man in the first place.
He pulled her body close against the length of his own, trying to warm every inch of her. He tucked the coat around her as best he could. His boots were sticking out, but her poor injured feet were, mercifully, covered.
‘Are you feeling any warmer now?’
‘Yes. Much,’ she whispered. ‘I can certainly feel the effects of the brandy now.’
‘Good.’ He held her even closer. ‘Try to go to sleep if you can.’ He tucked her head under his chin. Her hair had come down around her shoulders in a mass of damp, tangled curls. Exactly like the first time he had ever seen her. A sodden gown and a mass of tangled hair.
She moaned a little.
‘It is nothing. Truly.’
This time her body was betraying her, for she had started to shake uncontrollably. The noise of her chattering teeth was incredibly loud in the dark silence.
‘This is no good. We must get you out of those wet clothes. There’s no other way.’ Ignoring her stammering protest, he threw off the greatcoat and pulled her up so that he could start undoing her gown.
‘Sir, you cannot—’ she managed between shivers.
‘This is no time for propriety, Cassie. If we don’t get you dry, you’ll never recover from this.’ He was running his hands down the back of her gown as he spoke. ‘Dammit. Where are the fastenings on this confounded garment?’
You may already be imagining what happens next. Two people alone in the dark, huddling together for warmth and comfort, skin against skin...