Saturday, November 22, 2014

My series is getting a face-lift!

So since I can't get a much needed face-lift on my own face (hahaha), I decided to give three of my books one, instead. I totally love the new look to them!!!  I hope you agree! Heroic Rogue Series new book covers done by the fabulous, and very talented, Sheri McGathy! 

Take My Heart (book 1)


Falling in Love Again (book 2)


Wonderland by Night (book 3


Yep, I'm happy with them!!  Now, I just have to wait for Amazon to make the changes on their website. The print books take only a few days, too. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bookmarked Bargains!

Yeah, it's that time of year to share the LOVE!!

My stories, "Take my Heart", and "Dreaming of You" are some of the books price marked 99 cents! Take advantage of this awesome sale from November 17-20th. (Click on the top picture and it will take you there)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Unveiling new cover!

If you liked the movie "The Great Gatsby" then you'll love "Aim for my Heart". Mobsters and suspense, and a bit of humor (of course) are intertwined in my romance novel.

Thanks again, Sheri McGathy, for creating another winner!

Unedited excerpt ( other eyes have seen this, so it might be rough):

Chapter One
“I’m going to kill him with my bare hands!” Virginia Lange bunched her hands into fists as a mixture of anger and sorrow filled her soul. Blinking back the tears, she allowed rage to be the main emotion controlling her right now. As she paced the floor in her stepfather’s den, her mind headed in one direction—in the only direction it could right now.

“When I finally meet my stepfather’s murderer,” she continued, “and just as I’m snatching the last breath from him, the last words he’ll ever hear will be, you messed with the wrong woman. Then, when the man laughs in my face—” She paused and looked at her cousin, Anna, who sat on the sofa, listening to Virginia’s outrage, “—and I know he’ll laugh at me. Evil men like this always think they are in control.” She gave Anna a sharp nod. “But when he laughs, I’ll tighten fingers around his throat and strangle the very life right out of him.”

Her mind envisioned this horrendous crime although she couldn’t see the murderer’s face. The punishment fit the transgression. The pain in her heart over her parents’ death weighed at least one-hundred pounds, and she could scarcely breathe.

Finalizing her thoughts, she crossed her arms over her chest. The need for justice pumped through her veins, and she needed it served now. Waiting for the cops would be a waste of time. Yet, as she repeated the words she’d just spoke in her mind, they didn’t sound realistic. Frowning, she added, “Oh, applesauce! I can’t strangle him. He would be bigger and stronger than me.”

Growling, she ran her fingers through her long hair, lifting the thickness off her neck as she pondered her next move. “Let’s see…how can I kill him?” She paused for a brief second as she dropped her hands from her hair, making her locks fall to the middle of her back. “I’ll stab him.” She glanced at her cousin again who sat quietly on the only stitch of furniture left in the study. The expression on Anna’s face related her disbelief in Virginia’s threat.

Ignoring her cousin, Virginia continued, “I’ll take my stepfather’s favorite knife and stab the killer.” She made the motions through the air with her hand, emphasizing her words. “I’ll keep on stabbing him until he’s dead.”

She stopped again, rehashing it through her mind. Finally, this was doable. She’d certainly be able to accomplish her goal. Satisfaction filled her and she smiled in triumph. “Yes. That’s what I’ll do. Justice will be serviced nicely, don’t you think?”

Her cousin remained on the couch, still as could be. Not even an eyelash flickered, although the look of unbelief still etched on her expression. Virginia knew she’d shocked Anna. Usually Virginia wasn’t this violent or calculating. It was almost humiliating to have the revengeful demon inside her show itself in front of her cousin. All during her childhood, Virginia had been the shy, demure child. There wasn’t a mean bone in her body. Unfortunately, circumstances had changed drastically, and she wasn’t a child any longer. Nor was she going to allow her stepfather’s killer to get away with what he’d done.

Hopefully, Anna understood and would help. Virginia had been losing control of her life since the police told her last week her stepfather had been murdered. Then, three days later she found out his life-long business had been sold right before he died. Nothing made sense anymore.

Anna sat forward on the couch, leaning her elbows on her thin knees. “You’re forgetting one thing, Ginny. If you bump off the man who killed Uncle Norman, you will be no better than a murderer, yourself. Do you want that? Do you want to sink to their level? I can assure you, if Uncle Norman knew what you were planning, he’s turn over in his grave."

For a few minutes, Virginia stood firm as her mind raced to find answers, but she couldn’t. Defeat swept through her, burning her hopes to ashes. She slumped on the couch beside her cousin as tears gathered in her eyes. “You are correct. I don’t want to be considered in the same class as a murderer. I’m sorry for saying that Anna, but I’m all balled up. I don’t know what to do."

“Perhaps there’s nothing you can do. Let it rest. Justice will prevail sooner or later.”

Virginia massaged her forehead with her fingertips, trying to make the throb in her head disappear. “It’s not fair. Someone killed Norman and nobody knows who it is, and the low-down dirty creature is walking the streets free as a bird, while my stepfather is six feet under.” Her voice cracked slightly. “There’s got to be something I can do.”

Anna reached over and placed her hand on Virginia’s arm, and rubbed small circles on her skin in a soothing gesture. “There’s nothing you can do. Nothing at all. Do you understand? If Uncle Norman’s neighbor, Mrs. Beckstead, is right and the mafia killed him, then you’re at a standstill. You cannot mess around with men like that or you’ll end up like your stepfather. We have to believe that sooner or later the man who killed Uncle Norman gets what he deserves.”

Raising her gaze, Virginia looked into Anna’s big green eyes. As always, she wished for the perfect life her cousin had, and especially the perfect looks. She’d always wished she had green eyes and the short, black hair like her cousin. Instead, Virginia was cursed with dull blue eyes and plain blonde wavy locks.

She managed a weak smile for her cousin. “Anna, thank you for caring. I know you’re trying to help, but right now all I can think about is revenge. Someone needs to put Norman’s killer away for what he did.”

“I know you can’t help but feel this way. It’s to be expected.” Anna continued softly rubbing her hands on Virginia’s arm. “Norman was more of a father to you than that biological idiot who stuck around long enough to see you born before leaving you and your mother. But revenging Uncle Norman is not the way to ease your conscious."

Sighing deeply in desperation, Virginia leaned back in the couch. “I suppose I should put my worries aside and finish packing my things. The new owner of my father’s drug store won’t allow me to live above the place any longer. He’ll probably live here, himself.”

“Where will you go? Back to your mother’s in Michigan?”

Virginia cringed, wrinkled her nose and stuck out her tongue. “Not on your life—or mine. I’m staying right here in Chicago until I’m old and gray. I don’t plan on going back to her unless she changes her wild lifestyle.” She shook her head in disgust. “You know, if she keeps picking her boyfriends younger, she’ll soon pick one my age, and then maybe he’ll fall in love with me and want to marry me, instead.”

Anna chuckled, making her emerald eyes twinkle. “Will you continue to live at the University?”

Virginia shook her head. “Unfortunately, Norman paid on a monthly basis for that privilege, and now that he’s dead, there are no funds for me to continue. I’ll have to find a job, maybe get an apartment with three or four other college girls. I might even have to find a job. The money my mom sends me isn’t a lot.”

Anna stood and tugged on Virginia’s arms, helping her up. “I have a nifty idea. You can stay with me until you find a job and another place to live. Let’s get a wiggle on so we can pack your things. We don’t have very much time, do we?”

Sadness encompassed Virginia again. “Unfortunately, time is something that nobody has enough of.”

She struggled through packing the remainder of her belongings, and each step out to her car to load the boxes, her heart sank. How could all this be happening to her? She thought for sure her stepfather would change his will and leave her everything—since she was the daughter he’d never had—but the lawyer told her Norman hadn’t put her in his will. Even if he had, there was nothing to get. According to the lawyer, her stepfather sold every item he possessed—including the store, leaving her with nothing. She wondered where the money from the sell went, but according to the lawyer, Norman had nothing in his bank account.

Why didn’t the police see this as suspicious? Apparently, the mafia had them in their clutches, too.

Angrily, she realized it was up to her. No matter what Anna said, Virginia needed to do something. She had to find out who killed and stole her stepfather’s money. Mafia or not. Evidence was what she needed to put the killer away.

After she placed the last box in the car, she stepped back and gazed upon the two-story red-bricked building. It had been her home until she started going to the University. Now she was homeless, yet it was the loss of Norman that made everything seem bleak.

“Hey, Ginny, I’ll meet you over at my apartment. I have to swing by and pick up Paul first.”

Virginia glanced at her cousin. “Who’s Paul?”

“A new man I met.”

Virginia flipped her hand in the air in a dismissal wave. When wasn’t Anna meeting men? “No need to worry about me. I’ll see you later.”

She climbed in her brown interior, two-door Sedan and drove across the street to the ice-cream shop. Memories crashed through her, leaving shards of her heart to keep her company. Norman had taken her here for hot-fudge sundaes once a month since she was six years old. She’d definitely miss those monthly chats with the man she’d wished was her true father.

On weary legs, she moved to her favorite booth and sat. Norman’s drugstore was right in view. The sun descended behind the building as pink light gleamed through the sky. Tears filled her eyes, and she realized she hadn’t grieved for Norman like she should have. True, the shock of hearing he’d been murdered devastated her, but when the police acted as if they weren’t going to do anything about it, that was when the need for revenge kicked in and consumed her every waking thought.

After giving her order to the waitress, Virginia stared out the window until the girl delivered her ice cream. As she ate, loneliness crept over her. Anna was the only family left here in Chicago. Although her favorite cousin, Anna rarely had time to spend with Virginia. Anna was a woman of the 20’s—a real flapper. Men (many of them, in fact), alcohol and dancing was all her cousin wanted in her life. There was no room for boring, puritan Virginia. She’d always been a wet-blanket.

As she ate the last spoonful, a tear slipped down her cheek. Time to start a new life. No more going to her stepfather to ask advice. No more surprise birthday parties, and no more eating ice-cream once a month…even on very cold days.

Gathering her purse, she fished for her keys amongst everything that filled her bag. From out the window in front of the drugstore, a car pull up in front and stopped in front of the building. Zeroing her attention to the vehicle, she sighed in awe. Never before had she seen such a beauty, especially in a vehicle.

Since Norman had been a fan of the stylish motorcars, she knew all about this one. The 1907 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost was furnished in the style of the French King, Louis XIV. Silver plating fittings highlighted the vehicle. Although in convertible style, the back seat was separated from the driver’s front. A low built unique and beautifully shaped radiator shell sat between the front wheels, long multicolored hood lined with rivets accented its crisp hard edge shape. With its built in stone guard, the car mounted on a pair of black rubber handballs, which neatly embedded in the casting attached to the radiator and chassis. Norman would have loved to see it.

The driver opened his door and climbed out. Dressed in a chauffeur blackish-gray suit, he moved with the ease of a jungle cat when he walked to the back and opened the door. Never had Virginia gazed upon a man who made opening doors for others look like an art form.

An elaborate dressed man in a black and white pinstriped suit ascended from the vehicle. On closer inspection, she noticed the Italian ancestry through his olive skin. A mobster?

She peered closer, but bumped her nose against the shop’s window. Grumbling, she pulled back and rubbed the sore spot, continuing to watch the activities across the street. The fancy dressed mobster stood in front of the store and pulled out a ring of keys. Her heart picked up rhythm when the man entered.

Once again, the inner demon of revenge ate away at her soul, moving her out of the booth and out the front door. Determination led her across the street, and with every step, hatred burned a permanent mark in her heart.

Sneaking around to the back of the building, she tiptoed in between the hedges bordering the property, as she made her way to a window. Hesitantly, she peeked inside, taking caution not to be seen. The Italian stood in the center of the store, assessing every little detail of the layout. Most of the shelves were empty, and she figured the person who killed her stepfather had something to do with it.

The man scratched the small patch of hair on his chin, then turned back toward the front door. She, too, hurried to watch his departure, moving around the building. Staying as close to the building as she could, she practically scooted around the corner—and ran into a solid form.

The surprised movement had her falling back and landing on her bottom. Locks of her hair bounced into her eyes, blocking the full view of the person she’d ran into. Using her hand, she swiped away her hair and looked up. The chauffeur. How could she have forgotten about him?

“Oh, I’m sorry, Miss.” He knelt beside her and touched her arm. “I didn’t think anyone was on this property. I didn’t expect to run into somebody back here.”

Neither did I. “Forgive me, because I’m the one to blame.”

He grabbed her by the wrists, assisting her to her feet before stepping back. The setting sun highlighted behind him, spilling right into her eyes. She squinted and tried to block the glare with her hand, but she still had a hard time seeing him. All she could see was an amazing sculptured face, and a wonderful smile. He even looked as if he might be Italian, too.

“I’m…I…um, I was just looking for my dog.” She fibbed, not wanting him to guess her true purpose. “I thought he’d run over here.”

The man looked around him and shrugged. “I haven’t seen a dog, Miss.”

“Oh, well, then I’ll keep looking. Thanks anyway.”

Before he could say any more, she swung around and hurried to the alleyway. When the man didn’t try to stop her, she breathed a deep sigh of relief. Once her heartbeat started a normal rhythm, anger for the interruption shook through her body. If that chauffeur hadn’t stopped her, she may have been able to study the man inside the drugstore a little better. With that information, she could have turned it into the police, too.

She rolled her eyes. They wouldn’t have done anything. But…

A grin tugged on her lips. Perhaps that would have given her something to do while she mourned for Norman. If the law wouldn’t help her, she’d certainly seek justice herself. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

What a FUN evening!

Last night, I spent the evening with my best friend, Dawn, and her daughter, Jessica, and Jessica's friend, Karen. Dawn won tickets to "Erin's Night Out"- a lady's only event...even though there were men there, too. lol  (pics on this link are from last year)

Radio DJs Todd & Erin has functions like this all the time and they give away tickets. I'm so happy that my friend won the tickets and asked me to go, because the whole evening was a BLAST! There was so much to do, and so much to see.

The first thing I did when I got there was get a body massage. Ahhh.... I need more of these every week! The woman who gave me a massage told me that having regular massages will help the bulging disc problem in my back. And you know what? I believe it, because I felt soooo much better when she was done, and although I walked for several hours last night, my feet, back, and neck, never hurt once during the evening!

There were many tables there to sign up for free stuff - along with getting free stuff - and even vendors there selling their jewelry, lotions / oils, baked goods, clothes, books, and even make-up! There were classes to attend, too!  My friend and I (and Jessica & Karen) attended the Ghost Hunters' class. WOWZA! How freaky was that, but I totally loved every story Todd Carr (author of "Talking To Yourself in the Dark" ) told us and the amazing recordings he let us hear when he talked to spirits!!

Oh, and let's not forget the adrenaline-rushing moment when I tried out for the title of "Best Grandmother EVER" when I had a very large snake draped around me just to get a picture for my grandkids! I would have gone for the title of "Best Mother EVER, but my friend, Dawn, got that title when she had her pic taken, too. lol

And let's not forget having pics taken with some SEXY Firemen! Okay, I'll admit, that's not the real reason I wanted my pic taken with them. I gave a donation for a good cause (just don't ask me what it was right now because I can't remember) ... heeheee

Once it became dark, we got to watch a spectacular show. The Fire Muse Circus was amazing, and had me holding my breath several times during their performance. Of course, because they danced with fire - and the wind was blowing - also made me nervous. Still, nothing caught on fire, which was good, but our trust firemen were there and ready just in case!

Another highlight of the evening was talking with Todd & Erin of the radio station Rewind 100.7  and getting my picture taken with them!!  I have listened to these crazy, fun-loving people for so long I feel like they are my favorite neighbors! It was good to meet them face-to-face finally!

Here are some pics of the evening. ENJOY!

This was the chocolate fountain table! OH YES!!

Here is Karen with the icky snake. She wasn't freaking out like Dawn and I were.

This bird was in the same location as the snake. Since I have a bird like this in my book "Amazon Sunset" I thought I'd take a picture of it. :)

Another exotic bird

This was the area where the Fire Muse Circus performed. 

This is the beginning. This are just those awesome lights. Dancers were great!

So here is the guy who danced with fire. FREAKY!! 

The rope dancers. Dang, I was scared they would fall!!


Here is the lovely Erin from the Todd & Erin show on Rewind 100.7! She is awesome!

And here is Todd from the radio station. Isn't he sexy?? :) 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

New story: "Secrets and Lies"

I want to thank my Facebook and blog friends who gave me such great suggestions for this story. My muse is back and I finally want to write!!  I have picked my FB friends Lee Parry and Nicole Laverdure's names for my hero / heroine. My hero is Ashton Lee, and my heroine is Nicole Bastian. Also, I will use the names of those who posted a comment on my blog on FB post as secondary characters in my story: Veronica, Emily, Steven, Brenda, Sheri, Gina, Kelly, and also my co-worker Glen. (either first names or last names)

I've already written the prologue to "Secrets and Lies", and I'm so excited to write more. I decided to share this with my friends, and yes, even to tease you a little with my story. My reviewers don't label me "Queen of Tease" for nothing!

On secret assignment from President Grant, Nicole Bastian is tasked with investigating a string of train robberies in which several caches of government gold were stolen. The stakes are high and she is utterly devastated when she uncovers information that indicates the man of her dreams, Ashton Lee, the wealthy co-founder of Conrail is the number one suspect. 

Desperate to remain cool and impartial, Nicole strives to keep her suspicions quiet until she learns what he keeps from her.

New York City, 1870

When had the man of her dreams turned into her worst nightmare?
Terror seized Nicola Bastian’s whole body as she stared at the pistol pointing straight at her. Holding her breath, she dared not even breathe, yet her heartbeat hammered so quickly, she had to do something to calm herself. Slowly, she released a small bit of air between her lips as she forced her frightened brain to start functioning. There had to be a way out of this mess. Not often had she found herself in situations like this, but when she did, she had always squeezed out of the predicament.
After all, she was a trained Secret Service Agent as was her brother and father. She was in the family business for a reason. She was so very good at it.
Yet, ever since meeting Ashton Lee, things had not gone as planned. Especially when she had allowed him to capture her heart.
Nicola moved her focus from the black, shiny weapon in his hand, up to the distrustful eyes of Conrail Railroad’s co-founder, Ashton Lee. He was one of the wealthiest men in New York City…and was number one on her suspects’ list for the recent train robberies, as well.
She tried to gulp down the fright lodged in her throat, but it wouldn’t move. Keeping her legs from trembling, she slowly shifted her arms in front of her and clasped her cold fingers. After licking her suddenly dried lips, she cleared her throat. “Mr. Lee. Wh-what are you doing here?”
He stepped into the room a little farther until reaching the low-burning lamp on the side table. He turned it up and seconds later, the light brightened the room. She squinted from the sudden brightness until her vision adjusted. When she was able to see him more clearly, a frown marred his handsome face. Her heart twisted.
“I live here.” He arched a critical eyebrow. “Or had that somehow slipped your mind as you wandered through my house uninvited?”
No matter what, she couldn’t tell him what she suspected him of doing.
“Forgive me, Mr. Lee, but I entered your house uninvited, assuming you wouldn’t mind. I…um, I seem to have left my wrist purse somewhere, and I thought perhaps I’d left it here when I visited you the other day.”
Gradually, the hand holding the pistol lowered, but suspicion still sparked in his eyes. “Then you should have sent me a note and I would have searched for it. But instead, you waited until you thought I had left before sneaking in and coming to my study. When you were here the other afternoon, we sat in the parlor, so why would you think your wrist purse was in my study?”
Silently, she grumbled. She really needed to think up better answers. Right now, however, her heart was beating frantically and her mind was spinning out of control. She couldn’t think straight to save her life.
Shrugging, she said, “Pardon me, once again for assuming, because I had just figured you would bring my purse in here to keep it safe until I came for it.” Hopefully, he’d believe that statement. For a moment, she thought it had worked, because his arm lowered another inch.
He studied her through a hooded gaze. Still his mouth hadn’t moved from the distrustful scowl he wore when he first entered the room. She didn’t dare say anything more, but she felt she needed to convince him that she wasn’t trying to steal from him.
Doubtful, he’d suspect her of being a secret agent. After all, women usually didn’t have occupations like this, and she’d worked so hard to try to present herself as a carefree heiress who didn’t know how to use her mind. To be sure, Ashton Lee would be shocked to know this wasn’t her at all, which is why he must never know. She must protect her true identity.
He took another step toward her. “I see your reasoning, Miss Bastian, however, you haven’t answered my question on why you came when you thought I was gone?”
Oh, dear. She moistened her mouth with another swallow before answering. “I had actually dropped by, but the lights were out. I knew it was late, and…and I really didn’t want to bother you with something so mundane. I thought if I could sneak in and just peek in your study, no harm would be done.” She smiled as charmingly as she could muster with quivering lips.
“Miss Bastian,” he said, coming even closer, “do you make it a habit of going out after dark to visit men at their homes, and then sneak in when the lights are out?”
What is wrong with me? Never before had she felt so dumbstruck. “Well, no, but—”
“Nicole,” he whispered her name closing the space between them as he stood in front of her, “I have always wondered something about you from the very first time we met. I couldn’t quite understand what had me so perplexed, but I felt as if you were holding secrets.” He swept the fingers of his free hand along the curls by her cheek. “I now realize that you are not the woman you have pretended to be.”
Ice chilled her blood. No! He couldn’t possibly know that. She wouldn’t admit the truth to him even if he threatened her life. Then again, with him holding a gun on her, perhaps her life was at stake. “I-I-I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”
“Oh, my dear, Nicole.” He shook his head slowly. “It is time to stop playing this game with me. I’ve suspected who you were for a few days now.”
She gasped. “You thought I was lying to you when I was here the other day?”
“Not at first, but the more we talked, the more I realized your charade.”
He couldn’t possibly have guessed. “I, Sir, do not have a charade! If anyone has one, it’s you.”
“And how did you come to that conclusion, my dear?”
Once again, he had put her on the spot. When would her mind start functioning correctly? She needed to think rationally soon. “Oh come now, Mr. Lee. You cannot tell me that you haven’t heard the rumors.”
He arched an eyebrow. “Rumors? Of what, may I ask?”
Uncomfortable, she laughed lightly. “Have you not heard of the train robberies these past few months? Not only important government mail was stolen, but several gold bars were taken, as well.”
“You don’t have to explain about the robberies. Because I’m one of the owners of the rail line, I know what is going on. But what does this have to do with me?”
She swept a still-shaky hand through the air around her, motioning to the room’s d├ęcor. “It’s rumored that your coffers have doubled in the past few months. Now tell me, Mr. Lee, is it just a coincidence that this happened around the same time as the train thefts?”
An indescribable expression crossed his features and darkened his face. She couldn’t tell if he was extremely humored at her comment, or shocked that she would say such a thing. He kept silent for a few awkward moments as his gaze bore deep into hers. She didn’t dare say anymore until he gave her his reply.
Slowly, the unfathomable expression left his face as a grin tugged at his mouth. He moved closer, not stopping until he was mere inches away. The bulk of her gown rubbed against the material of his trousers. Uncertainty jumped inside her, and although instinct told her she should be afraid of him, fear was not the emotion swirling inside her stomach and warming her blood right now.
The pistol he clutched fell to his side, but his weapon of choice now was his limb-melting gaze and sensual grin. In a way, this one was more dangerous.
“Nicole,” he said in a husky tone, “are you seriously accusing me of thievery?”
A quick thought flitted through her head. He must be some kind of thief because he’d nearly stolen her heart. And he had certainly taken away her control over this situation!
Up this close, the few freckles across his nose were more prominent, and the dimple in his cheek made her want to stroke the pad of her finger across it. Instead, she did her best to remain still, even if her insides were having a jumping match at the moment. “I’m not accusing you of anything, Mr. Lee. I’m merely pointing out the similarities.”
“Didn’t I ask you the other night to call me Ashton?” His voice deepened.
“Uh, yes.”
“Then why aren’t you?”
“Because I thought…well, you see…I just don’t think—”
“Nicole, do you know how lovely you are when you’re flustered?” He used his other hand to caress her cheek.
A shiver of excitement rattled through her, and she cursed him for being able to do this. Why had he said such a thing—now, of all times? Had it slipped his mind that he’d caught her in his house, and that he was holding a pistol? Or had she somehow gained control over this conversation without knowing it?
Then it struck her like a thick piece of wood between the eyes, and the realization made her heart sink. He was trying to change the subject. For some reason, he didn’t want to talk about the train robbery or that he’d suddenly came across more money. He was using his charm to weaken her. That only meant one thing.
The man was guilty. Ashton Lee was indeed the train robber—or at least one of the men involved. Because of his position with the company, he was probably the one who had planned this whole thing and hired the thugs to do the dirty work.
“You think I’m flustered?” she asked, her voice cracking.
His grin grew wider. “Aren’t you?” His touch moved from her cheek to her bottom lip. The pad of his thumb rubbed the skin, his gaze staying on that spot. “In these past few weeks of knowing you, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you stumble over your words. In all this time, you have been such a confident woman. You say what’s on your mind. So to answer your question, yes, I do think you’re flustered.” He paused, then added, “And I find it adorable.”
Slowly, his head moved closer as his hand dropped to her shoulder. He’s going to kiss me! Yet knowing this didn’t make her want to stop him at all. Instead, she was encouraged and grasped his waistcoat with both of her hands, waiting…anticipating his lips on hers.
His warm breath touched her mouth just before his lips did. Sighing a satisfied breath, she leaned into him, pressing her mouth intimately against his. Strong arms wrapped around her body, settling her in his embrace a little better. When her hands felt imprisoned between their chests, she slid her palms up over his shoulders and to his nape.
Although gentle, the kiss was also wild. He kissed her like he couldn’t get enough, slanting his head from side to side. She responded with the same eagerness.
Inside her heart, emotion grew—very tender; very endearing. But inside her head, doubts crept in, reminding her that he only acted this way as a diversion. It shouldn’t matter how charming, handsome, and sweet he’d been to her—and how incredible she felt kissing him—he was guilty. He would eventually be arrested and thrown in prison for his crimes. Unless the judge decided to hang Ashton, instead.
Her conscience screamed for her to stop the kiss, but she couldn’t. Indeed, he was a thief, because he’d taken away her control once more. This time, however, she didn’t mind that much, especially when a few pleasurable sighs released from his throat. At least she wasn’t the only one enjoying this moment.
Within seconds, his lips grew soft, his actions tender, his kisses slow, almost leisurely. He left her breathless. How could a heartless criminal show her so much affection? It was obvious he did care about her in some way.
When he finally broke the kiss, he seemed to have difficulty breathing as well. His hazel eyes smoldered with desire while he held her stare. She scrambled for something intelligent to say, but as before, she was a loss for words.
Soon, the scowl reappeared on his face and he frowned. “You kiss too well for an innocent woman. Just as I had suspected, you are not whom you’ve proclaimed to be.” He released her and stepped several feet away, raising the pistol to her once more. “Such a shame I have to kill you. We could have been good for each other.”
Fear bolted through her again. This time, it nearly had her body crumbling to the ground. He couldn’t kill her! This wasn’t the way it was supposed to end. There must be a way to convince him otherwise.
Sadness darkened on his face and he shook his head. “Believe me, Nicole, I wish things would have turned out differently.”

The fire of a pistol exploded through the room. Darkness quickly filled her mind as she collapsed on the floor.

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