The moment I crack open a new book, I always rush through the beginning, the budding relationship between the hero and heroine, and anticipate that spontaneous moment when one of them makes their move. The First Kiss. The first turning point in every story.
Every week here on the blog, I’ll be sharing First Kisses from my books and those of other authors.
“Damn that woman!” Roth stormed inside the livery and went to the stall housing his horse. How the hell did Lydia expect to thwart Cooper on her own? She was too damn small. Too proper. Too much of a lady to do battle with a snake like Cooper and win.
Sonofabitch! She should have married me and let me help her.
He yanked open the stall gate and led his horse out. Tied him to a rail at the back of the barn then fetched his saddle and gear from the tack room.
Whether she liked it or not, Lydia was going to accept his help. He’d made that decision before she’d cleared the threshold when she’d run out on him at Miller’s earlier. Where the hell she’d gone, he had no idea. She’d disappeared from sight when he’d followed after her.
He’d thought she’d gone to the orphanage and had cut a quick path to the Rio, but she hadn’t been there. The boardinghouse had come to mind, but he couldn’t barge into Suzanna’s home. She’d flay his hide, so he’d come to the livery to fetch his horse and ride out to see how Kemp and Shadow occupied their time.
He made quick work of saddling the mustang and adjusting the stirrups. Taking up the reins, he led the horse out of the livery and mounted.
“Roth!” a female called.
Glancing over his shoulder, he saw Lydia walking toward him. “Where the hell have you been?” He slid out of the saddle.
“I went to the Belknap’s bank. I promised the mayor I’d send for the money for the library and hotel today.” She halted beside him.
“I would like to apologize.” Her gaze slid toward his horse. “I shouldn’t have run out on you. I’m sorry.”
“Yeah.” He clenched his teeth and studied her, noted an odd look in her eyes. She wasn’t mad. But she wasn’t happy either.
“Are you leaving town?” she asked, hesitant and still unwilling to meet his gaze.
“Do you care?”
“I–” She wiped at the corner of her eye.
“Sonofabitch, Lydia.” He grasped her hand and pulled her inside the livery. “Ginger means nothing to me. I haven’t been with her or anyone since before I met you.” He settled his hands on her waist and drew her to him. “That ain’t no bullshit.” He lowered his head and touched his lips to hers, deepening the kiss when she entwined her hands around his neck, and tore his mouth from hers a long moment later and sucked in a ragged breath.
“I-I would miss you if you left.” She touched a shaky hand to her breast.
“I ain’t leaving.” He searched her face, saw her cat-like eyes filled with warmth for him and something inside of him breathed easy. “Got something here worth staying for.” He caressed her cheek and reveled in the softness of her skin.
“Am I that something?”
“What do you think?” He threaded his fingers through her hair. “I’ve never been good with words, not the kind you want to hear.” He watched her eyes cloud with emotion. “I ain’t giving up my guns. Or clobbering someone who needs clobbering. Can you live with that?”
“I can try.”
The sincerity in her gaze damn near caused his heart to stop beating. It was more than a hardened sonofabitch like him had a right to. She should have someone better than him. A man equal to her in manners and social status.
He turned from her and went to the nearest stall, rested his arms over the gate to still their trembling. “Til now I never had a hankering to stay in one place,” he said quietly. “My sister can tell ya that. So can that horse out there.”
“I never trusted men. Most want to own a woman. Papa dictates orders to Mama. Uncle Albert does the same with Aunt Mary.” She came up behind him and wrapped her arms around him.
“You can trust me. I ain’t gonna run roughshod over you. Or your tots.” He covered her hands with his palm.
“I sensed that about you the day we met.” She rested her cheek against his back.
He closed his eyes a moment and savored the feel of her warm body pressed against him. “Tell me I got a claim on you, Lydia.” He turned to face her and took her in his arms. “I see it in your eyes, but I want to hear you say the words.”
“Do you extend the same to me?”
“Been yours all this time.” He tightened his hold on her. “Come for a ride with me.”
“I can’t. I’ve been gone most of the morning. Sheriff Grayson doesn’t approve of Suzanna looking after the children.” She stepped out of his arms and moved toward the livery door.
“I’ll walk you back.”
“Why? The boardinghouse is two doors up.”
“You really have to ask?” He grasped her arm and halted her steps. “The words, Lydia. Say them.”
She gazed up at him, cupped his cheek with her small palm and smiled. “You have a claim on me.”
Damn! He slid his arm around her waist. “Til I know more about Cooper, you stay at the boardinghouse with Suzanna. Grayson’s always in and out of there checking up on her. You’ll be safe. So will the tots. And don’t let Cooper know we saw him at Miller’s.”
“I’ll be back before the evening meal.” He slid his other arm around her and covered her mouth with his lips. Again, she entwined her hands around his neck and kissed him back. She sighed softly and Roth slid his tongue past her lips, felt a jolt to his loins when she followed his lead and suckled his tongue. “Lydia.” He gulped in a ragged breath then thoroughly ravished her mouth. Long seconds later, he ended their kiss and stared deep into her eyes. “I’ll have another of your kisses when I come for you later.”
“Yes, you will,” she said, breathless and sassy.
Anticipation shone in her gaze and a shudder ripped through him. The evening couldn’t come fast enough.
Fleeing the abusive headmaster at the St. Louis orphanage, Roth turned to gunslinging as a means for survival. Years of looting and raiding put his face on several Wanted posters, and instilled in him an aversion to settling down. That is, until he meets Lydia Tyler, the woman building the orphanage along the Rio Grande. Although he’s the deputy of Revolving Point, Lydia detests his hardened ways. She’s also got trouble on her hands; a headmaster linked to Roth’s old nemesis. Roth will do everything he can to help Lyida. And convince her he’s not as deplorable as his guns suggest.
Lydia Tyler has no use for guns and violence. All she wants is to build her orphanage and give her children a safe and loving home. Trouble is, Papa has hired a headmaster without her say-so; an arrogant man who schemes to usurp her authority, a man Deputy Roth despises. When Roth offers to rid Lydia of the troublemaker, Lydia doesn’t approve of his methods. But that doesn’t stop her from melting everytime Roth holds her hand. The more she gets to know him, the more she reconsiders his menacing ways. He may be a gunslinger, but the warmth in his gaze hints there’s more to him than his pistols.
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About Julie Lence
Julie grew up in upstate New York. Throughout her school years, she enjoyed writing, so long as she could choose the topic. She met her husband in twelfth grade and accompanied him on his twenty-year career with the U.S. Air Force. It was during the first few months of marriage when she became and avid reader of women’s fiction and mystery. Then a friend introduced her to romance and she was instantly hooked.
Johanna Lindsey’s Malory Family series and Judith McNaught’s flawless voice inspired her to pen her own novel. She began with contemporary romance and quickly switched to western historical romance, incorporating her love for John Wayne, horses, and the television series, Dallas, into her work. To date, she has self-published two series and two short Christmas stories, available at Amazon.
Currently, Julie is a stay-at-home mom. She enjoys taking caring of her family and home, sport, and meeting fans of the romance genre.
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