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.
Jeremy didn’t like walking around town with Clara. Soapy had men everywhere. He also knew if he didn’t escort the head-strong woman she’d go on her own. What would have happened if he hadn’t come back when he did? Would she have struck out on her own? Most likely the woman was rash and didn’t think things through. Like bashing Soapy Smith in the head and taking his girl. Jeremy’s gut twisted at the thought of Clara ending up in Soapy’s hands. The mess the man made of Lily didn’t bode well for what he’d do to the woman who defied him.
Two men who frequented Jeff’s Saloon walked toward them. Jeremy swung Clara into his arms and backed her up against the store front.
“What?” Clara shoved at his chest, but he pressed all his weight toward her.
“Shh. Those two coming this way are part of Soapy’s gang. Relax. I’m hiding you.” He rested his forearms on either side of her head and leaned in. The night hid her expression from him, but her body, pressed to his, revealed her breathing quickened.
“Look at them two lovebirds,” a man hollered and pointed.
“If you ain’t gonna kiss her I will,” said the other man.
A thousand better times and ways for a first kiss came to mind. Jeremy’s heart raced and Clara’s palms pushed at him, again. It was either follow through with the men’s friendly chiding or risk them seeing Clara.
“I’m sorry.” He lowered his face toward Clara. His lips grazed her cold, soft cheek. He’d planned to only hover over her mouth and pretend to kiss her, but his lips had their own ideas. Her plump sweet mouth under his made him as drunk as a bottle of whiskey. Just as whiskey made him happy and carefree, so did Clara’s kisses.
He angled his head and licked the seam of her lips. She gasped and he took the kiss deeper. Even with their layers of clothes, their bodies pressed together and her hands now wound in the hair at the nape of his neck. Without her hands between them her soft curves registered, driving him to wrap his arms around her and explore what he could.
“Really! There are houses for such things!”
The woman’s shrill voice ripped through his horny haze. Shame slammed into his chest like an avalanche. Jeremy pulled out of the kiss but kept Clara sheltered from any onlookers. He peeked right and left and found the men had moved along. A couple dressed in city clothes stood five feet away staring disdainfully.
“Wife, you know better than to get me riled up,” Jeremy said, taking Clara’s hand and leading her down the block. As soon as they came to an alley, he pulled her into the darker recesses. He rubbed a hand over his face. What did Clara think of him? He’d shamed her out there, treating her like a soiled dove on the street in plain view. He’d just become lower than a mud fish.
He stood in the darkness, trying to find the words to apologize.
Clara took a step toward him. He stood ready for a slap. He deserved it. Hell, if Darcy were here, she’d give him a lickin’ with a lecture that would make him feel like a mud fish.
“We need to get to the hotel before more people start moving about.” Her voice was clear but a bit shaky. No recriminations. No accusation.
“Clara, I’m sorry. I only meant to hide you, I don’t know—”
She placed a hand on his chest, stopping his words. “I know you’re honorable and were only trying to keep me safe. We need to get to the hotel.”
Honorable my ass! If I was honorable I would have never kissed you. He tried to see her face and see if she was as shook up. But the darkness, while being their savior, was his own personal enemy.
Jeremy Duncan commits to haul one last load of supplies across the great interior of the Yukon before heading home. But, he has to trade his pack animals for sled dogs and leave Skagway in the middle of a blizzard due to one strong-willed, business-minded beauty.
Determined to find her older brother, Clara Bixbee doesn’t care how she gets across the pass, as long as she does, and soon. Hiring handsome pack guide Jeremy Duncan seems to be her best choice. Especially, after she saves a young girl being beaten by the local gang leader and needs to escape Skagway fast.
Laying Claim is the first book of the Halsey Homecoming trilogy about three young men brought into the Halsey family. Staking Claim will release this month, with Claiming a Heart releasing in November.
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About Paty Jager
Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. On her road to publication she wrote freelance articles for two local newspapers and enjoyed her job with the County Extension service as a 4-H Program Assistant. Raising hay and cattle, riding horses, and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.
Her seventeen published novels, two anthologies, and five novellas have Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story.
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