“You can’t leave.”
Grace blinked her tears away and swallowed to dislodge the lump in her throat. “Why?”
“Because…” He stuttered, his mouth opening and closing several times. He looked as if he were about to say something then thought better of it before he shook his head. “You’ll break Jesse’s heart if you do.”
“As if you care about Jesse’s feelings,” she scoffed. “If you did, you’d treat him as he wished to be treated and not as a child who is underfoot all the time.”
“I do not.”
“You do!” Grace took a deep breath after yelling and tried to get her temper under control. “Rafe, you can not order that boy around. He told me on our way into town how he lived alone after your father died. He had no one to take care of him. Only himself. In his eyes, he’s a man, whether you or anyone else in this town sees it or not. Having you come in and boss him around is eating at what little pride he has left. Why can’t you see that?”
“Because he isn’t a man, Grace. He’s a child, regardless of how you see him. He only survived as long as he did because Morgan Avery and his brother’s made sure he was all right.”
“Fine. “It’s obvious you’ll not see him as anything but a child so why aren’t you treating him like one? Why isn’t he in school? Why is he here, doing your bidding instead of out playing with every other kid in town?”
“He told me he didn’t want to go.”
“And you just accepted that answer and let him stay at home?”
Rafe growled and jerked his hat off, running a hand threw his hair before slamming the weathered leather back on his head. “What the hell was I supposed to do, Grace? The kid hated me the moment he clapped eyes on me. It took him three weeks before he’d even acknowledge I was in the house, another two before he uttered his first words to me, which, by the way, was to tell me to go to hell. I couldn’t very well march in here and order him to school, now could I?”
“And what about now?”
“What about now?”
Grace tried to rein in her temper and lowered her voice. “He speaks to you now. Have you asked him what he wants?”
“If you haven’t noticed, every time I speak to him he lashes out. I avoid speaking to him at all if I can.”
“And how long do you expect to live that way? Until he is old enough to marry and leave?”
“Oh, so you’re not marrying him, then?” he said, his words dripping with sarcasm.
“I’ve told you I’m not.”
“So why are you still here? To torture me with your presence on a daily basis?
“Torture you?” Grace was shocked by his choice of words. He was being tortured? How so? She took a step closer to him and jabbed a finger into his chest. “If anyone is being tortured here, Rafe Samuels, its me. I’m the one cooking and cleaning for you with nothing in return other than a bed to sleep in. A simple thank you would suffice most days but you’re too pig headed for even that.” She gritted her teeth, raised her head to try to look him in the eye and shook her head is disgust when she failed. “I can’t believe for a second I even harbored the notion of marrying you, but trust me when I say you’d be the last man in Montana I’d marry!”
The moment the words were out of her mouth, Grace froze. Rafe tilted his head a fraction, enough for her to see the fire in his eyes change so quick, she gulped in a breath of air moments before he reached for her, dragging her to him and kissing her like his life depended on it.
Her knees went weak, dizziness befalling her when he forced his tongue into her mouth. She moaned, reached up with both hands, placing them on his wide shoulders to steady herself and closed her eyes the moment her heart slammed against her ribcage.
It was the kind of kiss she’d always dreamed of. Forceful, full of passion and unrestrained need. His free arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her flush against him. The desire she’d seen in his eyes earlier wasn’t the only place she noticed it. It was there on her thigh, hard and digging into her flesh.
She tilted her hips a fraction, rubbing herself against him and felt completely wanton as she did. He moaned, his hold on her tightening, and she wrapped her arms around his neck to draw him nearer.
His lips were firm and warm, his breath hot as it washed across her lips. Heat engulfed her body when his hand roamed down her back to her bottom. He cupped her flesh in his hand, pulled her tight against him, the hard length of him pressed more firmly against her leg.
He held her in a vise-like grip, his mouth hungry and demanding and for the first time in her life, Grace would have given herself to a man without a single regret. Her body ached in places she wasn’t even aware could ache, her heart was pounding against her ribcage and no matter how close they were, it wasn’t close enough.
She gasped and broke the kiss, dragging in lungs full of air as Rafe found the soft skin under her ear. His tongue lapped at the flesh of her neck and goose bumps pimpled her skin. Her breasts ached, her nipples hardening and begging for his touch. “Rafe.”
Grace was so caught up in the moment, she barely heard Jesse call her name. The sound of footsteps hitting the wooden steps at the back of the house caught her attention seconds before her name was carried to her on the breeze.
She gasped, pulled away from Rafe, and stared at him while trying to catch her breath. She scrambled to straighten her hair and turned, running the remaining distance to the house.
His Brother’s Wife releases May 27th, 2013!
His Brother’s Wife
by Lily Graison
A Willow Creek Novel
When Grace Kingston accepts a wedding proposal through a mail-order bride agency and travels across country to be married, she has no idea her bridegroom is a fourteen-year-old boy. There’s no way she can accept his offer but with depleted funds, and winter coming on, Grace has little choice but to stay. Things go from bad to worse when she meets Jesse’s older brother, Rafe. The attraction is immediate. He’s surly, rude and downright pig-headed but he makes her pulse race with a single glance.
Rafe Samuels thought to teach his brother a lesson by making him take responsibility for his rash behavior but one look at Grace and his plans go up in smoke. She isn’t the dowdy spinster he imagined and having her live in his house and not be able to have her is the worst kind of torment. But putting her out of his mind is impossible.
As fall turns to winter, Grace finds that living with the two brothers isn’t as simple a thing as she once thought. Jesse still thinks marriage is in the cards, and Rafe is a devilishly handsome distraction she doesn’t need. She can’t decide if he hates her or wants to kiss her. And how does she avoid breaking Jess’s heart when it becomes clear that the attraction between her and Rafe is mutual?
When not writing, Lily can be found at her sewing machine creating 1800’s Period Dresses or at a nearby store feeding her obsession for all things resembling office supplies.