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It hurt to feel this much again and know she was about to lose him. Of their own volition, her fingers slipped up to his cheek and swept a lock of hair from his temple, her need to touch him overpowering everything else.
He stilled at the contact, concern and growing heat battling in his eyes.
Something about the quiet way he watched her allowed her to keep talking. “I’m so tired of this war,” she admitted in a whisper. “I hate all the butchering and the suffering and the death…I’m so tired of it all.” He was a soldier. He must understand what she meant.
He hesitated a moment then lifted his hand and stroked a thumb across her cheek. The tenderness of the gesture zinged through her like lightning, speared her heart. In a different time and place, she might have leaned forward into that touch and kissed him.
Instead she stared at their joined hands resting on his chest. “I became a nurse to care for our soldiers, but instead I help patch them up so they can charge right back into battle.” Like you will when you recover. Regardless of her efforts to stay calm, her eyes stung. “So they can go and get shot to pieces all over again. I hate it…” Her voice caught, throat too tight to continue. The prospect of him returning to the battlefield terrified her, even more than watching him leave here when he was strong enough.
“What?” She drew a steadying breath.
He cupped her cheek in one large hand, eyes intent on hers. “I wish I could get out of this bed and hold you, but I can’t, so you'll have to come here.”
The air whooshed out of her lungs. She wanted that so badly she almost whimpered. Yet she didn’t dare give in.
Those deep blue eyes never wavered from hers as he eased his hand around to cradle her nape and tugged gently. “Come here,” he repeated in a low voice.
She sat paralyzed, fighting the compassion in his eyes, the longing his touch stirred within her. Her skin tingled all over. She held her breath as he cupped her jaw and trailed a thumb over her lips. His touch burned her.
Before she could protest, he made the decision for her and pulled her close with the hand on the back of her neck. She sucked in a breath and made a last-ditch effort to resist, but it was futile. She could hear his soft breathing and feel the heat of his skin, the rapid thrum of her blood as it rushed through her body.
Undeterred by her hesitation, he determinedly brought her closer and angled his face until his cheek grazed hers. His breath fanned her temple. Goose bumps raced over her body. Patient fingers moved through the back of her hair and around her neck to her jaw, up the sides of her face. With agonizing slowness he caressed her skin with his fingertips, nuzzled her hairline.
Hunger roared through her in a blast of need. Her lashes fluttered against his cheek like the beat of a trapped butterfly’s wings. Pressing her closer, he touched his lips to her eyelid, light as a sigh. She grabbed his hard shoulders and stiffened, but he didn’t release her. Her entire body hummed with awareness as his gossamer kisses moved across her cheek, slowly enough to make her tremble.
Brianna grasped fistfuls of his shirt to keep from taking his face in her hands. She wanted to turn her head and kiss him back. Wanted it until her heart slammed against her ribs.
“Closer,” he urged in a whisper. “Lay your head on me.”
She trembled, part fever, part longing. “I can’t. If someone sees—”
His grip on her nape tightened a fraction. The coolness of his hand felt so good against her hot skin. “I won’t let that happen.”
The protective tone melted her. She was aching for him. Weak.
That gentle grip turned firm, commanding. “
Angel, don’t fight me. Let me hold you.” His voice was a velvet whisper at her ear. Angel. His tenderness broke her heart. She didn’t want to fight it anymore. This time when he guided her head down to his shoulder, she went willingly, careful to stay away from his bandaged side so she wouldn’t hurt him. A soft groan of relief came from his throat, as though he’d wanted this as much as she had. His heavy arms encircled her, cradled her against the warmth of his body. He was strong and solid, even better than she’d imagined. The scent of soap and musk filled her nose, wrapping around her in another layer of comfort. She closed her eyes as he began to stroke a hand through her hair and a shudder rippled through her. Sweet God, she'd needed this.
Hi, Leslie, thanks! Honestly, the reality of what my hero's regiment went through is so much more dramatic than anything I could ever have made up.
Thank you divavixenqueen :).
Beautiful Disaster, hope you like it! I love Civil War romances.
Kathy and Laurie, thanks so much!
Ms. Mary, I guarantee you'll learn a lot about the Civil War if you read The Vacant Chair.
Joanne, it's a stand-alone and my only historical, since I usually write romantic suspense. But this story was just too good not to write about!
This looks so great! Thanks for sharing with us! I adore that cover as well.
Did the author have any say on the design of the book cover? Also, who in the author's life encouraged them to sit down and write their first book?
Thanks for the giveaway!
mestith at gmail dot com
Meghan, I had all kinds of say with this design, because I self published the book. I love having control over what the cover looks like! And I've always been a writer, but it wasn't until I was pregnant with my first child that I sat down to write my first full novel (Out of Her League).
As big of a historical romance junkie that I am, the only HR with a Civil War backdrop that I've read is Gone with the Wind...something that I am just realizing. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I'm enjoying all the all the excerpts on the tour. Justin and Brianna sound like a fun and steamy couple to help me remedy the situation. Thanks for sharing them and for the giveaway!