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Under Starry Skies by Judy Ann Davis

Under Starry Skies

by Judy Ann Davis

The Wild Rose Press

eBook ISBN: 9781628303650
Print ISBN: 9781628303643

[ Historical Western Romantic Suspense ]

Hired as the town’s school teacher, Maria O’Donnell and her sister Abigail arrive in the Colorado Territory in 1875, only to find the uncle they were to stay with has been murdered.

Rancher Tye Ashmore is content with life until he meets quiet and beautiful Maria. He falls in love at first sight, but her reluctance to jeopardize her teaching position by accepting his marriage proposal only makes him more determined to make her part of his life.

When their lives are threatened by gunshots and a gunnysack of dangerous wildlife, Tye believes he is the target of an unknown enemy. Not until Maria receives written threats urging her to leave does she realize she might be the target instead of the handsome rancher.

With the help of Tye, Abigail, and a wily Indian called Two Bears, Maria works to uncover her uncle’s killer and put aside her fears. But will she discover happiness and true love under Colorado’s starry skies?

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Love Burns by Babette James

Love Burns

The River, Book 3
by Babette James

The Wild Rose Press

eBook ISBN: 978-1-62830-905-8
Print ISBN: 978-1-62830-904-1

[ Contemporary Romance ]

When an accident ends his career, Dave Knight must face the ashes of his past and the woman he can’t forget. He’s a sizzling temptation Olivia Benedetti-Harper can’t afford, but breaking the rules with the wrong man might be the best mistake this good girl’s ever made for love.

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Dream Lover by Nancy Fraser

Dream Lover

Golden Decade of Rock and Roll
by Nancy Fraser

The Wild Rose Press

eBook ISBN: 978-1-62830-627-9

[ Historical Romance ]

Haley Parker lost her academic scholarship when she quit school to care for her dying mother. Now, eager to return to her studies, she must find the perfect job that will allow her the freedom to attend evening classes.

Her best friend Chloe teaches at one of Boston’s finest private schools, a job Haley had once hoped would be hers. When Chloe snags Haley a referral for a position as nanny to high-powered attorney, Eric Garrison’s, two young children, Haley looks forward to taking on the task.

Eric finds himself drawn to the intelligent and loving young woman who has bewitched his children. It’s not long before he’s re-thinking his plan to avoid romantic entanglements. On a family vacation to Paris, he finds it impossible to resist the lovely, yet innocent Haley.

Haley willingly gives up her innocence for a chance to make love with Eric, even though she realizes it will change their professional relationship forever.

Author’s Note: “Dream Lover” as well as the four previous novellas in the Golden Decade of Rock and Roll Series will be on sale for $0.99 during the tour.

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Clear as Glass by Lynn Kellan

Clear as Glass

by Lynn Kellan

The Wild Rose Press

eBook ISBN: 9781628305296
Print ISBN: 9781628305289

Poised to become her overbearing father’s right-hand man, Jaye Davis is tired of being a faceless drone, writing software. She’d rather help real people—like the family who owns a struggling glassblowing factory in rural Pennsylvania. While she’s there, she might figure out how to squash the secrets gnawing at her.

Mitchell Blake and his father keep butting heads about expanding Blake Glassware, and now Mitch has to deal with his father’s consultant, Jaye. She claims online marketing will boost sales, but Mitch insists broadening their product line will increase revenue. Arguing with this doe-eyed woman makes one thing perfectly clear: she has the power to shatter his safe, lonely life.

Jaye’s got four weeks to save his glassblowing factory, but he detests her marketing plan. She’s got no place to live, but he has an extra bedroom in his house. She’s got secrets, but living with a glassblower who can see right through her would be an enormous mistake…or would it?

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The Mating Game by Melissa Snark

The Mating Game

by Melissa Snark

Wild Rose Press

Ebook ISBN: B00L4OEW4Q
Print ISBN: 978-1628303780

Two males…two friends…a competition for the right to claim The Heart of the Iron Stone Pack.

An alpha female at her core, Theresa Sanchez struggles to protect her young daughter, but rivalries and politics create volatility in the pack. As Theresa comes into heat, lust and need rule her body. Her pack demands only the most virile male have her. How can she choose only one mate when her body craves two—the virile beta and the man she loves?

Zachary Hunter will do anything to take Theresa as his mate, even if it means killing his best friend. However, Robert Blane is just as determined to ascend to Alpha. Both their beasts howl to mark her flesh, but only one can survive to claim her.

But with enemies circling, they must fight…for the pack, for Theresa, and for a future together.

Warning: Book contains wolf shifters, pack politics, gritty fight scenes, offbeat humor, and sizzling sexual adventures between a ménage of partners.

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The Rescued Heart by Madeleine McDonald

The Rescued Heart

by Madeleine McDonald

The Wild Rose Press

eBook ISBN: 9781612177483
Print ISBN: 9781612179476

A prim widow finds an unexpected escape from grief when she meets a youthful Swiss artist on a business trip to the Basel art fair in Switzerland. When he pursues her to her native Scotland, she must decide whether she trusts him enough to gamble on the future.

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Clear As Day by Babette James

Clear As Day

by Babette James

The Wild Rose Press

eBook ISBN: Unknown
Print ISBN: 978-1-61217-035-0

What’s a girl to do when her summer lover wants forever? Haunted by her past, Kay Browning locks her heart away, content with her comfortable annual affair with easygoing Nate Quinn. The only trouble with her plan? This summer Nate’s come home to claim the lover he can’t let go.

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Love's Debt by Rachel Brimble

Love’s Debt
by Rachel Brimble

The Wild Rose Press

eBook ISBN: 978-1-61217-412-9

To keep herself from the depths of poverty, Milly Shepherd fights for the job as manager of The Red Lion tavern – Joseph Jacobs needs the job to save his father from debtor’s prison. As they work together, their attraction grows and their goals cross. But who will be the victor?

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Celestial Sin
by Bianca Swan

The Wild Rose Press

eBook ISBN: None Given

Sinfully handsome Cam-ael, an angel, is wounded in the second war between heaven and hell and plummets into the arms of a beautiful human. But Cam knows he must return eventually, no matter how much he likes the material pleasures of earth. Not to mention the sensual pleasure he’s found with Essie.

Chapter One

Like a Christmas goose full of buckshot, the creature came hurtling straight out of the sky and crashed right in front of her.
Essie McBane dropped the basket of eggs she’d collected from the hen house and stood stunned, staring at the bloody heap of feathers. “What in the world?”
Behind her, Marcus launched his usual protective barking.
“You hush now,” she ordered the terrier, leaning nearer to peer at the being crumpled on the ground a few feet away.
Already blood soaked the rocky ground. Little spatters trickled off the toes of her shoes mixing with the mess of broken egg shells, yolks and whites dripping from the basket.
“If it ain’t dead, Marcus, it’s going to bleed to death pretty quick.”
Yet she didn’t move. Neither did the body. Of course that fall would kill anything.
Horrified, she watched blood ooze from beneath one huge wing, pebbles and twigs tangled in the feathers. Strange, she didn’t smell the flat, irony scent of blood. The other wing hid most of the body except for a pair of long, naked legs and one muscled forearm with a jagged slash from wrist to elbow. A crusty wound the size of a quarter marred one of those fine calves.
It’s an angel!
Though she hadn’t seen the inside of a church in years, Essie McBane believed in angels. She just didn’t expect to have one thump down in the chicken yard.
Marcus barked, minced a step and retreated, whining. Pulse racing, Essie stared at the angel. A moan leaked from beneath the luminescent wing. The muscled legs twitched. She swallowed hard, biting her lip. The bloody wing stirred, the other unfurling to reveal more than naked legs.
Oh my, the boy isn’t wearing underwear.
His body was exquisite—broad chest, flat stomach, big equipment sculpted perfect. But then the sculptor had been the Creator himself.
Blood stained the hair at his temple, dying the chestnut curls muddy black. His eyes rolled open, and they were the color of a mountain sunset. Essie’s breath caught in her throat. Her heart clunked past a beat. She felt rude staring, but couldn’t, for the life of her, tear her gaze from those amazing eyes. Wings spread behind him, he struggled to a sitting position, ran his hand over the gash on his forehead. His fingers came away bloody.
She made some soft, senseless sound, and he focused on her, squinting as if he couldn’t quite see her.
“Are you okay?” Stupid question.
Flaring his wings, he levered to his feet. Dirt and blood stained his face. He was ghastly pale. Unable to move or to speak, Essie gaped at the most perfect being she’d ever seen. He looked like a warrior angel from the Bible, his armor resembling an ancient Roman soldier’s. Gore smeared the brown leather breastplate studded with gold. Feeble light escaped a cut across his stomach. The bluish-white glow curled like smoke in the autumn air and evaporated like mist.
A shiver crawled down her spine. Did angels bleed light?
He wobbled, one hand groping blindly. With a moan, he dropped to his knees, clutching his abdomen, head bowed in pain.
Marcus yelped and darted through the doggy door into the house. Essie rushed to the angel’s side, knelt and started to put her arms around him but thought better of it.
Is it dangerous to touch an angel? Could something that beautiful be deadly to a mortal? After all, it—he—was a holy creature, wasn’t he?
She forced herself to sound decisive though the delicious scent of him made her dizzy. “I’ll get a doctor.”
He lifted his face, shook his head. “The Fallen’s sword must not have been black iron or I would have been destroyed. I’ll heal. Will you give me a place to rest?”
Now she knew what a musical voice sounded like, and she trembled at the beauty.
Fear seized her by the throat, shaking her voice. “You were in a battle? In Heaven?”
He went rigid, his feathers rustling as his wings arched behind him. His breathtaking smile flat-lined. “A terrible battle. Later, Essie, I shall tell you what has happened. Now, if you will be so kind, give me shelter to heal.
Thoughts whirled in her mind, stuck on two strange words. “Black iron?”
He’d been gazing into the distance. When his eyes captured hers, she forgot to breathe.
“Black iron is the only substance that will destroy an angel,” he said in that voice she could listen to until doomsday. It flowed over her like water in a brook…a soft breeze on a hot summer day…flower petals falling on her skin.
“Oh.” Still uncertain, she folded her hands beneath her chin to keep from touching him. God knew she wanted to brush that russet curl back from his cheek.
He frowned, looking bewildered, and her heart ached for him. “Where am I?”
“On Earth.”
The angel’s beautiful lips parted on a smile. Something awoke deep inside—something she shouldn’t feel for a divine being, something she hadn’t felt in years. Talk about chemistry! Her nipples tingled. Desire strummed every nerve. But what she felt was more than lust—a deeper attraction. The last time she’d felt this way, she’d taken her one and only trip to the altar.
What am I doing but courting disappointment? Angels are above carnal longings. I should be ashamed for even thinking such things.
“I know I’m on Earth.” He swiped a hand back over his chestnut curls. “Where?”
“North Carolina. Just outside Asheville.”
She tried to peel her gaze from his but failed. Even wounded, he radiated power and strength. Sucking in a quick breath, he squeezed his eyes shut, weaving side-to-side. She had to risk touching him. Any minute he was going to fall. With a hand to his elbow, she steadied him.
The thrill that chased from her hand straight to her core was off the Richter scale. “I’m sorry. Here I am talking to you like we were at Sunday dinner when you need help. Can you walk?”
He nodded. A fresh morning breeze ruffled the white feathers. Sunlight shimmered on his hair. And those eyes! She felt as if he were looking right through her and would know how much she wanted for him to touch her. As her willful eyes wandered from his face, to his chest and lower, she pictured his perfect weapon for love making. Damn what was she thinking? He whispered a laugh, snapping her gaze to his face. A hot blush crept up her neck. Embarrassed to the roots of her hair, she extended her hand to him.
He shook his head. “I can manage.”
Essie rose, hovering, ready to help. The angel braced one hand on the ground and clamored to his feet. He staggered against her and murmured an apology. His ivory skin had a waxen sheen, looked stretched too tight over the beautiful bone structure, but the bleeding appeared to have stopped. She was startled to see that the thin line of light had disappeared though the cut in his leather armor was still there.
“The light was my essence seeping away,” he answered her thoughts. “I thought I was going to cease to exist.”
When he wavered on his feet, she slipped an arm around his slender waist. “Lean on me.”
He cocked his head as a hen pock-pocked, laying an egg. “What was that?”
“A chicken.”
He’d never heard a chicken before?
Under the arch of a wing, she guided him to the log cabin she’d inherited from her uncle. By the time they reached the house, staggered up the two steps and into the living room, her heavenly visitor was shivering hard. Essie helped him to perch on a barstool, navigated around the wings spilled over the floor to grab a throw from the sofa. In the year she’d lived in the cabin, she hadn’t made many changes, and the room still reflected her uncle’s presence, decidedly masculine, the furniture and paintings Southwestern.
Wings definitely made it hard to get close to somebody. Awkwardly, she wrapped the angel in the pink-and-brown throw, tucking it around his shoulders. “I’m going to make a fire. Could you lie on the bed if you lay on your side?”
“Yes.” He examined the texture of his makeshift blanket between forefinger and thumb. “If the room is big enough.”
Never heard a chicken. Had he never felt wool before?
He closed his eyes, rubbed a hand over the bruised-looking lids. The angel smelled of leather and some indefinable, delectable fragrance that must be his own. Even with her eyes shut, she could have identified his scent.
She gripped his shoulders—broad shoulders as masculine as the room—and another electric shiver leapt through her. “You need a doctor.”
“Essie, please, I’d rather my presence be our secret.” He lifted his hand, his fingers soiled and bloody. “If I rest, I’ll soon heal without the aid of a physician.”
It took a moment for her to realize that it was the second time he’d called her name. She had to force the question up her dry throat. “How did you know my name? I didn’t tell you—”
He pressed a finger to the dip in her upper lip. “You are Essie McBane. Thirty-nine years old. Divorced. No children. You regret not having children.”
Her lips moved against the silken pressure of his finger. “So you can read my mind.”
“I can but I won’t.” He gave a weak smile then his eyes glazed.
Propping his elbows on the bar, he buried his face in his hands. Damn why do I keep forgetting how injured he is? Because his voice was strong didn’t mean he was. Her stomach clenched at the stark contrast of red blood on white feathers. He looked like death on a barstool.
“I’m going to clean you up now.” She could no longer resist. With a fingertip, she brushed one of his silken feathers. “Then rest. Will you be all right while I fetch the Neosporin?”
Without lifting his face, he nodded. “Thank you, Essie.”
She hurried to the bathroom, found the ointment in the medicine cabinet and a washcloth in the guest basket—though she never had guests. Taking a deep breath and capturing her runaway libido, she rushed back to the kitchen. He sat with his head bowed, soft auburn curls covering his face, looking like a statue of an angel. At the sound of her footsteps, he looked up, raked a hand through his hair and attempted a smile.
Any minute he was going to pass out. She dropped the Neosporin, shoved a bowl under the tap and grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels from beneath the bar. The angel watched her as she filled a highball glass and added a dash of fresh mountain water from the well.
“I know you’re in pain. Drink this. It’ll help.” She handed him the whiskey.
Feathers whispering, he shifted his wings. The arches brushed the ceiling. “Thank you.”
In the sink, water spilled over the lip of the bowl. She’d been so engrossed in her visitor she’d forgotten to turn off the faucet. “Oh dear.”
Did he know how he affected her? That merely looking at him made her pulse flutter?
He lifted the glass, knocked back the drink and shuddered. With his finger and the sexiest smile this side of the Pearly Gates, the angel inched the glass across the bar until it touched her hand. “May I have another?”
Essie grinned. His color was better already. “Sure.”
She sloshed Jack into the glass, tempted to join him even though it was only eight o’clock on a fall morning. As Jimmy Buffet said, it was five o’clock somewhere, and it wasn’t everyday one entertained a heavenly being, but she hadn’t had breakfast and didn’t want to be sick all over her angel. When he accepted the refill, their fingers brushed. Sensation rocketed from her head to her toes. Her libido escaped prison, throbbing in her core.
He gazed into her eyes as if he were taking the measure of her soul. Is he reading my mind? I hope not. If so, he’d know that forbidden desire spiced her concern. To hide her feelings she burst into action, marching around the bar to his side.
He stirred his drink with his finger. “Your hair is a pretty color.”
A silly school-girl thrill tugged beneath her belly button. “Getting a little gray.”
He nodded as if they discussed something serious like politics. “Yes, but the fine gray lines in the black appeal to the eye.”
Appeal to the eye? Did he mean pretty? She ran her hand through her new short hairdo. So he liked her hair. She liked everything about the angel. Sucking in her little tummy, she picked up the washcloth.
Where should she start to treat the poor thing? She’d no idea how to get him out of the armor, and the wound across his stomach looked the most severe. Feeling inept, she smiled at him, imagining him naked. What a vision that would be! Heat flooded her entire being. She had to stop thinking of his cock. What if he was listening to her thoughts?
She grabbed the bowl from the sink, swallowed a dose of sweet desire and wrung out the washcloth. Outside, a bird sang. Inside, all was quiet. The angel closed his eyes, his lips parted. Damn if she didn’t want to kiss him. His lips were pale mauve in his paler face.
“This might hurt a little.” She brushed his hair back from his forehead.
The curls were as soft and silky as she’d imagined.
When the warm cloth touched the blood-crusted gash, he flinched. His eyes snapped open. He shifted on the stool. Like distant music, his feathers murmured.
“Sorry. I know that stings.”
He covered her hand with his, and the intensity of his gaze robbed her of breath. A deep relaxation spread through her. She’d never known such peace. A vision of riding in the Christmas parade in a buggy with Uncle Leonard flickered in her memory. She’d been nine then, waving at the crowd and feeling like a princess.
The washcloth hung forgotten in her hand. “Are you doing that? Making me feel so good?”
His expression grew serious. “That’s one of the things we do. You were nervous.”
“You got that right. How deep is the wound in your stomach?”
“Not very. Else I wouldn’t be here.” He rotated his shoulders, his wings arching, falling. “Shall I remove my armor?”
Blood crept up her neck, burned her cheeks. Was the handsome creature flirting with her or teasing an older woman? He glided to his feet, reached behind to unfasten the breastplate. His hands, too, were exquisite. Long, slender fingers promised strength. How would they feel on her skin or sliding into her pussy, making her writhe?
Whoa, Essie, he’s an angel and a lot younger than you.
His feathers rustled as he unbuckled the fastenings under his arms and bent to place the armor on the floor. What did his ass, hidden by sleek white wings, look like? My, my, he was just too much for a girl to resist. She gave in to temptation, stroked the shiny, soft feathers. He backed up into the caress, and a long sigh escaped him.
“That feels incredible.” His voice came husky, and butterflies hatched in her stomach.
It had been a long time since she’d felt belly tugs or the fire of passion licking through her, but when she touched him, the world as she’d known it ceased to exist. His wings drooped. He swayed on his feet. She felt guilty as hell, lusting after an angel too weak to stand.
Shakily, he turned to face her. Russet hair spattered his chest, drew a thin line down his stomach, disappearing in the V-neck of the robe he wore beneath his armor.
“I’m afraid I can’t remove this.” He lifted a fold of the toga, giving her a tempting glimpse of his upper thigh, very near his equipment. “I’m wearing nothing beneath.”
Another blush heated her face, not because of what he’d said, but the image that formed in her mind—his cock erect, pointing at her. She choked out, “I can reach the belly wound.”
When she helped him to sit on the stool, her hand brushed the downy white feathers beneath his wing. Her patient’s eyes widened. He looked as if he were going to moan—with pleasure.
He cupped her chin. “Essie, may I lie down on your bed? My wounds will heal.”
The guest rooms were on the second floor. Even with her help, she didn’t think her celestial visitor could manage the stairs, and the expanse of wings would never fit. He followed her gaze then looked into her eyes and smiled sleepily.
She itched to run her fingers through his thick, shiny hair. “I’ll take you to my room.”
He rested an arm around her shoulders for balance. “You’re very kind.”
She put an arm around his waist and guided him down the hall. If he’d been a healthy man—not a wounded angel—she might have tried to seduce him. Many a night, lying alone, she’d wished for someone. She hadn’t expected the heavens to open up and drop an angel in her lap.
In the bedroom, he lay down on his side, and his wings spilled over the floor, filling one side of the room. Blood-stained and pale, he closed his eyes. His breathing slowed, and he nestled his head deeper in the pillows. Her hand lifted to touch him, but she brought her fingers to her mouth and nibbled at her thumbnail. He was beautiful, and she just wanted to look at him until her heart stopped pounding in her ears.
“I love the scent of the cedar logs,” he murmured.
Wedged between his wings and the bed, Essie bent over him, stroking the hair back from his forehead, but he was already asleep or unconscious. The whiskey on his breath smelled sweet. It was all she could do not to kiss his parted lips. Instead, she tugged the quilt over him.
“What’s your name?” she whispered.
Lord, she hoped he’d be all right. Maybe she should call the doctor.
Probably not a good idea to disobey an angel.
She sidled past the wings to sit on her side of the bed, studying the handsomest man she’d ever laid her peepers on. With his long hair spread like red silk over the pillow and his full shirt open at the neck, he looked like a romance hero. Well, except for the mammoth wings.
Folding her arms, she leaned back in the pillows. Worry pinched her face. She’d been so busy caring for the soldier, she’d forgotten the war. A cold shiver oozed down her backbone. Heaven at war, angels battling angels smacked of Revelations.
How she’d trembled when her grandmother read aloud from that book of the Bible. Essie had never lent much credence to doomsday prophets shouting about the end of the world. Then again, she’d never been face-to-face with an angel. Was this the Apocalypse?
Fear lifted the hair at her nape. Goose bumps prickled her arms and legs. If Heaven was at war with Hell…
She glanced at her winged visitor. Was the creature sleeping in her bed an angel or a demon?
****
The angel slept until sundown.
Essie was in the kitchen putting what remained of the eggs in the fridge when he appeared in the doorway, his hair sleep-tousled and his eyelids heavy. Her heart missed two beats—one admiration, the other fear. Looking at him, she couldn’t believe he was a demon. Demons were supposed to be ugly. But what did she really know about demons or angels for that matter? He was still pale, but at least he was steady on his feet.
On the stove, chicken soup simmered. She’d made one of her favorite recipes for him. After tasting the fragrant broth, she’d decided it was good enough to please an angel.
He smoothed his hair back from his forehead. “What smells so good?”
Marcus rushed in, a flurry of barking terror. She slammed the fridge, collared the dog and locked him in the laundry room where he whined and howled.
“Marcus is afraid of you.” Was there a tremor in her voice?
If the dog was afraid of him, didn’t that mean he was a demon?
The angel took a step into the living room. A blood-stained wing struck a small table by the door. Graceful and quick as a cat, he ducked to grab the wobbling lamp and prevent a crash.
“Sorry.” He clamped his sexy lower lip between his teeth and snapped his fingers as if something had occurred to him that instant. “Since I’ve never been on Earth, I haven’t tried this before. But here goes.”
She clutched her throat, biting back a scream, as his form paled to ghostly. Energy sizzled, visible in the air, resonating like a giant drum. She felt light-headed, disoriented. Covering her ears, she retreated until her back came up against the refrigerator. The figure of the angel pulsed brighter, hurting her eyes. When the wings rising behind him disappeared, a cry escaped her.
“You’re not an angel.” Hand groping behind her, she felt her way along the wall to the back door. “You are a demon. The wings were a disguise.”
He glided toward her, stopped when she gripped the doorknob. “My name is Cam-ael, and I am an angel of the Order of the Powers, the first angels breathed into existence by the Creator.”
“Well la-dee-dah, Cam.” She raised a trembling hand, pointed a finger at the arrogant creature. “I could claim to be a princess but that doesn’t make me one. You look like you feel better. Leave.”
“I’m not fully recovered. I cannot yet return to battle.” The toga-like shirt drifted off one muscular shoulder, showing the bud of his nipple. “Will you cleanse my wounds now?”
Essie forced herself to maintain eye contact and not think about her fetish for male nipples. Fear and desire were a potent mixture. “Tell me about the battle.”
“The Second War in Heaven.” He gripped the edge of the bar. “Good versus evil. The Powers patrol the border between the first and second heavens. We resist the efforts of demons to take over the world. Something unexpected has happened, and the Fallen have risen. We were the first to fight—”
“Prove you’re not a demon. I saw your wings disappear.”
He arched an eyebrow. “I passed through Spirit, lowering my vibration, becoming closer to human. My wings disappear. I can make them reappear if you like, but I might wreck your home. And would you believe I’m an angel simply because I have wings?” He broke off, his tone almost pleading. “Please, Essie, I need your help.”
Cam fixed those big eyes on her, and resistance melted. Demon or angel, he was a persuasive SOB. Her pounding heart tried to betray her. Still, her life, maybe her soul, depended on staying immune to his considerable charms.
“Prove you’re not a demon,” she repeated, her voice steady while her insides shook.
He threw his hands up, frustration apparent in his expression. “How?”
“Hell, I don’t know,” she snapped.
“I can summon a demon. We can battle here in your living room, but I’m too weak to win. And the demon would destroy you.” He flopped on the sofa, leaning his head back on the cushions. “How am I going to convince you?”
When he bolted upright, she twisted the doorknob, ready to run, but her feet refused to move. “Don’t come near me.”
“I’ll show you my sigil.” He extended his hand, palm-up. His footsteps were soundless on the tile as he glided around the bar into the kitchen. “Demons don’t have sigils. A sigil is an individual mark given to each angel at his creation. It’s my name in Malachim script.”
“Stop right there.”
“Are you afraid of me, Essie? Don’t be. Having touched me, you should know what I am. Touch me again. Let me touch you.”
Touch him? That’s what she wanted more than anything, except for him to kiss her. “It could be a trick.”
“No trick.”
Rooted to the spot, she watched him glide toward her. He stopped with only inches of air space between them. Hypnotically slow, he lifted his hand and ran a fingertip down her cheek, starting a fire impossible to extinguish. His skin was like silk, cool silk. His scent engulfed her. His pupils were pinpoints of light. Radiance flooded her mind and body. The room shone with an unearthly brilliance. Peace and silence and love in shades of russet.
At a distance, though she could feel his body heat, she heard him say, “A demon cannot do that. They are darkness. They cower before the Light.”
She opened her eyes, hadn’t realized she’d closed them. “How did you do that?”
“I’m an angel.” Even without his wings, he looked divine.
Cam-ael flipped his right hand over. “My sigil.” With her finger, he traced the intricate figure drawn in white in his palm. “Are you still afraid?”
A shudder passed through her. “Maybe even more afraid.”
He raked a hand through his hair, his fingers catching in a bloodied snarl. “I need to wash the dust of battle off me. And my wings.”
“I do have a shower—” She broke off when he laughed and gave his chestnut mane a toss. A sheepish grin twitched her lips. “With the wings, I guess you wouldn’t fit. There’s a spring at the back of the property with a pretty waterfall. It’s October. The water will be cold.”
He rested his arms on her shoulders and smiled. The way he looked at her made her toes tingle. “Show me.”
His fingers closed over hers. A now-familiar shock of desire zipped through her. Essie McBane, thirty-nine years old, no children, wanted Cam-ael, an angel of the Order of the Powers, so much she could taste him. Would angel cum be salty or sweet?
“I’ll grab some soap and shampoo.” How breathless did that sound?
She darted to the guest bath, and from the shelf, snatched lavender soap and a bottle of orange-ginger shampoo she’d saved from a hotel in Atlanta. The banking conference last spring had been the last time she’d slept with a man. At a distance, her heart uninvolved, she’d left him asleep and padded barefoot to her own room, without a backwards glance.
Always at a distance. Why can’t I let anyone close? Fear of abandonment, said the shrink. Her parents had been killed in a car wreck when she was ten.
She buried these thoughts in the vault behind her heart, strode into the living room. He stood where she’d left him, staring out the window. He looked lost, maybe afraid, and her heart clenched.
Resisting the urge to stroke his hair, she touched his shoulder. “Ready?”
He turned, smiled and nodded. “Are you still afraid?”
She shook her head. “Overwhelmed.”
“You overwhelm me.”
“Me?” she croaked as he twined her fingers in his.
He cocked his head as if she spoke some foreign language. “You.”
Hand-in-hand, they strolled through the woods to the pond, their feet crunching autumn leaves. Wind whispered through the pines, smelling dark and green. Cuddled deep in her sweater, Essie glanced at the angel and wondered what people would think if they saw her with this young, handsome man. She grinned. If she could have Cam, she’d be proud to be called a cougar.
The pines gave way to a clearing. A spring bubbled from the ground, became a small stream that gurgled over stones, plunging over larger rocks into the pond.
Arms spread above his head, Cam turned a circle in the dying sun. “This is beautiful, Essie. Would you mind if I stayed a couple of days with you?” He shot her a wicked glance. “Without the wings, I only take up one side of the bed.”
“I have a guest room.” She saw something flicker behind his eyes.
The next thing she knew he’d stripped his toga over his head and dropped it at his feet. With both hands, he shoved his topsy-turvy mane back from his face, elongating his perfect body. Perfect except for the bruises and gashes. She tried to look at his face, but her gaze drifted down his stomach to the nest of russet curls at the apex of long legs. Nothing androgynous about this angel! Cam was gifted, and his gift was softly erect. The defined head of his cock was a shade darker than the smooth skin defining the length. In her limited experience, she’d never seen such an exquisite sculpture of the male form. She imagined her lips fastening on the chiseled crown, her tongue licking the velvety shaft, and her nipples tingled. She’d pinch his fine, fine ass and feel him writhe in her hands. The hungry flutters in her belly wet her cunt. Yes, she wanted to suck his gorgeous cock.
He spun on his heel, and she glimpsed a very fine ass before he paled, glimmered and his wings sprang forth. With them flared behind him, he ran through the purple twilight and dived into the pond, separating the water on a giant spray.
Essie shivered. “That water must be cold.”
He surfaced, shaking wet hair from his eyes and sputtering as he climbed into the shallows. The water clung to his hips, hinting at what lay beneath. “Freezing. But it feels good to be clean. I won’t ask you to come in, but would you wash the blood from my wings? I’ll spread them toward you.”
How silken his feathers were. Her skin tingled at the prospect of caressing them. When she’d stroked his wings, his reaction had been almost sexual. Truth to tell, she’d love to give him a bath, wash his hair and the equipment an angel wasn’t supposed to have. She’d love to see him erect…Stop! Turned on, no way to turn off, she fished the soap and shampoo from her pocket.
At the water’s edge, she dropped to her knees in the pine needles, tossed him the soap and shampoo. “Catch.”
First, he lathered his body, bending and stretching, each move as elegant as tai chi. While he shampooed his hair, she watched the muscles in his arms and what she could see of his back ripple. Drops of water jeweled his skin and gleamed on his feathers. Eyes closed, he hummed, the tune unfamiliar but his voice enchanting.
As he bathed, he’d inched into shallower water. He didn’t know his cock was on full display. Even soft, it was a formidable weapon…and beautiful, the crown sculpted and the shaft long. Her clit tingled, and her cunt pulsated. She surrendered to the joy of simply looking at him. When he ducked to rinse his hair and the soap from his body, his wings swept skyward. She imagined being wrapped in those snowy feathers, pressed tight to that hot body, and the tingling spread through her entire body.
His head and shoulders split the water. “Catch.”
The soap flew to her hand. Her angel with a demon’s body turned his back, extending his wings shoreward.
“There are other angels on earth. Often, those who fell with Lucifer live among mankind,” Cam said matter-of-factly. “I sense the presence of one of the Fallen near.”
“Are you trying to scare me?”
“No. Simply thinking out loud. You wouldn’t recognize them as angels if you saw them.”
“That’s reassuring,” she muttered.
“Don’t worry. I’d recognize them, and I’m here with you.”
In the distance, an owl hooted, and she shuddered. How long could her angel stay? Soon, he’d have to return to the battle. Her heart plummeted. Sadness took her by surprise. It was ridiculous, but she’d miss the hell out of him. Time is precious.
She lathered his wings then stroked to her heart’s content. From behind the mountain of feathers, she heard moans and sighs as if she were soaping another part of his anatomy. When she delved her hand beneath a wing to caress the velvety under feathers, he actually groaned like a man about to climax. Laughing softly, she continued caressing his wings until he wriggled in the water.
Now, Big Boy, strut out naked.
Essie got her wish. He emerged from the water fully erect and breathtaking. The harvest moon spotlighted his physique, shone on his hair and lent him a halo.
Her angel didn’t try to hide anything.
She peeled her gaze off his engorged cock and forced herself to look into his eyes. “I thought angels were supposed to be androgynous.”
“No.” His wicked grin made her blood sizzle. “We come fully equipped. That’s the hell of it. I’m not supposed to use it.”
That sank the ship of her fantasies. “Hum. That’s what I thought.”
He paled to an apparition, shimmered in the moonlight, and the snowy wings vanished. With a wink, he grabbed his shirt from the ground and pulled it over his head, covering that sinfully tempting body.
Guess the show is over.
She’d forgotten a towel, and the linen shirt clung to his body, his softening erection a tempting curve between his legs.
“Tomorrow,” she said, “we’ll go to town and buy you some clothes.”
He rested his arms on her shoulders. “Thank you for washing my wings. It felt really good.”
Holding her breath, she watched him lower his mouth to hers. Her heart caught between beats. A hot thrill chased through her core. Their lips met, and he trembled. His arms glided around her waist, tugging her nearer, but his embrace was tentative. She stepped into him. His cock poked her belly. His lips fluttered on hers in a gossamer kiss then his tongue invaded, exploring, tasting.
This couldn’t be happening. An angel kissing Essie McBane in the middle of the woods while frogs croaked and crickets chirped.
He moaned into her, deepening the kiss, his tongue thrusts becoming more confident. His embrace tightened, flattening her breasts against the firmness of his chest. She felt the yummy nubs of his nipples through her denim shirt. Her hand slid to the small of his back. He tilted his hips, rubbing his hot cock against her belly, and a tempest broke inside her. As his tongue plundered her mouth, desire wet her panties. He pumped his hips as if his cock was buried deep in her pussy–teasing her, driving her toward a surrender that must not happen.
He drew back, slipped a hand between them and cupped her breast. Her cunt clenched, aching for a good fuck. And Cam would be one great ride. His equipment was absolutely perfect right down to his sculpted crown. She could teach him anything he didn’t know. His kisses were intense, but his advances on her body were shy…innocent. Cam ran both of his hands over her breasts, his fingers peaking her nipples. Fast learner. The teacher hadn’t made a move to show him anything.
As if she were weightless, he lifted her, settled her on his cock, trapping that hot shaft on her wet crotch. Soft cotton panties rasped her clit. Like a spring, desire coiled, ready to break if the assault continued. Magically, two buttons on her shirt loosened, and skin met skin. She ground her nipples on his chest and felt him shiver. His hungry mouth closed on hers, and a moan escaped him.
Seven months without sex had surrendered her to this desperation? Who was she kidding? He was gorgeous, young and hung. Without the wings, he didn’t look like sin on the hoof. God, she wanted strip off her jeans and take him right there in the whispering pines.

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All Romance eBooks

Coming Back
by Rachel Leigh

The Wild Rose Press

eBook ISBN: None Given

Kelly Hampton loved once…and lost. After two years of looking for Sean MacKenzie in other men and failing, Sean strolls back into her bar reigniting old flames.

Sean left Jessop Hill to protect his battered mother from his father’s fists, but he never forgot the explosively erotic relationship he left behind.

Chapter One

Kelly Hampton looked along the line of faces sitting at her bar, her body humming with frustration. “What? I mean it.”
Silence.
Narrowing her eyes, she planted her fists on her hips and waited. So she’d lived in Jessop Hill, a sleepy town in rural England all her life. So these men looking at her with such reservation might have known her since she was an eight-year-old kid running around the fields, climbing trees with muddy knees and scraped elbows, but it didn’t mean they knew her, right? Twenty years on, Kelly owned the bar they needed more than their beds, so they better listen up before she kicked them out on their asses.
 “No more sex,” she said. “Nada. I will be celibate for the foreseeable future and that’s final.”
Another long moment passed, the only sound in the bar was Bryan Adams rasping about heaven and wanting nothing else but his baby – before Len, Kelly’s surrogate father and general all-round protector, picked up his pint of beer and sniffed.
“Yeah, right.”
Like the ‘joined-at-the hip’ drinking buddies they were, the four regulars looked at each other before emitting a barrage of dismissive male laughter.
“Fine.” Kelly slapped a cloth up and down a two feet space of the bar. “I’ll show you. I’ll show all of you. I’ve had enough with the wasters and idiots who want nothing more than to cop a feel. From now on, it’s commitment or nothin. Either they want a lasting relationship or they’re out. No negotiation.”
Len raised an eyebrow. “And how are you going to find out if they’re one likely to stick around?  If you ain’t putting out…”
Kelly glared. “I’ll know, okay?”
“Commitment to a woman ain’t the sort of thing anyone can be sure of straight away, is it? You didn’t know you wouldn’t be around for the guys you’ve dumped, have you? Same thing.”
A flash of heat seared Kelly’s cheeks. He had a point. There had been quite a few guys she’d not called after a date – even more that, she’d walked out on after a night of passion knowing full well he wasn’t someone she wanted to be with. So why was she expecting something when she couldn’t make the same promise? Because she didn’t know what other route she had left to explore. Didn’t know any other way to find out who she wanted in her life.
Liar! She knew exactly who she wanted.
She whipped the cloth onto her shoulder and crossed her arms. “Yeah, well, those days are over. Until I know I want to be with a guy for the rest of my life, no sex.”
Len shook his head. “Never gonna happen.”
Irritation burned like acid in her gut. “Yes, it will.”
Another shake.  “Aren’t you always complaining how wrong your instincts have been in the past?  Isn’t that what this celibacy is all about? I know you, Kelly. If you thought some stud was only after one thing, you wouldn’t have given it away in the first place.”
She flinched as another round of laughter – accented with a particularly jarring clink of glasses and bottles – erupted around her. What the hell did they know?  The average age of her customers had to be forty-five – and half of them married for most of that. What the hell did they know about finding love in today’s world? She blinked against the burning in her eyes. Or worse,  replacing the love they’d lost?
How could they understand the height of sacrifice she was trying make, for crying out loud. She enjoyed sex. Needed sex. Loved sex. And she’d never slept with a man with whom she didn’t think there was a future – but it turned out that what she thought and felt about any of them wasn’t worth the brain matter or heart tissue it was written on.  So…from now on, it was celibacy until certainty.
 “Fine. You don’t believe me?”  She waited for the hurried apologies, the declarations her loyal clientele weren’t complete assholes. Silence. God damn bastards.
She flung the towel in the wash-bin behind her. “If that’s the way you feel, get out of my bar and go home to your wives. After all, isn’t that what you guys know all about? Cherishing the love you have and giving them hot sex when they beg for it?”
Their faces erupted into a comic strip of shock, surprise, insult and grief, yet none of them moved.
Kelly slapped her hands on the bar. “Go on, get out of here,” she said, feeling on a roll, spewing her contempt for herself more than them all over the bar like verbal vomit. “Who knows?  Maybe tonight is the night of your twice-yearly fuck. You’d better scram before your wives change their minds. God knows I wouldn’t want to be the one to have to ride your saggy dicks.”
They continued to stare at her. Nobody moving an inch.
She stepped forward as if to take a couple of their glasses and they instantly kicked into action. Beer left glasses and slid down throats quicker than water down Niagara Falls. They left their empties on the bar with mumbled goodnights before hurrying one by one through the door, as though their cocks might drop off if they didn’t use them pretty damn quick.
Kelly smiled as she shook her head and collected glasses. Idiots, all of them. So they didn’t believe she could refrain for awhile? Well, she’d prove them wrong. Kelly Hampton could keep her panties on and her breasts under cover no matter how tanned and muscled the temptation.
The tell-tale squeaking of the bar door opening had her turning toward it.
“We’re closed,” she snapped.
The stranger continued to walk closer without as much as a blip to his stride. The massive height and width of him drowned the space between them until stopped and his eyes met hers. Kelly stared. Recognition hit her between the eyes like a demolition ball. Her breath caught and her heart picked up speed. No. No, it couldn’t be.
Swallowing hard, she crossed her arms to hide the shaking in her hands. He looked away from her, casually taking in his surroundings. She stared at his profile, her feet welded to the floor. No, she was wrong, it couldn’t be him.
This was a dangerous situation. She was alone. The guy was built like a Trojan warrior. Instinctively, she inched her hand below the bar and curled her fingers around one of the three aluminum baseball bats dotted beneath it at four feet intervals. Any funny stuff and he wouldn’t know what hit him.
Leaning his hands on the bar, he shook the rain from his dark blonde hair, spattering the polished wood of the bar – and looked straight into Kelly’s eyes.
Oh, shit. It was him. Without any doubt whatsoever. Her heart turned over. “Sean?” she croaked.
His smile was slow, sexy and completely irresistible. Kelly promptly trembled with the effort it took not to leap over the bar and slam his face between her breasts.
“Hi, Kelly,” he said. “Should’ve known you end up running this place.”
Cool. She needed to be cool. Slowly pulling her hand from the bat, she planted them flat on the bar, mimicking his stance – while accidentally on purpose tilting forward in the hope he could have a clear glimpse of her cleavage and just what the hell he’d been missing for the last two years.
She narrowed her gaze. “Meaning?”
“Meaning you always were a pretty determined business woman and I can remember at least fifteen occasions when you said this place could be a gold mine with the right person running it.”
His eyes shone bluer than her memory had dared to remember, his shoulders twice as wide and his jaw three times as sculpted…her stomach wound into a pitiful mess of knots and tangles as she continued to stare.
“Kelly?”
She blinked. “What?”
He grinned. “I asked if it turned out to be the gold mine you predicted.”
“What are you doing here, Sean?”
For a long moment he said nothing, his smile wavering until it slowly dissolved and the twinkling mischief left his eyes. “It was time.”
“Time?” She felt her eyes bulge wide open. “Are you kidding me?”
            “Kelly–”
            She jabbed a hand into the air cutting him off. “That’s it? That’s all you’ve got for me after two years of absolutely nothing?”
The skin at his throat shifted and his color deepened at his cheeks. “For now, yes.”
“I don’t think so. Why did you walk away without an explanation? Why did I find your Mum’s house empty?” Her breath hitched and she pushed away from the bar, holding up both hands like a shield. “Just go away. Turn around and get the hell out of here.”
“No.”
She glared at him. His jaw tightened as he stared straight back. “I’m back whether you like it or not.”
She screwed her eyes shut against the harsh sting of tears. Damn him. What did he mean he was back? For good? For her?
The silence bore down on her but no words came. Kelly didn’t trust herself to speak so she shook her head and pursed her lips together instead. He could fill the goddamn silence, he could provide the answers.
After a long moment passed, he cleared his throat. “So? Are you happy that I’m back or not?”
Her eyes snapped open as something painful twisted in her chest like a knife tip scoring across her heart. “Not.”
“I missed you, Kelly.”
Curling her hands around the smooth edge of the bar, she held on. “I can’t do this. You can’t do this.”
Undeniable love swelled traitorously inside her belly, catching her body alight with a raging desire for him. The need to feel him inside her rose uncaught. The longing to have his hands caress the heat of her sensitized skin…
She swallowed, gripped the bar tighter. Two years since she’d seen Sean, but time hadn’t altered his gorgeous six foot three height, or faded eyes the color of a warm blue sea, shrouded with lashes as black as midnight. Beneath his black bomber jacket, he wore a crisp white T-shirt which served to deliciously enhance the lines of some pretty outstanding pecs.
Kelly blew out a shaky breath and despite the screaming warnings in her head, reached across the bar and cupped his jaw. Maybe she’d frightened him a little. Surely the feel of her skin on his would make him step away as she should’ve the moment he walked in there?
“I missed you too,” She whispered.
But no, the man didn’t so much as flinch, let alone walk away. The worry melted from his eyes and they sparkled with renewed…oh, shit, lust. Kelly nipples leaped to attention like his gaze held an invisible thread to pull them taut as and when he desired.
He grinned. “Thank God.”
They stood immobile, but her mouth curved into a slow smile anyway tempting him ever closer. Their gazes caught and locked, her body yearned for his touch. She looked away lest risk leaping over the bar and welding her lips to his regardless of the lack of invitation.
“Do you want a drink?” She turned to the fridges behind her.
She heard his heavy exhalation. “I’d love one.”
Exhaling a shaky breath of her own, Kelly extracted two beers. He was back. Her head yelled at her to tell him to go back to where he’d come from – but another voice told her one beer wouldn’t hurt. She snapped the tops off the bottles, no prizes for guessing which voice triumphed. Kelly tossed her long brown hair over her shoulders with a flick of her head. So what? Shouldn’t every bar owner be adept at sharing a friendly word or two with their patrons?  Even if one of those patrons strolled into the bar after a two-year absence looking as though he belonged in the center pages of Playgirl. Her lips and pussy twitched simultaneously.
Damn him for making her feel that way. On today of all days.  On the day she’d vowed celibacy to a group of men who would enjoy any sign of her failure to deliver like they would a vintage brandy.
She squeezed her eyes shut and drew in a strengthening breath, before opening them again and spinning around. His gaze was firmly fixed in the place her ass would have been a second before. Pleasure flushed her face in a wave of heat and her nipples jumped to attention. He raised his eyes, his gaze blatantly lingering at her breasts before rising higher. Kelly saw the hunger flare hot in his irises, his pupils dilating as he took in every inch of her. Her skin tingled with awareness and her heart beat faster.
It was useless denying it. It was only a matter of time before something raw, something out of their control happened between them. It was just a question of when.
Sean smiled softly. He’d recognize that ‘fuck me’ look in Kelly Hampton’s eyes anytime. His cock twitched. “Are you okay?”
She returned his smile, held out the beers. “I’m fine. Here.”
He took one of the bottles and their fingers brushed. Sexual attraction shot through him on a lightning bolt – but even though he wanted to leap over the bar and take her right there and then, A bigger part of him knew he had no damn right to lay a finger on her. She was right. He’d walked away without a word. And now he was back. At least for a while. The ball was in her court whether she realized it or not.
He took a slug of his beer before putting the bottle down on the bar, his fingers tightly gripping it.
“So…what brought you back to Jessop Hill?” she asked.
He looked away from her phenomenal eyes and instead, picked at the label on his beer bottle. “You know Liberty House?”
“Liberty House?”
He snapped his head up. Her eyes were wide, her cheeks flushed. Clearly, that was not the response she expected. Sean hoped she wanted to hear something more like “Who cares? What time do you finish so we can go fuck over and over until neither of us can breathe?” He blinked, refocused. All good things came to those who wait – even if they have to wait a damn long time…
 “You know. The house on the edge of town?”
She frowned as she stared. Disbelief etched on her exquisite features. “Of course I know it. What are you talking about Liberty House for?”
He lifted his bottle to his lips, took a drink while carefully watching her over its rim. “It’s mine.”
She smiled and huffed out a laugh. “Yes, okay, Sean, ‘Course it is.”
He continued to look at her. He didn’t smile nor move. He shoulders stiffened and his teeth bit together of their own accord. Nothing about Liberty House or the damn situation that brought him home was remotely funny.
“It’s mine, Kelly,” he repeated.
“But…” She shook her head and pushed away from the bar. “I’m not sure if I even want to ask how, Sean. Why are you here? Are you staying? That’s the questions I want answered.”
“And I’ll answer your questions in time.”
She fisted her hair back from her face. “In time? My god, you really expect me––”
“People change in two years, you know,” he said, looking into her eyes and praying she gave him a chance. “I’ve changed.”
Her gaze dropped to his lips, lingered there before she closed her eyes. “I shouldn’t even be talking to you,” she said, quietly.
“Why not?”
She shook her head. “I just shouldn’t.”
Her eyes snapped open and Sean saw the hurt there on a razor sharp reminder. His breath rasped against his throat. “Kelly, give me a chance here, okay?”

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