Today I’d like to welcome Jessica Cale and a First Kiss Friday excerpt from The Long Way Home. Isn’t this cover just stunning? Enjoy and happy reading!
He turned to her and promised, “I’ll never let you go again.”
For a moment, it looked as though she might burst into tears. She was really embracing her part. If he didn’t know better, he might have thought she felt something for him. Her expression lifted suddenly as a wicked glint replaced the clouding tears, and she asked, “What if I escape?”
She was teasing him. Jack smiled, “Well, then I shall chase you.”
Alice raised her eyebrows as if to challenge this. “You’ll never catch me,” she said, and before Jack realized what she was doing, she stood, picked up her skirts, and ran into the rose garden.
He didn’t need any encouragement to run after her. He nearly tipped over his coffee in his haste to follow her, leaving the picnic to the sound of Achille’s laughter.
He turned the corner into the garden and spotted her yards ahead in a blur of lilac silk and messy curls. She had always been bloody fast, and even though she was wearing a gown that had to be as heavy as it was restrictive, he had a hell of a time catching up to her. As he gained on her, she turned down an adjacent lane of rose trees and increased her speed, heading toward a distant colonnade as though it were sacred ground.
Picking up his pace, he tore through the garden after her, crashing through a drift of leaves and fallen petals too far from the picnic to have been swept away. His breath was coming faster now and his heart hammered in his chest, but he was gaining on her and he had meant what he said.
He was not letting her go.
She was close now, close enough that he could almost smell her hair as it trailed behind her. If he sped up, he was just as likely to catch her as he was to trip on her skirts, causing her injury as well as embarrassment. He could almost hear the gossip. Fool Englishman doesn’t know his way around a skirt.
Jack grinned, enjoying the fresh feeling of the wind in his face. He reckoned he could find his way. He increased his speed, catching up to run alongside Alice. As she noticed him beside her with some alarm, he reached out, caught her waist in his hands, and spun her around, making her giggle.
Exhilarated, he set her on her feet inside the colonnade. Clearly dizzy from the spinning, she grasped his shoulders as he held her waist to steady her. She looked up at him, her face flushed and her eyes bright, and she looked happier than he’d ever seen her. Her breath came fast between her lips, and he was taken by how soft they looked, slightly parted and red as cherries in the cold. Her gaze dropped to his mouth and something inside him broke.
In one swift movement, he gathered her to his chest and kissed her.
The moment their lips touched, he felt as though his breath had been knocked from his body. He couldn’t let her go. It was the first time he had ever kissed a girl and he hadn’t the slightest idea what he was doing, but she felt so good in his arms he reckoned he’d figure it out. Her lips were softer than they looked and hungry, returning his kiss as though her life depended upon it. Her hands left his shoulders to tangle themselves in his hair once more, pulling him to her to deepen the kiss.
He followed her lead, daring to taste her sweet mouth with his tongue. She opened for him willingly and he drank her in greedily. She was warm, soft, and she tasted like sugar. Her curvy little body felt like heaven in his hands, his years of careful restraint falling away like leaves with each passing second. He wanted her out of that dress. He wanted to taste the rest of her. He could have kissed her until he died.
Something wet hit his cheek and shocked him out of his reverie. He broke the kiss as quickly as he had initiated it, looking for the source of the water. To his horror, it was Alice.
She was every bit as beautiful and breathless as she had been moments before, but tears were streaming down her blush-darkened cheeks.
His heart dropped and he felt the deepest shame he had ever felt in his life. She hadn’t wanted it, and he had mauled her like a dog. He had never, ever meant to hurt her. He raised a hand to cover his mouth, overcome. “Alice…I am so sorry…I never should have…can you ever forgive me?”
Her eyebrows drew together and her mouth dropped open as though she was struggling with the words to reply. “No—”
The sound of distant tittering interrupted them and Jack looked up to see Languedoc and one of his minions sauntering down the path, their faces twisted in smug amusement. Brilliant.
The Long Way Home (The Southwark Saga, Book 3) by Jessica Cale
Release Date: February 29th, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance, Adult Fairytale, Romantic Comedy, Action/Adventure
A paranoid king, a poison plot, and hideous shoes…it’s not easy being Cinderella.
After saving the life of the glamorous Marquise de Harfleur, painfully shy barmaid Alice Henshawe is employed as the lady’s companion and whisked away to Versailles. There, she catches King Louis’ eye and quickly becomes a court favorite as the muse for Charles Perrault’s Cinderella. The palace appears to be heaven itself, but there is danger hidden beneath the façade and Alice soon finds herself thrust into a world of intrigue, murder, and Satanism at the heart of the French court.
Having left his apprenticeship to serve King Charles as a spy, Jack Sharpe is given a mission that may just kill him. In the midst of the Franco-Dutch war, he is to investigate rumors of a poison plot by posing as a courtier, but he has a mission of his own. His childhood friend Alice Henshawe is missing and he will stop at nothing to see her safe. When he finds her in the company of the very people he is meant to be investigating, Jack begins to wonder if the sweet girl he grew up with has a dark side.
When a careless lie finds them accidentally married, Alice and Jack must rely on one another to survive the intrigues of the court. As old affection gives way to new passion, suspicion lingers. Can they trust each other, or is the real danger closer than they suspect?
“Really brilliant writing that’s so engaging with such endearing characters! I especially love the way Jack and Alice are both so devoted to each other! I was totally absorbed in this exciting and fascinating world Jessica Cale created from the very first paragraph to the last! I read this all in one sitting, staying awake late to finish, just had to!” – Romazing Reader
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About the author
Jessica Cale is the award-winning author of the historical romance series, The Southwark Saga. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in North Carolina. She is the editor of Dirty, Sexy History. You can find her at dirtysexyhistory.com.
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