On today’s First Kiss Friday, it’s my pleasure to welcome back my friend, Jessica Cale. Jessica writes those page turning novels you just can’t put down until you’ve read the very last line. We hope you enjoy this excerpt from her upcoming release, Broken Things. Happy reading and enjoy.
Hearing someone knock on the bar for service, he turned too quickly and bumped into Meg. She lost her balance and he caught her automatically, holding her up as she steadied herself.
Jake ignored it until another followed, then a third. He looked around the bar in confusion, while Meg turned scarlet in his grasp.
“Bastard mistletoe.” She muttered, looking anywhere but at him.
Bess cackled as she passed them, an empty tray lolling on her hip.
Mistletoe. Jake frowned at the spiny leaves hanging from the ceiling. He was meant to kiss her, wasn’t he?
It wasn’t his tradition, but the punters thought he was odd and foreign enough already without him drawing attention to it. He wouldn’t embarrass Meg by refusing. Wasn’t it meant to be bad luck if you didn’t?
These and a dozen other reasons flew through his mind to justify the fact that he wanted to. He wanted to kiss her very, very badly.
Davey would no doubt try to charge him for it. Fortunately, the little rat was nowhere to be seen.
“What are they waiting for?” someone whispered behind him.
“Kiss her!” Joe Ledford bellowed, covering his encouragement up with a series of contrived coughs.
Finally, Meg looked up at him with an unfamiliar light shining in her eyes.
It was fear.
Was she afraid of him? His heart ached. He knew from experience he didn’t have do anything to inspire fear in women, but he thought he and Meg had grown close, or something like it. He had thought they were friends, though her very presence drove him to distraction and he’d spent long hours talking himself out of visiting her room again. She was different, he knew it. Why was she afraid?
He spread his hands in a gesture of surrender. He wouldn’t kiss her if she didn’t want him to.
Meg’s eyes flickered as her expression changed to one of steely determination. “Bugger it,” she muttered and stepped fully into his arms. Standing on her toes, she slid her arms around his neck. He caught her waist automatically, welcoming the feeling of her soft curves pressed up against him. She smelled of rosewater and tobacco, an intoxicating combination at once earthy and sweet. Her eyelashes dropped, and she hesitantly touched her lips to his.
It was not the quick peck he had expected. Her kiss was slow and deep. She tentatively moved her lips against his, testing the way they fit together. He held her flush against his hips, helpless. His hair stood on end as she ran the edge of her tongue along his bottom lip, nipping at it softly with her teeth.
He sighed against her lips, his hands drifting up her back. Seized with wickedness, he wound her thick braid around his wrist. She’d seemed to like it when he’d pulled it before. He tugged it gently and her mouth opened with a low, throaty moan. He could barely hear it, but he could taste it. His tongue delved into the sweet heat of her mouth, savoring the crush of her lips, the caress of her tongue, and a taste that was all her own.
The bar was so quiet he could hear his own heartbeat. Everything seemed to disappear around them except for the crackle of the fire in the hearth and the distant smell of ale, receding behind the delicious scent of the goddess in his arms. She tightened her grasp around his neck and kissed him harder.
Someone cleared their throat. He ignored them.
“So that’s that, then,” someone muttered.
The odd finality of this comment seemed to reach Meg through the haze and she broke off the kiss too quickly, her hands sliding slowly down his chest. She rested them there a moment and held his gaze with huge eyes bright and green as leaves in the sun; luminous and tinged with gold.
He saw it then. There was desire there, obvious and painful as his own. A measure of confusion, perhaps, but it wasn’t as dire as he’d suspected.
Meg Henshawe was not afraid of anything.
Meg smiled and stepped out of his arms. She made a show of straightening her hair and shrugged it off. “Pay attention lads, you might learn a thing or two.”
Broken Things The Southwark Saga, Book 4
Genre: Historical Romance
Content warnings: Profanity, violence, graphic sex, and references to domestic violence and sexual assault.
Rival. Sister. Barmaid. Whore.
Meg Henshawe has been a lot of things in her life, and few of them good. As proprietress of The Rose and Crown in Restoration Southwark, she has squandered her life catering to the comfort of workmen and thieves. Famous for her beauty as much as her reputation for rage, Meg has been coveted, abused, and discarded more than once. She is resigned to fighting alone until a passing boxer offers a helping hand.
Jake Cohen needs a job. When an injury forces him out of the ring for good, all he’s left with is a pair of smashed hands and a bad leg. Keeping the peace at The Rose is easy, especially with a boss as beautiful—and wickedly funny—as Meg Henshawe. In her way, she’s as much of an outcast as Jake, and she offers him three things he thought he’d never see again: a home, family, and love.
After Meg’s estranged cousin turns up and seizes the inn, Meg and Jake must work together to protect their jobs and keep The Rose running. The future is uncertain at best, and their pasts won’t stay buried. Faced with one setback after another, they must decide if what they have is worth the fight to keep it. Can broken things ever really be fixed?
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About the author
Jessica Cale is a historical romance author and journalist based in North Carolina. 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 a place where no one understands his accent. She is the editor of Dirty, Sexy History and you can visit her at www.dirtysexyhistory.com.