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For my last First Kiss Friday for the year, I’d like to welcome my friend Susana Ellis who has an excerpt from her upcoming novella, The Marriage Obligation. Happy reading and hope everyone has a happy New Year!

The Temple of Venus (folly) at Warrington Manor

 Excerpt

Note: At this point in the story, Cornelia has confessed her terrible secret to Preston, her husband-in-name-only.

He took her hand and led her back to the folly. “There, you got it out. That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

She tilted her head to look at him. “You’re not—shocked? Disgusted?”

He squeezed her hand and looked directly into her eyes. “Surprised, yes, certainly. Disgusted? I don’t quite understand your meaning, Cornelia.” His eyes widened. “Unless you are thinking—surely not—that I should be disgusted by you!”

She burst into tears. He pulled her trembling body into his arms and held her against him until her body quieted and the tears slowed, eventually turning into occasional hiccups. When she raised her head from his chest, he handed her his handkerchief. “Shall we sit down? When you are ready, you can tell me what it is that has you so distressed.”

Dabbing at her eyes, she nodded and allowed him to guide her back to the stone seat.

“I must look a mess,” she said finally, in a shaky voice.

“You look beautiful,” he said, his hand making gentle circles on the surface of her back.

She made a face. “Liar. I’ve seen my face in this condition before. Red eyes, splotchy cheeks, shiny nose. Definitely not a good look for me.”

In response, he reached over and turned her face toward his before capturing her lips with his for a tender kiss. Her sweet response tempted him to deepen it into something more passionate, but he sensed she was not ready for that and reined in his desire.

“Do you still believe I was lying, my dear?” he said as their kiss ended.

She swallowed. “Perhaps you were just being kind.”

Well, then. If she did indeed need more convincing, he would be more than pleased to deliver it.

He took her face in his hands again and kissed her again, this time with more pressure, then pulling away slightly to tease her lips with his tongue, before probing between them with his tongue. Her eyes widened with surprise, but far from protesting, she pressed closer to him, her arms floating to his shoulders. She smelled of violets and tasted like a combination of innocence and passion. His hands drifted to her hair, where his gentle caresses caught on pins and sent dark locks spilling down her back. When her eyes widened, he took her lips again, this time plunging his tongue between her teeth and coercing a timid response from hers. His hands floated down her back, lightly touching the side of her breasts before settling possessively at her waist.

Mine. My woman. This woman was made for me. She has to know ittoo.

When they finally pulled apart, she looked down, flushed and breathing hard.

“Well?” he said when he found himself able to talk again. “Was that a ‘just being kind’ kiss, do you think?”

She looked up at him, her eyes lit with a mischievous glow. “You’ve proved your point. There was nothing ‘kind’ about it. I must allow that you are a magnificent kisser, Preston.”

His breath quickened. “There is nothing I would like better than to kiss you like that every day. Several times, in fact. I am convinced that we could have an exemplary partnership, my dear, if we were to make our marriage a real one.”

About The Marriage Obligation 

Cornelia Hardcastle has been determined never to marry since she was eighteen and discovered an ugly family secret. Now that she’s twenty-four, however, her parents want to see her settled so they can move to Canada for her father’s prestigious new government post. Not a chance!

The second son of a viscount, Preston Warrington is more than happy to leave the viscount business to his brother so he can travel the world in search of adventure. His recent stint as a spy for the British in the War with the French has come to an end, and he’s getting pressured to marry and settle down. Hell no!

How could the notorious Marriage Maker from Inverness all the way in Scotland possibly know that these two marriage-averse individuals are perfect for each other?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Available soon in The Marriage Maker Goes Undercover series.

About Susana

Susana Ellis has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar.

A former teacher, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA, Maumee Valley Romance Inc., and the (in)famous Bluestocking Belles.

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