Welcome to another First Kiss Friday. It’s a pleasure to welcome back my friend, Meara Platt who has an excerpt from The Wonder of Love. Isn’t this cover just beautiful? Happy reading, my lovelies, and enjoy!
Shayne closed his sketchbook and rose to leave. “Lock up behind me. Same caution applies. Let no one in but your aunt and sister. I’ll be back as soon as I’ve given this sketch to Lorcan. I’ll do up a few more for my other trackers, too.”
He walked to the door.
Willow scrambled off the bed and followed him, placing a soft hand on his shoulder when he reached for the latch. “Mr. Brayden, I know we got off to a bad start. Well, a most unpromising start. I think you do not like me very much. I suppose I am too outspoken. But I want you to know I appreciate all you’ve done for me and my sisters.”
“It’s my job.”
She nodded, now staring up at him with those big, blue eyes capable of drowning a man if he weren’t careful. “I’m sorry if I behaved like a banshee earlier. That book…I wish I could make you understand how important it is to me. I promise you, I am not as demented as you believe me to be.”
“Cammy and I are on our way to London to be thrown into the marriage mart. We don’t know the first thing about men, about finding the right one and falling in love. This is why we desperately needed the lessons in this book.”
He cupped her cheek and gave it a light caress. She was standing in her bare feet, a thin robe wrapped around her slender body, and that wild tumble of molten hair spilling over her shoulders. “Willow, you are wrong and I will prove it to you.”
She nipped at her lower lip. “How will you do that?”
“If you can abide to be in my company, I will tell you all you need to know about men. Believe me, we are simple creatures. Our discussions shouldn’t take long.”
She eyed him dubiously. “You would help me?”
“Yes, despite your attempts to maim me,” he teased, slipping his hand off her cheek before she noticed how much she affected him.
She groaned lightly. “I’ve already apologized for that. But I don’t think you appreciate the importance of that book.”
“And I think you are placing far too much importance on it.” He knew he ought to get back to his office as soon as possible, but leaving Willow was surprisingly hard to do. “There are just a few things to remember when dealing with men.”
“Do not ever be alone with a man.”
She nodded, obviously overlooking that they were alone and in her bedroom of all places. Alarms should be going off in her head, the blare of a warning trumpet. The bang of a drum. But she appeared not at all concerned.
He did not know whether to be grateful she trusted him or angry that she considered him safe, which he decidedly was not. “Do not ever be alone with a man while you are undressed.”
She nodded again.
Lord, have mercy!
Did she think he was a eunuch?
“Do not ever let a man kiss you.”
She frowned. “That cannot be right. How am I to know if our senses are compatible? Why can I not allow him one kiss?”
“Because…it isn’t safe. It isn’t wise. You cannot go around kissing men.”
She tossed her hair back and tipped her head up in a huff to mark her indignation. “I haven’t kissed any men yet. But I should be permitted to kiss any man I consider marrying, don’t you think? Not that I am rushing to do it. I don’t even know what a kiss feels like. And you needn’t worry because I am not going to kiss you.”
He placed his hand on the door, knowing he had to leave right now or this was not going to end well. “Nor would I ever consider kissing you.” Blatant lie, of course. Capturing her lips was all he’d been thinking about for days. “You needn’t worry that I ever will.”
He expected her to kick him out right then and there. Instead, she turned so quiet, he could feel the silence prickle between them. “Willow? I’m sorry. It came out wrong. Any man would be delighted to kiss you.”
“Just not you.” She emitted a ragged breath. “I knew you did not like me. What is it about me that puts you off? You needn’t be kind to spare my feelings. It is important for me to understand. The Book of Love says we must always be truthful. So you can be honest with me. Do you not like the way I look? My hair is a little too red, I think. I know I am far too opinionated for most men’s tastes. I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut even when I know I ought to clamp it tight. What of the five senses, sight, touch, taste, hearing, and scent? Is there anything you do find pleasing about me?”
He laughed and shook his head. “I had better go.”
“But you haven’t answered a single question.”
“Latch the door after me. Put some clothes on. And don’t go around kissing men. I’ll see you later.”
He should have walked straight out and not looked back. But he did look back and she hadn’t moved. She stood there with her head down and her hands were trembling. Did this girl not realize how beautiful she was?
He felt like a wretch.
Well, how was it his fault? Wasn’t she opinionated, outspoken, too independent for her own good? There were dangerous men lurking around and she was a little thing, too little to defend herself if those fiends ever got their hands on her.
How was he to protect her if she insisted on doing whatever she wished? Not that he wanted her to be biddable or timid.
He gave a silent oath and turned to her. “You irritate me to no end.”
“You are no garden of delight either. Does this mean you are going to answer my questions? Why are you looking at me like that?”
He cupped the back of her head and drew her close. “How am I looking at you?”
She swallowed hard. “Like you want to–”
He kissed her as he’d longed to do from the moment he had set eyes on her, and kept kissing her even though his brain was warning him to stop. But he was listening to his body that was screaming for fulfillment.
This was not what he’d planned.
This is not what he wanted.
Her soft, giving lips yielded to the press of his mouth. Her fingers clutched the front of his shirt, grabbing onto the taut fabric to draw him toward her. They were so close…too close. He inhaled the scent of orange blossoms on her warm skin.
Why was he kissing this little nuisance?
Worse, what was he going to say to her once he pulled away? After an achingly long moment, he eased his lips off hers and took a step back. “Willow…”
“You needn’t apologize. I understand the lesson you were trying to teach me.” She pursed her lips and continued. “The book warned about this very thing.”
“What very thing?”
“Men will kiss women they do not like. They separate the physical urge from the bond of love. To a man, one has nothing to do with the other. It is merely their low brain responding to a female they perceive as desirable, and they perceive thousands of women to be desirable. Nothing to do with the higher act of love. Is this what you were trying to point out to me?”
He could have nodded and blithely gone on his way.
But this was her first kiss ever. He was not going to ruin the memory for her. “No, Willow. That kiss was from my heart. It was me kissing you because I like you and think you are beautiful.”
She mistook his words as a jest at first.
Had he been that much of an ogre to her?
“You’re serious? You like me?”
He clutched the sketchbook in his hand, relieved he had kept hold of it. If he’d had both hands free, that robe would have been off her and he would have been busily kissing more than her lips.
She suddenly shoved him out the door, shut and latched it firmly, then began to chatter at him through the door. “Do you realize what this means? It is impossible, you know. It is not to be considered. Are you still there Mr. Brayden? No, do not answer that. I want you gone. Do not darken my door again. You have no idea what you’ve just done. But do not apologize to me for that kiss. It was wonderful. However, I am still overset and angry.”
He leaned against the door, trying to make sense of what she was going on about. She’d liked the kiss. No apology required, although he had been out of bounds and did owe her one even though she had forgiven him. “Willow, why are you angry?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
He groaned, for this is what came of growing up with only brothers. Bedding a woman was a far different thing from building a life and being a good husband to the one you loved. Outside of bed, women were a mystery to him. “Not in the least. Would you care to enlighten me?”
“No, Mr. Brayden. Go away now. But rest assured nothing has changed between us. One splendid kiss does not change anything. I am still certain I do not like you and I hope you still do not like me. I expect that is all right with you. Is it, Mr. Brayden?”
He should have responded with a simple yes.
She would be on her way to London to snare a titled idiot for herself and his life would return to normal.
Only, he did not want normal.
He – Lord help him – wanted this fiery Farthingale.
“No, Willow. It is not all right.”
The Wonder of Love
By Meara Platt
She was in danger. He meant to protect her. But could he protect his heart?
More Regency fun as The Book of Love brings together two reluctant hearts.
Willow Farthingale never meant to punch Taunton’s magistrate, Shayne Brayden, in the nose. And she certainly did not set the fire that destroyed the coaching inn’s carriage house the very morning she was to leave for London and her society debut. But she might have seen who did, and now the handsome magistrate is not letting her out of his protection until the culprits are safely rounded up. Well, if he’s going to hold her in town under his watchful eye, then she may as well use the time productively and test out those love recipes in The Book of Love on him.
Shayne Brayden knew the fiery-haired Willow was trouble the moment he set eyes on her, but if she had seen the villains who set the carriage house fire, then it was possible they’d also seen her and meant to silence her. Shayne did not care how irritating she was, or how desperately he wanted to kiss her, he was going to do his duty and protect her. But how was he to protect his heart, especially when she was toting that book about love around, and its ‘recipes’ seemed to be working on him?
Buy Link: https://bit.ly/TheWonderOfLove
About the Author:
Meara Platt is an award winning, USA TODAY bestselling author and an Amazon UK All-Star. Her favorite place in all the world is England’s Lake District, which may not come as a surprise since many of her stories are set in that idyllic landscape, including her paranormal romance Dark Gardens series. Learn more about the Dark Gardens and Meara’s lighthearted and humorous Regency romances in her Farthingale series and Book of Love series, or her warmhearted Regency romances in her Braydens series by visiting her website at www.mearaplatt.com.
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Amazon Author Link: http://www.amazon.com/Meara-Platt/e/B00PO672QU
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