Good morning. Lovely to have you drop by today. I want to share an excerpt from Desire’s Embrace with you, my readers. If you aren’t familiar with my latest paranormal romance set in post-war New Orleans, circa 1872, then here’s the blurb:
An orphan with a goal to become her own woman. Quite a challenge for a woman in 1872. Still, her drive leads her to answer an ad placed by the mysterious man from Louisiana. He’s known for being the sugar baron of the south and his good looks. Can she become the independent woman she wants to be under his roof as the nanny to his children? Or will the attraction between them drive her into his arms despite her questions about his secretive nature? Join Laura Sinclair as she takes on the greatest challenge of her life with her employer, Morgan Latimar, sugar king of New Orleans.
Morgan Latimar seeks a nanny for his children. The woman who accepts the position can never know he is a wolf shifter. Despite his Wolfen wisdom, Morgan is mesmerized by the passionate, Laura Sinclair. Will she be his salvation or his downfall?Enjoy the
Enjoy the excerpt and have a wonder-filled day.
Chapter 7 – The Governor’s Ball
“Show me what to do with this thing.”
A lace and feather encrusted mask dangled from the eye opening on one finger of her gloved hand. Laura’s expression proved what Morgan had known all along. The hostess arrangement did not make her happy. Laura enjoyed the children, and teaching seemed her forte. She resisted the social aspect of their arrangement with some vigor. “Here, let me show you how fetching you’ll look with the mask in place.” His arched eyebrow with a debonair slant did not impress her. “You position the paper mache thus. You then tighten the ribbons like so and with a couple of hairpins your costume is secure. Cherie, you’re ready to turn heads wherever the night may take you.”
The lack of enthusiasm she wore dealt his positive statement a harsh blow. “You are going to make me wear this thing, aren’t you, sir?”
The use of such a formal address pressed on his already stingy patience. “Why yes, my dear, you look marvelous.” With a wink, he smiled. “I for one would dance with you every dance just to discover who the beautiful creature is under the mask. Besides, we had an arrangement – remember?” Hating the reminder, he vowed to be on his best behavior.
Laura rolled her eyes to the ceiling as he adjusted the black lace shawl about her bare shoulders. The tall mirror in the foyer proved his point.
“See, you look stunning.”
She glanced at him in the mirror.
“Forgive me, Laura, but I’m only telling the truth.” His tone must have sounded sincere because she turned to peer closer before returning his gaze in the mirror’s reflection. Something stirred in his gut. Morgan hesitated to put a name to the sensation, more a swirling of energy, a tingling of feelings each time he took her hand in his. “The carriage is here.” Propriety allowed for a hand upon her low back to assist her inside. The heat from the touch startled him making Morgan wonder if, in fact, she did possess a streak of magic. Something perhaps even Laura wasn’t aware she owned. Mystical and tantalizing, the sensation held the same mystery as the first time he had touched her. Her mother’s illness perhaps was not an illness after all. Laura’s mother may have been a true seer or even a witch.
“Where are we going tonight?” She glanced out the window, watching, yet not seeing. Her hands relaxed atop a velvet purse and gloves in her lap.
He couldn’t help the smile that crept across his face. She hated the gloves and removed them often. “Tonight’s fete’ is at the governor’s home. Despite my misgivings about socializing with a reformist Democrat, I must keep up appearances.” He waved a hand in the air. “The coach is a symbol of the Mardi Gras season. Though a bit old-fashioned for my tastes, they’re used by all the krewes’ for parties and balls. We’ll stay until the Governor arrives and leave soon after we’ve thanked him for the invitation. The whole affair shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours.” Leaning close, he lowered his voice. “I promise not to be too much of a bore during our time together.”
She turned, yet said nothing.
Reaching out, he took her hand in his. She tensed. “Easy, my dear. By the way, you smell enchanting tonight.” He held her gaze a moment and then glanced out the window and sighed. “I’m certain. I’ll have my hands full fighting off the young bucks tonight.”
Her brow furrowed. “Young bucks?”
He grinned. God, what an innocent she was. “I’m referring to the men with their youth and vigor which will try to steal you away.” They crossed a deep pothole, causing the coach to lurch. Pain shot through his bum leg. He eased back into the plush cushions of the seat.
A quick glance proved Laura was riding out the obstacles in the street as well.
She held the leather strap attached to the ceiling with a frown on her face. “I’ve never been interested in those young bucks as you say. I prefer a man with life experience.”
His breath caught.
Laura studied him in the dim light. “Forgive me for being blunt, but how old are you-thirty-five? It has been said; a man is like a fine wine, which requires aging to ensure its quality. You, sir, possess that quality.” Her eyes remained on his. “You have control over impulses – the kind that would derail a younger man. Yours is a quiet confidence without arrogance. Younger men always seem to have something to prove.”
Clear blue eyes held his gaze without wavering. Always outspokenly truthful, Laura hit her mark. She could have spouted the Rosary in Latin and not have had a more profound effect on Morgan. He stared for a full minute before finally swallowing and glanced out the window into the misty darkness of the street. A sickly ill sensation swam in his gut. What a boon she had been since her arrival. She deserved – a whole man– one without flaws and deception. Pain speared him again, and he sucked in air. The devil takes him, but he wanted her. Perhaps, he would have to settle for her in his arms for the leg throbbed anew, and Morgan closed his eyes. In the darkness, all he saw was Laura.
“We’re here.” She slid the gloves back on and gathered her purse, rearranging the shawl more closely. The footman opened her door, and she got out. Morgan had difficulty standing. Cursing silently at the damn leg, he adjusted the brace as the mechanical mechanism hissed and spewed. With the footman’s help, he pulled the crippled leg out to stand. Laura took his arm as they made their way up the low-slung porch to the massive door. He gave her points for her accommodating nature.
The lively music coming from the double doors drew their attention. Inside, dancers swirled and twirled to the sound of an old-fashioned waltz.
“It is beautiful. Laura cut Morgan a sidelong glance. “Where would you prefer we start – at the receiving line or the dance floor?”
Morgan patted her hand on his forearm. The glib way she asked the question told him she wanted to dance. “I’ll wager you’ll surrender before I get warmed up. What do you say?”
Her laugh of pure delight trailed after them as they descended the stairs to a large ballroom. Sparkling lights eliminated the dancers. Her enthusiasm bolstered his confidence. Soon they disappeared into the wave of guests. Next, accordions and fiddles replaced violins and harps as they shuffled at a dizzying pace to a Cajun tune. A dip and twirl had Laura holding on to him.
“You dance so well, sir.”
“This old dog hasn’t forgotten everything. Hang on, Cherie.” Giving her a good squeeze, Morgan faded before twirling her out and back into his arms.
Genuine surprise crossed her face. “Oh, Monsieur, you are an accomplished dancer. Why didn’t you tell me this?”
He noted the stain of pink in her cheeks. “Be truthful – would you have believed me?” The directness of his question caught her off guard.
“To be sure, I didn’t believe you so light and steady. But, you are confident as well. There’s no hesitation, no uncertainty in your direction.” Her eyes traveled over his face in speculation. “You’ve been trained no doubt.”
He noted the pulse in her neck throb with the blood coursing through her veins. His blood surged at the sight of such life. “Yes, we were trained in dance, theater, music appreciation and the accordion as children. My mother insisted though my father found the instruction tedious.” Her light laughter filled the air as the music ended. The sensation of real pleasure washed over him. He lifted her hand, kissing her knuckles. “By the way. I like it when you call me by my French title – Monsieur.” With a flourish, he released her hands. “It’s a pleasure to be of service, madam.” Bowing formally, Morgan gave her a satisfied grin when she continued the private joke by curtsying before accepting his hand to leave the floor. “Can I get you some refreshment?”
Her tiny paper fan appeared. Laura batted her eyelashes at him. “Yes, thank you. That would be lovely.”
“Good, I won’t be long.” Depositing her along the wall where chairs offered a quiet repose, Morgan winked as he left. The night was going well, he mused. Laura’s reluctance seemed to ebb. Thankfully, a cheerful demeanor won out. He could only hope the mood carried the night. Humming a light-hearted tune, Morgan made his way across the room to the dining hall where food and drink abound.