Blood Born

So, it’s Wednesday, and I’m in the writing cave today.  I have a new WIP I’m dealing with at present.  One of those fly by the seat of your pants kind of stories.  A new adult romance spinoff venture from Shadow Company.  Vampires, shifters, magic, and danger all congeal in this thriller about a small town girl falling for the bad boy bounty hunter.

Meagan Christiana turns twenty-one soon and among all the well-wishers are a few dangers she did not expect.  Since she is all grown up and ready to start her own life, Meagan figures she can handle what comes next.

 Dorran O’Hare, an Irish born ex-SEAL is on the hunt.   He has to save Cheniere Station from the Sultan’s diabolical schemes.  Having tracked the evil one across the Veil to the sleepy little town in Louisiana, he fears for the woman the Sultan seeks.  Her gifts are still a mystery to her, and he is the one chosen to show her the way.

Here’s a sample of what’s in the works.

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Dorran’s breath on her neck had Meagan jumping back.  “What the hell?”  One look into his eyes and she could see he had been in her thoughts.  How else did he know she wanted him to kiss her?  A burning pressure radiated along nerve endings in her arms as he pulled her to her toes with those rough hands of his.  Leather met cotton in that second.

He breathed her in and narrowed his examination of her face.  “You smell like a woman, Stretch.  All simmer and sauce.”

She blinked.  What did he call her?  It took her mind a full four seconds for the comment’s meaning to register.  Was she a dish now?  Meagan wondered what came next.

I want to kiss you.  This is the only warning you’ll get.  Better let me know whether you can handle it.  Okay?”  His wicked grin was back.

Give me your best shot, ace.”   Her chin firmed under his keen eye.  “I may be just a woman, but I’m no kitten.”

The low growl sounded in his throat as he leaned into the kiss.  With a slant of teeth and tongue, he explored the corners of her mouth without hesitation.  When he eased back, his eyes stayed on hers.  “Just so you know, I’m a take charge kinda guy.”

***

Hope you liked the snippet.  These two still have a long way to go.  As the story unfolds, I’ll share more.  Now, let’s see who read to this point.  Drop me a line with your email address and let me know what you think.  I’m keeping a tally and giving away copies once the book is released.

Available at Amazon

 

Blood & Magic, Book 3 of Shadow Company – A Vampire’s HEA

Can a vampire have an HEA, a happy-ever-after in his life?  Well, the answer is complicated.  Certain factors have to be in place, the planets have to aline just so, and the world must tilt on its axis.  Yes, the fact a vampire has to rely on the fates for his romantic future is a puzzle.  Many have tried to work out the ending, many have failed.  Such a proclamation is not without its flaws or so the nay-sayers preach.

J.T. Leighton was a good soldier.  He was a good Navy SEAL.  He ran into a situation which altered his nature for all eternity.  He’s come to grips with the idea, or so he thinks.  Then, someone from his past shows up out of the blue.  She’s a long drink of water with a talent for dance.  No one had come close to stirring J.T. to wish for something more than a one-night-stand until Jessie Coulter came into his life.  They’d share passion and a tender connection.  Then she disappeared, literally in front of J.T.’s eyes.

Now, his days are filled with loneliness and his nights with murder at his own hands.  J.T.’s a vampire killer with a hard-on for bad guys.  Don’t blink or you might miss the rest of the tale.  Blood & Magic releases on Valentine’s Day.

Oh, if you don’t mind, wish J.T. a Happy Valentine’s Day.  It may be the only one he gets.  Pre-order your copy today.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078W2HYX2

Excerpt from Blood & Magic, Book 3 of Shadow Company

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She danced across the stage in a flutter of white netting over spandex.  Her hair, pulled back in a severe bun held the blues of an inky night.  Long and slender, she flowed with the music, each movement beginning and ending in the next.  A leap into the air reminded J.T. of a gazelle.  If only he could capture the moment, holding her so forever.  In the dream, J.T. saw Jessie as she’d been almost two years before.  She had been a beauty of exceptional poise and statue.  The grace of her movements were compliments of her tall, lean curves.  A ballerina – his ballerina.

J.T. sat up in the bed.  Nerves rippled along his arms.  Glancing at the clock, he snarled at the readout – three in the afternoon.  Damn!  Rubbing the tension in his neck, he flung his legs over the side of the bed.  Too early to go out.  He padded downstairs for a drink.

Trapped!  He was a fucking prisoner in his own house when the past came calling.  Snarling at the fact, he switched gears, shoving at the memories from years before.  Her laughter caught him off guard.  Glancing around just in case, he stilled.  Her image flitted through his mind.  J.T.’s maker, the damn Sultan, was up to his old tricks.  J.T. would wager money on that idea.  With the bag of chips under his arm, he headed back.  Thank the gods he was allowed some small favors such as something other than pig’s blood to enjoy.  With the glass of warmed blood in his hand, he wandered back up the stairs.  He wanted to wallow in his memories of her, his Jessie.

No, he did not forget how he had come to meet her.  A suspect in a crime of murder.  No, he did not see her as a murderer or a psychopath.  His job as a private investigator meant he sought the truth.  In her case, the truth held his heart in the palm of her hand.  She convinced him of two things in their short time together.  Number one – that she was not the perpetrator.  Number two – that despite being a vampire, he would move heaven and hell to keep her safe.  The trouble with safe was he had no control over the realm in which the woman resided.  In fact, he had no control over any realm or any condition.  Only his existence in death.  Glancing down at the glass, he realized he had finished the blood.

“Have you seen anyone who looked suspicious hanging around today, Zodiac?”

The cat rolled from sitting on his hind legs to resting on his side, before leaning into J.T.’s side.  “Meow.”

“I’ll take that as a ‘no,’ Zodiac.”  Getting back up, he prowled the room.  Agitation, an old friend, appeared in not being unable to remain still for more than two minutes.  “Blast it all to hell and back,” he groaned.

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***

Thanks for reading and thanks for dropping by.  I look forward to seeing you again real soon.

 

 

 

Rafflecoptor Giveaway! $5 Amazon Card For One Lucky Winner. Plus EBook Copies Of Deliberate Intent, Book Two Of Shadow Company For More Lucky Winners! Enter Here…

Happy Friday! In celebration of the last work day of the week for many, I have decided to host a Rafflecoptor giveaway! Just click on the link below to be transported to the event. Enter and look forward to your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DeliberateIntent

Flash Sale! Deliberate Intent is #FREE!

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Fabulous Friday (today, August 11th) and Sublime Saturday (August 12th) just got better.  You can purchase a copy of my latest paranormal romance, Deliberate Intent, book two of Shadow Company #FREE at Amazon for these two days!!

 

But wait.  There’s more.  How about a snippet?  You’ve got it!  Logan Latimar, a warlock, and ex Navy SEAL is confronted with what he hopes is a vision.  Reality has fingers as cold as ice though, and he needs solace.  Check out this steamy scene in the Louisiana heat.  Hugs and Happy Friday!

Deliberate Intent

Lingering at the door, Logan made a show of waving.  The cars drove away followed by the dust of a dirt drive.  Guests were fun but the day had been long.  “That went well.”  His estimation settled in the silence.  Turning, he searched the great room for Aubrie.  She’d been quiet most of the evening.  He missed her usual banter with Pilot, her shadow walker friend.  Katie, Aubrie’s best friend, and Gus, Logan’s brother probably hadn’t notice.  He did.  Had Aubrie, the seer already figured him out?  No, discovering his secret would cause an eruption.

Padding barefooted to the sofa, he dropped down on the cushions.  The day had been tediously long.  Words were stilted.  Conversation with Aubrie came at a price.  Glancing up, he noted the ceiling fan’s swift swirl.  Logan closed his eyes.  How had he gotten himself into this mess?  Even knowing the answer didn’t help.  A casual encounter with Connie, his ex at Joiner’s grocery had mushroomed into a full-blown situation.  Throwing an arm over his head, he propped his feet on the coffee table.  Aubrie would protest if she walked in about then.  She didn’t.  He could hear water running – in the shower.  Most times, he would slip out of his jeans to join her.  The notion of his hands on her silky skin appeared in his mind’s eye.  Those long legs wrapped around his hips.  Suds rolled down their bodies as he kissed her senseless over and over again.  Giggles and groans accompanied the hot, wet shower sex.  The image was one of his favorites.

The laughter switched.  No longer alluringly sweet, the sound rang raw as if on the verge of hysterical.  Logan opened his eyes.  Connie stood on the opposite side of the coffee table.  She cocked a hip while smirking at him.  Logan jumped.

“What’s the matter?  Not who you were expecting?”

His senses sharpened.  He went into military mode.  “What do you want?”  Nasty rimmed the question.

“That’s not very hospitable of you, Logan.”  Easy as you please, she strolled around the table before dropping down in front of him.  “Why don’t you let me work my magic on you, Latimar.”

Logan glared at the fingers slipping up his thigh.  Was she real?  With a free hand, he clamped down hard and unyielding.  “Don’t.”  Noting the chill in her skin, he shifted to stand.  “Get out.  Now!”

“All right.  But I’ll be back.  After all, I got more of a right to you than Aubrie does.”  With a jerk of her head in the bathroom’s direction, Connie stood, giving her long blonde tresses a good shake out.  Sauntering to the door, she narrowed her eyes at him.

“Have a nice night, Logan or should I call you daddy?”  With those words, she disappeared.

Logan released a sigh in a long, laborious effort to somehow cleanse his skin of her touch.  No good.  The incident wasn’t merely a dream.  He could smell her cheap scent. She had been in the room.  Flesh and blood, Connie had stood almost where he stood now.  “What the hell,” he growled in the silence.  “I’ve seen a ghost or an apparition, maybe a vision.  Something.”  Glancing down, he noted his hands shook.

“Who’re you talking to in here?”  Aubrie appeared in the door to the bedroom.  “I heard voices in here.  Did Katie forget something?”  Raking a fat comb through her chocolate lengths, she eyed him coolly.

Ice hardened along his spine.  “Nobody.  I was talking to myself.”  The habitual shove of hands in pockets followed by clearing his throat spoke volumes.  Logan would put money on it.  “Are you getting ready for bed?”

“Yeah, are you coming?”  Her questioning eyes tracked him as he gathered up his boots.

“No.  I’m not tired right now.  Hey, I think I’ll fly over to Gus’.  He said somebody’s been hanging around the garage after dark.  I want to scout out the area.  Sorta give him some help.  Won’t be long.  Go on to bed.  I’ll be back soon.  Okay?”  Reluctance appeared in her features.  He stepped to her.  “Look, I promise, I won’t be long.  Lock the doors.  I’ll use my key when I get back.”

“Sure.”

The one word grazed across the rawness of having lied to her.  You did not lie to your soulmate.  Stepping to Aubrie, Logan eased in for a kiss.  Soft and gentle, his lips skimmed over hers.  Without effort, his mind relaxed as her hands touched his shoulders.  She had a magnificent talent for making the outside world go away.  Reaching up, he cradled her face in his fingers.  Long, pleasurable moments passed as his mouth swept the corners of hers.  Nibbling her flesh, he bit the corner of her top lip before sucking.  She molded her body into his.  The easy way she gave into his attention stoked his ardor.  Small pulses of electricity ran the length of his body.  His shaft hardened as she stirred his blood with her hands.

“Logan?”

“Yeah, Sugar?”  His heart thrummed with a new and vital beat.

“Make love to me.”

In the light shining in from the bedroom window, her request hit him with the force of steel.  The words were ones he had heard before.  A flicker of memory brought back the night they’d made love under the stars.  This woman channeled his emotions like no other.  No magic compared to her touch.

With a groan, he walked her backward to the bed.  The urgency for her drove him to pull her nightshirt over her head.  “I need you, now,” he whispered.

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Discover more snippets of Deliberate Intent right here where paranormal and romance collide.  Thanks for dropping by.

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Excerpt and Reviews for Deliberate Intent

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Beyond the Veil, Book One of Shadow Company – Aubrie and Logan
I’m happy to share one more excerpt from Deliberate Intent.  In this excerpt, Logan wakes from a dream which cannot be.  His life as an ex-SEAL and warlock is hard enough without this being true.  See what I mean…

Thunder sounded right outside the window.  Logan woke with a jerk.  His skin ran wet with a dampness as thick as if he had run a marathon.  Glancing at the clock on the nightstand, he cursed.  “Three in the morning.”  Nothing good ever happened at three in the morning.  The truth of his opinion weighted his steps as he got up to pad to the window.  Rain hit the glass in a steady, unhurried stream.  A dull ache signaled the onset of a headache.  Another damned migraine.  Where had the dream steered into such an unholy place?

Logan turned to gaze at Aubrie.  The woman he loved lay asleep without concern or reason for fear.  Intent on keeping things just that way, he slipped out of the room.  The deck ran the length of Aubrie’s country home.  Leaning on the rail, he searched the shadows of the shallow valley below.  Unsure if he’d been more disturbed by the fact he’d had a dream about sex with someone other than the woman he was marrying or the notion he’d considered the act therapy, Logan stood wishing for a cigarette.  He had quit smoking after returning from the secular sandbox known as Afghanistan.  War held a man in its profane grip much longer than necessary or even considered normal.  So what did a man do when the dream world woke him at three in the morning with the worst wet dream imaginable, one headlining the ex-woman in his life?

###

I returned from Texas and a birthday weekend with my grand daughter to find something special waiting for me.  Reviews are starting to come in, and I’m pleased to report, the book is well received.  This post includes those reviews and more. Deliberate Intent is featured at I Love Vampire Novels today.  A great site for all lovers of paranormal.Beach Travel Photo Collage

 

First, the Reviews
One reader had this to say on Amazon:
5.0 out of 5 stars FriendsSaving Friends
By Jane – Happy Camper  August 3, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This story is intense.  It shows you how true friends are worth more than gold.
Logan and Aubrie are going to get married! Katie, her best friend, is helping out with the plans. But Logan can’t figure out what’s going on.He’s dreaming things that he never would, and the dreams seem to be real. This ex Navy Seal who is a Warlock has big trouble! And even Aubrie, the seer can’t see what’s going on. Is the Demon Back? Is it a Shadow Walker? Something is out to get him, and is doing it with Deliberate Intent! Duke, one of Logan’s former Navy Seal buddies and a true friend, is being bothered with dreams too. He comes to visit Logan to figure it out. Sparks fly between him and Katie, but they are more concerned with helping Aubrie and Logan. Beyond the Veil proved only a teaser into the world of shadow-walkers, demons, portals, veils, and the Netherworld with Seers and Warlocks and the ghost of Marie Laveau. This story takes you into a puzzle that needs to be solved. But will it? Will Duke and Katie help their best friends? OMG, you just have to read it!!
Another reader shared this review:
on August 3, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved getting to know Duke and Katie and watching them fall in love. It was great to revisit and see what Logan and Aubrie have been up to also. This story picks up a few weeks after they have taken care of the demon Beyond The
Veil and gotten back to normal.
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Deliberate Intent is a Featured Read at I Love Vampire Novels.  Check it out here:
Thanks for loving where paranormal and romance collide.  Until next time, thanks for dropping by.
Catherine
 

Friday Teaser – Reviews of Beyond the Veil

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Beyond the Veil, Book One of Shadow Company – Aubrie and Logan

Many thanks to the readers who shared a review of Beyond the Veil, Book One of Shadow Company.

Nola writes:

An excellent paranormal romance. Logan and Aubrie have that anger and sexual tension thing going on throughout the book. Wow, such stubborn characters! Great plot and well developed! I also enjoyed the secondary characters and feel they are going to be seen again.
Catherine Wolffe can fill my Kindle any day! She is a master at her craft!

Kay writes:

This story will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time. If you love shadow walkers, seer’s, warlocks, demons, and spells, then you need this book. When Aubrie is taken by the demon shadow walker, Logan goes Beyond The Veil to get her back. This is a great story, and I can’t wait for book 2!

Jane writes:

OMG-WOW. .shadow-walkers, demons, portals, Netherworld, and veils, with Seers and Warlocks.. and Marie Laveau.. what a story. Details are intricate. .the story is intriguing and interesting. I love the characters. And am surprised by the story line… It took me differently than I thought it would.
Aubrie Sinclair, a seer from a long line of empaths -meets-Logan Latimar, an ex-Navy SEAL, and warlock. Now Girl meets Navy Seal is enough to be a Super Hot read, but then add the paranormal to it and WOW!! Logan returns from war to work in his brother’s garage, but war doesn’t leave him, the dreams come, and they seem to bring not only the past but the present with them. Aubrie is not only a seer, but a budding author who lives alone with her two dogs, and a horse out in the country and gets visits from a friendly shadow-walker at times. But now she’s pulled into dreams of a war with the hometown hero Logan while being stalked by a demon portraying himself as a shadow-walker.
Will she help Logan with his dreams? And will he rescue her from them and her own trouble with her stalker too? And will Love, the purest form of good help both? I don’t give away spoilers, just advice. READ THIS FANTASTIC BOOK!!

***

An update on Beyond the Veil – A featured read in the upcoming Sizzling Summer Party hosted by The Romance Reviews.  I hope you’ll join me June 1 for giveaways and prizes.  Don’t miss your chance to stock up on loads of great reads just in time for summer.

SSR Box

Now back to the writing cave.  Deliberate Intent is nearing the HEA, and I still have work to do.  (Smiling)  Happy Friday and happy Memorial Day weekend.  Thanks for dropping by!

 

Friday Teaser – Deliberate Intent, Book Two of Shadow Company

Deliberate Intent, book two of Shadow Company is in the works.  I want to share the backdrop of the story with you while the details are being worked out.  Friends of Aubrie and Logan’s come to their rescue when the couple finds themselves involved in a criminal act.  To prove their innocence, Aubrie and Logan must rely on the help of Katie Tibideaux, hometown girl and pharmacist,  and Duke Taylor, ex-Navy SEAL, and cowboy.

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Duke Taylor
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Katie Tibideaux

 

At first glance, these two mere mortals couldn’t be more different.  But as the danger mounts against their friends, Katie and Duke find common ground in a sizzling relationship that proves opposites attract.  In this scene, Katie and Duke are in the vacant house left by Aubrie and Logan when they escaped arrest by disappearing into the Netherworld.

 

 

Searching for clues, neither Katie nor Duke are sure of the other’s intentions.  Yet, thrown together, they discover their attraction to each other is heating up.

Deliberate Intent

Katie’s feet faltered.  Likely reluctant to believe in the depth of his commitment, she stalled.  “Where are we going with this, Duke?”

“Into the future, darlin’.  I intend to make sure you understand just how important you are to me.”  His mouth turned up in a slow grin.  “That intelligent mind of yours is working overtime.  I know what your thinking.  Duke Taylor’s a lone wolf, a drifter, a slick operator.  Love ‘em and leave ’em, am I right?”  Reaching out, he traced the swell of her cheek to the corner of her lush mouth.  “But, I promise you, I’m in this with you for the long haul, Katie.  You’ve cast your spell over me.  The fact is, I don’t want to break that spell.  I’m happier than I’ve ever been with anyone.  Do you know what it takes for a man like me to admit that?”

***

Thanks for dropping by today.  I hope you check out book one of Shadow Company, Beyond the Veil.  The fight for good over evil takes some surprisingly dark turns in the first installment of Shadow Company.  Join Logan Latimar and Aubrie Sinclair as they use their mystical talents to save their small corner of the world.  Demons in the guise of shadow walkers and real life issues brought back from an unforgettable war make life difficult, if not dangerous for these two lovers.  So begins the tale of love in the paranormal.

https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Veil-Shadow-Company-Book-ebook/dp/B01N4FIW55

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Beyond the Veil, Book One of Shadow Company – Aubrie and Logan

 

Just a reminder, book one is available #FREE in return for a review.  Drop me a line at catherinewolffe@gmail.com

 

 

The Romance Reviews’ 6th Annual Celebration is Underway

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Join romance readers around the country for some of the best games and prizes available from romance authors during the month of March.  Each day in the month a different author will offer prizes such as ebooks and more.  All you have to do is play the games to win!

Mark your calendar for March the 17th.  Up for grabs on my page will be the first book in The Loflin Legacy, Comanche Haven.  Enter for your chance to be a winner.  Here’s the link.

Direct Link To My Page: http://www.theromancereviews.com/100003063284941

While you’re there, check out my other books as well.  I look forward to your comments.  Happy reading!

Catherine Wolffe

 

 

 

Beyond the Veil Review – Celebrating Friday the 13th.

Thrilled is an understatement.  I’m happy dancing in my PJ’s this morning over the wonderful review for Beyond the Veil.  https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Veil-Shadow-Company-Book-ebook/dp/B01N4FIW55

Thanks to Jane for the detailed look at my new series called Shadow Company.  As with beginning books, an author sets a stage for the characters in which to live out their stories.  Her insight into the background and intentions of the author or dead on.  I want to give her a high-five for her diligence and support.  Please enjoy her review below.

Oh, by the way – watch your step today.  It’s Friday the 13th.

Format: Kindle Edition

OMG-WOW. .shadow-walkers, demons , portals, Netherworld and veils, with Seers and Warlocks.. and Marie Laveau.. what a story. . Details are intricate. .the story is intriguing and interesting. . I love the characters. And am surprised by the story line… It took me differently than I thought it would.
Aubrie Sinclair, a seer from a long line of empaths -meets-Logan Latimar, an ex-Navy SEAL and warlock. Now Girl meets Navy Seal is enough to be a super Hot read, but then add the paranormal to it and WOW!! Logan returns from war to work in his brothers garage, but war doesn’t leave him, the dreams come and they seem to bring not only the past but the present with them. Aubrie is not only a seer, but a budding author who lives alone with her two dogs, and a horse out in the country and gets visits from a friendly shadow-walker at times. But now she’s pulled into dreams of a war with the hometown hero Logan, while being stalked by a demon portraying himself as a shadow-walker.
Will she help Logan with his dreams ? And will he rescue her from them and her own trouble with her stalker too? And will Love, the purest form of good help both? I don’t give away spoilers, just advice.. READ THIS FANTASTIC BOOK!!
***
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Friday Eve – Spend the Day with Desire’s Embrace

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:

dTHE NEW YOU

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.

Desire’s Embrace

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.”

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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.

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“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.

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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.”

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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.

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“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.

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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?”

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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.

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