Okay, folks, I’m starting to get both nervous and excited with the countdown clock on Lea’s widgit at four days and a few hours. Sweet Restraint, here you come! The Sweet Restraint contest over at Lea’s blog ends today with an instant gratification ebook giveaway, so make sure you enter!
Beth Williamson is familiar, I’m sure, with release day jitters, having just gone through one herself (she’s actually a veteran writer who has PLENTY of experience with release days, so I’m just guessing here.) The Redemption of Micah from Kensington Brava is at stores now. Beth is known for her super hot, emotional stories that feature oh so sexy cowboys. As Beth says on her website, Read a Book, Ride a Cowboy! So come on, ladies, get on your chaps!
ONCE UPON A TIME, THEY LOVED EACH OTHER
Nothing about the room that Eppie awakens in feels like home—not the furnishings, the ill-fitting clothes, or the Colorado sunlight streaming in through the windows. And certainly not the stranger with long dark hair and silver eyes who claims to have been waiting for her for three long years.
Micah Spalding has spent each day hoping that Eppie would open her eyes and return to him. Yet the Eppie he loved was spirited and outspoken—utterly different to this reserved, aloof woman. Since her injury, Eppie has no memory of Micah or their daughter, or of a passion that was powerful enough to defy every convention. And though his scent and touch trigger something deep within her, Eppie can’t bring herself to believe in him.
Once, when war between his countrymen had almost broken him, Eppie brought Micah back to life. Now he must find a way to reach through the distance between them and remind her of everything they once shared, and prove that he has belief enough for both of them…
Eppie had just gotten herself settled in the chair when she heard the crash and the girl screaming. She jumped up with more energy than she thought she had and darted out the door. The sheer size of the house made her eyes goggle and she wondered if he’d been telling more truth than she realized.
She spotted him at the bottom of the steps, the tray of foot scattered around him. The girl sat beside him smacking his cheek.
“Daddy, wake up.”
Eppie made her way down the stairs, clutching the thick mahoghany banister. When she made it to the bottom, the little girl looked up at her with tears in her eyes.
“I’m not sure, honey.” Eppie’s fear was that he’d died before she figured out if he was telling the truth, or worse, that he was truthful and didn’t get a chance to tell her everything about herself. She’d be trapped in a house she didn’t know with a child she didn’t know in a town that was as unfamiliar as the people around her.
She knelt down and put her hand on his chest, and felt the steady beat of his heart. A breath of relief whooshed out of her. He must have just knocked himself unconscious when he fell. She didn’t think she knew much about being a doctor, but she did feel for any broken bones and was glad to find none.
“He bumped his head and went to sleep.”
Instead of reassuring the girl, she started screaming and shaking Micah by the shoulders. “No, Daddy, wake up!”
Eppie didn’t know what to do to calm the girl down. Her reaction made no sense.
“He’ll wake up in a minute or two. Why don’t you get a pillow for his head?”
The girl sobbed even louder but she nodded her head and stuck her doll under his neck. The sight made Eppie want to laugh, but she swallowed the chuckle. She started picking up the broken plate and the pieces of biscuits. Without being asked, Miracle helped clean up even as she continued to cry.
Eppie didn’t know if that was common for her, but she knew it was unusual for a girl that age to have such a sense of responsibility. After they’d picked up the mess, Micah still hadn’t roused. Eppie wasn’t really worried, but she was getting concerned.
“Where is the kitchen?”
The girl pointed to room down the hall.
“Can you go get a glass of water for your daddy?”
“Why?” Precocious little thing.
“To help him wake up.”
The child looked at her as if she’d sprouted horns, but went to the kitchen just the same, frowning fiercely and crying all the way. It gave Eppie an opportunity to study Micah up close without feeling self-conscious about it. She could see the resemblance between he and the girl, a glimmer of his cheekbones and chin. The hair, of course, was identical.
He had a terrible scar that ran from his jaw line down his neck. It was deep and made by something sharp. He had a whisper of whiskers on his cheeks, and shadows permanently etched below his eyes. There were very light brown baby hairs around his hairline. Without even thinking about it, she reached out to brush the hair from his forehead.
Miracle’s stern admonishment made her heart skip a beat. Eppie turned around and managed a small smile.
“I was making sure he was okay.”
The doubtful expression didn’t leave her little face. She thrust the cup of water forward, splashing some on both of them.
“Thank you, Miracle.” Eppie’s stomach was jumping around like crazy, but she put her hand behind his neck and trickled water into his mouth. He swallowed, thankfully, then he sighed, the smell of lemon tickling her nose.
His eyelashes fluttered and her relief knew no bounds when those silver orbs peeped up at her.
“You fell down the stairs and knocked yourself silly.” She set the glass down and let his head back down onto the doll.
“I did? Oh damn, the water, I forgot.” His eyes widened. “Is Miracle okay?”
“She’s fine. A little upset.” An understatement, but she didn’t want to scare him.
“I here, Daddy.” She inserted herself between them, the warmth of her little body seeped into Eppie’s. It startled her and she shifted back to escape from the sensation. She definitely wasn’t ready to be physically close to anyone, much less a child calling her “Mama”.
“Thank God.” Micah took Eppie’s hand in his. “You have my gratitude.”
She wanted to snatch her hand away, but at the same time, his dry slender hand felt comfortable in hers. A shiver ran up her spine at the thought.
“It’s not hard to be kind to people in need.” She managed to extract her hand and sat back on the step above him. “Do you think you can get up?”
He frowned and shifted, wincing as he did. “I think so, but it’s going to take me a few minutes. I think I bruised my back.”
Although she didn’t want to touch him, she helped him to his feet. Even if her head and her heart didn’t remember him, it appeared her body did. She wasn’t sure if it was just being close, his scent or something else entirely. Whatever it was, as soon as her arm went around his waist, her body warmed to his and heat flowed between them.
To her astonishment, even her nipples hardened. She hoped to God he didn’t feel those against his side. She’d be absolutely mortified if he did. It was hard enough to forget everybody she knew, but to have no control over her body made it even worse.
“I help.” Miracle jumped around the other side of her father and together they steadied him.
“Where is your room?”
“Upstairs next to Miracle’s. It’s the largest room in the house and Madeline insisted on me taking it.” He smiled sadly. “I think perhaps she thought you and I might use it together.”
Eppie wanted to let him fall on his head for trying to manipulate her. He had to understand she didn’t forget him on purpose. She’d give anything to remember one shred of who she was. If he kept pushing her, eventually she would shut the door on any possibility of a relationship with him. One thing she did know about herself is she didn’t like to be forced into decisions.
She’d been doing a lot of thinking since she’d woken up. There were a lot of decisions to make and she wasn’t done making them. Micah would just have to be patient.
Somehow they made it up the stairs and none of them fell back down. Micah straightened and took hold of the banister and Eppie let him go. Her body yelled at her to grab him again but she listened her head instead and crossed her arms, stepping away.
“Thank you.” He took a shaky breath. “I’ll be okay. I’m going to splash some water on my face.” He laughed. “Although I might have had enough water for the day.”
Eppie couldn’t help the smile that escaped. His charm was a surprise. “I’ll be in, well, in my room I suppose.” She ducked away and escaped before he could call her back.
She leaned against the door and pressed a hand to her chest, trying to will her heart to slow down the blood as it raced through her. Since she didn’t even feel comfortable being in the house with him, it made no sense that she tingled just being next to Micah.
Winded and exhausted from too much so fast, she climbed into bed and pulled up the quilt. Within minutes, she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.
So leave Beth a comment about her books and TWO people who have their names drawn will win either The Redemption of Micah or The Education of Madeline! Thank you very much Beth for this marvelous giveaway! Remember, even if you don’t win, be sure to check out Beth’s books. She’s an excellent writer.
Beth, here are a couple questions for you if you stop by:
What would you say was THE most exciting moment in your writing career?
What are you working on now?
Why do you think your character is a good fit for westerns and sexy cowboys?