Haunted by scandal, Eden Mallory is determined to start over in a small Kentucky town. But she won't soon forget the sexy, rugged doctor who rescued her from an outlaw, then rode off into the storm.
After losing his kid-brother to consumption, Dr. Michael Jones is obsessed with saving lives. He has no room for love or a wife. But the nights are lonely, and Eden haunts his dreams.
When Eden becomes his backdoor neighbor, she turns his world upside-down with her unconventional healing skills and sweet temptations. Then outlaws return, forcing Michael to confront his past if he is to save the most precious life of all.
Eden dashed away tears and wiped them on her skirts. "You can be very cruel, Michael."
She rounded on him. "Why? Why do you pretend to be cruel when you're not?"
She'd startled him. Chagrin flickered in the ocean-blue depths of his eyes.
"It's hardly pretense. I am what I am."
"No." She shook her head emphatically. "I've met cruel men before. They have no conscience. But you, you'd blame yourself for every sickness you can't avert."
His shoulders grew taut.
"You'd lay down your life for a child," she added more gently.
"You can't possibly know that."
"I was there, Michael. I saw you. You would have torn that wagon apart, splinter by splinter, to dig Jamie out."
A familiar agony pierced Michael's chest. It was true—everything she'd said. But on the day of the accident, he hadn't seen Jamie under that wagon, he'd seen Gabriel. Ten years had eased none of the pain. In every cough, every sprain, every broken bone and wound, he saw the ghost of his kid brother. Gabriel's death had left a scorched abyss where his soul once had been.
And if he ever fell into that pit, Michael knew, he'd never crawl out again.
"I told you," he said curtly. "Healing people is my responsibility."
"Your responsibility or your passion?"
"You suffer romantic delusions about me."
"You'd like to think I do. You'd like to convince us both you don't feel any grief or pain."
He didn't like where this conversation was heading. "Are you sure you haven't set your cap for me?"
That derailed her from her track. Her chin rose, quivering beneath flashing, storm-flecked eyes.
"I told you I haven't."
"Because you'd regret it."
"Why?" she demanded again.
His gaze roamed over her ribbon-bound hair, shimmering like molten copper in the lamplight. Renegade wisps curled softly in the hollow of her throat, just beside the flurry of her pulse, and his lashes fanned lower. He didn't want her to see the long-constrained hunger that would have made him feast upon that column of peaches and cream—or, God help him, the ripe, pouty handfuls that heaved just an arm's length away. Lightning surged to his loins as he envisioned the globes of her breasts spilling over his palms, their tender rosettes jutting into his mouth.
"Because I'm not the angel I was named after."
She licked her lips. Nerves, he told himself, not guile. Still, to spy the pink tip of that tongue chipped at his straining self-control.
"You're just saying that," she said tremulously. "To make me think less of you. You couldn't bear it if anyone tried to hold you up to your own impossible standards."
Her insight, spoken with such hard-won defiance, was almost as unnerving as the realization that the seventeen-year-old who'd once bathed his wounds had grown into a woman wiser than her years, a woman who could see clear to the charred bottom of his soul.
But Michael had never cowered before a worthy opponent, and he wasn't about to start now. He stepped closer. Then closer still. He halted only when his thighs were bare inches from her skirts, when his shoulders towered above hers and she was forced to crane her neck to meet his gaze. It was a deliberate tactic, one designed to press his physical advantage, and yet, at this proximity, he was forced to breathe her fragrance.
The intoxication of lilies, lavender, and cherry pie was almost his undoing.
"I'm not afraid of you, Michael."
"You should be, Eden," he said huskily. "Very, very afraid."
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Adrienne deWolfe is a #1 best-selling author and the recipient of 48 writing awards, including the Best Historical Romance of the Year for Texas Wildcat (Book 3, Wild Texas Nights) and Doubleday’s Book of the Month Selection for His Wicked Dream (Book 2, Velvet Lies.) Adrienne is excited to announce that she will be donating a portion of her royalties from the Velvet Lies Series to urban reforestation efforts.
Fascinated by all things mystical, Adrienne writes a weekly blog about dragons, magic, and the paranormal at http://MagicMayhemBlog.com to help her research her upcoming paranormal romance series. She also writes a weekly blog featuring tips about the business of writing at http://WritingNovelsThatSell.com. She enjoys mentoring aspiring authors and offers professional story critiques with her book coaching services.
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