Hi, everyone. I’m at home recovering from a root canal but I’d rather be at conference. @_@ I hadn’t intended to talk about the sequel to River’s Edge yet, but the cover arrived last night, I’m muzzy-headed from drugs (yuck) can’t write, or even think, really. So… behold–my cover for Outrageous Pride.
Tali Fitzwilliam doesn’t know she’s the love child of a Texas rancher until he dies. Her father’s legitimate heirs want the land and money he’s willed her, and to get it, they attack her reputation with vengeance. Her only options are to give up what is rightfully hers or marry to gain protection.
As the drought around Isaca takes its toll, Irish immigrant and bare-knuckle boxer, Kellan “Pride” Lonigan is building an empire by buying up land before it goes to auction. He sees opportunity in Miss Fitzwilliam’s dilemma. She’s refined, beautiful, and chaste; three things a rough brawler can only dream of when he takes a wife.
Though she barely knows the Irishman who’s come to town, desperation has Tali considering the former boxer’s proposal. Before she can accept or decline, lurid rumors about her begin to circulate, provoking Tali to make her own outrageous suggestion to the man who’s offered her respectability at his side.
This will prove nothing, Mr. Lonigan,” Jeb Carter’s widow hissed. “I’m here to observe this farce and establish forever that Natalie Fitzwilliam is a whoring slut just as her mother was. The two of you suit just fine, trash calling to trash.”
“Get the screeching cailleach out of here,” Kell snarled.
“No, please, just finish this,” Tali whispered, no longer sure that her idea had been a good one now that she lay with her skirts rolled up to her waist. As soon as her peach colored drawers were removed, her naked lower region would be on view.
Kell was grim-faced and stern so after the first look at him, she closed her eyes. If she hadn’t been so scared, she’d have been mortified.
This will be over in no time. It’s nothing. I’ll just pretend I’m doing something else. That didn’t help a bit when she heard the rustle of skirts as the ladies moved around the cot to get a better view. Calloused hands remove her pantalettes and Tali recognized Kell’s unmistakable touch.
I will never live this embarrassment down. The cot sagged under her and then he was there, pushing her legs apart.
“Tali, look at me,” Kell said gruffly.
“No,” she whispered. She was shaking so hard the bed moved from the force of her tremors.
He leaned over and brushed his lips across hers, his message hushed and intimate as he said, “It’ll be fine, love. I’ll try not to hurt ye.”
Talia’s eyes popped open at his words. It was all for show of course. She wasn’t his love and he had no real affection for her. But she knew many of the women who’d volunteered to be observers and she was grateful for his pretense.
“They’ll be no chicanery here, Pride Lonigan. I know you think you’re going to spill your own blood somehow to make it seem she’s virgin. I demand that you either show what you’ve got in your pockets or take off your pants.” As the women watched, Celia Carter grabbed Kell, which, given his state of mind, was a mistake.
“I canna smack the lying smirk from yer face, but if ye donna take yer hand off me arm, I’ll put ye on yer arse.”
“Don’t threaten me, you Irish lout.” But Celia dropped her hand and stepped back.
Since Tali’s lower extremities were bare with nothing between her and the women’s stares, she drew a deep breath and ordered him, “Don’t you dare hold back now, Kell Lonigan.”
Without a word, he dropped his pants and climbed back on the bed, again situating himself between her legs.
“Oh, me lovely colleen, ‘tis a fine gift ye bring yer husband today,” he mumured in his lilting Irish brogue before he covered her mouth with his. Distracted though she was by his kiss, she still felt the head of his shaft part the lips of her cleft and brush across the opening of her channel.
He ended the kiss and sat back on his heels so the ladies could see what he was about to do. Tali leaned up on her elbows and looked too. The heart of her womanhood was as dry as her mouth when he rubbed his manhood in the soft folds of her sex. She’d never envisioned her first time being this way.
“Natalie Lonigan, I’ll be making you my wife now.” Talia felt a shiver of awareness as Kell spoke grim words for her ears only and held her gaze as if trying to reassure her. It had the opposite effect. Her flesh chilled and her breath stopped in her chest. She looked at the stranger kneeling over her and then in panic at the women gazing down at them.
Somebody stop this right now. The women’s avid stares announced clearly they were not going to interrupt the proceedings. Celia Carter’s eyes glittered with malice.
“Tali.” Kell cupped her chin, angling her head so that she stared into his eyes. Below, the tip of his shaft nudged and stretched what had never been touched before. She gasped when he pushed harder, breaching her flesh.
He stopped; his expression was almost sorrowful. He stared down at her with his manhood half lodged in her narrow opening and witnesses waiting to testify for or against her purity. It was obviously up to Tali to take charge.
“Now,” she demanded and thrust her hips upward, propelling his thick member through the veil of her innocence.
It was awful. It felt as though the walls of her channel were being scraped with sandpaper. Kell took back control, tilted her for better access, and plunged to her core. Her vow to be silent forgotten, Tali’s scream echoed around the room.
“What the hell’s he doing to her?” she heard someone on the outside of their enclosure say.
Kell shielded the view of her body from the others as he cradled her face in his hands.
“The likes of such loving will be but once, my sweet, sweet Tali.” His gaze held hers as he declared, “I’ll not hurt ye again.”
Their flesh remained joined and their first marital discord witnessed.
“Don’t promise to be a saint when you’re closer to a devil, Kell Lonigan,” she told him. “You’ll hurt me a thousand times more and you know it.”
“Aye, I expect ye have the right of it, Mrs. Lonigan. I’m glad to see ye’ve got yer sass back,” he murmured.
Tali watched his eyes crinkle at the corners in an almost smile and then he hugged her close for a moment before he began the process of withdrawing. It hurt worse. Pain ratcheted through her, necessitating that she bite her lip to keep from crying out again. She could feel a trickle of wet sliding down her cheek and prayed it was sweat and not tears. She would not weep like a child in front of these people.
Kell held her gaze as he withdrew. Then he stood and faced the women with the red of Talia’s innocence displayed on his still engorged cock.
Thanks for stopping to say hi, today!