Thanks to Smashwords for their new pre-order program for Indie Authors. The first book, A Daring Proposal, in my new Colorado Dreams and Desires, is now available for pre-order.
Soon it will be available in the
Apple iBookstore and B&N, too!
Read an excerpt below:
Three steps down the center aisle, in her painfully pink maid-of-honor gown, Chaney’s smile faltered. If not for the bride waiting behind her, she would have turned around and marched out the front doors. No, she wouldn’t give the surprise best man the satisfaction. She kept walking. She moved her focus to the groom. The fire burning in her eyes should make her soon-to-be brother-in-law burst into flames any minute.
He knew how she felt about Jed. Her sister did too. How badly Jed had hurt her. Okay, maybe they didn’t know how badly he hurt her. No one knew that. However, everyone knew she wanted nothing to do with him.
Besides, didn’t she have enough problems with the ranch, their father’s death, and Belle’s wedding? Chaney reached the front of the church. She turned to watch her sister walk down the aisle, and all her anger melted away.
Belle looked every bit the fairytale bride. The white as high-peak snow antebellum gown and jeweled tiara veil were perfect. The smile on her face brightened as she walked toward the man she loved. An odd mix of joy and jealousy knotted in Chaney’s stomach.
She wasn’t jealous of Belle. Her sister’s happiness meant the world to her. The jealousy came from knowing love wasn’t in the cards for her. Shaking off the stupid self-pity, she turned as her sister reached the groom’s side. Doing so put Jed in her line of vision again.
How dare he meet her gaze and smile? The knot in her stomach intensified, but Chaney didn’t let the pain show. This day belonged to Belle. Turning her gaze back to her sister, she clenched her jaw and prayed for strength while the bridesmaids whispered and giggled behind her. There was no mistaking what man they were whispering about. Women always fawned over Jed.
Her hand strangled the bouquet she held with the unwelcome reminder of her and Jed’s past. A quick glare over her shoulder silenced the girls. As she turned back, the preacher asked who gave Belle’s hand in marriage.
“I do.” Chaney’s face flushed when the words croaked out of her dry throat. It should be their father giving his favorite daughter away. He hadn’t liked Belle’s choice of husband. Marrying the son of the man their father had quarreled with as long as she could remember should have been an insult. The only explanation was their father had been too sick to fight about it by the time Steve asked for Belle’s hand. They had no doubt waited until after he died to decide on the best man. If Dad had known they were planning to have Jed stand up, there would have been hell to pay. Dad made no bones about his feelings toward the man. He would have forbidden it.
The ridiculous thought had her hiding a grin behind a fake cough. Dad had never said no to Belle. To be honest, Chaney couldn’t remember ever saying it to her sister either. Even if she had known about Jed’s part in the wedding, she wouldn’t have this time. When their mother died soon after Belle’s birth, Chaney made Belle’s happiness her main goal.
At least you’ve succeeded at one thing.
The reminder of what a shambles the rest of her life was, made her pull her shoulders back, and stand taller. She didn’t know the meaning of the word quit. It didn’t matter what absurd challenges her father, Belle, or anyone else threw at her. She’d never backed down from a dare in her life, and she wasn’t about to start now. With renewed determination, she met Jed’s gaze straight on, daring him to look away first.
# # #
Jed held Chaney’s stare across the space between them. Her features remained calm, but her gaze held no warmth. Angry heat, yes. Warmth, no. Not when aimed at him, but every time she looked at Belle, her demeanor softened. When she glanced his way, hard didn’t quite define it.
It was obvious she hadn’t known he was the best man. The hate heating those caramel eyes was proof. Of course, she’d probably been too busy with her precious ranch to ask about details. He knew exactly how important the ranch was to her. God he hated that place.
Still, the heart he thought dead except regarding his daughter had been jump-started seeing Chaney again. The way the light through the stained glass windows danced on her sun-streaked brown hair. Her trim but well-proportioned body was temptation personified. The warmth of her melted caramel eyes . . . .
Warmth? Hah! Her eyes were hot. The kind of hot that would burn the flesh off a man from twenty paces. If luck were on his side, most of the wedding traditions would be overlooked. Like the bridal dance, and riding to the reception together. Being that close to Chaney might break the tight rein he kept on his control these days.
“May I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Sampson.”
The preacher’s pronouncement jerked Jed back to the ceremony. He joined the rest of the congregation in applauding the happy couple, while berating himself for letting his mind wander. At least he’d focused on the ceremony long enough to hand Steve the rings. When his cousin and Belle started down the aisle, Jed’s gaze once again found Chaney.
He took the few steps to meet her in the center of the aisle. Offering his arm, he swore sparks shot through the sleeve of his tuxedo at her touch. Obviously, the disastrous ending to their relationship hadn’t dulled his awareness of her.
Was there ever any doubt?
“Steve told me you knew,” he whispered.
“Of course I knew. Who else would Steve ask to stand up for him?”
Jed couldn’t hold back his grin. “You never were a very good liar.”
“It doesn’t matter. You would do anything for Steve. I would do anything for Belle. So, here we are.” She lifted her chin toward the new couple. “This is their day. It’s not about us.”
True enough. There were only two people Jed would do anything for: his daughter and Steve. Coming to Colorado to stand up for his cousin, despite all the unpleasant memories brought on by the place, was easy compared to what he needed to do for his daughter. However, he had to do something or his ex would take Ashley out of his life for good. It wasn’t because his ex cared about their daughter. No, to Johanna their daughter was a tool. A tool she could use to hurt Jed. If there was anything his ex loved, it was causing him pain.
He and Chaney reached the foyer of the church. Her hand disappeared from his arm as she ran to her sister, wrapping her in a hug. Jed remembered many such moments when they were younger. The two women were very close despite their differences. Watching them had often made him long for a sibling. Of course, to have siblings you had to have parents. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath to push the old depressing thoughts down. He had enough going on without reliving a hopeless childhood.
“Hey, big guy. Can a bride get a kiss?”
Jed’s eyes popped open and he smiled easily at the cheerful blonde before him. He stepped up to his new cousin and gave her a kiss then hugged and slapped Steve on the back. After a minute, he stepped back and allowed others to congratulate the couple. Eventually, the church emptied and the wedding party returned to the sanctuary for a half hour of picture taking.
While he smiled and laughed, his mind churned with ways to win the upcoming custody battle. He watched the photographer take one last picture of the happy couple in front of a stained glass window. Love, as much as the sun through the glass, made the air around them radiant. He turned and saw the colored light cast a soft glow on Chaney’s face. His heart clenched for a moment as an outrageous idea came to him.
~ ~ ~ ~
I hope you will join Chaney & Jed for a wild ride and pre-order A Daring Proposal today.
Until next time, Happy Reading!