(Forbidden Romance, #4)
Publication date: October 13th 2020
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Western
From a RWA award-winning and #1 bestselling author comes a scorching new historical romance!
Scandal is second nature to outcast Kimimela Wallace…and so are the passions she can’t deny.
Fleeing a forbidden desire in the small Oklahoma town where her white father raised her, Kimi escapes to the Cheraksaw Reservation to be with her mother—and quickly finds herself in the arms of her childhood friend, Soaring Falcon. But no sooner does she arrive than her mother forces her out to make it on her own. The only thing to do is to take work she doesn’t want…as a governess for hard-hearted widower, Alex Randall. But the rumors and the reputation Kimi fled in town follow her there. And so does her curiosity as Mr. Randall stirs new desires in her when she discovers his shocking secret. Then tragedy strikes, and Kimi must risk everything to save both men. But deciding who will win her heart may mean stripping away the one thing she values most—her freedom. Can she give up one love for another, or will passion and forbidden desires lead to more than she thought possible?
“You’re a good man, Alex.” Kimi’s gaze was steady, urging him to meet it.
Finally, he spoke. “Have you ever been in love?”
Kimi was startled by the question. “I . . . I don’t know. Love is confusing.”
He turned to her. Their hands still touched. “Love is the simplest thing in the world.”
Kimi’s gaze fell beyond Alex. “Not for me.”
“Because you were promised to Chayton and he chose another?”
Kimi snapped her attention back. “I was never attached to him, and I do not yearn for his love.”
“It’s not a bad thing. Being in love is wonderful.” His chin dropped and he pinched his brow. “When the person loves you back. Chayton would be a good match for you. He obviously cares for you.”
“You cannot comprehend, Alex. For men like you, life is uncomplicated. You’ve never had the likes of Mrs. Johns throwing aspersions at you since you first understood what an insult was. It muddles everything. Even love.”
Their gazes locked. Pain was in his eyes, and for a moment Kimi wondered if he thought of his dead wife. Since he’d been injured, all she’s wanted to do is relieve him of his hurts, and so she did something quite shocking. On an impulse, she rocked forward and kissed him squarely on the mouth.
The pads of his lips were soft, but unmoving. Kimi released him, but kept her gaze steady, unapologetic.
“Why did you do that?” he asked.
“I don’t know.”
He exhaled, long and slow. “You’re mixed up in the life and death of this unusual situation.”
“Don’t tell me my mind.” Kimi prickled. “I make my own choices.”
And to prove her point, she tucked her knees and folded forward, pressing her lips solidly to his again, her hands on either side of his face. No sooner had she enjoyed this delicious connection than Alex pushed her gently but firmly from him.
“Kimi, we can’t. You’re too young. Barely nineteen. Will would have my hide. I’d have my hide.”
“Most women I know are married by my age,” Kimi protested.
“I don’t mean you’re too young to be with a man—I mean you’re too young for me. You should be with someone like Chayton. Young, vibrant. Not old and damaged.”
“I’m not talking about marriage.”
Alex’s eyes widened. “Kimi, you sometimes are very shocking.”
“Am I wrong that something passed between us when you found that photograph in my room? I saw it in your eyes. I see it now.”
Alex shifted away. “It’s unseemly to discuss this. I told you I didn’t mean to have those photographs. I’m horrified you found them. Oh god. I’ve ruined you. Men and women . . . they don’t, er, it’s not like what you saw in the picture. I mean, if they’re married, perhaps. But—”
“Indian women lie with Indian men when they’re not married.” At least that had been the way before the settlers came. Kimi wasn’t sure how often it happened now. But if she looked at Chayton as an example, it was still something that was done.
Alex rubbed his hand over his face, exasperated. “You weren’t raised like that. You were raised in society.”
“You’re wrong. My mother has always been a great influence. I feel the blood of my ancestors strong in me. And I don’t see what’s wrong with these cravings. A kiss never hurt anyone.”
Alex scooted to the other side of the room, and sat near the supplies.
Kimi crossed her arms over her chest, annoyed. “Do you desire me? Or do you not like the native blood in me?”
“Stop.” Alex sharpened his gaze. “My rejection has nothing to do with that. We shouldn’t even be speaking of these things. It isn’t proper. This is all highly disturbing. If I didn’t know you better, I’d think you were hysterical.”
“What if I am? Nobody would fault you for taking me.”
“I’m not ‘taking you.’”
Alex winced, gripping his injured arm. The makeshift bandage on his bicep seeped blood.
“Come here,” Kimi said.
“I think it’s best if I stay where I am.”
“Your bandage needs changing.” Kimi unrolled a fresh bandage and opened a jar of antiseptic.
Reluctantly, Alex sat beside her, his back ramrod straight. Kimi unrolled the soiled cloth from his forearm, cleaned his wound the best she could, then wrapped it with the fresh bandage.
When she was done, she sat back, but he stayed at the edge of the mat, rigid. Kimi fiddled with the edge of her ripped hide skirt, which ended several inches above her knee. Alex scanned his gaze up her thighs and then took the edges of the blanket and folded it over her legs, covering her naked skin.
He tucked his good arm under his head and spread his long body on the wood floor, beside the mat.
“Let’s rest. I think that bump may be having an odd effect on your sensibility.”
After her own misadventures in New York City, LA, and London, Brooke Stanton now lives in Dallas, Texas. She's the bestselling and award winning author of the Bloom Sisters and Forbidden Romance series. Visit her website brookestantonbooks.com.
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