Dear Readers, thanks for your interest in excerpts from my books. I'll be posting a few of them during the upcoming weeks.
"Resurrected," the first book in my new Historical Romance "Tender Mysteries Series," is featured this week. "Resurrected" is available for FREE as a download at Amazon, B&N, the I-Books store, Sony, Kobo Books and other places on the Internet. This book is also available in paperback.
Deborah couldn’t believe she was sitting at a table in the middle of Hope, Nebraska’s Town Square pretending to be Steven Paxton’s sweetheart. Of all the silly ideas which had ever been concocted by any human being since the time of Adam and Eve, this had to be the silliest.
“You should always wear pale blue and white, Miss Deborah. You look quite fetching in those colors,” Steven said smoothly.
“You don’t need to say things a beau would say,” Deborah said complacently. “Our charade requires only that you act like we’re lovers, not that you speak as though we were.”
“Forgive me. I’m doing my best to play the part. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“Offend me? You didn’t offend me, Mr. Paxton. I just wanted to let you know flirtatious flattery isn’t necessary. You aren’t really my beau. You need only to look like you’re my beau by your actions when we’re in public.”
“Yes, of course,” he said, inclining his head in her direction.
Deborah turned her attention to the people and the setting surrounding her. She inhaled the scent of roses from a nearby flower bed and the fragrance of popcorn being roasted in a big kettle a few feet away.
She carefully scanned the crowd, hoping to eye at least one of the people from the list she and her sisters had compiled of the suspected thieves.
“Do you see anyone we’re looking for?” Steven asked.
She shook her head. “Not yet.” Rather than looking at him as she spoke, she continued her perusal of the folks gathered in Town Square.
For several minutes neither she nor Steven spoke. The silence put her at ease. If Steven wasn’t speaking, if he wasn’t delving into her soul with those scrutinizing blue eyes of his, she wouldn’t have to admit to herself just how unsettled her emotions became whenever he was nearby.
“Mr. Paxton, do you think if we--” She stopped speaking when she felt his hand on hers. “What are you doing?” she asked, looking at him in shock.
“I’ve taken your hand so I can hold it the way a beau would,” he said, grinning at her.
“It’s unseemly.” The feel of his warmth against her gloved hand flustered her more than his soul-searching eye contact had when he’d come by the house to collect her earlier.
“A beau taking his lady’s hand is perfectly appropriate, Miss Deborah.”
She shook her head. “This just doesn’t seem right.”
“Yet, you’ve not withdrawn your hand, have you?”
She gave her hand a slight tug, and he tightened his grasp.
“Do you want me to let go of your hand?” he asked softly.
His searing eye contact heated her from crown to soles.
“N-no, I suppose not. I did say we should do things a couple would do, but don’t…don’t you dare say things a beau would say.”
She gave him a steadfast nod. “Good.”
Another attractive grin touched his lips before his gaze left her and settled on the crowd of people around them.
“Isn’t that short, skinny boy with the round face, mussed-up brown hair and glasses standing near the willow tree Albert Anderson?”
Deborah looked to her left at the lad in the blue plaid shirt and black pants. Her broad brimmed white chapeau with the blue ribbon shaded her eyes from the bright afternoon sunshine. “He’s the Anderson boy alright.”
“He looks harmless enough at the moment.”
“Retarded or not, he’s usually well behaved at public events, but, still, we should keep an eye on him. He could be our thief. He’s taken an uncommon interest in several of our things.”
“I don’t suppose he can get into much trouble eating ice cream at a social,” Steven speculated.
“Let’s hope not,” she said, hoping the boy wasn’t the thief. Considering his mental shortcomings, life had to be difficult enough for the boy without getting into trouble with the law.
A flash of red on her periphery caught Deborah’s attention, and she immediately turned to determine the source of the bright color. Seeing Albert had put her senses on alert, and the presence of one suspect reminded her of the purpose of being at the social with Steven.
Marcie Wilhelm, another suspect, dressed in a bright red, form-fitting dress, stood a few yards away gazing at Deborah. She nodded and twirled her red and white parasol when Deborah caught her eye. “It’s Marcie.”
“Where?” Steven said.
“There, near the man with the handlebar mustache, white shirt and black bow tie.”
Steven glanced in the direction Deborah had indicated. “Do you mean that lovely blonde woman dressed in red is the despised Marcie Wilhelm Susan wants to torture?”
Deborah tugged Steven’s hand, and he looked at her. “She only wants to torture her if she’s taken our mother’s cameo.”
“Yes, of course.” Steven glanced at Marcie again. “I hope she’s not the thief. I’d hate to see any harm come to her. She’s a very beautiful woman.”
His complimentary declaration regarding Marcie set Deborah’s stomach on fire. Humph, she thought, I’m fetching, but she’s beautiful?
“I suppose she is, if you like that kind of girl.”
“What man wouldn’t?”
Deborah jerked his hand. “What did you say?”
Ooh, she hadn’t meant to add such an annoying tone to her words. In fact, she hadn’t meant to say the words out loud at all. She sounded and, worse yet, felt like a jealous shrew when she had no reason to be jealous at all. She and Steven were not sweethearts.
“I said Miss Wilhelm is a beautiful woman, the kind most men would find quite attractive--even men who were in love with someone else altogether.” He tilted his head, a gesture she found terribly attractive, and grinned at her. “A fact is a fact, Miss Deborah, and the fact is that Miss Wilhelm is a lovely lady. Surely you can’t argue against evidence anyone can plainly see,” he said, leaning his head in Marcie’s direction.
Deborah glanced at Marcie briefly before settling her gaze on Steven again. “You’re absolutely correct. Marcie Wilhelm is beautiful.”
“That’s all I’m saying,” he said with a wave of his hand.
“But she might just be a black-hearted thief too!”
God bless all of you, Dear Readers, with a wonderful week.
Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author
Fran's Web Page