First Kiss Friday – In Sunshine or In Shadow by Cynthia Owens

Today’s First Kiss Friday featured guest is Cynthia Owens, author of historical romance In Sunshine or In Shadow.  Welcome Cynthia!  Here’s the first kiss between Rory O’Brien and Siobhan Desmond.

“The people of Ballycashel are my people now, Siobhán—”

“Your slaves, you mean.”

“They are free to go whenever they please. And if anyone comes to me wanting to emigrate, I will gladly purchase passage for them—but on a decent ship, not a floating coffin.”

She stared up at him, her expression changing slowly from disbelief to wary acceptance. Her lips trembled slightly, and every muscle in his body tightened in response. With his left hand, he caressed her cheek, twining his other arm about her waist to absorb her startled shiver.

“Who are you, David Burke?” she asked softly, her hand coming up to his where it rested lightly against her neck. “You come to Ballycashel a total stranger to this land. You buy an estate that’s threatening to tumble down about your ears, with more debts than would fill a ship, and proceed to befriend your tenants—your people,” she amended with a wry smile that went straight to his battered and bruised heart. “And now you’re offering them decent housing and a chance for a future. Why?”

Surely Rory could be forgiven for pressing his lips to the tiny pucker between her brows. And for nuzzling the soft skin at her temple, breathing in the fresh, clean scent of her hair.

“Why, David?” she persisted, even as she melted against him, her hands moving restlessly up and down his back.

“I had to,” he murmured hoarsely, his breath quickening as his lips probed the silky skin just below her ear. He pulled her closer, molding her lithe body against his. “God—my heart, you’re so soft, so perfect.”

“Why did you have to? Why are you here? Glenleigh had no living relatives, so far as anyone knew.”

“No more questions,” he growled. “No more questions, no more arguments. Only this.” His lips skated over the satin skin of her collarbone, and she moaned in response. “Just this,” he muttered as she shivered and pressed against him. “And this.” He nibbled the point of her chin, and she gave a startled gasp. “And this,” he groaned as he finally captured her lips with his own.

She made a tiny sound, part protest, part capitulation, and he caught it with his mouth, his tongue thrusting to meet hers. Her hands tightened on his back as he caught her head in his right hand and held her.

God, how he’d longed to be able to feel the silky softness of her hair against his bare skin. For so long he’d been deprived of human contact, and now his desire for something as simple as the touch of her hair on his skin nearly drove him mad.

Then she gave a small cry and tore herself out of his arms. She spun around, taking several rapid steps away from him, then stood trembling, her arms clutching her middle. He stood, his breath coming fast and hard, and stared at the expression of loathing on her beautiful face.

“Siobhán, I—”

“No!” She shook her head wildly. “No more.” She pressed a shaking hand to her mouth. “I won’t be the landlord’s whore!”

Landlord’s whore? What the hell was she talking about? He wasn’t asking her to…to…

Or was he?

“Siobhán, I assure you, I wasn’t suggesting you become my—” he winced— “my paramour.”

“Give it any name you like,” she shot back. “I wouldn’t sell myself to Glenleigh for a crust of bread. What makes you think I’d do it for you?”

*****

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