First Kiss Friday – Marie Higgins

Today’s First Kiss Friday featured guest is Marie Higgins, author of historical romance Secrets and Lies.  Welcome Marie! 

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A bit about Secrets and Lies

On secret assignment from President Grant, Nicole Bastian is tasked with investigating a string of train robberies in which government money was stolen. The stakes are high and she is utterly devastated when she uncovers information that indicates the man of her dreams, Ashton Lee, one of the wealthy owners of Conrail is the number one suspect. Desperate to remain cool and impartial, Nicole strives to keep her suspicions quiet until she learns what Ashton is keeping from her. At the same time, she’s determined to keep her own secrets from Ashton, hoping he never finds out.

Ashton Lee is immediately attracted to the woman he’d met at the masked ball. Unfortunately, there’s something not right about her, and he can’t put his finger on why he thinks this way. She’s mysterious, beautiful, but very secretive. Dare he allow her to soften his heart? And more importantly, will she understand why he keeps secrets from her?


First Kiss in Secrets and Lies

“Tell me, Miss Bastian, why are you grinning right now?”

She shrugged. “As hard as it is for me to admit, I was thinking the same thing as you—about getting away from those men. I find it quite humorous that you can read my mind.”

If only Ashton could read it now. The way her stare latched onto him made him wonder what else was going through her mind at this moment. He stepped closer and dared do what he’d wanted to do a few minutes ago when she’d taken off her mask. He ran the back of his knuckles over her soft cheek. Her skin was just as smooth as he’d imagined. “I would like to read your mind now.”

Suddenly, the laughter left her expression, and in its place was desire. He liked seeing that. Liked it too much.

“No,” she said in a soft voice. “Reading my mind now would not be a good thing.”

“And why not?”

The side of her mouth pulled up into a half-grin. “What would you say if I admitted that you are no longer my Prince Charming?”

“I’m not?” His heartbeat stalled, not knowing if that was a good thing—or bad.

“No. You’ve swiftly become my knight in shining armor, instead.”

Peace settled inside his chest. “Why, may I ask?”

“For rescuing me.”

Strange emotions surrounded his heart and crawled up his neck, making it hard to swallow. “Oh.” His voice came out much too low. “I’ve just seen the way those men are with women. They aren’t very respectable, and that’s when they are sober. I don’t want to know how they would act around a woman as lovely as yourself when they are filled with liquor.”

This time it was her turn to move closer as she placed a hand on his chest. Her touch almost shot his breath right out of his lungs as warmth spread through him, starting where her hand rested.

“Then indeed, you are my knight,” she said.

He took hold of her hand, but kept it against his chest as he stared deep into her shadowed eyes. Desire stirred in him like never before. This wasn’t good at all! “Miss Bastian, you shouldn’t say such things to me.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’ve never felt more like a man than I do right now in your presence.” He slid his free arm around her waist, and closed the space between them. “And that, my dear, could get very dangerous out here, all alone with me in the shadows, and in the moonlight.”

A small gasp sprang from her throat, but she didn’t move her hand, nor did she pull away. Her head tilted back as she gazed up into his face. Heavens, she looked so lovely. He really needed to get control over his emotions. Feeling like this for a woman he didn’t fully trust was not a good thing. But being with her had indeed made him feel more like a man than anytime he could recall.

The smile remained on her pleasant expression. “Once again, Mr. Lee, your words have warned me to stay away from you, but your actions speak something entirely different. Do you or do you not want me to leave?”

Chuckling softly, he shook his head. “I wish I knew my own mind right now, but I fear I cannot even govern my own thoughts, because although you should leave, I want you to stay in my arms.”

He leaned in further, wanting to kiss her so badly, but he fought the urge. Instead, he closed his eyes and rubbed his cheek against hers. Skin as soft as silk smelled faintly of roses. He could easily get lost in her fragrance. Her free hand slid up his arm to his shoulder, then to his hair as her fingers threaded through his hair. The warmth from her touch melted him, and although he knew this shouldn’t be happening, he had no power to stop it.

A quiver rushed inside him, and her body trembled against his. Smiling, he continued to rub his cheek against hers, but soon his face dropped to the curve of her neck. Her delicate skin was so close to his mouth, he just had to rub his lips over her flesh.

Another gasp escaped her, this time it was much lower than before. No more were her hands stroking over his prince costume, instead they were grasping the material as if she didn’t want him to pull away.

Her breathing grew heavy and breezed against his ear. This woman definitely knew how to make him come alive—which had never happened to him before. He didn’t know if it was their costumes, their roles of Cinderella and Prince Charming, or if it was just because he was looking for a distraction from the stress happening in his life right now, but Miss Nicole Bastian was certainly affecting him in ways he could not comprehend. Perhaps he should worry about it, but right now, he’d just relax and enjoy the moment.

“Ashhh-ton,” she sighed deeply, “what are you doing to me?”

The sound of his name on her lips was like Heavenly harps playing in his ears. He wanted to laugh with delight, knowing he was affecting her the same way she was doing to him. But laughing would only ruin the mood right now, and he could not have that.

He lifted his head just enough to peer into her face. Her eyes had been closed, but then opened slightly as she met his gaze. His heartbeat pounded so fiercely like a runaway train, and he knew he must kiss her or collapse.

“What am I doing to you, Nicole?” he whispered.

The smile touched her eyes seconds before her mouth stretched wider. “You’re making me believe in fairytales. You’re making me think dreams really do come true.”

Releasing a groan, he pressed his mouth against hers. Immediately, her arms wrapped around his neck and she responded to his kiss just as he hoped she would. Fireworks exploded behind his eyes. Indeed, he’d never experienced such a kiss, and Heaven help him, he wanted more kisses like this…more from her and only her.


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