“I brought you out her to tell you something.” He clasped her hands in his. “Don’t go pale on me. I wanted to warn you that the newspaper is running a story on Fred’s murder. I tried to keep your name out of it, but John Wiley blabbed about the brawl and how his son supposedly had been erroneously accused. I’m afraid your name will be in the paper along with your description.”
“I appreciate you preparing me.” What sort of distribution did the newspaper have? Would the story be picked up in Austin and wired to other cities? Self-consciously, she twirled a lock of her ebony hair.
He echoed her thoughts. “You’re thinking your description will say you have black hair. And it will. But the story is just odd enough to make news across the country.”
“It doesn’t bother me as long as it doesn’t say I started the brawl or that I killed the barber. I can’t help what people write as long as it’s the truth.” And Dorothy Duncan with black hair should offer no threat.
“It will be honest. Our newspaper is owned by a good man, Preston Youngblood. He’s keen on keeping to facts and not embellishing them. But he includes interviews, and you can imagine what John Wiley will tell him. Oh, no you can’t, can you? He’s the father of the guy who attacked you. One of those ‘My son does no wrong’ types. Also beats his wife, but that’s another matter.”
“Oh, dear, he sounds horrid. He’ll say I enticed the son, provoked him. But I give you my word I didn’t.”
“I know that. The other two boys confessed, but Wiley won’t drop it. He’s determined to show everyone his son is innocent and the other two framed him. It’s not that he cares about the son, but only about himself and his standing in the community.”
“That’s sad. If I ever have kids, I won’t be that kind of parent.”
A frown creased his brow. “You have someone lined up to be the father?”
“Certainly not. Probably won’t ever marry. A woman doesn’t meet a lot of eligible males in the circus.”
“Do I detect a hint of snobbery?”
She sensed the heat of a blush creep across her face. “I won’t deny it. There are some wonderful people in the circus, but that’s not the life I want forever. I want a home. It doesn’t have to be as grand as Judge Kincaid’s, but solid and in a nice community. With stability. I hope it’s not denied me forever.”
“Why would it be?”
She pressed her hand against his arm. “Don’t, Gabe. It’s such a nice afternoon. Don’t spoil it by prying.”
“All right. But I wish you’d trust me with all your secrets, Shimza. I feel like a fool calling you that, but I don’t even know your real name.”
“Shimza will do. And I do trust you to keep me safe here.”
“But you don’t think I could if you told me more, is that it?” He gently clasped her shoulders and turned her to face him.
She met his gaze, pleading with him, “Please, it’s too . . . complicated.”
Slowly he slid his hands across her shoulders, lightly up her neck. He caressed her face with his thumbs while he rested his hands gently on either side of her face. “Then let’s make it a little more complicated.” He leaned forward and claimed her lips.
She dissolved against him. His gentle kiss increased in fervor. Her arms slid around him and her fingers weaved into his hair.
His hands slid across her back. Stroking. Touching. Hugging.
One of his strong hands skimmed her ribs beneath her breast. Brazenly, she wished he’d move higher where she ached to be touched. As it was, the heat of his touch near burned through her clothing.
He broke their embrace, his chest heaving. “I’ve never kissed a client. Grandpa will have my hide.”
She rested her head against his powerful shoulder. “Mmm, I don’t think so. Perhaps you noticed we were seated next to one another at dinner. I could be wrong, but I think the Judge and Mrs. Kincaid are conspiring. Judge Kincaid smiled when we left the dining room together.”
“You don’t say? Then, if it’s all right with you, I’m kissing you again.”
And he did. Not that she was an expert, but her verdict was he kissed very well indeed.
GABE KINCAID buy links:
Google Play bit.ly/RZZeCI
iTunes – the book is there but I do not have a Mac to get the link