Sharing a First Kiss on Christmas Eve - Tracey Devlyn
Tracey Devlyn Tracey Devlyn is an award-winning author who writes historical romantic thrillers (translation: a slightly more grievous journey toward the heroine’s happy ending). She’s a co-founder of Romance University, a group blog dedicated to readers and writers of romance, and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, Chicagoland’s exciting new reading salon devoted to romantic fiction.
An Illinois native, Tracey spends her evenings harassing her once-in-a-lifetime husband and her weekends torturing her characters. For more information on Tracey, including her Internet haunts, contest updates, and details on her upcoming novels, please visit her website.
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A Tender Moment
Ah, sharing a KISS on Christmas Eve. So romantic, yes? Would you think so if the big moment took place above a stable? For my theme, I couldn’t resist bringing together two of my favorite secondary characters from my debut novel, A LADY’S REVENGE. Fans of my Nexus series have loved Dinks and Bingham’s legendary bickering and skirting around the obvious. For readers who love this quarreling duo as much as I do, I offer you A TENDER MOMENT.
1804, Bellamere Park
Above the Stables
“I suppose you’re going to spend another Christmas out here with your horses.” Dinks tightened her fingers around the basket’s rim. Free of his coat and hat, Bingham looked decidedly rumpled and more than a little huggable. But she would never let the old goat know her thoughts. He would be impossible for weeks.
“’Course. Where else would I spend it?”
He released the door and made to grab his coat.
“Don’t bother.” She stepped inside his quarters located above the stables. “I’ve seen a gentleman’s neck before.”
He froze. “Have ye now?”
Dinks set down her burden and propped her fists onto her ample hips. “Are you telling me that you’ve reached your ripe old age as a virgin?”
Bingham sputtered, “For the love of God, woman! Have you gone daft asking a man a question like that?”
“My sentiments exactly. I suggest we set the topic aside.” She flipped back the linen covering the basket’s contents.
“Until when?” he asked suspiciously.
“I would suggest forever.” She set two heaping, aroma-filled plates on the small dining table. Each contained select cuts of roast beef, goose, assorted vegetables, stuffing and two pieces of gingerbread. Next, she retrieved a small porcelain vase decorated with vibrant blue flowers. Inside, stood a pretty sprig of mistletoe.
Bingham moved closed, inhaling an appreciative breath. “Smells good.”
He frowned, seeing two place settings. “Have you not eaten?”
“No,” her lips twitched, “but I might have sampled everything while filling our plates.”
“Can’t say that I blame you. Cook’s food is difficult to resist.” His smile disappeared. “Why are ye doing this? Miss Cora will be disappointed if ye don’t dine at her table on Christmas Eve.”
“She’s the one who encouraged me to come.”
“Why would she do that? Makes no sense."
She swiveled and found him right at her shoulder. For a heart-skipping moment, her words disappeared. The ache in her chest—the one she always got when alone with him—slid down, down, down. Her breath caught and her gaze centered on his mouth. How long had it been since their last reckless kiss? Too long. Too, too long. “Do you not know our little mite at all? She worries about all of us.”
“I’m a grown man. Been on my own a long time.”
“It’s her way and you know it. Just like we worry about her. With Jack gone, I think she worries more about you being alone.” Genuine concern crossed his weathered features. Features she could retrace on a sheet of paper with her eyes closed.
“I get along fine without that young fool dogging my heels. Besides, he’ll be back.”
“You think so?” To her mortification, she felt her chin tremble. Jack might have made some bad decisions recently, but she still loved the Irish devil.
“Here now. None of that.” He started to brush the backs of his fingers over her cheek, but one glance at his dirt-filled nails and he dropped his hand to his side.
Without thought, she caught his fingers, held them. Yearned for them to finish what they’d started. They said nothing for the longest time, simply stared at their entwined fingers.
Dinks cleared her throat awkwardly. “The food is getting cold.”
“What kind of flower is that on the table?”
Heat infused her cheeks. “Mistletoe.”
He was silent for a moment. “Why’d ye bring a kissing flower to dinner?”
“Miss Cora put the blasted thing in my basket as I was walking out the door. Ignore it.”
“Don’t think I can.”
“Bad luck. I suspect we’ve had enough of that lately.”
Stark images rolled through her mind, dampening the warm, intimate pressure building in her body.
He kissed her cheek, her temple, the side of her nose. Her mouth. The horrors of the past few months slipped away beneath his gentle onslaught. She longed for him to take her in his arms, but he never did. For reasons she didn’t understand and he seemed incapable of explaining, this is all he ever gave her. It might be all he could ever offer.
Kisses and companionship.
It was enough.
Dinks eased back reluctantly and guided him to the table where their dinner was laid out. Bingham pulled out her chair—ever the gruff gentleman—then took his own. He stuffed his linen serviette inside his collar and made to pick up his utensils. When he realized she wasn’t following suit, he glanced up, raising one bushy brow.
“Merry Christmas Eve, Bingham.”
He winked. “Merry Christmas, Dinks.”
Seduction is His Duty to King and Country
Ethan deBeau has charmed his way into the beds of countless women, enticing them to whisper their husbands’ and lovers’ state secrets in his ear. But his latest assignment is completely different: find a missing young boy. It’s practically child’s play for a master spy such as Ethan. Until Miss Sydney Hunt threatens to unravel all his carefully laid plans. Who is the world is this woman?
But Tempting Her is All for Pleasure
Sydney has worked hard to maintain a facade of respectability—all while keeping a network of contacts among London’s underground world. When she hears of strange activities at a local home for orphans, she’s determined to find out what’s really going on. Until she runs headlong into a notorious rake eager to expose every inch of her…
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