Saturday, March 7, 2009
Egg-cerpt for Heart of Stone by Sandra Kay
HEART OF STONE is a contemporary romance taking place in the Hill Country of Texas. It is a story of love and betrayal, with elements that will resonate with today’s readers.
A marriage in name only. A secret past. Can love be found amid the tangle of distrust and betrayal?
Alone and pregnant with twins, Amber Wilson has only a fuzzy memory of how she got that way. One thing she knows for sure—no man will ever get near enough to hurt her again. But when she meets Stone Brandon, the attraction is too great to ignore. Stone’s ex-fiancée’s betrayal has hardened his heart. Though he is drawn to Amber, he knows he can never fall in love again. Still, with her help, the dreams he has for the expansion of his family’s ranch can become a reality. A platonic marriage seems like the logical answer for both of them—until he realizes that a marriage in name only with Amber is a hell of his own making.
Dust billowed behind Amber Wilson’s beat-up Mustang. Gravel pinged against the undercarriage. She refused to let the dismal condition of the Green Monster, as she called her car, get her down today. A new adventure, filled with hope, waited for her at the end of the tree-lined drive.
The open window offered some relief from the sizzling heat of summer in the hill country of Texas. Still, the humidity-laden air lay heavy on her face, clogging pores that struggled to breath and plastering tendrils of curly blonde hair to her moist cheeks.
“Whoa,” she whispered at her first glimpse of the sprawling ranch house. “I didn’t expect anything like this.” Her foot let off on the gas pedal, indecision running rampant through her system.
Even so, the welcome shade of a live oak beckoned. She parked under the spreading branches and turned off the loud grumblings of her car engine. Emitting a groan of her own, she brushed a hand over her rounded belly and hefted her cumbersome body off the ripped seat. The car door grated on its hinges before finally clunking back into place.
“Whew.” The word came out on a sigh when the warm breeze lifted her damp skirt and actually felt cool against her heated skin. The brief spate of relief fled on the coattails of renewed anxiety when she again stared at the house and the surrounding ranch land.
Intimidated, she cranked the side mirror around to check out her reflection. Big mistake. Limp, wet curls stuck to her cheeks and neck. Perspiration left dark patches of smeared mascara under both eyes.
“Lord,” she murmured, licking the tip of her finger and swiping at the smudges. “They’ll think twice about ever hiring someone over the phone again when they open the door and see a short, pregnant raccoon on the porch.” A giggle burst out at the image and she put a hand over her mouth, looking around for listeners.
Amber’s gaze returned to the mirror. She jammed fingers swollen from the heat into her hair, trying to rearrange the shiny mass of tangled ringlets circling her head. Finally deciding the heavy mane tucked behind her ears tamed it best, she turned and climbed the porch steps.
“Well, here we go,” she said on a heavy breath. “Another new chapter in my life.”
Her fingers hesitated around the plain brass knocker on the door. Whether to delay meeting her new employer or just for a breather, she couldn’t say. Glancing over her shoulder, she gnawed her lips uncertainly at the dented heap of car parked in full view.
“Hmmm. Not a great first impression. Maybe I should move the Green Monster out of sight— ”
The door swung open abruptly. With a yelp of surprise, Amber toppled into the house.
Fighting for balance against a center of gravity that was way off kilter with her growing abdomen, she pitched forward. Strong hands caught her under the arms. Her fingers locked on the muscular biceps of the stranger holding her up as she grappled for firm footing.
“What’s this?” a deep, amused voice asked from somewhere above her head.
She cuddled her abdomen with a protective hand, while clinging to the man with the other.
Heart pounding, still reeling from the unexpected tumble, she stared up into the most startling blue eyes she’d ever seen. Time ceased to exist as Amber lost her balance again— this time with a sensation of sinking into the depths of those indigo pools.
Purchase at www.thewildrosepress.com