UPDATE: The winner of the gift card is…Renee Mulholland!
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Some of you may know, but one of my favorite publishers, Samhain Publishing, closed its doors a month ago. I had 27 titles published with them, and now I have to get every one of those stories refurbed, recovered, and back out in the world. So, I’m starting here. With a story I love about a woman entrepreneur in hot-as-hell West Texas who’s about to fall under the spell of a very special town—Two Mule, Texas. Those of you who love my Lone Star Lovers series recognize that name. Don’t you want to know whether kinkiness is something new the present-day town folk are embracing, or whether it’s been there a while…?
Check out Joe and Honey’s story—but I warn you: Be prepared to laugh and sweat!
Sweeter Than Honey
Honey Cafferty lives a happy but precarious existence as a traveling saleswoman, searching for a sense of belonging. From her colorful wagon she brews decoctions to cure ennui, sleeplessness, hysteria—and after a visit from a mysterious Mexican curandera—she believes she’s found the way to improve a man’s libido. But how can she package her “Elixir of Love” without being run out on a rail from the nearest town for selling something that produces such carnal effects?
Sheriff Joe Tanner is protective of his little town and downright hostile toward anyone who takes advantage of the fine folk in Two-Mule, Texas. When sees the gypsy wagon roll into town, he’s ready to hurry the snake oil salesman on his way, but Honey isn’t what he expected. When the men of the town begin to plead exhaustion and place the blame for their state squarely on the pretty little redhead’s shoulders, he has to investigate.
Finally, they reached his office, and Honey breezed inside and set her bag on his desk. He closed the door behind him and turned to find more faces peering through the window. He cursed under his breath and pointed to the inner room where the jailhouse was.
Her back stiffened, but she didn’t demur and stepped inside. When he had her out of sight and hearing of all the interested folk of Two Mule, he lifted a foot and nudged the door closed behind them.
Honey had her back to him and lifted her slim hand to smooth her hair.
He stayed silent, deciding to let her stew for a minute. When someone got nervous, they tended to talk, and Joe wanted to hear everything the little lady had to say.
At last, she cleared her throat and turned, a small, tight smile pasted on her lips. “Am I under arrest, Sheriff?”
“Should you be?”
Her breath gasped, lifting her gently rounded chest against her staid gray shirtwaist jacket. “You’re angry with me.”
He crossed his arms over his chest, leaned his back against the door and tried not to think too hard about the fact they were completely alone. A tantalizing prospect he’d imagined often the past couple of days.
As he watched her standing in the narrow, darkly lit room with the bars of the cell block behind her, his imaginings became disturbingly carnal. He cleared his throat and forced his mind back to business. “I sold you a license to solicit your medicines,” he said, keeping his voice even although the memory of her straddling Paddy Mulligan still burned hot. “Yet I found you rolling on the floor of a saloon, performing surgery.”
She gave a short, strained laugh. “I wasn’t rolling on the floor. Paddy’s a large man, and I couldn’t see into his mouth when he was seated. Besides, I only pulled a tooth. I do have some expertise—”
“I’m getting complaints about possible poisonings—”
“Poison?” Her finely arched brows rose. “I don’t deal in poisons, sir.”
“Then explain why all the married men in town have taken to their beds.”
She opened her mouth but quickly clamped it shut. Her back straightened.
“You don’t deny you’re responsible?”
A blush the color of the pink roses his mama used to grow spread quickly across her cheeks and down her neck to disappear beneath her collar. “It’s not what you think, Sheriff.”
He wondered if the blush extended to her breasts, but didn’t dare let his gaze fall below her rounded chin. “Then tell me exactly what it is.”
She lifted that stubborn chin high. “I can’t. That information is privileged. Meant to remain private between me and the persons I sold the medicine to, like a priest receiving confessions or a doctor—”
“You’re no doctor. Those rules don’t apply.”
“Have you talked to these men? Have any of them made complaints against me?”
“No, but you’re up to something, and I don’t want any trouble.” And she was trouble with a capital T. “I’m thinking you should hitch up your wagon and head on down the road.”
She blinked and, for a moment, her expression faltered. “I had hoped to winter here. Mrs. Sessions—”
“Is an innocent lady. She’s not wise to your ways.”
Her stillness cut him, and he felt heat warm the back of his neck and the tips of his ears. He’d crossed the line between being professional and being cruel.
She jutted her chin higher and fisted her hands on her hips. “You’re implying I’m not…innocent?”
His gaze swept over her, from the tip of her red-haired head to her toes. Another insult. He couldn’t seem to help himself where she was concerned. Something about her had him firing with both barrels blazing. “You travel alone—without a chaperone. What’s a man supposed to think about that?”
She took a step closer, drawing her eyebrows together in a fierce scowl. “Being alone in the world means I’m a whore?” she said, her voice rising.
“A decent woman,” he bit out, “would set roots in a community—seek help and protection from a husband or her neighbor.”
“I don’t need any man to protect me or my virtue, sir.”
“I’ll grant you had me and most of the town fooled. But your charm’s a little too practiced, and you’ve got a slick tongue.”
Her mouth gaped, and her cheeks went from pink to a dark red that clashed with her bright hair. “A slick tongue?”
Her anger goaded him on like a burr under a saddle. “You’re a snake-oil salesman, a charlatan—”
She stepped so close her chest nearly touched his, and she glared up into his face. “Now, you look here, buster,” she said, pointing a finger at his chest and giving him a nudge. “I’m a business woman. I sell cures people need. I haven’t broken any laws, and I sure as hell haven’t poisoned one damn person in this town.” She paused to catch her breath…and that’s when it happened.
Her breasts brushed his chest, and he felt a spark arc between their bodies, igniting a fire as fierce as lightning striking dry prairie grass. It filled his loins with a heavy, pulsating heat and drew his balls tight and close to his groin. He shot out his hands and grasped her shoulders to pull her flush against his body, but he halted, holding her an inch away. What he wanted of her wasn’t very civilized. Best not cross that line.
“Sheriff?” Her plump, pink lips gasped, but she tilted her head back.
Invitation enough. He slammed his mouth down onto hers even while he damned himself for being a fool.
For a chance to win a small Amazon gift card, answer me this…
Have you read my Lone Star Lover stories?
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