#SampleSunday - Proof Of Their Sin (6)

#SampleSundayProof Of Their Sin

Important: Proof Of Their Sin is on sale for £0.99 in the UK until January 5th!

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I'll admit it. I've completely lost track of my Proof Of Their Sin posts. This is the third since Dec 20th (I think.) Then I discovered some posts were partially migrated to this blog when I revamped last spring, but not all.

I'll get to the next instalment in a moment, along with a couple of links to those posts I did find, but first I wanted to mention that I got my act together and loaded Hustled To The Altar on GooglePlay. It's priced at $0.99 at the moment (roughly $1.15 Cdn).

In other news, I've heard from two international bloggers requesting interviews. I'll be sure to post the links here when it's all said and done.

As far as Proof Of Their Sin goes, this will be the last #SampleSunday. Next week I'll write something screamingly interesting (which has yet to be decided) and after that I'll start posting excerpts from The Sheikh's Sinful Seduction.

SampleSunday

Here's what we've seen so far:

  1. Lauren prepares to tell Paolo that she's pregnant.
  2. Paolo sees her for the first time since that night.

Here, Lauren reacts to Paolo's reaction:

~ * ~

CHAPTER TWO

Lauren had prepared herself for many reactions: anger, blame, suspicion that she was trying to trap him, even disbelief in the context that this could have happened to a pair of otherwise responsible adults. She had not imagined a denial of any involvement whatsoever.

Behind her burn of outrage raced a trail of humiliation. Did he really imagine she’d taken other lovers besides him and her husband? Well, why not, based on the way she’d made love with him like she was starved for it? Her throat clogged and mortified pressure built behind her cheeks.

She stumbled out of sync with the music, forcing him to pull her a fraction closer to steady her. He was an iron cage around her, supporting her while trapping her in this farce of a dance.

She moved as though swimming in molasses, a bug caught in sap, soon to be immortalized in amber. Lightheadedness combined with the spin of the dance to make the room swirl around her while her stomach turned over. Whatever blood had been circulating through her drained into her toes leaving her chilled to the core.

Somehow she reached through the miasma of shock to locate contempt for a man who dared to denigrate her when he’d been in that bed exactly as long as she had.

“You never struck me as lacking intelligence, Paolo.” Her voice was soft yet layered with frost, frigid as a Canadian winter. “You deserved to know so I told you. Have a nice life.”

She pushed away from him, head high, tears thick in her throat.

*

No, Paolo thought. It was the only sound in ears pulsing with his boiling blood. Ryan’s? Another man’s? His? No, no, no. He was not stupid enough to fall for that again. His ex had pulled this same trick for a direct line to his fortune, complete with another man’s baby conveniently conceived at an appropriate time to make it plausible. He’d unquestioningly done what was right for his child and the payback had been six months of melodrama, scheming, and bitterness that kept his heart hard to this day.

He had vowed not to let any woman tear him to pieces again, but as Lauren left him on the dance floor, he felt like an actor who’d been abandoned on stage, the spotlight hot and white upon him, props gone, lines forgotten. He’d felt the same way after their night together, when she’d disappeared into the clutch of grieving Bradleys, leaving him to cope alone.

Despite his exceptional reflexes and honed instincts, he didn’t know how to react to something so unexpected and threatening to his carefully structured life. Especially when lust was clouding his vision and frying his mind. Dancing with her had been as erotic as making love to her.
Then it struck him. She hadn’t said it was his, only that he deserved to know. Because the perception would be that it was his.

A string of violent Italian curses fed through his psyche as he strode after her. To his irritation and disgust, Vittorio stopped her before either of them had wound very far through the crowd.

“I must confess, I didn’t recognize you from your photos,” Paolo heard as he came upon them. “I’m Paolo’s cousin, Vittorio. I knew your husband. I’m deeply sorry for your loss.”

Paolo couldn’t stop the territorial slide of his hand beneath the drape of Lauren’s silk wrap, fingers splaying over lithe back muscles that stiffened at his touch.
The tumultuous instinct to guard her, own her, while his brain reminded him she was the enemy, tangled his thoughts, making him say harshly to Vittorio, “She’s leaving.”

“So soon?” Vittorio was enjoying himself, aware something was afoot and determined to have a piece of it.

“I only wished to put in a brief appearance,” Lauren said with surprising solemnity. “Given this event benefits cardiac research. My grandmother had a heart condition so I wanted to show my support.”

The unexpected revelation set Paolo back on his heels. He was instantly sure the records would show a very generous donation next to her name and even though a string of zeros often meant nothing to people in a crowd of this financial rank, the catch in her voice underlined her sincerity. Her devotion to her grandmother had always been something he respected about her.

While the phrase ‘had’ a heart condition pinged inside his skull. The old woman was gone? He unconsciously gentled his touch, offering a caress of comfort.

Lauren shifted her weight, subtly removing herself from contact with Paolo’s fingertips, the only sign she was aware of him while she continued speaking to Vittorio.

“She passed away earlier this year.” She controlled the hitch in her voice. “The loss was overshadowed by other events, but it does make a night like this quite difficult. I hope you’ll understand and excuse me?”

“Of course,” Vittorio said with a gallant bow before stepping aside.

Paolo slid his arm more securely around Lauren’s waist and tightened it, pinning her to his side before she could sweep herself away.

She flung him a look that lashed like a bolt of lightening, gilding him in an exciting sensation of pleasure-pain. It was completely at odds with the fading spirit and demure manners she’d been projecting seconds ago. No one else saw it, but he tasted the slap of challenge and the hot blood it left in the corner of his mouth.

Everything about this woman provoked a visceral reaction in him and Paolo had to temper a grin of exhilaration. If she wanted a fight, she’d come to the right place.

But she was pregnant, he reminded himself, fighting an impulse to grip her with hard, controlling hands the way he would anything that fought his will: a racecar, a powerboat, a fighter jet. At the same time, he thought, pregnant, and knew he should lift his red-hot palm right off her.

Despite knowing he should never have touched her, he kept her in place with a flex of his superior strength. Whether she was actually naming him the father or warning him of the perception, he was facing a firing squad. Perhaps he owned some of the responsibility for that. He’d brought her into his home and made love to her. It had been foolhardy and wrong, but it had been the first time in five years that other spouses had not stood in the way. In his weakened state, he’d let long-suppressed desire overtake him.

It should have been a bittersweet aberration tucked away and forgotten, but she had decided to bring an infant in a basket to his doorstep. Having the baby turn out to be his was the only way he could forgive her for doing this, but he simply couldn’t let himself believe that she was telling the truth. Other motives were too quick to present themselves: his fortune, for starters.

They needed to talk.

“Play host while I escort Mrs. Bradley to her room,” Paolo said without looking at Vittorio, perversely pleased with the flush that poured into Lauren’s cheeks and the way her burgeoning breasts heaved against the line of her dress.

“That isn’t necessary,” she said through her teeth.

Si, cara, it is. Very much so.”

~ * ~

Here are some of the older posts. Sorry about the formating in some of them:

I wasn't able to find the bonus scene I'd written. I'm as frustrated as you are!

I've been putting off my revisions for my next Harlequin Presents. Not because they're hard, but because I keep getting distracted by stuff: family, housework, the need for groceries. But that will be my priority for the next few days and I've heard that the book will be titled Vows Of Revenge and is currently scheduled for Sept 2015.

If you'd like to be notified when that and each of my new books releases, please join my newsletter. I always draw from my subscriber list for a signed copy of my newest print release. The newsletter only comes out when I have a new book and this is what it looks like:

Read Dani's last newsletter.

Please check back in two weeks for:

The Sheikh's Sinful Seduction.

Meanwhile, The Russian's Acquisition might still be lurking on the shelves of your local grocery or drug store.

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Did you miss the #SampleSundays for this one? Read the #SampleSunday for The Russian's Acquisition here. It links to all six excerpts.

Giveaways

Congratulations to those of you who won a digital copy from responding to last week's blog post. I should receive my author copies for The Sheikh soon and will have a Goodreads Giveaway then. I'll also be putting together a Valentine's Day package shortly so stay tuned.

Now a quick plug for my Montana Born books, since my Christmas book is still available.

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They're also available as print anthologies on Amazon:

Christmas in Montana which contains:

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Want a sample? Read #TeaserTuesday - Blame The Mistletoe here

Montana Homecoming which contains:

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Read #SampleSunday - Hometown Hero

And I'm always happy to send a signed bookmark. Just ask! The latest ones look like this:

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That's the front and back. Aren't they pretty? Email me your postal address and I'll mail you one, signed by yours truly. It's that easy!

Buy Links

March 2015! Pre-order The Sheikh's Sinful Seduction now.

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Off to finish my revisions for Vows Of Revenge. Happy New Year!