A First Kiss: From a Work-in-Progress

Halcyon Ghosts

One last week in March – – – one last first kiss. And this one is from a book that doesn’t even have a final title yet. Or a publication date. Or a publisher. It will probably be independently published as a digital book in time for the holidays. It will probably have a title like…Her Castle in the Catskills. Or maybe not – – – haven’t decided that yet.

This book is connected to my current series with Harlequin Superromance, The Lowery Women. In fact, it will be a prequel to the series. This is the story of Blake Randall and Amanda Lowery, who appear in all of the other books as an existing couple. But the story of how they met is a favorite of mine, and I’m hoping it will be a favorite of yours, too.

He’s a successful man who doesn’t believe in love, and she’s a damaged woman who’s afraid to trust. A slightly haunted American castle, along with a lonely little boy, bring them together to create a thoroughly modern family.

And, just as in any other romance, there’s a first kiss. And because it’s a real-life romance, it happens at the kitchen sink. And because there’s a little bit of magic in this story, the kitchen is in a castle….



Amanda’s hair tumbled off her shoulders and down her back in golden curls. Before he knew it, his free hand was slowly twisting into those curls. She didn’t pull away. Didn’t look away. Blake lowered his head until his face was just above hers. He felt her breath on his skin. She smelled like citrus and spice and blueberries and red wine. Her lips parted and she stared up at him.

His voice was a raw whisper. “Please let me kiss you.”

His words came out as a plea, and he closed his eyes. He’d never begged for anything before in his life. But here he was, begging this sweet little thing for a kiss. Ready to drop to his knees if that’s what it took. He heard his father’s voice in his head, mocking his weakness. That’s when he started to straighten; started to come to his senses. Then he heard her whispered answer.


Was there any sweeter word in the world? Adrenalin surged through his body, and his hand tightened in her hair. His eyes opened to meet those two oceans of blue. Dangerous blue. Deep enough to drown in.

She was trusting him. And that realization scared him to death. He raised his hand to cradle the back of her head as his lips brushed back and forth against hers. She shuddered in his arms and his mouth pressed to hers.

She stiffened for a heartbeat as his tongue ran along her lips. One hand slid down her back and he pulled her into him. He groaned, trying to be careful with her. But he wanted this so bad. A soft sound rose from her throat and, wonder of wonders, she opened her mouth to him. He was almost afraid to go further, but his body had a mind of its own. He tried to hold back, to take it easy, but there was just no damned way to do that. Her hands fluttered nervously at her sides, then moved up to clutch his shoulders. And her tongue…her tongue was pushing into his mouth now. Brave, beautiful girl. He growled and pulled her closer. He didn’t want to let her go. Ever.

When she finally pulled back, she was nearly gasping for air. He was surprised to realize he was, too. She looked at him in amazement.

Right there with you, sweetheart.

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