Authors: Gem Sivad
Eclipse Heat Awards
Quincy’s Woman ~ BEST WESTERN of the year…” ~Miz Love Loves Books.
Intimate Strangers ~WINNER- EPIC AWARD-Best Western and Best Erotic Western
Wolf’s Tender ~ FINALIST- COVEY AWARD
Five Card Stud ~ WINNER- PASSIONATE PLUME AWARD, Best Erotic Western; FINALIST, EPIC AWARD
What the Reviewers are saying…
“… great landscape, awesome characters, a plot with lots of substance, and best of all, plenty of outstanding sex. L.T. Blue ~ Just Erotic Romance Reviews
“…intriguing suspense, a sizzling hot romance, and an insightful exploration of the building blocks of marriage. Definitely a keeper to be read again and again.” Carol~ Love Western Romances.
“…grabs you by the heart and reels you in… an excellent and enchanting novel.” Tahlia ~Joyfully Reviewed
“…Sivad delivers a most wonderful kind of serendipity.” ~ Mrs. Giggles
Comfort Parker Bailey Quince wears her string of names with pride. Before she married Owen Bailey, she was a Parker, from Perry County, Alabama. She wasn't one of the highfalutin branch. Comfort belonged to the scrabble in the dust, do anything to survive including sell herself for food, poorer side of the Parker clan. But, she dreams of being rich someday and studies a copy of Godey's Lady's Book, determined to learn the mannerisms of her more affluent relatives.
Though her tall, curvaceous figure, creamy skin, and thick wavy hair might be considered an advantage by some, her beauty often proves more of a curse when she's forced to outwit men in order to survive. After Comfort's abusive husband is killed, her friend, a respected local rancher named Hamilton Quince, sweeps her into a second marriage with the assurance he'll always love and protect her.
But, Comfort's plan to continue as a business woman residing in town, abruptly comes to a halt. Hamilton produces a ready-made family and expects her to move with them from her Eclipse boardinghouse to his VERY rustic cabin on the Double-Q ranch.
Her head tells her to end the marriage, she’ll be better off on her own. But she’s fallen in love with her husband and leaving him isn't that easy. After years of scheming to get rich, Comfort Parker Bailey Quince has finally found treasure more precious than gold.
This ebook is licensed to you for your personal enjoyment only and may not be sold, shared, or given away.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the writer’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 by Gem Sivad
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
No part of this publication may be used, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles or reviews. Manufactured in the United States of America.
Published by Gem Sivad, LLC
Editor: L. Smithers
Cover Design: Kristian Norris
Sivad, Gem (2016-05-03).
Gem Sivad LLC. Kindle Edition.
With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Gem Sivad, LLC.
Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without the publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. (http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:
Stetson: John B. Stetson Company
Bailey’s General Store, Eclipse, Texas 1876
Comfort Bailey stood behind the counter of the general store, trying to find reasons to stay rather than close up for the day. Owen might already be at home. Her evening depended on what kind of mood he’d be in, or whether he’d stopped at the saloon before going to the house. Lately, his drinking had worsened his violence. Her body bore the marks of his latest rampage.
The bell over the front door jangled, alerting her that she had one last customer and a reason to stay. She’d looked up, her smile growing warmer when she saw who it was.
Hamilton Quince closed the door behind him. “Glad I made it before you locked up.”
She’d already closed the register for the day but she’d open it back up if need be. He hadn’t been to the store for more than two weeks and she’d missed seeing him.
“You’re back.” She couldn’t hide the delight in her voice as she gazed at the local rancher. Even his smile couldn’t soften his harsh features. And yet she’d found him to be the gentlest of men.
“Brought you a surprise.”
As happy as Comfort was to see him, she felt equally flustered and embarrassed for him to see her. She’d worn a high collared dress that covered the bruising on her neck where she’d been choked, but her lip hadn’t completely healed.
She tried to ignore Hamilton’s frown when he saw the result of her latest encounter with her husband’s fists. Unlike others, he hadn’t presumed to tell her what she should do or how she should do it.
Any lectures or warnings delivered to Owen served no purpose other than riling him into beating her again. Since besides being a brutal thug, he was also the sheriff, there was no help to be had from anyone.
Comfort wasted no time thinking about Owen during her precious moments with Hamilton. While she gorged her senses on the gruff man who treated her so tenderly, he pulled a handkerchief from his shirt pocket and carefully unfolded it.
“Thought of you when I ran across this in a Wichita mercantile,” he said, and handed her a vial of amber liquid.
“What is it?” She tilted the glass container and watched viscous gold flow from one end of the tube to the other.
Comfort didn’t really care if the gift had any purpose more than being lovely. Relief warmed her cold bones, assuring her she wasn’t completely without friends. Hamilton had thought of her while he was gone.
“Open it,” he urged.
She removed the stopper and discovered beads of amber clinging to the wooden dipper inside.
Comfort looked at it doubtfully, but he took the dipper from her and dabbed a drop on her damaged mouth. Tentatively, she’d touched her tongue to the bead, then licked it from her lips, closing her eyes to better analyze the flavor.
“This is lovely,” she murmured. “To taste such…”
She inhaled, amazed at how the subtle essence carried a delicate fragrance as well as a hint of cinnamon. The underlying tang, made her think of lush forests with exotic flowers scenting the air.
“Is it honey?” she’d asked.
“It’s tupelo honey. Honeybees in the swamps along the Apalachicola River valley produce it from the blossoms on the tupelo tree. It’s smoother and sweeter than regular honey.” His description, delivered in his deep gravelly voice, insinuated more, as if he spoke of her not the amber liquid in the vial.
Comfort blushed and stared at the counter. He took her breath away. She wanted to throw herself into his arms and beg him to take care of her. Instead, she closed her eyes, breathing the scent and taste of him, memorizing the feel of his rough hand brushing her cheek.
He cupped her chin and tilted her head, so she had to meet his gaze.
“It’s called Tupelo Gold, sweetheart. Because it’s sweeter than honey and more precious than gold. Like you are, Comfort.”
It was a declaration of sorts. She should have seen it coming. He didn’t want to be friends. He wanted sex. For ten years, since her fifteenth birthday, she’d weathered countless crude remarks, unsolicited advances, necessary encounters, and Owen’s fists. But she’d refused to feel any of it. Hamilton had come bearing gifts and stolen her heart.
Should she simper? Bat her eyes. Lean into him?
“You’re crying. I didn’t mean to—”
“What? What did you mean? I’m a married woman on my own most of the time. I know what that means to a lot of males. I thought you were different.” She tried to jerk her chin from his callused palm.
“I want you to let me love you,” he said fiercely.
“You mean, you want to fuck me.” When her crude response only made him smile, she continued. “Here? Behind the counter? In the backroom? Let’s see, you come to Eclipse once every two weeks?” She shrugged. “Love twice a month. How tempting.”
“I built us a cabin on the Double-Q. The place where I located has a hot spring bubbling out of the ground and plenty of privacy for bathing.”
When she remained silent, her lips pressed tightly together to still their trembling, he leaned down, feathering a light kiss across her bruised mouth.
“Comfort, my brother and I are fighting to stay afloat, we’ve got rustlers stealing us blind, and with Quincy’s woman gone, we’re raising two kids, as well. I’ve got nothing to offer you but me and the promise I’ll never hurt you.”
It was enough.