Heart’s Desire (Leanne Karella)

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Carson Kinsey saved Ella from working in a saloon, selling her body to whomever Madame Chloe demanded. Now, four years later, she loves the man who took her away from the life of drunken men and adores the little girl she has been hired to tend. Standing between the love they both secretly feel for the other is Carson’s dark memories of the wife he lost, and Ella’s knowledge that she’s a soiled woman who has nothing to give him but herself.

She stared at his wide shoulders and wished she had the right to lean down and press her cheek to him. To bury her face in his hair. To be able to claim him as her own.

She exhaled a slow breath and then moved around in front of him. He looked up at her, his expression hard, his eyes glittering in a way she’d never seen before. The lump in her throat seemed to grow. Had she done something wrong? The lines bracketing his mouth seemed deeper than normal, his lips pressed into a thin line.

She licked her dry lips. “Is–” She cleared her throat. “Is it okay if I do your sideburns now?”

With a quick nod, he looked down, taking his intense gaze from her. She raised the comb and sheers. Snip, snip. Snip, snip. He adjusted his leg, brushing it against hers. Her hand slipped, and she poked his earlobe with the tip of the scissors.

He jerked to the side and raised his hand to his ear, his eyes narrowed, his brow furrowed.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I didn’t mean–”

He grabbed her wrist. Fear blossomed in her gut.

“Why so nervous?” His eyes were as blue as the evening sky and as hard as granite. “It’s not as if you’ve never touched a man before.”

She’d never touched this man before, though. The man she loved. The father of the child she longed to call her own.

With a tug of her arm, he pulled her between his thighs. The comb tumbled to the floor when she was forced to lay her hand flat against his chest to keep from falling against him. He felt as hard as rock. All lean muscle.

“Do you miss your job at the whorehouse?”

The words were spoken in little more than a whisper, but they cracked like a whip over her. She shook her head. “It was a saloon.”

“But you were a whore working for Madame Chloe.”

She couldn’t deny it–wouldn’t bother. It was where he’d found her.

“Did you look at all the men the way you look at me?”

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