Stand & Deliver
in Kisses & Winter Wishes:
A Historical Romance Collection
Stand & Deliver is a reunion novella set in the Regency era.
Elliot Brock is devastated when the woman he loves marries his best friend, who happens to be the son of an earl. When the two men are sent to war in 1812, only Elliot survives. The earl’s dying wish is to unite his friend with his widow but by the time Elliot returns to England, the countess is courting more than scandal. She’s risking her neck!
To find a way round the family trustee with nefarious designs, Countess Olivia Essex takes on the persona of Black Peter, a notorious highwayman. With her stalwart mama as accomplice, she keeps the estate running but the legend of Black Peter grows daily – and Olivia is running out of time.
When Colonel Brock finally returns, she’s both relieved and alarmed. This man is too clever not to guess what’s going on – and too attractive not to kiss. More than kiss… She’d better not. She’d better… Nobody said love was easy.
Stand & Deliver...
“All my intuition tells me the trustee is funding his lifestyle at the expense of our tenancies.”
Her passionate, burning stare collided into his. The effect was so alarming Elliot nearly closed his eyes.
Olivia seemed to sag in her saddle. “Do you think me quite mad, Elliot? You must know that I’m not adept at hopeless obedience.”
Her falsely bright smile hurt to witness. Elliot stared into Olivia’s face for a long time, remembering a girl at a ball who saved a dance for a lowly captain.
“Hopeless obedience is for horses and dogs, your ladyship. Not women.” He reached one hesitant, leather-clad palm towards this woman’s troubled face. When she didn’t protest he cupped her soft cheek, still pink from their exertions.
“You’ve always had excellent instincts, Olivia. Do not doubt them now.” He studied those chocolate eyes as though he might paint her. “My mother, and my aunts, left me with a healthy respect for women’s intuition. One of them made a scandalous career out of becoming mistress to a former Prime Minister. Her influence allowed me to attend Eton.”
“Not your mama, obviously.” She murmured, cupping her palm over his hand holding her face.
“Obviously.” Elliot’s gaze dropped to her mouth.
He forgot the hideous folly in the fullness of this woman’s lower lip, dark pink and lush. He licked his own lips, shifting in his saddle as his thumb stroked her cheek. He swallowed as she angled her head upward, parting her lips until his mouth slid against hers, his tongue delving deeply into her warm, wet mouth.
He revelled in her sigh as one daintily-gloved arm reached up, grasping the lapel of his riding jacket, tugging him closer, demanding more of him. Elliot barely kept himself from dragging them both to the ground in the most inelegant dismount imaginable. He wanted her beyond reason. He’d admired her, desired her, for years but not like this. Nothing like this wild, desperate need threatening to take him over.
He drew back, gasping, staring as the desire in her eyes doubled and redoubled beneath the heat of his gaze until her pupils disappeared into the melting chocolate of her iris and he doubted his ability to remain atop his mount.
“Elliot.” She whispered, sliding her palm over his jaw as though committing the planes of his face to memory.
Elliot couldn’t speak, afraid of what he might say, or not say, to stumble the declaration he nearly made three years ago, where his best friend won the lady…his best friend. The earl. What was he doing, kissing a countess?