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Julie Ann Long | SINCE THE SURRENDER...AN EXCERPT

Captain Chase Eversea and Rosalind March employ a street urchin, Liam Plum, to help with their search for Lucy, Rosalind’s missing sister—but when the boy’s sister and only surviving relative disappears, too, the mystery thickens, sizzling attraction deepens, and they’re forced to admit how much the boy matters to them. Chase is recruited to give the filthy boy a bath (with lavender soap, no less), and this scene starts after Chase carries a sleeping Liam to bed and Chase and Rosalind are tantalizingly alone again...

"He weighs nothing at all." He said it nearly tonelessly.

They sat in silence. Knowing they’d both just irretrievably given up the safety of ambivalence toward the boy. They’d allowed him to mean something. Neither of them were pleased about it, but neither would they give him up for the world now.

The fire popped loudly. Rosalind jumped.

Chase didn’t. He was somewhere else entirely, in the grip of a black, black mood. He sat in the chair, his face grim as granite, his mouth a forbidding line, eyes dark as black ice, thump...thump...thumping...his walking stick at maddeningly even intervals.

"You look cleaner, too," she tried.

He still didn’t look at her. "If I’m cleaner, it was inadvertent." Thump...Thump...Thump, went the walking stick.

"And you smell pretty," she added, helpfully.

He looked up at her then. "So do you. You always do."

The bald compliment shocked her.

He smiled faintly, pleased to have surprised her speechless.

"Roses," he added softly. Holding her eyes with his own.

"Yes," she said softly after a stunned moment. Utterly disarmed.

"It’s how I think of you. Roses."

Well.

How else do you think of me now, Captain Eversea?

It occurred to her that despite his impatience with details, Chase Eversea noticed the details that mattered. He listened far more than he let on. He cared about what was truly important.

And he’d been so utterly, unnaturally patient with her, and all that was gentlemanly, damn him and bless him, all smoldering looks and carefulness and arms-length after that moment in the brothel. The front of his shirt was soaked to transparency. Through it she could see the hard planes of his chest, the dark damp hair curling against it, the smooth tanned column of his throat rising up out of it. The sleeves were rolled to the elbow, and his forearms, thick, corded, covered in more manly dark hair, seemed inordinately fascinating. His hair was plastered to his forehead with water.

He noticed her looking at it and his hand went up and pushed it back, where it stayed. Somewhat sideways.

"Better?"

"I suppose it depends on how you define "better."

In truth, she wasn’t looking at his forehead. She was mentally peeling the shirt from him and purring, "oughtn’t we to get out of your wet things?" and then rubbing his chest slowly dry in front of the fire. Or perhaps she could lick him dry, like a kitten. And he could then return the favor, as she would most certainly be wet by then, too.

In places.

Their silence acquired a crackling density.

She noticed that neither of them had looked away even once, and once again she suspected he could read the content of her thoughts, because his eyes had gone fiercely dark and tremendously interested.

She willed him to come to her.

And then her breath caught, because she was suddenly afraid that he would.

He stood. Somewhat awkwardly.

And then slowly, slowly he moved toward her, the way one might approach a frightened animal. She rose out of her chair, breathlessly, slowly, as though his motion dictated hers.

Still, somewhere in her mind, she uncertain whether to meet him halfway or to bolt.

He paused and looked down at her. His hands seemed unnaturally still at his sides, but she was certain it was because he was willing them not to touch her. Or could not quite decide where to begin if he did touch her.

Or was uncertain whether she would truly welcome his touch.

After all, he’d soundly and in detail rejected a proposal of marriage, which would have meant access to his body for the rest of her life.

He took a deep breath. "I’m going to go speak to that Charley now," he said. "Buckthwaite."

She blinked. For a second she was mute with a grave disappointment.

She found her voice. "But I want to be there when you do."

"You are certainly not coming with me."

"But-.it might be dangerous."

"Good God! I best not go, then! Danger is scary."

And now she was irritated because he was amused at her expense. "Don’t jest."

"Rosalind, danger is in the eye of the beholder. He’s just a Charley. An officer of the law. We’re just going to have a...conversation."

She didn’t like the way he said "conversation.". He drawled it a little too darkly and with a little too much pleasure.

"But-"

"First Lucy, and now Meggie Plum. He’s the same Charley, Rosalind, that walks the Covent Garden neighborhood where Lucy was arrested. I know it. Something is amiss. I need to do it tonight. We’ll visit the Montmorency later as we planned, and you’ll experience your measure of danger then. Will that do?" he said dryly. "I’ll send for my cousin Adam to stay with Liam when we do- he might as well make himself useful as part of the family. But you will stay here until I return, and you’ll keep the door barred until I do."

Briskly planning, shouldering responsibility without complaint in an instant, making decisions for everyone, sweeping up everyone in his certainty. That was Captain Eversea.

"Very well," she said softly.

Was he ever afraid? Whatever drove him to do the right thing was stronger than fear. Even when he didn’t want to do the right thing. He confronted fear the way a warrior would.

"How dare," he said almost to himself, "how dare anyone do harm to you, or to Liam, or to Lucy?"

He smiled a small, unnerving smile. He made the statement sound not indignant, but like a blackly amused question. Inherent in it was retribution. As though he almost pitied anyone who attempted to hurt someone he cared about.

Suddenly, subtly, swiftly, without her realizing it, he was so close to her that the damp of his shirt touched her breasts. She was instantly incongruously enveloped in lavender and sweat and a hint of white might be Bay Rum. Wet linen. Man. Chase. So close now that she was surprised steam didn’t rise from her bodice from the sheer nearness of him.

Still, his hands remained at his sides.

Slowly, slowly, his face came down toward her. She tried: she could not keep her eyes from fluttering closed. It was sweetly difficult to breathe; anticipation did that to lungs.

He brushed, just slightly, his cheek along hers, so she could feel the heat of his skin, the start of whiskers, the hard plane of his jaw. His breath, hot, soft, brushed the lobe of her ear, and then his firm lips were there, just scarcely brushing the whorls of it, and gooseflesh danced over her arms and legs and spine and, for all she knew, her very soul.

"God, how I want you," he whispered.

Her knees nearly buckled.

And then, slowly, slowly, he drew his cheek away.

He stood back to look at her of-a-certainty dazed face, his expression thoughtful.

And then he nodded once, some sort of conclusion drawn or decision made, gave her one of those half smiles, the devil, and was gone.

Now that she's hooked you, read more excerpts at Julie Anne Long’s website, or...Follow Julie on Twitter or Facebook or Myspace.

Tell us what you think!

 

 

Comments

13 comments posted.

Re: Julie Ann Long | SINCE THE SURRENDER...AN EXCERPT

You know how to make the reader flip through the pages furiously trying to predict where the next taut tension will be. And then the hero leaves and my breath deflates until the next crisis.
(Alyson Widen 11:02am August 10, 2009)

Alyson -- so glad I can keep you guessing! ;) That's my OWN definition of a page-turner, so I'm delighted my books keep you turning the pages!!
(Julie Long 12:17pm August 10, 2009)

Hmm, too bad I didn't see this book at the bookstore today. It sounds very intriguing, like all your books, Julie. I'll have to see if I can get back there soon to get it. Sometimes Chapters is a little behind in getting books.
(Sigrun Schulz 4:37pm August 10, 2009)

Now the I read this excerpt, I'm hooked. I want to read the book to find out what develops between Chase and Rosalind and how/if they find the missing girls. I hope I have the patience to wait.
(Rosemary Krejsa 4:45pm August 10, 2009)

Great excerpt!! Now I've GOT to read the book!!
(Martha Lawson 8:48pm August 10, 2009)

Hey Sigrun!! How have you been?? Always interesting to find out what books you're able to find in Canada! Let me know what you find out, if you can!

Rosemary, if you're curious, you can find another excerpt on my website! Not that it reveals the whole mystery, or anything -- LOL. But if this excerpt hooked you, I figure I might as well reel you in a little more! LOL.

Martha -- hope you do get a chance to read it! I'd love to know what you think if you do. ;) Can't miss it in the bookstore -- it's bright golden yellow, and the cover hero is even more delicious on the real thing than on the .jpg! :)
(Julie Long 9:19pm August 10, 2009)

I don't read many historicals but it does sound good
(Diane Sadler 9:23pm August 10, 2009)

Hey Diane! Will you believe the author if she tells you it IS good? LOL. What kinds of things do you like to read? I think STS has a little something for everybody: humor, danger, romance, SERIOUS steaminess, mysterious paintings of busty angels, sinister puppets -- you name it. LOL. Just name something, I'll tell you if it's in there.;)
(Julie Long 9:53pm August 10, 2009)

It does sound like a good book. I read historicals but not as much as contempory.

Linda Henderson
(Linda Henderson 1:13am August 11, 2009)

Hey Linda! Thanks for reading the excerpt! What kind of historicals do you check out when you read them?
(Julie Long 1:53am August 11, 2009)

Wonderful excerpt. Sounds like an
enjoyable book. Historicals are my
preference.
(Patricia Barraclough 10:49pm August 11, 2009)

Hi patricia! So glad you enjoyed the excerpt! If you check out the book, you'll have to let me know what you think of it! :)
(Julie Long 1:08pm August 12, 2009)

Julie and Patricia in regards to the excerpt I can wrap it up in a single word HOT1
(Susan Lathen 3:32am October 6, 2009)

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