The Quills are celebrating Valentine's Day within the pages of our books, and sharing excerpts that depict the holiday. Well, not the original celebration of this holiday, but it works for us! If you are interested in learning more about the origins of Valentine's Day, check out this article.
Excerpt from A Window in Time
by Carolyn Lampman
Scene: Lucas and Brianna have escaped a buffalo stampede by hiding under a rocky outcropping.
Helplessly, Lucas held her as the buffalo thundered overhead and the earth rocked around them. One of the animals hit the rock ledge above them with his back feet. The sound was terrifying, as though the whole outcropping was going to crumble. Instinctively, Brianna squealed and threw her arms around Lucas. He ducked his head and squeezed her tighter as the dirt and rocks fell around them in a shower.
The flow of debris gradually ceased, and Lucas cautiously opened his eyes. The air was full of dust but breathable and the outcropping was still intact over their heads. “It’s all right, Brianna.”
She lifted her head. “It is?”
“I think s...” Lucas’s words stuck in his throat when he looked down into her eyes. They widened slightly, and he felt like he was gazing into a fathomless lake. Her lips parted in unconscious invitation as his breath mingled with hers. Without an intentional move from either of them they came together in a kiss as natural as the rain in spring. Soft and warm like a ray of sunlight through a cloud, it enveloped them in a velvet haze blocking out everything else.
Lucas couldn’t get enough. She tasted of sunshine and laughter as her mouth accepted his gentle invasion. Her hands traced the contours of his back leaving a path of fire in their wake while her body molded itself to his. The more he asked the more she gave, sweetly and without restraint. Lucas had never had a woman respond to him the way she did. Desire, hot and lusty rose within him like a tide.
When it ended Brianna lifted her hand to his cheek in wonder. “Lucas?” she whispered.
Excerpt from Along the Way Home
by Christi Corbett
Scene: Jake and Kate, travelers on the 1843 Oregon Trail, have spent the evening playing in the shallows of the Columbia River. Their time on the trail was fraught with tension and sorrow, and they are now sharing a rare moment of closeness.
Jake wanted to stay in the river forever.
The moonlit sky, the breeze whispering through the leaves, the air thick with a heady fragrance of pine and fading blooms—all of it paled in comparison to the beautiful woman standing before him, water swirling around her waist.
Kate stood flushed and breathless, tempting him with her nearness. As she brought a slender hand up to smooth her hair, her shirt clung to her soft, full curves. The taut fabric nearly drove him senseless.
Pushing his remaining reason aside, he moved closer and tilted her chin. Her green eyes widened with surprise, then drifted closed. After a long moment, he brushed a lock of hair from her cheek and then took her hand in his.
He felt her shiver. “Cold?”
“No,” she murmured. “Just nervous.”
Cupping the back of her head with his free hand, Jake swept his lips across her forehead in a light, lingering caress.
She pulled away. “I think we should get back.”
They walked to camp, changed into dry clothes, and slipped into their respective bedrolls—all without a word spoken between them.
Excerpt from Wild Montana Winds
by MK McClintock
"You’re an adult. What you do is up to you.”
Ainslee’s lips lifted into a half smile. “Yes, I am, and I had a great deal of freedom growing up, but it did not stop my mother from worrying. She never found a reason for my father to side with her because I never gave her one.”
Colton grinned. “These sorts of things happened to you a lot?”
“Not too often.”
“You’re not in Scotland. Here, your choices are your own. Whom you confide in is up to you. I didn’t tell Ethan what happened to go against you. I told him because what happens to anyone on this ranch or in our town, happens to the whole family. While you’re here, you are his responsibility—”
“And the responsibility of every adult here.”
She appeared to consider. “Like a tribe or clan?”
“Something like that.”
Ainslee took one step closer to him. “Will he tell Brenna?”
“No, but he’ll tell Ramsey. You should tell Brenna.”
“Ethan hasn’t said anything to me yet.”
“He probably won’t. He tends to let people keep their own counsel until they’re ready to talk.” Colton petted his horse when the animal nudged his shoulder.
“Did you tell him everything?”
Colton did not insult them both by asking what she meant by everything. He still saw in his mind the way her skin glowed in firelight, how silky her hair felt between his fingers when he brushed it out of the way. His only regret was he had not kissed her that first night. He wanted to then and still did now.
“I gave him the shortened version.”
She accepted him at his word with a single nod. “Thank you for telling me.”
She half turned and peered at him over her shoulder.
“You make your own choices here.”
Bemused, she nodded. “And I will.”
“If you were to choose to do anything right now, what would it be? Don’t think about anyone’s approval, just about what you want.”
She blinked and faced him. “No one has ever asked me that.” Every choice she made, she considered how far she could push herself before someone disapproved. Considering her mother’s constant disapproval, she had pushed too far often. “Anything?”
Colton’s smile promised her that whatever she wanted, he would make it happen. “Anything.”
Excerpt from The Dragon's Staircase
by McKenna Grey & Everly Archard
“Sleep in Jordan’s room tonight, we’ll call the police tomorrow.”
“That’s not necessary—”
His fingers covered her mouth before he realized what he’d done. He eased his hand away. “Please, don’t argue with me about this. Let’s pretend for tonight that you’re the victim of a crime and I’m the friend who knows what’s best for you.”
“Okay.” She brushed passed him and into the hall.
Craig followed, surprised she’d given in. She opened a hall closet and pulled out two blankets and a pillow.
“You’re right, the sofa is comfortable.” Alexa handed him the blankets and shut the closet. “Thank you. My instincts tell me to behave one way because I’m as much a victim as Noah and Maureen. Except I can’t be a victim again, Craig, especially now. The best I can do is meet you halfway.”
Craig could see how tired she was and how she fought the exhaustion. “Then halfway is where we’ll meet. I can’t promise I won’t pull the protective card again.”
“I can live with that.”
He loved her smile, even when it was fleeting and mired with fatigue. The gentle upturn of her lips eased as she held his gaze. All he had to do was reach out and cup the side of her face in his warm palm. Her eyelids closed in a single motion and she pressed against his hand.
Heat and want radiated off her body to meld with his in the air. Craig asked himself how this had happened again. For a man who had been trained to control every emotion, movement, and thought, he couldn’t master any restraint when it came to wanting this woman.
Her eyes drifted back open. “Craig.” This whisper was his undoing. He dropped the blankets and pillow and pulled her close. What happened next could only be described as one soul devouring another. Their lips met, sparked, and he allowed himself to sink into his kiss.
Excerpt from Luke: The McKades of Texas
by Kimberly Lewis
“You amaze me.” He lifted a hand and gently stroked the outline of her cheek. “I’ve been watching you work with this horse for the past week with my damn heart in my throat, and here you’ve had it all under control the entire time.”
“I told you all you had to do was trust me,” she teased.
“I’m learning to,” he said, and realized, with that one statement, he’d meant more than just trusting her with the horse. He was learning to trust her with his heart.
A soft grin tipped his mouth as he slowly leaned in toward her, ready to pour all of the emotions racing within him into her, when someone cleared their throat—obnoxiously loud. Luke paused mid-lean and turned slightly to see Zane standing with an annoyed lift to his eyebrow.
Zane’s fingers curled around the top of the tailgate as he reached for the handle and nodded once toward the dummy sled. “Mind giving me a hand?”
“Mind lettin’ me kiss my woman first?” A grin tipped Luke’s mouth as his hands curled around Karlie’s jaw and his fingers tucked into her hair. “Avert your eyes now, bro,” he teasingly warned as he brought his lips to Karlie’s and gave a dramatic hum of appreciation to annoy their audience. On another grumble from Zane, Luke amped up the show with a few smacking smooches to Karlie’s mouth in between her breathless laughter. He pulled back slightly with a playful grin and let his gaze rake appreciatively over the beauty before him—at the flush in her cheeks, her kiss-swollen lips, and the blissful gleam in her dazzling blue eyes. His heart stuttered, and it was there in that moment that he felt himself start to slip and tumble headfirst into a place he’d never been: in love.
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