Here are two excerpts from the novella for you to enjoy:
“Hello there! Mrs Holbein?”
Grace peered up from the chicken coop at the approaching cowboys. They dismounted from their horses then walked towards the perimeter fence.
She was knee-high in straw and feathers as she gathered that day’s eggs, depositing them in a basket hooked over her left arm. She wasn’t expecting company and she didn’t recognise the two men. Her survival instinct kicked in, increasing her heart rate, and she quickly reached down and checked her right boot. The cold steel blade sat in its place, encased in the leather sheath, reassuring her with its sharp edge and fierce point.
“Hello?” She raised her voice to intimate that it was a question not a greeting. She straightened her back and wiped the perspiration from her upper lip with the back of her free hand.
The cowboys reached the fence. This close, she could see how big they were. Tall, broad-shouldered men. Large and masculine. They made her acutely aware of how petite and feminine she was.
How utterly defenceless.
She eyed them, her senses on high alert. Being a woman alone at an isolated homestead a few miles outside of Deadwood meant that she was constantly wary. Letting her guard down, even just a fraction, could have been fatal whether dealing with man or beast.
Grace met the blond man’s blue eyes and a shiver ran down her spine. They were as intense as the sky on a clear summer’s day. Beautiful, bright blue framed by thick black lashes. He rested his large, tanned hands on the fence. She found her gaze drawn to his long, slim fingers with their short nails and the tiny white-blond hairs on his muscular forearms which shone in the afternoon sun. This was a man who worked hard for a living. Outdoors. Probably with horses and cattle.
“Are you Mrs Holbein?” He repeated the question.
“That’s me. Whadda you want?” She pulled herself up to her full height. She could see that if she stood next to either man she would not reach his shoulders. As the cowboy searched her face, she let the basket swing in front of her body. An obstacle between them, to hide her figure from view. Protection. A barrier.
“We’re looking for work, ma’am,” the cowboy explained. He pushed his Stetson further back on his head and wiped his brow with a folded neckerchief.
“And what makes you come out here looking for it?” Grace scowled. She nudged an inquisitive chicken away from her skirts with her foot.
“We asked in Deadwood, ma’am. They said you was likely to need some help around your farm. In light of your…” He removed his hat. “Your recent loss.”
So they knew about Jack. That also meant that they knew she was alone and that she had no man to protect her. She took a steadying breath.
Keep calm. Show no fear.
“What’s your names?” She stalled. She had no intention of giving them more information about her circumstances than she needed to. She didn’t have the time for pleasantries. There was no time to waste in the day. No time at all. She was exhausted, run ragged trying to take care of the farm all alone. They had never had any hired help and life had been tough but Jack had insisted that they could do it all themselves. But now that he’d gone, she realised exactly how much he had done.
Around the farm and to her.
She shivered. Her corset grazed the spot below her left shoulder blade that never fully healed and she gritted her teeth together. Damned sensitive female flesh. She was filled with resentment for her own frailty.
“I’m Matt Huntley and this here’s Blake Donohue.” Matt gestured to his companion.
“Howdy, Mrs Holbein.” Blake doffed his hat. Grace swallowed hard. His hair was black and shiny as a raven’s wings and his eyes like pools of whisky. His face was tanned from being outdoors and he had a few days’ growth of stubble. But he was handsome as the devil himself. She shook her head.
A pleasing face did not equal a good heart. As she’d learnt. For the past five years.
She moved towards them. Brought their hands to her lips. Pressed her mouth to their fingers in turn. Both of them. At the same time. Leaving neither man out. Their skin smelt of pine and masculine warmth. She breathed it in, licking her lips as it fired her desire.
Matt gasped and she met his eyes. They were dark. His own lips slightly parted.
She glanced at Blake. His eyes echoed the need in Matt’s. What was happening here?
This wasn’t possible. She had dreamt of this even though she had denied it upon waking with her hands between her legs and her body coated in perspiration. Being loved by them both simultaneously.
She took a step closer to Matt and he lowered his head. He pressed his mouth to hers. He kissed her. Gently. Slowly. She leaned into him, feeling his body all along the front of her own. He was so hard, so strong, so desirable.
She forced herself to pull away then moved towards Blake. He wrapped his strong arms around her and returned her kiss. His mouth was firmer, more insistent. He pressed his tongue between her lips and delved into her mouth. She sighed and ran her own tongue over his. Tasting. Touching. Wanting.
He pulled her closer and she felt his erection against her belly. He was hard. He wanted her. She wanted him. But what about Matt?
She pulled away from Blake’s kisses and glanced at the other cowboy. He stepped closer and kissed her again while she was still in Blake’s arms.
So they were okay with this? They both wanted her? Like this? Her stomach flipped with excitement. How would this work?
Matt moved behind her and lifted her wet hair. He kissed the back of her neck and she shivered with delight. He kissed and nibbled her ears lobes and tickled them with his hot breath. So gentle. So new. She took Blake’s face in her hands and caressed his cheeks, his jaw, the tight cords which stood out in his thick neck.
As Matt ran his hands up and down her sides, nibbling and kissing her neck, Blake kissed her mouth, her throat, the tops of her breasts which rose and fell rapidly above her dress.
Then they began to undress her.
They gently stripped away her clothing. Pulled off her boots and stockings and unlaced her corset. All the while, still kissing and caressing her so that every inch of her body was aflame.
When she stood in just her shift before them, they quickly peeled off their own clothes.
Grace trembled. Being exposed in the past had heralded the advent of pain and fear. Agony that sometimes lasted the whole night through. If Matt and Blake had hidden their true selves from her and they were about to hurt her, then she would die in their arms. She would want to. Because finding out that they were not the good, kind men that she had fallen for would break her heart. And if that happened, then death would be a welcome escape.
She gazed at Blake. Naked, he was even easier on the eye than he was fully clothed. He was strong, muscular, firm. His body was hard and defined from his broad shoulders to his strong wide thighs. The ebony hair of his head was echoed across his chest in a light dusting and a line of hair ran from his chest down to his navel then to the patch of dark curls at his groin. From amidst them jutted his thick, erect cock. It stuck out from his body, dusky pink with dark, raised veins and a bead of moisture like a diamond at its quivering tip.
Rather than filling her with fear or revulsion, as Jack’s member had, Blake’s filled her with need. It was an extension of this gentle and desirable man. A part of him and what he had to offer. And she wanted it. Wanted him. Inside her.
A nudging at her back made her turn to Matt. He was as gorgeous as Blake. His skin as bronzed down to his waist then white where his flesh had not been exposed to the sun. His chest was hairless but at his groin, the curls were as golden blond as her own. His impressive erection stood to attention, as thick and hard as Blake’s.
They both wanted her. She hugged herself tight inside.
Matt pulled her into his arms and laid her down on the bed facing him. He kissed her softly at first but his kisses grew harder as he pulled her body against his own. His cock nudged at the front of her shift, pushing the thin material between her legs. All of her inhibitions drifted away as she gave in to the need and longing that pulsed through her core.
She had denied herself so much for what felt like a lifetime. Been afraid and numb for an eternity. But finally, she was free. Finally, she was beginning to open up, to surrender to what she wanted.
Behind her, Blake had begun to edge her shift up her legs. He kissed each patch of newly revealed skin. He got to her bottom and kissed the cheeks. It tickled and Grace wriggled on the bed, causing Matt to grind into her even harder. His cock slipped through the folds of her shift and between the wet folds of her sex, sliding around in her damp heat. She groaned, desperate to feel him pushing into her further so that he entered her body completely.
Her shift was up to her lower back now. And still Blake kissed her.
In front of her, Matt also lifted the material, exposing her pussy, her belly, her pert little breasts with their hard fuchsia nubs. Matt moved down her body and began to suckle her nipples, pulling them into his mouth in turn until she panted with need. All the times that Jack had taken her, he’d never stirred her like this. His hands on her breasts had been cruel and he had made her flesh crawl. Matt’s caresses made her want to scream with need.
At the same time he ran a hand down between her legs, pushing between her wet silken lips and rubbing at her swollen bud. She moved with his knowing hand, up and down, round and round. She pulled his head closer to her breasts, losing herself in pleasure.