Klondike Winter – Excerpt

"May I have this dance?"

The unfamiliar baritone startled Sarah. His French accent caught her attention and sent waves of heat through her body. With a hand across her thumping heart, she turned and met his intense gaze. Mesmerized, she stared at him. Words stuck in her throat.

The handsome stranger offered his hand and bowed at the waist, waiting for her hand. His gaze never wavered from hers. Without thinking, she joined her fingers to his. Heat from his hand infused her fingers through her thin kid glove. He accompanied her to the dance floor in the center of the room. Some magical attraction formed between them unlike anything she had ever known before. No words came out of her mouth or his. She stared at his delicious, full masculine lips and imagined their taste, their feel. For a quick instant, she turned away.

With the gentle touch of his thumb, he turned her chin to face him. A teasing twist of his lips caused another ripple of warmth. Who was this man? She didn't know, and for now, she didn't care.

He guided her expertly and gracefully through the intricate dance steps while the music played a waltz. This handsome stranger was certainly an apt dancer, she thought as he twirled her across the floor. Only a breath separated their bodies. His long, lean fingers cupped her lower back while his other hand held hers gently. She felt protected, wanted.

She stared into his green eyes. Peridot. Her birthstone. No one she knew possessed the same eye color. He had fashioned his hair in the shortest style she had ever seen and wore a neat goatee. She found his overall style quite appealing and distracting. He made her tremble with delight and excitement. Her heart thundered. Did he notice?

In a gentle move, he brought her a bit closer. His gaze kept her fixated. A wave of warm honey pooled within her depths and exploded through her veins. They moved in perfect unison, keeping a reasonable distance from each other, but his hand on her lower back prevented her from thinking straight. No one in the room existed while he guided her on the dance floor.

"Thank you for the dance," he said, bowing and pressing his warm lips on her shaky hand.

When did the music stop?

Her enchanting dance partner stepped away. Sarah fixed her hair and took out the handkerchief peeking from her glove to fan herself. Before she could tuck it back in, he came back and stole it, leaving like a thief in the night. Her gaze followed him until he disappeared into the crowded room. Who was he?

Regaining some composure, she willed her heart to stop racing. Raising her gloved fingers against her lips, she hid her amused smile.

"Sarah, there you are," her brother said. He turned her chin toward him. "Your cheeks are red. Are you ill?"

"Just a bit warm."

"Maybe you should go out on the terrace."

She laid a hand on his chest. "I'll be back."

Without another moment's hesitation, Sarah walked onto the quiet terrace. She closed her eyes, remembering the depth of the stranger's green eyes, his dark blond hair, and his warm touch on her back. Had she imagined him?

Something pleasurable inside her stirred. He had made her forget her woes. Above all, he had made her forget her fiancé's absence. She rubbed her chilly arms. Guilt gnawed at her. How could she think of another man?

"Miss Callaghan?"

Hot fingers touched her shoulder. The handsome stranger had returned. Slowly, she turned and met his eyes. He took a step closer. His scent of musk reached her nose. A deep stirring caused a whirlwind of sensations within her.

"I believe this is yours." He held her handkerchief in his hand.

"Why did you take it?" she asked.

The corner of his tempting lips curled upward. "I wanted an excuse to see you again." In a deliberately slow manner, he tucked her handkerchief back into her glove. The tips of his fingers burned her wrist.

She melted a bit more. "Who are you? What do you want from me?" she asked softly.

He leaned closer. "I forgot something," he said in French with huskiness in his voice.

"What would that be?" she whispered.

"This." He captured her lips with his, moving gently across her mouth. His hands circled her waist and pulled her closer. The tip of his tongue begged entrance, and without thinking, she accepted his tempting invitation.

He tasted of wine. Her head spun with desire for this man. She stood on tiptoe and let him kiss her, taste her.