Outrageous: So, how was it for you? LOL. After reading the ARC, I must say I’m a bit flustered. *blush*
Natalie: Hahaha! Is it weird for me to say I’m glad you’re flustered? As to how was it for me, well, I most enjoyed writing the hayloft scene.
Outrageous: Oh, don’t get me started on that, woman. It made me wish there was an available hayloft around here so I could drag my boyfriend up the steps and…do things there.
Natalie: OMG. Now I’m blushing. Too much information there, love.
Outrageous: Apologies, but it’s your fault for writing the book. Anyway, let’s move on, shall we? Emmett. That’s my question, by the way. Emmett.
Natalie: Ah, you like him, do you?
Outrageous: Like him? Like him? I love him. I want him as my book boyfriend. He’s…can I say I’ve already claimed him and if anyone else even thinks about him being their BB, I’ll get jealous and maybe have to run round pulling my hair out.
Natalie: All righty, then… On a serious note, I’m glad you love him. He’s a special character to me. Saves the maiden in distress and all that. Loves her passionately. And she’s rather nice too. Their love makes me warm inside—although it’s only in a book, it’s kind of proof that true love does exist, don’t you think?
Outrageous: Oh yes. And the ending…oh my good God, I cheered. And cried.
Natalie: Yay! Me too haha!
Outrageous: What I liked about the book was there is love but also the nasty anti-hero. I loved hating him. Graham…what a dick! One of those men in life who think they can have whatever they want, regardless of what other people think. He really is an entitled arse. Did you enjoy writing his bits, or did you cringe like I did when reading them?
Natalie: I, um, loved writing his parts. It’s so satisfying writing about a pig because the aim is to get readers to think like you did—that he’s an arse—and it looks like I succeeded in your case. When I think of him stroking his chin…ugh, he turns my stomach. But he’s in the book because I wanted to show all the arses out there that just because they think they’re God’s gift, other people might not agree. And just because he wanted Amelia and thought he could have her despite her being in love with Emmett, I had to prove that he couldn’t have her no matter what. Even kidnapping her didn’t work. Also, the theme with him is also that money can’t buy you love. Amelia would rather be dirt poor and spend her time with Emmett than live in luxury with Graham. Love is what matters, not possessions, a gorgeous castle, and infinite money.
Outrageous: Got to agree with you there. And poor Helena and John. Stuck there working for him and not being able to be together because Graham uses Helena for sex. Such a nasty man.
Natalie: But things work out in the end, although there’s a bit of a rough ride to get to the end. Did you like it that Graham appeared in the present as well?
Outrageous: It’s a weird one, because I hated it and liked it. When he reappeared, I wanted to scream. I think I actually growled at my Kindle.
Natalie: LOL. I’m so happy haha.
Outrageous: I’m starting to get a bit worried about you. Do you like tormenting readers or something?
Natalie: Sort of. That’s the point, isn’t it? Getting readers involved and invested?
Outrageous: You got me invested. Thanks for the ARC, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Natalie: You’re welcome.
Outrageous: Now, not wanting to sound rude, but it’s time for you to get lost now. In the best possible way. Get lost and write something else LOL.
Natalie: Charmed, I’m sure. Haha!
THIS BOOK WAS PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED ELSEWHERE. IT HAS BEEN REVISED FOR REPUBLICATION.
Drawn to the attic in her new home, Amelia finds a saucy nineteenth-century wench dress. At first glance, it’s just a dress, but once she puts it on, desire streaks through her and she’s transported to the past. Overwhelmed by lust, she is caught pleasuring herself, discovered by the most gorgeous man she’s ever seen, who turns out to be—her lover?
Amelia and Emmet join in an explosive sexual union, erasing the months—or is it centuries?—they have been apart as though they never existed. But suddenly Amelia awakes—alone.
Until the dress calls again.
Emmett’s not the only one lusting after Amelia. Lord Graham wants her and he doesn’t fight fair. He kidnaps her, sends Emmett on a deadly errand and forces Amelia to participate in his voyeuristic games. Although Amelia’s body betrays her, she vows to remain true to Emmett, but will he return? And can she escape the clutches of Lord Graham’s debauchery? Amidst subterfuge, treachery and murder, Amelia and Emmet’s love grows and they reach new heights of carnal passions.
Unpacked boxes and bulging refuse sacks filled Amelia’s new living room. She stood in the aisle space the movers had left and tapped her foot. The sound reverberated and she glanced at the restored oak flooring. An ugly gouge marred one plank and her tapping grew in tempo. Amelia sighed, blowing frustration out through pursed lips. The morning had been long and tiring and she wanted nothing more than to climb into bed and sleep.
“No chance of that,” she muttered, eyeing the boxes. Which one should she empty first? Her black leather sofa looked all too inviting against the back wall and she stifled the urge to flop down on it. “No. I’ve got to stick to my plan. Get everything unpacked today. Tomorrow I can lounge about. No more putting things off. That’s what got me here in the first place.”
Thoughts of James and his treatment of her intruded and she winced.
He’s long gone. Damn bastard thought I’d roll over and take everything he gave. Didn’t expect Amelia Jacobs to stand up for herself and kick his ass to the curb.
She pressed her lips together and closed her eyes.
No more thinking about him. This is a new start. New place, new town, new everything. You can do this. You’re strong. Thirty-one years old and you’re going to let that fucker win?
She huffed out a wry laugh then inhaled. The cottage smelled of recently applied paint and new carpet. She remembered the day she’d decorated this room, how her back had ached by the time she was done and a stripe of cream paint gave the illusion of a gray streak in her long brunette hair. She fingered the curls, reminding herself to tie it back before she attempted the daunting task of unpacking, a job she didn’t relish one bit. She’d bought everything new, throwing out all reminders of a past she couldn’t wait to forget, and setting up a DVD player and tuning in a TV from scratch didn’t appeal.
I’m not even sure I know how to do it. She grimaced. Of course I can. I have to. How the hell did I allow James to take over my life and my mind? How did he change from being a loving, caring man into someone who thought nothing of using my lack of self-esteem to keep me by his side? She shook her head. Stupid, that’s what I was. Stupid and too trusting.
She turned to inspect the stairs behind her, pleased with her choice of thick cream carpet. Shruggingshould look like—stick-thin, wan and unrecognizable as the woman he’d first dated.
Why pick me then try to change me?
She clamped her jaw and shoved him out of her mind. No point in entertaining the past. She had a new future ahead of her, a business to run from the cottage, where she’d meet a variety of people who loved music as much as she did. Already folks had called since she’d advertized her services and booked slots for her to teach them piano. A new one would be arriving soon, purchased from a lovely woman named Matilda who ran the music shop in town. The redhead had been the only person here so far who had shown Amelia kindness. They had hit it off right away, Matilda taking her for coffee when Amelia had paid for the piano a few weeks before moving in. Since then, they had spoken over the phone daily, their friendship growing.
Things will be all right. You can do this.
She padded to the attic door and clasped the handle. It warmed beneath her palm and her skin tingled, a faint buzz zipping up her arm. With a gasp, she snatched her hand away and massaged her wrist.
What the hell was that?
Grasping the handle once more, she turned it. A surge of energy infused her body and she flung the door wide and let go of the handle. Butterflies danced in her belly and her heart rate quickened. Old, narrow wooden stairs stretched upward, the white walls either side uneven with slight swells and dips. She looked to the top. A swathe of sunlight cut across the opening, catching the cobwebbed, sloping rafters and glancing off the back wall. Dust motes swirled and the scent of years gone by wafted toward her. She placed her foot on the first step and it creaked as though groaning from her weight. Her pulse thrummed in her neck, the sound of it loud in her head. Curiosity consumed her and all thoughts of unpacking and her turbulent past left her mind.
Amelia climbed quickly, the need to get into the attic immense. Breathless with an anticipation she hadn’t felt in a long time, she stood at the top and gazed around. Two windows to her right admitted the sunshine, the glass panes misty with dirt. The view of the bay and the spread of ocean would be stunning from up here. A pile of swept-up dust sat in the far right corner, the bare floorboards unvarnished but clean. The air encompassed her, almost as though it was a palpable thing able to shroud her, blanket-like and warm. The hairs on her arms rose and she rubbed them, a sense of well-being infusing her.
There’s something…right about this room. It’s…it’s like I’ve come home.
She walked toward the window and pulled her shirt sleeve over her hand ready to cuff a porthole in the dirt. Arm raised, she neared the glass, but a twinkle in her peripheral vision caught her attention. She lowered her arm and turned her head to the right. Peering into the darkened corner, breath held, Amelia waited for the twinkle to reappear. Long seconds passed, her heart thudding, and she released the air and shook her head. There it was again, a burst of light, and she moved toward it. Darkness dwelled in the corner, thick and solid, and she hunched over the closer she got, the ceiling lowering in a sharp slope. She blinked, waiting for her eyes to become accustomed to the pitch—a pitch at odds with the rest of the attic. Amelia glanced behind her. The other half of the space remained lit by sunlight, yet here… She stared back to the corner and, once there, kneeled. Hands clasped in her lap, she waited.
The darkness appeared to move, swirling around her, embracing her with its ebon arms. Far from being frightened, Amelia felt at peace for the first time in months. Her breathing evened out, and her heart stopped pumping so harshly. A sense of being at one with herself, at ease in her own skin, coursed through her, and she smiled in wonderment. All worries and insecurities drifted away, leaving her with the sensation that she floated. She placed her hands on the floor, certain she’d find nothing but air, yet the floorboards, hard and real, met her fingertips.
Again, that sliver of light winked. Before it disappeared, she reached forward to grasp it. Her hand came into contact with something hard. A cocktail of awe and pleasant trepidation sped through her, coupled with a stab of lust. She gasped, unaccustomed to the raw desire spiking inside her. The solidity beneath her hand warmed and she ran her fingers along what felt like a wooden edge. Exploring further, she smoothed across the surface. A large box?
Energized, she gripped the rear corners and pulled, shuffling backward as the heavy box moved. A momentary thought of spiders scurrying from their disturbed homes flickered through her mind, so she doubled her efforts and drew the box out quickly. Standing, she patted the shape, finding a handle on one side. She grasped it and heaved the weight into the sunlit part of the attic. Sweat dripped down her temples and her stomach contracted, excitement gripping her. She stared down at a large, polished wooden chest, the lid’s surface inlaid with intricate carvings. The attic darkened a little and she turned to look at the windows. White clouds scudded across the sun for a moment before bright beams shone through the glass again. Amelia returned her attention to the chest. A gold clasp kept the lid closed and she went down on her knees, eager to inspect the contents.
With shaking fingers, she lifted the clasp, once again entertaining thoughts of spiders. She swallowed, steeled herself for a fright and raised the lid. It creaked, the noise so loud she winced. Black silk lined the lid, the edges frayed and worn from many years of use. She gazed inside. What appeared to be a dress lay in the bottom, its white bodice ruched like that of an olden-day serving wench’s garment. The neckline, low and round, would show off an ample cleavage and she automatically placed her hand to her chest. Her heart thumped beneath her palm and her head lightened.
I need fresh air. It’s so cloying up here.
Still she didn’t move. Instead, she reached into the chest to pick up the dress. A shock of lust winged through her body and she reared backward onto her ass, the material landing in a heap on her legs. Her cunt ached so much it bordered on painful. Stunned, she stared at the dress, confused at her state.
What the hell is going on here?
Amelia exhaled a shaky breath and staved off the desire to snake her hand inside her jeans waistband and touch herself. She laughed, the tinkle of it carefree. Tentatively, she ran her hands over the bodice of the dress. Her nipples perked and lust sped through her veins, growing more urgent with every thud of her pulse. She stood, kicking the dress away, and looked at it, arms across her midsection.
I haven’t felt like this…ever.
Alien emotions assaulted her—the need for something she couldn’t explain, the want of strong arms about her, the touch of soft skin on hers. She lifted a hand to her mouth, exploring her lips with her fingertips. She dashed her tongue out. A groan left her, one that exacerbated the insistent beat of her clit. She shook her head and bent to pick up the garment. Holding it by the shoulders, she shook it out, the burgundy velvet skirt swishing against her legs. An unexplainable need to undress gripped her and, without questioning her actions, she draped the dress over the box then yanked down her jeans. Her fingers stumbled on her shirt buttons, but she had to undress, had to…
In her bra and thong, she scooped up the frock and slid her hands inside the skirt, slipping it over her head. Arms stretched upward, she inhaled the musky scent of dust, stale beer and a hint of lavender. Her hands found the sleeves and she shimmied the garment down, poking her head through the neck. Fuzziness covered her, spreading through her limbs and torso, making her giddy. Her clit throbbed harder and her breasts tingled, nipples so taut pleasure-pain radiated from them. She palmed her breasts through the fabric and her breath caught as the onset of an orgasm swirled in her center. The need for air immediate, she stumbled over to the window, disorientated by the fast arrival of a desire so vast it rendered her faint.
She pinged the lock back and pushed the window up, the rush of fresh air bringing instantaneous relief. Amelia glanced down at the sill and frowned at four carved straight lines on the edge, surely not made for decorative purposes. Another jolt of bliss ripped through her and she gave in, drawing up the skirt and bunching it at her waist. She rubbed herself, her thong giving her clit beautiful friction. She closed her eyes, unable to stop the need to touch herself, and covered one breast with her free hand.
A gusty breeze sifted through the window and cooled her hot cheeks. She rubbed faster, bliss growing. Someone called her name as though from far away and she snapped her eyes open, stilling her movements. Stuttered breaths gusted out and she listened to her pulse, her beating heart and the sound of birds twittering in the trees and hedges bordering her front garden.
“Amelia…” There it was again, a male voice, her name spoken from a distance, the tone pleading, heart-wrenching.
She stared through the window, embarrassment heating her face as her gaze landed on a man standing on her garden path looking up at her. She snatched her hand away from between her legs and let the skirt fall about her legs. Covering her mouth with both hands, she gasped in shock, pivoting and pressing her back firmly against the wall beside the window.
Who the hell is that?
Amelia worried her bottom lip with her teeth and lowered her hands, smoothing out the dress as if doing so would erase what the man had undoubtedly seen her doing. Should she wait for him to go or peek outside again? Gathering her resolve, she stepped to the window, leaned her palms on the sill and stuck her head out.
The man had stayed his position, legs clad in old-fashioned black breeches, feet planted apart on the gravel path. A white shirt hung loose, molded to his chest and bicep muscles, indicating he worked out. His thick neck, tanned from the sun, boasted a prominent Adam’s apple, a smattering of dark hair at its base. Her gaze rose to his face and she held her breath. Black hair flopped over his forehead. Blue eyes either side of a slender nose regarded her and a knowing grin tweaked one side of his mouth. Black eyebrows arced in question. Heat infused her cheeks.
Damn! Of all the things I could have been doing when I had my first visitor, it had to be that!
A memory filled her mind, one she hadn’t lived but somehow knew intimately. Hot skin on skin, bodies tangled in sweat-soaked sheets. Breaths hard and fast, her chest inflating, her fingers exploring every part of his body. His hand in her hair, bringing her mouth to his, tongues entwined, the wet heat of their kiss sending a wave of lust through her. She knew him yet she didn’t. He belonged here yet he didn’t. She was afraid of him yet she wasn’t.
Amelia cleared her throat, shoving the images away. “Umm, can I help you?”
He laughed, baring straight teeth. She wished the ground would swallow her up or that he would go away, never to return, but…no, she didn’t really want him to leave. While his rich bellow increased her embarrassment, she eyed the windowsill. Those four carved lines, stark and proud, seemed to mean something, their reason for being there nudging at the recesses of her mind, yet her rationale butted in. How could she know what they meant? And why should she care?
She glanced at the road that wound to the right and led the long way into town. Asphalt had been replaced by a dirt track. What the hell? She stared at the man again.
His laughter stopped and, composed once more, he wiped his brow with one sleeve. “My dear Amelia. You do make me happy. Of course you can help me. Why, you always do…”
“Did you forget I was due back around this time?” He tilted his head, teasing her senses into overdrive. “I can’t believe that for one minute.”
“Who are you?” Her mind grew fuzzy, her thought processes dull and slow.
“Ah!” He placed his hands on broad hips and winked. “We’re playing a game, are we? May I come in and join the fun?”
She shook her head to clear it, to think straight, but images flew through her mind. Images of herself and this man in an embrace, hot tears on her face as they clutched one another at the dockside, the stink of salty water and his male scent all around her. Her heart rate picked up and she struggled to make sense of what she saw. Surely her mind had conjured that scene—after all, she wore an old dress, and he…he wore old clothing.
She found herself nodding.
His winning smile beamed up at her and he said, “Maybe the slap of my hand upon your rump will bring back the memory of who I am, my beautiful wench.”
He disappeared around the side of her cottage and Amelia gasped, standing as though rooted, unable to process the recent events quickly enough. Her heart hammered and she shut the window, resting her hand on the latch, trying to figure out what to do next.
The doors are locked. I locked them, didn’t I?
Her back door slammed and she shrieked. Turning from the window, she glanced about the attic in search of a weapon and saw nothing but the wooden chest. Amelia dashed toward it and looked into its depths, praying it contained more than the dress. There was nothing.
Footsteps pounded, their thud too far away to be the attic stairs.
“Oh, God.” Confused, she remembered her new carpet, wondering why those footsteps sounded so hollow, as if his boots thumped on bare wood. She closed her eyes to steel herself for his appearance, listening to the footsteps coming closer, the creak of the first step leading to the attic…
More images crowded her mind. Her seated at the window, a sharp blade in hand, carving those lines in the sill. Another day with him gone. Her staring out at the sea, squinting for sight of his ship on the horizon. Sorrow and desolation when he failed to arrive, exaltation and delirium when his ship broke the line of ocean and sky, the tiny speck of it heralding his imminent arrival. Longing. Desire. Her body aching for his touch, for his whispered words in her ear.
The footsteps stilled and, taking in a huge breath, Amelia opened her eyes.