Robby Riverton Excerpt – First Kiss
By Eli Easton
AUTHOR’S NOTE – I always love writing, and reading, a couple’s first kiss. I like to make a big deal of it in my stories because it is big deal. Your first kiss with the love of your life? Magic.
There was the squeak of a door opening. Trace grabbed Robby’s hand and pulled him into the trees. They stood in the shadows, Trace behind Robby, one arm around his waist as though he might try to escape. Robby hadn’t the least intention of escaping. The warm muscle behind his back felt so damn good. He watched Pa Crabtree walk with his bow-legged gait across the yard to the privy. He was wearing a long night shirt, a wool hat, gloves, and galoshes over bare legs. He stumbled, half asleep. He went into the privy and the door banged shut.
Robby tried to calm his racing heart. His pulse pounded along Trace’s arm. Electricity radiated in time with the thud, thud. Dear God above. This attraction was officially insane. How could he feel even a speck of lust at one of the most dangerous and dodgy points of his life?
Unless that was why he felt it? He’d heard a close brush with death brought on the urge to copulate, as if the body was reminded of how imperative it was to reproduce, and soon. Of course, if Robby’s body was thinking about offspring, it shouldn’t have set its sights on Sheriff Trace Crabtree.
Something tugged under Robby’s chin. It was Trace, untying his bonnet. The damn thing was perpetually in the way. How did women stand it? He felt cool air as it was tugged off his head and tossed on the ground. He raised a hand to rake his fingers through his hair, loosening the tamed locks. It felt so good to be free.
“Are ya doin’ all right here at the ranch?” Trace asked in a voice that was so low, Robby wouldn’t have heard it except Trace’s mouth was against Robby’s ear.
He replied just as softly. “So far. But I still think I should run while I can.”
Trace pulled him closer, so that Robby’s back was pressed tight against Trace’s chest. His palm spread out along Robby’s ribs, making his skin dance with awareness. His words were firm despite the whisper. “Ya can’t go south, and the way north is dangerous. Besides, ya ran all the way from New York and didn’t outrun your troubles. Don’t run, Robby.”
His words were so sure, so certain. Robby needed to trust someone, needed to not feel alone. He turned, grasping Trace’s waist under his open canvas coat and resting his forehead on Trace’s chin. He was acutely aware of the texture of Trace’s wool vest beneath his fingers and the smooth, thick leather of his gun belt where one pinky rested, of the warm sweat-smell of man and the faint whiff of horse. Those things had never been his favorite smells, but right now they were more than merely good, the scent was life itself, like the smell of the woods and the night air.
Trace’s hands covered Robby’s. Probably he was nervous with Robby so close to his guns. But that was all right. Robby didn’t blame him in the least. All he wanted was to be allowed to stand here for a moment. To not think—just for a moment.
Behind him, Robby heard the privy door bang as Pa-Pa exited. Trace held still until there was the fainter sound of Pa-Pa going back into the house.
Trace relaxed. “He’s gone.”
Robby sighed and stepped back. “It’s going to be hell sitting here waiting. With no idea what’s going on, or when they’ll come.”
“I’ll be keepin’ an eye on ya. Is there a time of day ya can get away? Take a walk?”
Robby thought about it. “Afternoons. The men and older boys work outside and the little ones nap. Marcy and Emmie are usually occupied.”
“All right. There’s a trail behind the barn that goes to the river. Walk south on the riverbank maybe ten minutes, and you’ll find an old cabin. Meet me there tomorrow.”
Robby nodded, relieved he wouldn’t have to wait too long for another update. “Tomorrow.”
“And if ya ever need to get out of that house, just go to the cabin. All right?”
Robby nodded again. He wasn’t sure what else to say and, honestly, he didn’t want to say anything. He wanted to stand there like this, feeling Trace’s warmth and strong confidence. He made everything seem so much more manageable, turned monsters into annoyances. He seemed to think Robby could do this, that they’d be fine. And maybe he was right.
Then he realized that Trace was all but holding him. They were only inches apart and Trace looked down at Robby’s hands, which he still grasped in his own. It should be awkward, but it didn’t feel that way. And Robby wasn’t stupid enough to push away the only good thing he’d felt in ages.
“Why are you doing this for me?” Robby asked at last. The intimacy of Trace’s closeness in the dark was doing strange things to his head.
Trace met his gaze, his eyes troubled. “I’m helpin’ you because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t want to see ya dead. And, in case it’s not obvious…” He huffed out a resentful sigh. “I kind of like ya.”
Robby laughed. “You don’t have to sound so put out about it.”
“Well, I am. I am put out about it. It’s the goddamnedest, most inconvenient thing.”
Robby couldn’t argue with that. But he felt a surge of happiness that Trace had admitted it. It made him feel reckless. Without over-thinking it, he leaned in for a kiss.
Trace stopped him, releasing Robby’s hands to grasp both upper arms. “Don’t. You know it’s foolish.”
Robby felt a flash of irritation. “What I know is that I’m scared out of my fucking mind. And I know that I might not be alive next week. So I’m not interested in nursemaid morality.”
Trace glowered at him for a long moment before responding. “Fine. One kiss. But we can’t be doin’ this.”
It was the worst logic ever, but Robby wasn’t about to point that out. The arms that were holding Robby away now pulled him in. And, despite Trace’s words, his lips were the ones that sought out Robby’s. And they were hungry.
Cover Design: Dar Albert @ Wicked Smart Design
Length: 65,000 words approx.
Being a fugitive in the old west shouldn’t be this much fun.
The year is 1860. Robby Riverton is a rising star on the New York stage. But he witnesses a murder by a famous crime boss and is forced to go on the run--all the way to Santa Fe. When he still hasn't ditched his pursuers, he disguises himself as a mail order bride he meets on the wagon train. Caught between gangsters that want to kill him, and the crazy, uncouth family of his "intended", Robby's only ally is a lazy sheriff who sees exactly who Robby is -- and can't resist him.
Trace Crabtree took the job as sheriff of Flat Bottom because there was never a thing going on. And then Robby Riverton showed up. Disguised as a woman. And betrothed to Trace’s brother. If that wasn’t complication enough, Trace had to find the man as appealing as blueberry pie. He urges Robby to stay undercover until the danger has passed. But a few weeks of having Robby-Rowena at the ranch, and the Crabtree family will never be the same again.
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Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, and organic farmer, Eli has been a m/m romance author since 2013. She has over 30 books published.
Eli has loved romance since her teens and she particular admires writers who can combine literary merit, genuine humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, bulldogs, cows, a cat, and lots of groundhogs.
In romance, Eli is best known for her Christmas stories because she’s a total Christmas sap. These include “Blame it on the Mistletoe”, “Unwrapping Hank” and “Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles”. Her “Howl at the Moon” series of paranormal romances featuring the town of Mad Creek and its dog shifters has been popular with readers. And her series of Amish-themed romances, Men of Lancaster County, has won genre awards.
In 2018 Eli hopes to do more of the same, assuming they reschedule the apocalypse.
Her website is www.elieaston.com
You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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