Banking on Temperance
Author: Becky Lower
Genre: Mainstream/Historical Romance
Temperance sputtered and fumed, breathing fire as the door to Basil’s apartment staircase closed behind him. That no-good, self-centered a**! How dare he say their friendship had been destroyed by her ambition! If they’d truly been friends, he would have stood by her and championed her clever attempts to get her family moved westward. But once he introduced her to Jake, it was as if he’d turned his back on her. She could take him turning his back on her as a woman, but not as a friend. She yanked open the door and ran up the stairs.
“How dare you!” She didn’t bother to knock at the top of the steps, she was so angry.
He turned to face her, but didn’t reply.
“Well? How dare you say that I’m the one who turned away from your friendship? You’ve become my best friend here in town, Basil, and I miss our good times. You never come to the restaurant anymore, and you barely talk to me at all here. Do you want me to quit? To leave?”
“If you know what’s best for you, leave, right this minute.”
“Why? Because you’ll tell me something I don’t want to hear?”
Basil crossed the room to her in two strides. He placed his hands on either side of her face and growled, “Not because of what I’ll tell you, but because of what I’ll do.” He lowered his mouth to hers, crushing her tender lips beneath his own.
Temperance stood still, in shock at what was happening. The breath whooshed out of her lungs. Her arms hung by her sides, but her mouth and tongue were doing battle with Basil’s. She moved her arms finally, and wound them around his broad shoulders, welcoming him. Her back was up against the wall as Basil continued to kiss her with all the pent-up passion that had been building between them for months. She pulled him closer, reveling in his scent of spice and man. She tasted the tobacco on his breath, along with mint, and thought there had never been so delightful a combination.
This is where I belong. Not Oregon.
A small moan drifted from her mouth as she sunk her fingers into his hair. He ran a row of scorching kisses from the left corner of her mouth up to her temple, then down to the pulsing vein in her neck. As he tugged gently, her whimpers became stronger. She was desperately kissing his hair, his forehead, anything she could touch. His moans matched hers as the torrid, sensual dance continued.
His hand drifted to the buttons running down the front of her dress. He slowly unbuttoned each one, taking the time to kiss each inch of new skin he uncovered. Temperance thought she would surely combust from the sensation of his mouth on flesh that had never before been touched by a man. She squirmed and wrapped her fingers into his hair. “Oh, sweet Lord,” she cried out.
Basil pried his lips from her, and backed off a step. He ran his hand through his hair. Temperance couldn’t talk. She couldn’t breathe. Her senses were still writhing out of control. He backed away one more step, staring at her with lust-filled eyes.
“That is why you should never set foot in this apartment. If you come near me again, I’ll not stop. I will have all of you, and ruin all your plans for marriage to Jake. And that is why we can no longer be friends. You’ve made your choice, Temptress. Now leave me alone.”