A haunted plantation…A mysterious trunk…And a date with destiny
When Lola Barton inherits a rundown plantation, she believes her life has finally taken a positive turn. But, when she finds a mysterious trunk in the attic, it takes her into the past and to a man with dark secrets—and she’s married to him.
Leaning over the edge of the mammoth trunk, Lola tried to grasp the card, only to lose her balance. Something like strong gravity pulled her deep into the trunk and down, down into the darkest depths of its huge interior. As if a storm swept in, everything became pitch black in an instant. The corset pinched her ribs, robbing her of breath. The world spun out of control, causing her stomach to lurch with nausea. Lola's head felt full to bursting and a buzzing sound roared through her ears. Strains of harmonica music mixed with an out-of-tune piano playing bits and pieces of a familiar tune—the Wedding March? The tune ebbed and flowed in and out of hearing.
Terrible thoughts crossed her mind that she might be dying. The unbearable noise pierced her eardrums. She couldn't catch her breath, her heart pounded against her ribs, and her nerves shrieked against the unknown. She felt herself falling…falling…into the great dark void, certain that she would lose consciousness, and wishing she could. Then, just as suddenly as it started, it all stopped.
She heard bursts of laughter and the clank of glasses bumping together as she tried to open her eyes. Someone played a piano in discord and feet stomped in time to the music. The smell of stale beer, old wood, and body odor assailed her senses. Lightheaded and disoriented, it took a moment before her blurred vision focused. She straightened from her crouched position and stood on a wooden plank floor covered in sawdust, peanut shells, and bits of refuse. The card that had dropped from her grasp lay on the floor at her feet. She reached down and clutched it in her hand as she heard a man speak in a ceremonious voice. "I now pronounce you man and wife. Harmonica Joe, you may kiss your bride."
Laughter resonated and cheers went up around the room.
Lola clasped the card tight in her fist and glanced up just in time to see an angular face with mesmerizing coffee brown eyes framed in sandy hair move toward her. A day's growth of beard graced his jaw, but it only enhanced his handsome features. She backed away a step only to have someone push her forward. She collided with the solid body of this imposing stranger. The stranger's arm wrapped around her waist and pulled her close as his head dipped down, his mouth capturing hers. The bristles of his chin scraped her tender flesh that caused a thrill to scamper down her spine. His tongue ran along the seam of her lips and teased her to allow his sweet invasion. Her breath hitched as she opened to him and answered his sensual investigation with her own. A ball of heat grew in her chest and spread out its heated fingers, creating an erotic song that vibrated and excited her as it swept along her nerves.
Lola closed her eyes while her arms took a path of their own, weaving over his neck and pressing her breasts against his hard chest. His pelvis thrust forward as the kiss intensified. Even the volumes of material in her skirts could not prevent the distinct impression of his arousal against her abdomen. She heard herself moan with pleasure.
Dear God, she stood in the arms of a complete stranger. He was kissing her with enough sexual heat to burn her clothes off. Recollection began to surface. This was not the attic of Misty Oaks. Just how she got from her fall into the trunk into this...this...place was a mystery. Her head throbbed as a painful reminder of her transition from an attic in Misty Oaks to what looked like an old western saloon in a movie.
The man who kissed her, handsome though he may be in his rough clothes and unshaven face, must be an actor posing as a cowboy. He pulled back from the kiss and gave her a quizzical look. He leaned his head toward her as if he wanted to kiss her again but seemed to think better of it and withdrew.