A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove #1)

A beast is just what you want. A big, dark medieval brute to throw you to the ground, tear the clothes from your body, and have his wicked way with you. I know I’m right. I haven’t forgotten how excited you were in the aftermath of that blast."
The nerve of him!
How could he tell?
She lifted her chin. "Well, I haven't forgotten the sound you made when I first touched your brow. It wasn't even a moan, it was more like . . . like a whimper."
He made a dismissive sound. "Oh yes. A plaintive, yearning whimper. Because you want an angel. A sweet, tender virgin to hold you and stroke you and whisper precious promises and make you feel human."
"That's absurd," he scoffed. "You're just begging to be taught a hard, fast lesson in what it means to please a man."
"You're just longing to put your head in my lap and feel my fingers in your hair.
He backed her up against a rock. "You need a good ravaging."
"You," she breathed, "need a hug."
They stared at each other for long, tense moments. At first, looking each other in the eye. Then looking each other in the lips. "You know what I think?" he said, coming closer. So close she could feel his breath wash warm against her cheek. "I think we’re having one of those vexing arguments again."
"The kind where both sides are right?"
"Hell, yes."
And this time, when they kissed, they both made that sound. That deep, moaning, yearning, whimpering sound.
That sound that said yes.
And at last.
And you are exactly what I need.

A home isn’t only defined by what you need, Bram. It’s also about the people who need you

Bram stared into a pair of wide, dark eyes. Eyes that reflected a surprising glimmer of intelligence. This might be the rare female a man could reason with.

"Now, then," he said. "We can do this the easy way, or we can make things difficult."

With a soft snort, she turned her head. It was as if he'd ceased to exist.

Bram shifted his weight to his good leg, feeling the stab to his pride. He was a lieutenant colonel in the British army, and at over six feet tall, he was said to cut an imposing figure. Typically, a pointed glance from his quarter would quell the slightest hint of disobedience. He was not accustomed to being ignored.

"Listen sharp, now." He gave her ear a rough tweak and sank his voice to a low threat. "If you know what's good for you, you'll do as I say."

Though she spoke not a word, her reply was clear: You can kiss my great wolly arse.

Confounded sheep.

Colin stared at the officer. “Thorne, you scare me. I’m not ashamed to say it.

He pierced her with a look. “I thought we had an agreement. I keep my men away from your ladies, and you keep your distance from me. You’re not holding your end of the bargain.”

“It’s but a momentary interruption. Just this once.”

“Just this once?” He made a dismissive noise, rifling through papers. “What about just now in the church?”

“Very well, twice.”

“Try again.” He stacked his papers and looked up, devouring her with his intent green gaze. “You invaded my dreams at least a half-dozen times last night. When I’m awake, you keep traipsing through my thoughts. Sometimes you’re barely clothed. What excuse can you make for that?”

She stammered to form a response, her tongue tripping against her teeth. “I . . . I would never traipse.” Idiotic reply.

“Hm.” He tilted his head and regarded her thoughtfully. “Would you saunter?

He shook his head, looking perplexed. “I even like it when you snipe at me.” “You’ve seen me with a gun. If I were to snipe at you, I promise you’d feel it. And you wouldn’t like it one bit

How is it you’ve never married?” A soft splash. “It’s an easy enough thing. Every morning I wake up, go about my day, and return to bed at night without having recited marriage vows. After several years, I have the trick of it down.

I adored you. All my life, I adored you. I asked nothing of you. No promises, no courtship. I surrendered my virtue. I gave you my trust. And you left me with a note.”His mouth twisted in an expression of regret. He pushed a hand through his hair. “I’m so very—” “Twenty-six words!” she shot back, in the loudest whisper she could manage. “I gave you my virginity, and you left me twenty-six scribbled words.

I'm not going to accept your challenge. There will be no duel."
"Why not? Because I'm a woman?"
"No, because I've seen the way you spinsters handle a pistol. You'd shoot me dead where I stood.

I’m so sorry to disappoint you,” she said, breathing hard. “But it would take far more than that to scare me.”

A quick flex of his arms, and their bodies collided. And he whispered, just as his mouth fell on hers, “God, I was hoping you’d say that.

No, no. Don't make that face. Every time I propose to you, you make that twisty, unhappy face. It wears on a man's confidence.

No, Susanna, " he said. "I cannot love you just a little. If that's what you want, you must find a different man." His green eyes were breathtaking in their intensity. His thumb brushed her bottom lip. "Because I can only love you entirely. With everything I am, and everything I ever will be. Body, mind, heart, soul.

Right here?" he echoed, his voice breaking with surprise. "Right now?"

Susanna couldn't help but laugh a little. It felt good to catch him off guard, lighten the sadness in his voice. "It can be accomplished in the water, can't it?"

He nodded numbly. "It can."

"Unless you have some objection."

He shook his head, just as numbly. "I don't."


She [Susanna] realized she was still hugging the wall. Pride propelled her two steps forward. As she advanced, something bleated at her, as though chastising her for trespassing. She stopped midstep and peered at it. "Did you know there's a lamb in here?"

"Never mind it. That's dinner."

She gave it a smile and a friendly pat. "Hullo, Dinner. Aren't you a sweet thing."

"It's not his name, it's his...function.

She would allow him to comfort her. And perhaps, someday, she would listen patiently if a dark, dreary night found him well in his cups and he drunkenly confessed to still feeling scores of wounds that weren’t his own, but those of men under his command.

So close. He'd get there. Not today, but soon. He had a task to accomplish here, and the sooner he completed it, the sooner he could rejoin his regiment. He wasn't stopping for anything.

Except sheep. Blast it. It would seem they were stopping for sheep.

A rough voice said, "I'll take care of them."

Thorne joined their group. Bram flicked his gaze to the side and spied his hulking mountain of a corporal shouldering a flintlock rifle.

"We can't simply shoot them, Thorne."

Obedient as ever, Thorne lowered his gun. "Then I've a cutlass. Just sharpened the blade last night."

"We can't butcher them, either."

Thorne shrugged. "I'm hungry."

Yes, that was Thorne--straightforward, practical. Ruthless.

So I will just tell you I love you. I love you, Bram. I want everyone to see it, and I want you to know . . . you’re a part of this place now. No matter where duty takes you, Spindle Cove will always be here for you. And so will I.” He put both arms around her, pulling her flush against his chest. “You beautiful, brazen thing.” Then he went silent, just holding her gaze for what seemed like eons. Nerves multiplied in her stomach with every passing second. She swallowed hard. “Don’t you have anything else to say?”“ ‘Hallelujah’ springs to mind. Beyond that . . .” He brushed a caress down her cheek. “Does this mean that if I proposed marriage to you right now, you might not make that twisty, unhappy face?” “Try me and see.

The Blushing Pansy," his cousin read aloud, in a tone of abject horror. "Tea shop and confectionery."
Bram swore. This was going to be ugly.

The question is, Miss Finch . . . what are you doing in this village?”
“I’ve been trying to explain it to you. We have a community of ladies here in Spindle Cove, and we support one another with friendship, intellectual stimulation, and healthful living.”
“No, no. I can see how this might appeal to a mousy, awkward chit with no prospects for something better. But what are you doing here?”
Perplexed, she turned her gloved hands palms-up. “Living happily.”
“Really,” he said, giving her a skeptical look. Even his horse snorted in seeming disbelief. “A woman like you.”
She bristled. Just what kind of woman did he think she was?
“If you think yourself content with no man in your life, Miss Finch, that only proves one thing.” In a swift motion, he pulled himself into the saddle. His next words were spoken down at her, making her feel small and patronized. “You’ve been meeting all the wrong men.

This explains so much," she said, clucking her tongue in mother-hen fashion. "You're compensating for this withered appendage."
Withered appendage? What the devil was she talking about? He shook his head, trying to clear it. Colin's dire predictions of shriveled twigs and dried currants rattled in his skull. Wide awake now, he fought to sit up, wrestling the sheets.
"Listen, you. I don't know what sort of liberties you've taken while I was insensible, or just what your spinster imagination prepared you to see. But I'll have you know, that water was damned cold."
She blinked at him. "I'm referring to your leg."
"Oh." His leg. That withered appendage

This isn't food." Bram picked up a lavender-iced cake between thumb and finger and stared at it. "This is...edible ornamentation.

Thorne looked to the woolly beast at his [Bram's] knee and and cocked a brow. "You seem to have acquired a lamb, my lord."

"The lamb goes home tomorrow."

"And if he doesn't?"

"He's dinner.

Tiny spoons were incompatible with a state of sensual turmoil.

Tonight," he announced, "is the night we take back that village. And we're not going to do it by marching in lines or committing acts of brave idiocy. We're going to do it by being men. Manly men. The kind of men a woman wants to take control."
Brows wrinkled in confusion.
"But . . ." The blacksmith looked around the group. "We are men. Last I checked, anyhow."
"It's not just a matter of having the proper equipment. It's using the equipment properly." Leaping up on a crate, Colin spread his arms wide. "Look at me. Now look at yourselves. Now look back at me. I am the man you want to be like."
Dawes crossed his arms. "Why is that, precisely?"
"Do you know how many women I've bedded?" When Rufus and Finn perked, he waved at them. "Have a guess, boys."
"Seventeen," offered Finn.
"Still more."
"Er . . . nineteen?"
"Oh, for the love of God," he muttered. "We'll be here all day. Let's just call the number more than you can imagine. Because clearly, that is the case." Under his breath, he added, "Perhaps higher than you know how to count.

We have to get out of here, Bram. Before they take our bollocks and use them for pincushions.

What kind of a modern woman was she, if she didn’t reach for her own dream? Maybe it was time to sweep the man off his feet, for a change.

When he [Colin] reached the center of the field, he paused to catch his breath and scan the area for telltale tufts of wool. When the lamb failed to appear, he cupped his hands around his mouth and tried again. "Dinner!"

This time, his call earned an answer. Several answers. In fact, the ground shook with the collective bestial response. He spied several large, dark forms lumbering toward him through the twilight dusk. He blinked, trying to make them out. These weren't sheep. No, they were...

Cows. Large cows. Remarkably fast and menacing cows. A small herd of them, all thundering straight for him where he stood in the center of the field.

Colin took a few steps backward. "Wait," he said, holding up his hands. "I didn't mean you.

Why, I . . . I still like you.” Nerves fluttered in her chest, but she kept her tone light. “Do you like me?”
A few moments passed in silence. She would have counted them in heartbeats, but her foolish heart had become a most unreliable timepiece. It gave three pounding beats in a flurry, then none at all.
Just when she’d begun to despair, he turned his head, catching her in a passionate, openmouthed kiss. He put both arms around her, fisting his hands in the fabric of her dress, lifting her up and against his chest. So that her body recalled every inch of his, every second of their blissful lovemaking. The now-familiar ache returned—that sweet, hollow pang of desire that only deepened as his tongue flickered over hers. In a matter of seconds, he had her gasping. Needing. Damp.
Then he set her back on her toes. Pressed his brow to hers and released a deep, resonant sigh. And just before turning to leave, he spoke a single word.
He said, “No.

Your breasts are alabaster orbs.' "What?" Rufus objected. "That's stupid. I'm not saying that."
"Do you have some better suggestion?"
"Why can't you just say she's got a fair set of titties?

You’re my home, Susanna. My home, my heart, my dearest love. Wherever you are, that’s where I belong. Always.” - Victor Bramwell, Earl of Rycliff