As manager of one of the finest hotels in Arizona Territory, Portia Carmichael has respect and stability-qualities sorely missing from her harsh childhood. She refuses to jeopardize that by hitching herself to the wrong man. Suitors are plentiful, but none of them has ever looked quite as tempting as the family friend who just rode into town…and none have looked at her with such intensity and heat.
Duchess. That’s the nickname Kent Randolph gave Portia when she was a young girl. Now she’s a stunning, intelligent woman-and Kent has learned his share of hard lessons. After drifting through the West, he’s learned the value of a place to settle down, and in Portia’s arms he’s found that and more. But convincing her to trust him with her heart, not just her passion, will be the greatest challenge he’s known-and one he intends to win…
Portia saw the curiosity on the faces of some of the other people seated nearby and wondered if sitting with Kent would cause gossip, but she went ahead and told him about Eddy and the other ladies leaving her to help in the kitchen.
“You didn’t want to help?”
She smiled ruefully. “Let’s just say I’m better with numbers than I am with pots.”
“Can’t cook, huh?”
“Then you’ll need a man who can.”
“Are you volunteering?”
He shrugged. “If it’ll keep you from starving to death, I suppose I can make myself available, if called upon.”
She wondered if he had this effect on all women.
“How’s the managing of that passion going?” he asked.
Her heart thumped. “Fine.” His eyes were so piercing, she trembled in response.
“You’re fibbing of course, but that’s okay.”
“I am not.”
She leaned closer so they wouldn’t be overheard. “I am not. One kiss was all I needed and now I’m fine, just as I said I would be.”
“Duchess, your uppity mouth’s been wanting another taste all day.”
Heat sent her senses galloping. “It has not, and stop calling it that.”
“Okay. Your sweet mouth has been wanting another taste all day.”
She almost keeled over. “I do like those high-collared blouses you wear.”
She looked down at herself.
“Makes me want to undo all the little buttons and see how you manage with my kisses against your bare throat. Curious about what scent you place there, too.”
Her eyes widened.
He smiled. “No?”
“Okay. Just something for you to think about later. Do you want the legs or the wings?”
Her mind was stuck like it had stepped in tar. How in the world was she going to remain unmoved by his teasing ways without wanting to box his ears or wonder how his kisses would feel against bare throat?
“I’ll take the wings.”
“We have only one set of flatware. Shall I feed you or do you want to feed me?”
Scandalized by the suggestion, she forced herself not to glance around to see how closely they were being observed. “Neither,” she said. “I’ll have the wing. You can eat the rest.”
“Thought I’d ask.”
Beverly Jenkins grew up in Detroit and majored in journalism and English literature at Michigan tate University. She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, People, the Dallas Morning News, Vibe, and many other national publications.