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Excerpt: Guilty As Sin

Excerpt: Guilty As Sin

Book 1: Sinful, Montana

She wasn’t in her garden this morning, even though he’d have expected to see her there as usual, maybe trimming the lavender bushes that were exuberantly attempting to overhang the winding brick walk to the front porch of her storybook-perfect cottage. Or maybe doing . . . something, whatever a person did, to the giant pink flowers that were bent over on their stems by their own weight like drunken sailors.

Yeah. Normally, she’d be doing something garden-appropriate outdoors, and he’d nod at her, notice once again that she was pretty, wonder how many lacy items of clothing she actually owned and why he wasn’t stopping to find out, and know why. It was that edge. That last step before the darkness, when you were flirting with too far. He wasn’t saying it was a good thing to need, but it had to be there, or his feet didn’t stop.

She was too perfect. Even her perfect house made him itchy. She was too good for him, or he was too bad for her, and his feet knew it.

So why were his feet slowing now? She was down closer to the road this morning, in the barnyard that ended in a wooden shed as neat and tidy as the rest of her place. Cutesy, he guessed a woman would call it. Naff, he’d call it. She looked soft and sweet, like always, in every way but the wellies, the knee-high black rubber boots that would have been at home in Queensland. At this moment, though, even as he turned up her drive like he’d been drawn there, she was stripping off a pale-pink cardigan with jerky, impatient movements and hurling it toward the fence. It fell short, landing in the dirt, but Jace didn’t pay too much attention.

You could say that the stripping-off had refocused him. Because underneath the sweater, she was wearing a white tank top with multiple skinny criss-crossing straps that showed off a trim but muscular upper back, an apron that tied around her waist with a giant pink bow and somehow managed to say come-on-boy-let’s-go in a way no apron should, and a pair of gray leggings that traced absolutely every curve of an absolutely spectacular arse.

Normally, with her, everything was flowers, lace, or both. She was missing some ornamentation today, but she still had the apron. Why she was wearing it in a barnyard was anybody’s guess. And why her clothes, or she, or something had made him stop was another question.

Maybe because she’d cut her hair, and it looked—free. You could even call it “wild,” falling not quite to her shoulders in pure, wavy blonde abandon.

Unfortunately, she also seemed to have gone round the bend. What he’d thought at first was some kind of bizarre farmyard game was something else. She’d always looked serene before. Sweet. Seriously not his type. Now? She just looked seriously pissed off.

As he approached, she spat out a string of words that didn’t match her girly pink apron one bit and lunged at one of the two knee-high milk goats that were running crazy patterns around her, bleating up a storm. Three baby goats barely bigger than cats, meanwhile, scampered along the fence separating them from their mothers and took turns jumping straight up in the air and leaping over each other like they were on springs. If goats could be said to be shouting encouragement, that was what the babies were doing. And that wasn’t all. What looked like an entire flock of chickens were running around the enclosure as well, flapping their wings and cackling like maniacs. If it had been a battlefield, it would’ve been one that had turned to custard.

Even as he thought it, the woman shouted, “Son of a bitch,” feinted one way, and leaped the other, hitting the ground and taking down the black-and-white goat in a tackle that would’ve done justice to a rugby forward. The goat thrashed, the other goat bleated and leaped around some more, the babies bounced up and down like they were on a trampoline, Tobias barked, and Jace wanted to laugh.

It wasn’t every day you watched a woman go mad.

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