The steamy tale of a forbidden love that defied traditions and racial acceptance during the 19th century.
“Damn it, Jarrah!” Emily cursed. “I’ve never cared what color your skin was. All I saw was your kindness, your bravery. I certainly didn’t know you would walk into my study that day asking for work. As for the fighting hall, I’d be happy to see it burnt to the ground!”
He stepped toward her, needing to uncover her lie and finally reveal the truth she was hiding regarding that place. “I’m not some naïve young buck, Emily!” he spat at her, his tone dangerous. “And I’ll be damned if you try to play me for a fool as you have been, as you’ve done to so many other men in this town.”
Stepping toward him, she reached out and slapped him hard across the cheek.
“There have been no other men, Jarrah!” she rebutted instantly. “How dare you accuse me!”
“Do you expect me to believe you’ve never lain with another?” he asked.
“There have been no other men,” she repeated, stepping back away from him slightly. “I haven’t asked any other to help me as I’ve asked you. Nor have I let any other man touch me as you have.”
“Do you think I am fool enough to believe that?” he said, stepping toward her again. “To believe a woman as stunning as you would only allow me to have her favors.”
Backing away from him again, she shook her head. “I’ve never thought you a fool, Jarrah.”
He didn’t believe her though. He couldn’t. His past had taught him that a woman would say anything to get what they wanted.
“I’ve seen you with the other men in this town,” he told her. “I watched you in that tavern, playing up to every one of those white-skinned bastards, acting for all to see as some lust-starved whore needing them to pay you even an inch of attention.”
“I’ve only ever seen you, Jarrah,” she said tearfully. “You are all I’ve ever wanted.”
“I watched them touch you, Emily. Their fingers on your arm, stroking you. They stood so close to you, slobbering over your beauty, and you never once told them to leave you be.”
He let out a steadying sigh as he stopped barely a foot away from her. Never had he allowed his emotions to control him as he was now. He wanted to stay angry at her for all the secrets she’d kept hidden from him. He didn’t want his jealousy to take over, to let her know just how much it pained him knowing he would never be enough for her.
“Why didn’t you tell them you weren’t for their taking, Emily?” he asked, the pain in his words now there for her to see if she cared to. “Why did you not tell those men that you were mine?”
Emily wiped the tears from her cheeks. “Why did you not come forward and claim me?” she asked, her words strained. “If you saw me with another man, why did you just stand there and watch it happen?”
Jarrah pursed his lips, hating that his words had reduced this woman to tears. “I couldn’t come forward and claim you,” he uttered. “If I had, I would have shamed you. You don’t seem to understand, to those men I am nothing.”
She reached out to him, her fingers stroking his stubbled cheek. “You don’t seem to understand, to me you are everything.”