The Left Hand of Justice, March 1 at the Bold Strokes Books website, and March 18 from major online and brick-and-mortar outlets.
The water rose in the basin and grew hotter. A bowl brushed her ankle, then poured hot, rose-scented water over her head once, twice, until her hair ran smooth and clean down her back.
“God, that’s good.”
Sophie remained silent, but Corbeau could feel satisfaction radiating from her as she lifted Corbeau’s arm and ran a moist cloth over the dark hair beneath it. Sophie had told her once about resorts where the wealthy could bathe as often as they liked in natural hot springs. Some or other paramour had promised to take her there once, but his infatuation had ended before he could make good on it. Corbeau didn’t share the church’s belief in the sinfulness of bathing. It did seem as if it would be a good conduit for disease if there were too many people involved. But she and Sophie were only two, and how could anything this good be wrong?
Another bowl of water cascaded down her back. A warm, clean cloth followed, over her shoulder, under her arm, over her flat buttocks. She sucked in her breath as another hand cupped one of her small breasts, thumb teasing the stiff brown nipple.
“There’s no sin in a mutual exchange of pleasure,” Sophie purred. Corbeau reached for her, but, giggling softly, Sophie moved out of reach. Her hands continued their exploration of Corbeau’s lean, muscular limbs, fingers deftly applying healing unguents to old scars and new bruises, teasing the edges of her most intimate crevices.
“I don’t care if there is,” Corbeau breathed.
Turnbull House, Coming February 2014 from Bold Strokes Books.
Many men would have taken cigars at that point, as well, but for health reasons, Goddard abstained from all but the occasional Egyptian cigarette. His one indulgence was fine whisky, which he served in the cut crystal glasses I remembered well. He walked over to hand me the fuller of the two glasses, and then to my surprise, sat down rather close beside me.
“So,” he said, catching my gaze and holding it, “You never told me why you decided to contact me after all this time.”
“Well….” As I searched for the right words, he quietly set his drink on the polished wood floor. “It’s funny you should—”
The kiss came as such a surprise that I scrambled backward across the divan and almost tumbled over its rounded arm. Whisky sloshed over the rim of my glass, splashing silently onto the Chinese rug. What remained I belted back in one go before setting the glass on the floor and wiping my shaking fingers on my trousers.
It wasn’t that I was averse to the idea of kissing him, but I really hadn’t expected it. At all. In fact, if I’d seen him start toward me in the first place—he was remarkably quick for a man in his mid-forties—I’d have assumed he was going for my throat.
Goddard chuckled under his breath. “Sorry. Did I startle you?”
“You might say that.”
The second time, he leaned in slowly, cupping my face in his smooth, muscular hands. Cain Goddard wasn’t a large man, but his devotion to exercise kept every inch of his magnificent form spring-coiled and strong. My blood still racing from surprise, I forced myself to relax. Kissing Goddard felt like coming home after a long, unpleasant journey. For just a moment, all of my troubles dissolved, and nothing existed except his fingers in my hair, the traces of his jasmine and bergamot cologne, and the hard, whisky-flavored slickness of his mouth. This wasn’t what I had imagined at all. It was much, much better. I made a sort of whimpering noise.
Restraint, I cautioned myself. There was still the business of a loan for Turnbull House, and Goddard wouldn’t do business with anyone he perceived to be lacking self-discipline. It was a good thing Marcus had ended my dry spell when he had.
And then as suddenly as he had moved in, Goddard pulled back, leaving me confused, disappointed, and blinking in the gaslight and shadow.