Woo-hoo! I’m so excited to share that my next release should be hitting Amazon, Nook, Apple Books, Kobo, Scribd, and more starting next week. As soon as I have links, I’ll post them here, as well as on my social media cites, including Facebook and Twitter. If you’re not following me on either, here are my links: https://www.facebook.com/francesmstockton and https://twitter.com/FrancesStockton

https://www.facebook.com/francesmstockton

In the meantime, here’s a new snippet from Valiance, featuring Gabriel Blakemore and Izzy Patterson! Enjoy!

“You can’t read my thoughts, Gabriel. It’s intrusive and embarrassing.”

“I’m not trying to. It is the way of mates. If it makes you feel better, you can guard your thoughts whenever you wish. I should warn you, sometimes I’ve thoughts in my head that could frighten you if I’m asleep, struck by a migraine, or having a nightmare.”

“From the war?”

“Among other things that happened a long time ago, yes.”

“Can I ask you something?”

“Always.”

“You and your family are older than you appear, aren’t you?”

“Except for anyone younger than Will, yes, same as the Montgomery and Forrester families. Does that scare you?” Gabriel replied, bringing her so close, her breasts nearly brushed his chest. Taller than any man she knew, broad of shoulder, lean of hip, his muscles defined, he was strong enough to carry her anywhere and not break his stride, but instinct assured her that he was capable of infinite tenderness.

“Even if I don’t completely understand everything about the Abcynians, I’m not afraid. Truth is, I’m looking forward to meeting the Forresters and Montgomerys.”

“You’ll like them, I’m certain of it,” he said, plucking her hat off and setting it on a table next to his. “Izzy, can I kiss you?”

“You may,” she granted, wanting that more than she wanted her next breath.

Tucking his hand beneath her jaw, Gabriel brought her head up, his mouth touching hers. The softness, the sweetness, tempted her to part her lips, their tongues meeting in a deep, sexy kiss she’d only ever experienced when she’d been Ginny’s age.

Mercy, he tasted like cinnamon and spices, with a hint of pancakes and maple syrup. If she could, she’d gladly wake up every day to such a kiss. Sadly, he drew away before they could kiss anew, his breathing heavily. Pressing his mouth to her forehead, he sighed then lifted his head, his blue eyes narrowing, an eerie growl much like Mary’s echoing from his throat.

“What is it, Gabriel?”

“Someone’s hurt. I’m pretty sure it’s Annie. Do me a favor. Talk to me mind-to-mind.” He took the hand she’d placed in his and brought it to his lips, brushing them back and forth across the center of her palm.  

How do you know it’s her?

Because I smell rosewater, which she uses in her bath, same as Rosa prefers lavender, and I’m almost certain Powell and Jenkins, reeking of the women and debauchery are about to walk into the store.

Just as Gabriel predicted, the door jangled and Wyatt Powell walked in, Ed Jenkins trailing behind him, bragging about Rosa. Fortunately, the mudroom gave them an advantage of seeing anyone who’d entered the store before being seen themselves.

“Hopkins!” Powell called out.

“Hold on, just finishing up with a customer,” Hopkins replied, returning from the back to draw up short when he spied Izzy in Gabriel’s arms. “Well, this is a surprise. Welcome home Gabriel.”

“Thank you, Mr. Hopkins. Could you find out what Powell wants?”

“Sure thing,” he replied, heading to the front of the store. “What can I do you for, Powell? Jenkins?”

“Is Izzy back there?” Powell asked.

“Yeah, she’s busy right now. Why?”

“Found these banknotes outside. She must’ve dropped them when she left the bank and nearly collided with a buckboard.”

“It’s real nice of you to bring them to her,” Hopkins remarked.

Reaching for her back pocket, Izzy discovered it was empty. Gabriel, the only way Wyatt could know about the buckboard or the bank was if he was watching me.

Easy, I’ve got you, just follow my lead. Go on out there and take Hopkins to the hotel across the street. Annie keeps a room with a view of Main Street. Take the stairs to the third floor hidden by the barbershop.

You know this because she asked you to meet her there, right?

Can’t deny the invitation, but I have never accepted. Believe me?

I do.

Thank you. Be careful, darlin’, if the smell of rosewater wasn’t damning enough that Powell was just with Annie, the stench of blood and foulness akin to an outhouse tells me he did the unthinkable to that girl.

If that’s true, I’m going to kill him.

Much as I am certain you can handle yourself; you don’t want to mess with a man like Powell alone.

I know, and for what it’s worth, I’m glad you’re here.

That’s worth everything. What do you say to meeting by the tree tonight?

What tree?

The ironwood, where you hid while I was in the creek the night before I left town.

And if I stay home?

Then I’ll be there tomorrow night and every night thereafter.

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