(Moonlight Romance, Book 1)
by Haley Whitehall
Life without love is painful, but in the Reconstruction Era South forbidden fruit can be deadly. A fiery romance between a widow and an African-American man has more consequences than either of them imagined.
Slavery has ended, but racial prejudice remains in Kentucky. Emma Bennett guards a secret that could destroy her life. Until now she never considered the price of her security. Becoming a well-respected member in Louisville had seemed a dream come true, but at what cost?
Her husband’s death from a carriage accident releases Emma from her loveless, controlling marriage. Now she has a chance to find happiness and raise a family. But before she begins courting again she wants to experience her freedom. At the advice of the leading socialite in town, she takes a black lover to fulfill her sexual needs. His raw masculine power awakens feelings she didn’t know existed. After the first touch, she craves more.
Frederick works as a roustabout by day and moonlights as a prostitute. He knows better than to fall in love with his white client, but Emma enchants him the first time he calls on her. To keep them both safe, he works hard to put up barriers. Unfortunately, he can’t protect Emma from the slimy Mr. Hawthorne, who wants her as his bride. Frederick vows to keep her safe even if his forbidden love costs him his life.
Emma reached across the table and tentatively held his hand. Her warm skin and soft touch sent a lightning bolt to his core. Lust consumed him. He craved more. He wanted to feel her bare chest rub up against his. To see her eyes brighten by the throes of passion, to hear her moan.
What was wrong with him? He was yearning after this delicate creature before they even got to the bedroom. Never before had a woman—white or black—gotten to him like this. She is a client. Control yourself.
He pressed the coffee cup to his lips and focused on the taste of the dark liquid. He rolled the acrid drink in his mouth before swallowing, grasping at any distraction.
“Why do you do what you do? I mean this.”
Her absurd question sounded sincere. Frederick nearly choked on his coffee. “For the money. I’m saving for a house.” He didn’t want to spend his entire life on the river. He wanted his own land. One night with a woman earned him double the pay for a day’s work on the steamboat.
“Oh,” Emma said as if she expected a different answer. She unwound her small fingers from his large hand. Uncertainty played across her face.
He held his breath, his insides pressed together. Was she going to send him away?
Finally, her lips settled in a smile.
“Shall we go to the bedroom?”
“As you wish, ma’am.” He managed to sound casual despite his hardening cock. When he took off his clothes she’d find out in an instant how attractive he found her, how much he desired her, the power she held over him…
Already his thoughts had moved past coffee and to his delightful business. He couldn’t wait to see her naked, know the curve of her breasts, let his hands roam her hips. He’d laid with a lot of women, but never one as young and as sumptuous as this one.
“Strip to the waist and sit on the bed.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Frederick pulled off his shoes, and then he folded and piled his coat, vest, and shirt neatly on the floor before sitting on the edge of the mattress. The attraction between them was strong and undeniable. He was a bee and she was a beautiful rose. He was sure her nectar would be delicious, if only he would be granted a taste. Whether he would be granted a taste was in her hands. She was paying for an experience, and it was his duty to give her whatever she wanted. It wasn’t in his nature to submit, but the sight of her beauty as she stood before him with that glow in her eyes, made it more bearable.
He knew his job after more secret trysts than he could count and fell into his role easily. He genuinely wanted to please Emma, though. He sensed her hesitation. He hoped she’d muster the confidence to play her part.
“Spread your legs.” Emma walked into him, standing between his splayed thighs. She traced every muscle in his chest. The pads of her fingers gently caressed him, almost teasing. He tightened his stomach muscles, but was unable to prevent a tiny shudder.
Her smile widened, revealing a row of perfectly straight teeth. A thrum of pleasure rushed through him. He wanted to wrap his arms around her but resisted. He had not been given permission.
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