Title: One Breath Away
Author: Michal Scott
Genre: Erotic Historical Romance
Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more. Wealthy, freeborn-Black, Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing the mysteriously exotic woman was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex. Hope ignites along with lust until the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…
Landscape that Mary had only ever seen as dry and brown and barren now appeared lush and golden and full of life. The creak and rumble of her wagon’s wheels accompanied the hymn she sang in time to Iris’ happy trot homeward.
Come ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home
All is safely gathered in, ‘ere the winter storm begin
God our maker doth provide all our wants to be supplied
Come to God’s own temple come, raise the song of harvest home.
God had indeed provided for the very want she never thought to be supplied.
Mary Hamilton, will you marry me?
Those six words freed her from the past. No longer would she have to go through life as a woman who ain’t been asked.
Eban Thurman had asked, and she had accepted. Mrs. Eban Thurman. Mary Hamilton Thurman. She liked the sound of them both.
Up ahead she heard a horse’s whinny. She peered forward and saw the horse and buggy of Nora “Mrs. Banker” Little. The spiffy, black lacquer carriage with its cushioned seats was as out of place in front of Harvest Home as Mary would be at one of Mrs. Banker’s cotillions. In Safe Haven, never-been-slaves didn’t mix with former slaves, except as objects of charity.
Mary smiled to herself. They’d have to find some other ex-slave for their goodwill. She was now a woman who had been asked.
Mrs. Eban Thurman. She repeated the simple yet wondrous phrase in her head. Those wonderful words pointed to her new station in life.
Some like Felicity and, perhaps Mrs. Banker herself, might be jealous. She grinned, suddenly pleased with that thought, then just as suddenly, she frowned. Why did the thought of another’s envy please her? She didn’t want to take pleasure in anyone’s jealousy. No. She wanted the world to be as happy for her as she would be for them if their positions were reversed.
Even if that world included Nora “Mrs. Banker” Little.
She pulled her wagon behind the buggy then strode up to Nora.
“Good day, Mrs. Little.”
Mary stopped short and gawked at the double barrel shotgun resting on Nora’s lap. “You expecting trouble?”
Nora laid her weapon aside. “Clemma Hawthorne taught me always be prepared.”
“What brings you out my way?”
Nora sat prim and proper on the buggy’s front seat. Per usual, she looked down as if Mary were a bug on her nose. “The Ladies’ Auxiliary would like you to cook for Pastor Morton’s anniversary next month.”
Mary straightened her shoulders and stared back at Nora. “Widow Hawthorne asked me that last week. I know she hasn’t forgotten I said yes.” Mary crossed her arms and tilted her head. “So why are you really here?”
Nora looked around but remained seated. “I want to know why my husband is still so interested in you.”
“Still?” Mary tensed, horrified Judah Little might still be shadowing her somehow, lying in wait to do her another mischief.
“I know you had dealings in Weston. Why are they continuing here in Safe Haven?”
“You are mistaken. I no longer have anything to do with your husband. If you think he’s interested in me, you should ask him.”
“I’m asking you.”
Mary fisted her hands and forced her temper down. “You’re asking the wrong person. Good day.”
She stalked to her wagon, grabbed Iris’ reins and led her to the barn out back.
“Sorry to keep you waiting, Iris. Uninvited visitor.”
Maybe one day Pastor Morton’s sermons on forgiving your brother—or sister—would help Mary shrug off the “Miz Anne” bossiness of light-skinned Blacks like Nora.
“Well, Iris, at least I didn’t cuss her out, so maybe that day is closer than I think.”
She stroked Iris’ muzzle then unhitched her from the wagon. She hung up the harness, then commenced to wiping her horse down. As she worked, she glimpsed Nora approaching. Dressed in a white, lace dress and carrying a white, lace parasol, Mrs. Banker should have been sashaying down Safe Haven’s main street during the Juneteenth parade. She reached the barn’s open door and stood there with a pained and weary look. Quite unlike the nose-in-the-air haughtiness she wore when she first spoke.
“I should feel sorry for her, Iris,” Mary whispered, “but I guess I just don’t have it in me.”
She picked up the brushes and curried Iris’ coat. Each brush stroke deepened the silence stretching between her and Nora. Finished, Mary forked fresh hay into Iris’ stall. She leaned the pitchfork against the stall’s wall and faced Nora, who hadn’t moved.
“You can stand there all you want, Mrs. Little. I don’t answer to you or anyone anymore. I’m free.”
Judah’s interest in her plans had appeared so genuine. She trusted his pretty lies and almost lost her life.
Nora’s lips trembled. Her distress plucked a chord of sympathy that vibrated some famous words into Mary’s ear.
Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
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Why is your featured book a must-read?
Eban Thurman, a sailor home from the sea for good, is determined to prove himself ex-slave Mary Hamilton’s soul mate by summoning all his irresistible charms to vanquish her low self-esteem and applying all his sexual talents to overpower her inability to climax. One Breath Away is a must-read for anyone who loves historical romance novellas where faith, love and smoking hot sex help the hero convince the heroine she and he are fated to be mated.
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Michal Scott is the erotic romance pen name of Anna Taylor Sweringen, a retired United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church USA minister. Inspired by the love mystics of Begijn, Audre Lourde and Bell Hooks, Rev. Anna writes erotica and erotic romance with a faith arc, hoping to build a bridge between the sacred and secular, spirituality and sexuality, erotica and Christ, you and a well-written spiritually-stimulating and erotically-arousing story. She uses story settings to give insight into the African American experience in the US. Besides erotic romance, she writes inspirational and sweet romance as Anna Taylor and gothic romance and women's fiction as Anna M. Taylor.
Social Media Links:
Website - https://michalscott.webs.com
Twitter - https://twitter.com/mscottauthor1
Amazon Author Page - https://www.amazon.com/Michal-Scott/e/B071DRDZGD/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1