Welcome Home by @KaraONealAuthor is a Book Series Starter pick #historicalromance #romance #giveaway
Title: Welcome Home
Author: Kara O’Neal
Genre: Historical Romance
Pike’s Run, Texas, 1875
Emma Prescott, determined and selfless, flees from wealth and her murderous father, wanting the love and forgiveness of poor cotton farmer, Kyle Lonnigan. Although Kyle refuses to forgive her for her part in his father’s death, Emma stays and works her own farm. Over the next several months, Emma proves to Kyle she is not the spoiled girl he remembers. Emma’s sudden re-entrance into Kyle’s life only conjures long-buried painful memories. Kyle does his best to avoid her, needing to keep the pain at bay, and stopping her from reminding him of their last moments together before bullets shattered their world. But, he is unsuccessful. The love he denies is too strong, and soon Emma and Kyle are tumbling headlong into the past and passion.
Kyle stood behind the crowd as the first fireworks lit the sky with brilliant color and sparkling light. He did not see it.
He breathed in deeply, calmly, trying to get control of himself. Hands on his hips, he stood silently, his emotions in utter turmoil. Had Emma really just told him she was in love with him? Still?
His mind rushed with questions, with uncertainties. How could he believe her, and what did it matter to him? Why was her confession disrupting his mind and heart so easily?
His heart pounded hard inside his chest. He felt frightened and strangely alive at the same time. What was her motive? Why would she chase after him just to offer her heart?
Two years. It had been two years, and she’d never stopped loving him? Really?
If she’d really loved him, why in the hell had she lied to Sheriff Cummings the night his father was murdered? Kyle’s head whirled, and the grand explosions of the fireworks did nothing to help him.
He looked over at Emma. She stood where he left her, alone, removed from the crowd. She’d cried when she’d made her confession. In his mind’s eye, he could see the tears rolling down her soft cheeks.
Kyle swallowed as he continued to watch her. Her head tilted upwards, but he could tell she wasn’t really seeing the display above them. Each time the sky lit with dazzling color, he was afforded a brilliant look at her. She was, without debate, beautiful.
She loved him. His heart paused in its rapid tattoo to do a flip in his chest. My God, it was difficult to breathe.
Was she telling the truth? God help him if she was. He was attracted to Emma, and at one point two years ago, he’d entertained the idea they might be more than friends, but too much had happened. He didn’t trust her, and without trust, there was no love.
Yes, he desired her. He’d never had such a strong attraction to a woman before. She was all he thought about at times. She was in his mind when he worked, there when he ate, there when he slept.
But it was only attraction. She’d surprised him with her confession. Who wouldn’t be undone when a beautiful woman declared her love? It was flattering. And humbling. She’d traveled thousands of miles to find him. Who wouldn’t be affected by that?
Kyle was glad he could explain his emotions to himself. Now, he felt safe answering her. He removed his hat, raked a hand through his hair and walked over to her.
The crowd oohed and aahed over the display of fireworks as he made his way to her. She wasn’t looking at him. Her eyes were on the night sky, but he could see the show still didn’t have her attention.
“Emma?” he said gruffly when he was about three feet from her.
She looked over at him, and if he was still uncertain she really loved him, those doubts were crushed when he saw the look in her eyes. He’d already broken her heart. Her expression showed nothing but damaged hopes and dreams.
Kyle swallowed, and his heart began the erratic dance it had done before. It was only intense attraction, he reminded himself.
“Emma,” he began again, but he couldn’t think what to say. Every time the sky lit, he saw pain in her blue eyes. The exclamations from the crowd were causing him to lose his concentration.
Gripping her hand, he pulled her farther into the darkness. They crossed the road, heading for the church grounds. His strides were long, determined, and he pulled her along behind him, her small hand in his.
He stopped by the steps of St. Anne’s then turned to look at her. They were now far enough from the fireworks that he could barely see her in the darkness.
“Emma,” he said again.
“Yes?” she rasped.
The sound of her voice, the huskiness, shot through him like whiskey. He cursed inwardly. He’d never had such a strong reaction to a woman.
“Emma, I—” He tried once more to speak, but the flick of her thumb across the palm of his hand broke his concentration. He swallowed hard and inhaled sharply when he felt her thumb begin to make small circles against his skin.
Did she know what she was doing? How could such slight contact cause his breath to quicken and his heart to pound faster?
“What is it?” she whispered.
She couldn’t know what she was doing to him. Those feather-light circles were made absentmindedly. She was completely tuned to whatever he was going to say, if he ever said anything.
He opened his mouth to speak. “I feel—” He stopped, and cleared his throat. “I feel I need to answer you.” Why hadn’t he let go of her hand?
Each of his senses tuned into her touch. Heat spread through him, his throat went dry, and every reason he couldn’t love her fled his mind.
All he could sense was his need for this woman. He wanted her fiercely, as he’d never wanted anyone else.
“Kyle?” she whispered.
He looked at her, at the outline of her face, the frequent bursts of light illuminating her features just enough he could make out the soft turn of her cheek, the lush lines of her lips. “Emma,” he whispered, now caught in her spell, in some kind of magic he wasn’t sure she knew she possessed. He swallowed once more then he kissed her.
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While it is the start of a 19 full book, plus 3 novellas, series, it tells the story of Emma Prescott. A slip of a lady with a valiant heart if there ever was one.
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Award-winning author, Kara O’Neal is a teacher and lives in Texas with her husband and three children She writes stories with strong family ties, lots of romance and guaranteed happy endings! Please visit her at www.karaoneal.com.
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