Thursday Sampler: Love Me Tender by Mimi Barbour
June 9, 2016
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Thursday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Love Me Tender by Mimi Barbour, a sweet romance set in the Great American West.
As one reviewer said: Mimi has once again written a work of art. The characters are vibrant, strong and have 3D personalities. I admired the strength and unselfish love of the lady rancher Mama Rose and loved the gentle motherless Anne. Now Clint was mesmerizing let alone gorgeous and little Max endearing. This may sound sugary but it is the reverse as there is tragedy, sadness, humour, joy and undying love.
A child, a puppy and sweet romance…
Anne Pichette is an eighteen-year-old exchange student who goes to live in Texas for a year. Rose Walsh, her host mother, treats her like a daughter and Anne believes her life is perfect.
Rose’s teasing, devilishly handsome son, Clint, on whom Anne develops a crush, has a lot to do with this belief. One night, Anne shares her tender passion with Clint, but sadly, he’s too inebriated to remember. A week later, she returns to Paris devastated—and pregnant.
Anne fully intends to tell him about her condition except her plans are deterred due to a letter arriving announcing his impending marriage to a pregnant woman he loves.
Eight years later, Rose appears in Paris to beg Anne to come back to Texas to help her through her final days of cancer. Unable to refuse her dear old friend, Anne accepts. Now she’ll have to divulge that her boy, Max, is Clint’s son.
Clint Walsh might be hardened and embittered but he knows he has a good reason for acting this way. After all, his wife, the slutty woman he believed was his true love, leaves him with their daughter and never looks back.
So how’s a man supposed to handle that kind of treachery? Especially after they’d shared one beautiful night of lovemaking he’s never been able to forget. Or, due to his state of intoxication—clearly remember.
Obviously watching over her, Clint didn’t hesitate to interfere. “Take a hike, she’s off limits.” With his arms crossed and an insolent attitude, Clint waited until the other man shrugged and turned back to the bar.
Anne didn’t know whether to feel relieved, or angry. “Clint, I came here to dance, and you’re scaring away all my partners.”
“Sweet cheeks, you wanna dance? Fine! Then let’s.” He opened his arms invitingly, but she slapped at them and tried to walk away. Before she knew what his intentions were, he’d swung her around, into his embrace. With her body glued to his, and her feet dangling off the ground, she held on. She’d have complained if her heart hadn’t slid into her throat, and cut off her ability to speak.
Clinging, she slid down his muscular length until her feet were keeping time with the slow two-step he was forcing her to dance. Her hand, held tightly in his, tingled. As did every nerve in her overheated body. They screamed with pleasure at being held so firmly by the man she’d fixated on for so long.
When he leaned closer, his breath hitched. The sound arrowed straight to her weak knees. Bending to look into her eyes, his will forced her to surrender. She met his gaze. His husky words sped her already racing heart to a painful level.
“Annie-girl, I believe you’re dangerous.”
“Me?” she squeaked. Her inner groan cursed her loss of control. “
“Yeah! You.” His hand tightened around her fingers. He maneuvered them both past another couple, and the move pulled her even closer. Overly-sensitized, her breasts nudged his chest, and his indrawn breath destroyed her already revved senses. The faint smell of his musk aftershave, a scent she’d always associated with him, surrounded her and made the fantasy realistic. This wasn’t like any of her daydreams. She was actually here, in his arms, dancing.
The song changed to a slower beat. “Love Me Tender,” an old Elvis favorite, persuaded many of the couples onto floor.
Continuing the dance, his thighs brushed against hers and his warm hand felt like a brand on her back. As much as she yearned to look at him and see if he was as affected, she couldn’t let him see the blatant invitation she knew would be apparent. Tongue glued to the top of her mouth, she prayed for the music to never stop.
Their steps in sync, swaying through the crowded bodies of necking couples forced him to pull her in closer. Molded as one, they moved together and the building sensuality deepened. The dimmed lights gave the illusion that they were alone in the room. The music playing in the background faded against the sound of his breathing. Their fantasy world continued, and Anne’s heart thumped in time with the beat—and his breath.
She clung to him.
He held her possessively.
All the yearning she’d endured, from the first day she’d laid eyes on this cowboy, now teased her senses; and the sexual haze they’d created engulfed them both. By this time, their bodies were in full contact. The hardness in his groin fit perfectly into the welcoming, and now drenched, part on her body that wept to be satisfied.
His groan echoed and then his lips searched. She lifted her face and felt his hot mouth work its way from her neck and along the side by her cheek to where she waited, anticipating a moment in her lifetime that could never be matched. The point of no return! An inciting incident that would forever change her future.
“Hey, Pal.” Marty, Clint’s best buddy, pulled his arm. “The band’s calling for you. It’s time for your song.”
This time she groaned. No! Please!
Clint stopped dancing and held her close. His whispered words completely dissolved her magical world. “Baby, you’re playing with fire. It’s time for little girls to go home. I’ll get Marty to drive you.”
Looking at his boots, she backed away and wrapped her arms around her body. “No! I came in Rose’s car. I can get myself home. Go sing. Can’t you hear everyone calling for you?”
“Nope! All I’ve heard for the last while is your breathing, and it’s driven me into making a big mistake. Go home, Annie-girl. Or I’ll forget I’m still a gentleman who doesn’t play around with babies.”
His words gave her the courage to glare her anger. “Your body didn’t think I was such a baby a few minutes ago, smartass.”
Clint gave her the smile that always weakened her knees. “Honey, I’m just a man.” He sauntered away through the crowd, and she watched the sway of his hips. He moved like no one else she’d ever met. Probably the first thing she’d fallen for was the way the man walked. As if he had all the time in the world, and his body heard music to move to that no one else could. The crowd parted for him. There were the backslaps and bawdy comments normal in a bar full of half-sloshed individuals, having the time of their lives.
As most pushed to the front, Anne moved to lean against one of the pillars in the back. She watched Clint pull his guitar strap over his red-checkered, western-styled, body-hugging shirt and place it comfortably. With a slight nod from him, the band began playing the melody, and soon his voice soared throughout the room. Effortlessly, smoothly, and with a voice as husky as a western singer’s should be; he sang an old Elvis ballad, and soon quiet filled the room.
Tears gathered and threatened to erupt when Anne heard his choice of music. Taking it personally, and rather than letting everyone see her make a fool of herself, she ran. The words followed her all the way to her car. Words obviously meant for his sweetheart, Cathy. “And it’s breakin’ my heart, ‘cause she’s not you.”