Continuing my November retrospective leading up to the release of the third full-length book in my Montana Romance series, In Your Arms, today I’m sharing my favorite scene from Fool for Love. Man, it was hard to pick just one scene that I love in this book! Eric and Amelia make me laugh and sigh and smile and hum with yumminess! But I feel like this scene captures a lot of their dynamic….
She pulled her carpet bag from the pile. She’d done her best and repaid Eric for his kindness. She’d proven that she was a wanton wretch who didn’t deserve that kindness. He didn’t need her to pull the rest of his life down, but there was no use denying that she would miss him. She would miss his kind smile and his deep voice, like a fire on a warm night. She would miss his arms around her and his kiss and the passionate abandon with which he made love.
That was why she had to go.
No one stopped her as she gripped her carpet bag and marched through the door and out into New York City.
She’d grown used to London since moving there after her father’s downfall, but there was something about the buzzing American city that gave her pause. It had the same tall buildings and busy streets as London, but the atmosphere was entirely different. Instead of stately old grandeur, New York had a frantic restlessness that burst at the seams. Or perhaps that was her own anxious doubt.
She hadn’t taken three steps in her new world before she was accosted.
“Want a ride, miss?” a young man hounded her. “Best rates in town for the finest taxis!”
She ducked away, rushing down the street. Another young man followed her with, “Carry your bag, miss? Where are you going?”
Amelia dismissed the unnerving entrepreneurs as best she could, second-thoughts haunting her.
“Spare a penny for an old soldier, miss?” A particularly persistent beggar chased after her.
Another followed, saying, “I got four kids at home that are starving. Anything you can give will help.”
A voice in the back of Amelia’s head whispered that she was a fool to run in a strange city. She picked up her pace, no idea where she was going, rushing to get away from those men. Her path took her up a street that looked like it had seen better days.
“Just a bit, miss,” the man who said he had four kids stepped in front of her when she hesitated.
“No, I don’t have anything to give you,” Amelia said. She tried to avoid his eyes and change directions.
“Oh, a limey!” The old soldier remarked at her accent.
Amelia ignored him as well. She only wanted to get away. Without direction, she cut down a side street. Her pulse pounded in her ears and fear made it difficult to breathe as she rushed on. Her palms sweat so much she had to adjust the grip on her purse and carpet bag. It didn’t help that she was wobbly after being at sea for a week.
“Let me carry that for you,” the man with four children offered nicely, but grabbed at her purse.
“No!” As soon as Amelia yanked away from him the men dropped their suffering acts.
“You won’t give us just a little bit, you rich bitch?” the old soldier said.
“I don’t have any money?”
“No money in a dress like that?”
“We’ll just have to take what we need then,” the younger man echoed.
He lunged for her, knocking Amelia into the side of the brick building.
“No!” she shouted, holding on to her carpet bag for all she was worth and screaming.
“Oh, she’s a lively one, isn’t she?” the old soldier laughed. “Maybe she’s got something else she can give us too.”
He grabbed her around the waist and yanked her toward him. One hand clamped over her breast.
Amelia barely had time to scream before the man jerked away from her. She blinked in shock as Eric spun her attacker around and punched him square across the face. The old soldier stumbled and recovered himself quickly enough to lunge at Eric.
Eric dodged to the side, grabbing the back of the man’s shirt and using his momentum to throw him into the brick wall. A sick crunch of something breaking followed. Eric pulled the man’s crumpled form back and punched his face again for good measure before letting the old soldier drop.
He whipped around to face the man with four children. The man crouched in ready position, glancing between her and Eric as if weighing whether it was worth it. He jumped at Eric, swinging his fist. Eric was faster and bigger and caught the man, twisting his arm with a snap that made the man cry out. He finished the move with a fist in the man’s nose that ended with a crack and splattering blood. The man scrambled to get away as soon as Eric let him go.
Without missing a beat Eric whipped to face her.
“What in the hell do you think you’re doing?” he panted, face red with fury and exertion. His hands were still balled in red-knuckled fists at his sides and he approached her with a force of anger that made Amelia quiver.
“What the hell kind of fool wanders off into a dark alley with a pair of thieves first thing off the boat in a city like this?” he continued to rail. “And why the hell did you wander off alone anyhow?”
His last demanding question pushed the anger out of his eyes, filling them with hurt instead.
Against her wishes, Amelia burst into tears. It was the only thing she could manage these days, tears and lust. She was every bit the fool he railed at her for being.
“Aw, don’t cry,” Eric ordered, still angry, his shoulders slumping.
He reached for her carpet bag, but as he leaned close she sagged against him. She couldn’t help herself. He closed his arms around her, holding her close even as his chest continued to heave and his heart thumped against her breast. It felt so good. And that was her problem.
“Come on,” Eric grumbled after a long moment of silence. “Let’s get you out of this hellhole and into a nice hotel. I need a cup of coffee … or something stronger.”
She pulled away, shaking her head and summoning her courage. “I can’t go with you,” she confessed.
“What?” he balked.
“I can’t, Eric. You’ve been so kind to me. Too kind. I don’t deserve your kindness. I need to leave before I hurt you any more.”
“What in the hell are you talking about, woman?” He reacted with even fiercer anger than he’d shown at her attack.
“Look at me, Eric,” she sobbed. “I’m a wretch who ruined herself for lust. I was thrown out of decent society. My mother and sisters are … are whores. I can’t even walk three steps without bringing trouble to someone trying to help me.”
Eric shifted his weight to one leg and planted his hands on his hips. “You’re a beautiful, warm woman who’s been treated poorly, even by herself. So stop this nonsense and come on!”
“But you can’t possibly want to help me now. I … I can’t control my basest instincts.”
“Hell, why would I want you to?”
Amelia gaped at him. “Because good men should be with good women, not debauched strumpets!”
Eric blew out a heavy sigh, scrubbing a hand over his clenched jaw. “I’ve heard just about enough of this from you. You’re my wife, and that’s that.”
“We’re not really married.”
“Then you’re going to really marry me first chance we get.”
Like a flash of lightning, shock and anger poured through her. Her mouth dropped open and she blinked. Marry him? No. Her mind couldn’t comprehend it.
“You … you have no right to issue orders as to what I can and can’t do with my life!” she scrambled for words even as her skin prickled with bittersweet temptation.
“Like hell I can,” he grumbled, reaching for her arm.
Amelia pulled away, shaking her head. “No. And that’s final. I won’t marry you. I can’t. You deserve better.”
“You’re damn right I do!” His shouted answer made Amelia jump. “I deserve a fancy hotel with a hot bath and a bar where I can order the biggest whiskey New York City has ever seen. I deserve a sweet woman who doesn’t run off in the bad section of town trying to get herself robbed and worse.”
Amelia balled her fists, jaw clenched and cheeks burning as she searched for a reply. “Don’t you see that I’m none of those things?” she argued. “You know what I’ve done, how far I’ve fallen. How can you be such a fool to propose marriage to a woman carrying another man’s child, conceived in shame?”
“Because I love you, all right?” he snapped, refusing to back down.
Amelia clamped her mouth shut, ice and fire swirling through her. She swayed, her head telling her to run and never look back while her heart and body ached to stay right where she was and more. Right and wrong were so hopelessly tangled that she couldn’t think.
He loved her.
In Your Arms – Official release date: November 26th