BLACK HILLS NATIVE SON, Black Hills Rendezvous, Book 5
His journey of discovery brings more than he ever hoped—a son, and the woman he was meant to love.
Eli Robideaux’s vision quest takes him down a road he never wanted to walk—to the past. His mistakes—even the ones he made for the right reasons—have come back to haunt him. He doesn’t understand why, but stumbling across Char Jones feels like grabbing on to a lifeline that might keep him from falling into the bone-deep despair that had been his father’s ruin.
No one is more surprised than Char when the unrequited love of her life walks into her Black Hills store, looking for the missing pieces of himself. She holds the key to one of those pieces—the son Eli never knew they had, the baby she put up for adoption. But is she brave enough to let go of her guilt and lead them on a journey that could hold love and hope…or almost certain heartbreak?
Eli has just learned that he had sex with underage Char the night before his wedding. He has no memory of the event because he’d been partying hard when he got in a fight with his cousin and may have suffered a concussion. Char took care of him at her aunt’s “kitchen” clinic. Since she’d been in love with Eli for as long as she could remember, she felt fate had given her a once-in-lifetime opportunity to live out her fantasy. As with many fantasies, there were repercussions—in Char’s case a pregnancy.
FIRST KISS Excerpt © Debra Salonen:
“Where’d we do it?”
She shook her head, as if she’d been expecting the question. “Pam saw patients in a small room off the kitchen. It was a screened porch when my grandparents lived there. She bought a used examination table from an old clinic. The back was raised about like this.” She held her hand horizontally between them then made the fingers tilt upward to a sixty-degree angle. “I thought it would better to keep your head elevated.”
He could have said something coarse but he managed to bite his tongue. “You were on top?”
“Yeah. It seemed safer—concussion wise.”
He turned to look at her, but it took too much effort to keep his gaze off her chest so he slumped down again and closed his eyes. “Do you really expect me to believe that a virgin would climb on top of an injured guy in her aunt’s make-shift E.R. where anybody could walk in?”
He heard her take in a deep breath, but he willed his eyes to remain closed. No leering.
“It didn’t take all that long, Eli. I put my hand down there and you were instantly hard. The smart thing would have been to give you a blow job, but I didn’t know how.”
His eyes popped open. “What do you mean you didn’t know how? That’s a no-brainer.”
The car made another unscheduled jog back and forth across the middle divider as she tossed up her hands on the steering wheel. “I’m sure I could have figured it out, but at the time, I didn’t want to look like a novice. Everyone said Bobbi was the best in school when it came to giving bj’s, and since you were marrying her the next day…”
He groaned, wishing he’d never asked. His soon-to-be ex-wife was a topic he had no intention of discussing. “So you got naked and hopped on top of me?”
“You wish,” she sputtered tapping the brakes to round a curve in the road. “Like you said, anybody could have walked in. As it happened, when Robert brought you in, it was past midnight. I’d already changed into my nightgown.”
Nightgown? A tingle of something he didn’t want to acknowledge shot down his spine. He gulped loudly. “Pink flannel?”
Her shoulders lifted and fell. “I don’t know. Maybe. Yeah, actually, I think it was. We had a warm spring, then, suddenly in early June, the weather turned cold. I remember someone saying if it snowed on her wedding, Bobbi was going to make the weatherman pay.”
He muttered a string of words he’d have busted his son’s chops for using. He’d had a dream for years that he secretly called his guilty pedophile dream. Only now he knew it wasn’t a dream, it was a memory.
Neither said anything for several miles. They were approaching the intersection of the main highway—he knew because he could see the cross-members of her white teepee—when he worked up the nerve to ask, “So, you had an abortion, huh?”
Her shriek made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. She stomped on the brakes so hard he had to brace his hands on the dash, despite the safety belt that cut into his chest. The rebound slammed him against the seat.
The car slid sideways to a stop in the gravel driveway they’d left an hour or so earlier. “Get out. You’re not the man I thought you were. Back then or now. Go. Take the money I gave you and leave. Now.”
She reached across him to open the passenger door. Her body touched him—that is, her wool jacket pressed against his grubby thermal sweatshirt, which covered a couple of other layers. There was nothing sexual in the touch. Nothing sexual between them. Only anger and hurt on her part, and confusion and desperation on his. No reason in the freaking world for him to kiss her.
But he did. Hard, fast, deep, hot. And what flared to life like a fire carefully banked in a stark, barren hearth made less sense than anything that had happened so far. But, Lord God, it felt good. It felt real. Like a lifeline that would keep him from falling into the bone deep despair that had been his father’s ruin.
The last thing in the world Char had expected was for Eli to kiss her. Not a mushy Thank-God-I-finally-found-you kiss. Things like that only happened in romance novels. No. His lips were icy-cold, despite the heat blasting from the defroster, which she’d forgotten to turn off. His breath was surprisingly pleasant—as if he’d just sucked on a candy cane, but his several-days-old stubble felt like tiny wires piercing her skin.
It should have been the kiss from hell.
Should have been.
Instead of freaking out—was the car completely off the road? She couldn’t say for certain—she actually leaned in and made a little sighing sound that she couldn’t believe came from her lips. She was embarrassed, but not enough to push him away.
Even the fury she’d initially felt when he suggested that she might have had an abortion disappeared like air escaping from a punctured balloon the moment he pulled her again him. She wasn’t herself. She was… Oh, God, I’ve turned into my mother.
Black Hills Native Son, Book 5 in the Black Hills Rendezvous series, is available as pre-order on all channels and will be live tomorrow (Wed, Sept. 14)
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