Darke London by Coleen Kwan Book Blitz – Excerpt
Copyright © 2013 by Coleen Kwan
Gripping her upper arms, he pulled her closer. “Nellie, why won’t you tell me everything you know about Sir Thaddeus? Why the devil are you still protecting him after everything you’ve suffered? Why?”
Instead of crumpling into tears, as he’d half-feared, she braced herself against his hold, her eyes flashing with green fire. “Protecting him! I’m doing nothing of the sort. I loathe and despise Sir Thaddeus. I curse him with every last breath in my body.” The ragged hoarseness of her voice left him in no doubt of her feelings.
“Ah, so you admit to knowing him, at least.”
“Yes, all right. I do know him, though I wish to God I’d never laid eyes on him.” She paused, her throat working as she swallowed convulsively. “He is a bully, a thug, a monster. He will stop at nothing to get his way.”
Julian felt her tremble in his arms, saw tears spring to her eyes. She’d been such a pillar of fortitude, but here she was on the brink of breaking down. A delayed reaction, he thought. Nothing to be concerned about. But the physician in him could not control his other, less noble urges. He slid his arms around her and held her in a loose embrace.
“He wanted you dead, Nellie,” he murmured. “Why was that? What did you do that drove him to such lengths?”
Gulping, she shook her head, emotion robbing her of speech. In an effort to comfort her, he found himself rubbing her back in slow circular motions, and the feel of her body through the soft fabric of her dress sent a tingling warmth shooting through him.
“I’m sorry for distressing you,” he said. “I thought you might be ready to talk, but I see—”
“No, you’re not distressing me.” His nostrils filled with her scent—almond oil and citrus and femininity. She sniffed and dashed the heel of her hand against her damp eyes. “It’s just…I go to pieces whenever I think of what that brute did to me, and—and I’m reminded every time I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror…” Her fingers scraped over the track marks on her cheeks. “I’m a freak, an abomination—”
“Don’t say such things. Do you hear me? I won’t have you debasing yourself like that.”
“I can’t help it.”
“Would you rather I’d left you to die out there? Would you?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps it would have been better.”
“I can’t believe you’re saying that.”
“But look at me. I’m a creature of the shadows. People shy away from me at the first glimpse of my face.”
“Do I shy away from you?” He held her by the shoulders and forced her to look at him. “Well, Nellie, do I?”
She chewed on her lower lip, frowning. “No, but…but you’re a doctor. You’re used to seeing deformities.”
He sighed, his attention caught by the generous swell of her lip beneath her white teeth. The tingling warmth spread through his entire body, coalescing in his loins. “I am a doctor, yes, but I am also a man, and when I look at you I see a strong, vibrant young woman who has much to live for.”
Nellie gave a dry laugh. “Thank you, Doctor. I know you’re only trying to lift my spirits, but thank you anyway.”
“You think I’m dissembling?” Impatience and desire stirred his blood. How could she be so blind? Before he knew what he was doing, he slid his hands up and cupped her face. Her lips parted in surprise. Emotion overpowering self-denial, he lowered his head and pressed his lips against hers. He’d intended to give her just a friendly buss, but the soft generosity of her mouth ambushed him. Heat flared through him.
Trailing his lips over her cheeks, he dropped kisses over her cicatrix, eager to memorise every bump and dip, but she instantly jerked her head away.
“Don’t, I beg of you. Please, stop.”
About the Author:
Coleen Kwan has been a bookworm all her life. At school English was her favorite subject, but for some reason she decided on a career in IT. After many years of programming, she wondered what else there was in life — and discovered writing. She loves writing contemporary romance and steampunk romance.
Coleen lives in Sydney, Australia with her partner and two children. When she isn’t writing she enjoys avoiding housework, eating chocolate, and watching The Office.