The cost of this coin might just be too high... When Gabriela finds a mysterious coin in the French Riviera, she is thrust into a struggle between governments, terrorists, and madmen, all seeking vital information she doesn't know she has. Richard, the intelligence officer assigned to protect her, has all he can do to keep her safe--and keep the stirrings of his heart from endangering them both.
“Please, my love,” he told her huskily. “Please, stop crying. I hate to see you cry.”
The word “love” jerked her back from her self-pity. She looked at Richard, her eyes round and luminous. “No.” It came out as a strangled whisper. “Don’t say it. I don’t want to hear it.” She started to push him away, but this time he didn’t let her go.“Why not?” He was serious. “Afraid to hear the truth?” He caressed her cheek and felt the tremor his touch created. “It’s the same for you. You give yourself away every time I hold or touch you.”
“It’s a lie.”
“You respond to me with as much intensity as I do you. You can’t deny it.” She shook her head in violent denial. “It’s not true.”
“Really?” A crooked smile twisted his lips. “You want me to prove it to you?”
She suddenly covered her ears like a child. “I don’t want to hear anything.”
He took her hands away from her ears, holding them tightly in front of her. “This afternoon you didn’t want to hear me out, either, but now you’re going to.”
“Richard, please,” she pleaded, afraid of the intensity in his eyes. “Don’t say it. Let me go.”
“I can’t, Gabriela. I just wish the circumstances were different. I love you.”
“You don’t love me,” she sobbed pityingly. “You only want me because I’m different from all the others you’ve known. You don’t love me.”
“I never knew you to act the fool.” He grabbed her shoulders and shook her a little.
“How do you think I feel? I don’t want to need, to want, or love you, but I do. No other emotion but love could tear at the guts so mercilessly, or make me lose control.”
He abruptly let go and turned, clenching his fists. “It’s slow torture being beside you, Gabriela, knowing I can’t touch you, or kiss you, knowing that if I do, I won’t be able to control myself. Hell, the dangers of the Central American jungle are preferable to the private little hell I’ve been living in since I met you. It doesn’t stop tormenting me even when I’m away from you.”
“I didn’t ask you to care for me. I’ve never asked anything from you. Leave me alone.”
He turned. Gabriela had covered her face with both hands, her body rocking back and forth.
“I’m afraid it’s too late for that, love. You might want to turn a blind eye at things, but you don’t fool me. Face it, Gabriela. You love me.”
“I don’t feel anything for you. I love my husband and no one else. You’re completely mad to believe that crap.”
Richard moved so fast she realized his purpose too late. Before she could avoid it, his arm was around her waist and her body was intimately pressed against his. She tried struggling out of his grip, but knew it was useless.
“Perhaps. But I’m not wrong about your feelings for me,” he said softly, his face looming closer to hers. “Am I?”
His lips touched hers like a soft breeze. Her body betrayed her, trembling uncontrollably. I’m crazy, she thought. This is not really happening to me. His hands moved up her back until he was softly touching her neck and hair. His kiss was long and sensuous, deliberate, meant to arouse, and Gabriela found she was no match for it. It seemed like an eternity before he broke away.
“I hate you,” was all she could say, but without conviction.
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Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra is a full-time novelist based in North Carolina. With Cuban roots, she has lived in many countries, including France, the setting for her first novel, The Coin. She speaks English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German, and reads Latin, Middle English, and old French. She holds a Masters in English literature, specializing in medieval romances, and is currently an active member of the Carolina Romance Writers. She loves to hear from her readers, and always hopes to open a dialogue with her fans.
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