Sadie's Surrender - "Nice" Excerpt (unedited)
Copyright © Afton Locke, 2015 - All Rights Reserved
“Just punish me and get it over with.” Her voice was so low he barely heard it. “I’m sure you have better things to do than hear about my life.”
“Tell me, anyway.”
She looked up, piercing him with her steady gaze. “Why do you care?”
Why did he? Was the attraction merely physical? Simply because he ached to unpeel that threadbare, cotton dress from her generous curves and lose himself in her deep-brown skin? To take the pins out of her hair and slide his fingers through it? To catch her full bottom lip between his teeth and taste her?
Rockfield Heavenly Oysters.He forced himself to read the label on the empty blue can sitting on one of the cabinets instead of her. It reminded him of his mission, which did not include undressing the staff.
He cleared his throat. “Because everyone deserves a fair trial.”
“You’re an unusual man, Mr. Rockfield.”
The desire in her eyes echoed his own, shooting so much blood below his waist, he almost fainted.
“Since you insist on knowing, I’m tired of shucking oysters. I want a better life for me and Mama.”
He’d shucked enough oysters to know how miserable the task was, even for a short period of time. Doing it all day long, day after day, year after year must be hell. Maybe he should just shut down the whole damn plant, but people needed the jobs. Honest work was better than a life of beggary or crime, wasn’t it?
“I wanted to go to business school. Work in a nice, clean office like you.”
“Cleaner than this, I hope,” he said, pointing to the messy papers on his desk.
The heat collecting in his groin hovered there when a small smile flashed across her face.
“So I went to Baltimore yesterday in my Sunday best.” She pursed her lips. “And had doors slammed in my face.”
He wasn’t surprised given the way things were, but he admired her for being brave enough to try.
“I have a good mind,” she insisted in a strong, clear voice that sent ripples over his flesh. “I could do well in school and one of those office jobs.”
“I bet you could. You must be very frustrated.”
Without knowing why, he stood and approached her chair. He’d simply meant to say he was sorry, but she deserved more than patronizing words.
She needed help. Someone who gave a damn.
Darn her husband for leaving her for another woman. If he was still around, she’d be his problem, not Henry’s. Why had he asked her to show him a porthole into her wretched life? The less he knew about it, the easier it would be to ignore.
Too late for that. For better or worse, he was involved in Sadie Johnson’s life. Her struggles. Her problems. His.
The air vibrated with more electricity than a summer storm on the water. As if she sensed it, she stood and faced him. Before he knew it, he’d clasped her face with both hands and lowered his mouth to hers. He’d meant to give comfort but found it instead in the softness of her parted lips. She yielded to him so fully, he could hardly believe she was the same woman who’d thrown oysters in the weighman’s face.
Her cheeks, sticky with dried tears, warmed beneath his fingertips. A low groan ripped from his throat. He knew better than to lean against her body. If he did, he wouldn’t stop until he was inside her. With his heart thudding, he pulled himself away from her.
“Why did you do that?” she asked.
“Because you needed it.”
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