Local "history" says Gilmore Tucker sold Paradise, the beautiful slave he loved, and murdered his wife. So why is Gilmore trapped in his old plantation house, lamenting his lost love and fending off the evil bitch he married?
Enter Kylie Goldheart, looking for a place to belong and hoping the abandoned Tucker's Plantation will be it. After cracking her noggin by a push from a not-so-friendly ghost, she's rescued by Gil Baker, Gilmore's descendent, who has returned to honor his ancestors by reuniting Paradise with her soul mate...if sprinkling her ashes on Gilmore's grave can be considered an appropriate reunion.
The attraction between Kylie and very sexy Gil is intense, but their instant romance riles the evil lingering among the crumbling ruins of the magnificent old house.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Heart of Gold by Riley Ashford
When Kylie awoke the next morning, she was in the dirty, ragged remains of a four-poster bed. She sat up, dispelling a round of dust, and sneezed. Her body ached, partly from the fall and partly from sleeping in the old bed. Her head throbbed, too, but she should probably be thanking her lucky stars she hadn't broken her neck.
She blinked the whirling dust motes out of her eyes and looked around. Big, dark furniture indicated that this bedroom probably belonged to a man. Then again, a great deal of nineteenth-century furniture was big and dark and masculine. Still, the room had the feel of a male. It was large, too, and in its day, would've been a very luxurious abode.
"Let me guess," she muttered. "Gilmore Tucker."
"My great, great...um...great grandfather." The handsome man lounging in the doorway was dressed in a T-shirt, jeans and sneakers. He had twinkling brown eyes, a shaved head that gleamed like an eight ball, and skin the color of her favorite Ghirardelli milk chocolate. He smiled. "I usually forget how many greats it is."
"Gilmore Tucker was your ancestor?"
"I know, I know. You're thinking, how could I, with my charming Boston accent, be related to a die-hard Southerner. We sound nothing alike."
Kylie grinned. "Yeah. That's exactly what I was thinking. You're a descendent from his child with Paradise."
"Paradise Baker was my great, great...oh hell. Yes, I'm related to her."
He stepped into the room and Kylie realized he was holding a dewy bottle of water. God, she was suddenly thirsty. "Please tell me that's for me."
She would've felt more ashamed at her begging tone, but she was so parched, she didn't much care.
"Yes." He crossed the room and handed it to her. His gaze was on her throat as she swallowed the cool, wonderful water and her heart jumped. What was he thinking about? She handed him the bottle and their fingers grazed. Her pulse leapt at the light contact and her gaze zeroed in on his. He sat down on the bed next to her.
"I'm Gil Baker."
His eyebrows rose like two question marks.
"I was named by a social worker. Kylie was her Chihuahua and she thought anyone named Goldheart would be the kind of person who did good deeds."
"Like rescue this place?"
Kylie shrugged. "Maybe I bought it to rescue me." She rubbed her forehead to ease the ache. "What happened?"
A frown creased Gil's lips. "I walked into the house this morning and saw you lying like a rag doll at the bottom of the stairs."
"Morning? Oh my God. That means I was out all night."
"Good thing for you I'm a doctor."
"You're a doctor?"
The twinkle dimmed. "Why? You think guys with Boston accents can't be doctors?"
"Of course not." She playfully smacked him on a nicely muscled biceps. "I'm thinking how lucky I was that you not only came along, but that you had medical skills to save me from my own klutziness."
Kylie tried to remember what had happened, but things were fuzzy. Had she imagined the voice? The hands pressed against her chest?
"I'd feel better if we got you to emergency care and let them check you out." He smiled. His gaze was as bright and merry as an elf's.
"I'm okay. Really." Kylie drew the key ring out of her front pocket and jingled it. "Thanks for taking care of me. I need to go back to the hotel and take a shower."
Gil shook his head. He plucked the key out of her hand. "You shouldn't drive anywhere until we check out your noggin."
Kylie's lips hitched. "You're such a flirt."
He laughed--a deep, mellow sound that made tingling awareness ripple through her. Gil Baker was very handsome. She shoved her hand under her thigh to keep from running it over his bare head...from running it anywhere on the man's yummy bod. I bet he feels like warm silk. She worked really, really hard not to let her gaze land on his crotch. Get it together, you dateless dork, she chastised herself. He's not really candy. Sheesh.
"You hungry?" he asked.
"Hungry," he repeated, his voice softening. "You look a little...starved."
"Oh." She dropped her gaze. Not the crotch, not the-- Oh my. Was there a large stirring there in his jeans? Oh God. Her face went hot. And the rest of her followed suit. What was wrong with her? Maybe she really did crack open her head. She had never felt this attracted to a man so quickly. Hell, it was more than simple attraction. She had the strangest urge to throw the good doctor onto the bed and have her way with him. Her heart thrummed in her chest as an image popped into her mind--I would slide onto his cock, inch by inch, let him fill me, take me...hard and fast...soft and slow...my hands would stroke that gorgeous chest, the nipples pebbling under my fingertips...and I would...
Holy crap. It was like...like the dreams. Yes. Those strange dreams she'd been having about Gilmore Tucker and Paradise must be affecting her hormone levels. She hadn't had sex in a long time. The last relationship she had...er, she couldn't remember any guy she dated more than twice in the previous year.
Trying to control her thoughts and her libido, she swung her feet off the bed and accepted Gil's hand. She felt dizzy, but the pain in her skull had reduced to a dull throb. "Okay, Doc. Let's go."