Once She Slipped Through His Fingers…
Aidan York has spent ten years mourning the woman he once loved and lost. He's filled the void in the only way he knows-by distracting himself with wild behavior and scandalous trysts. It's a hollow existence, but it dulls the pain. Until the day he encounters a ghost: the woman he thought drowned at sea, alive and as enchanting as ever…
Now He'll Keep Her In His Arms….
When Kate Hamilton sees the man she once hoped to spend her life with, she is hit with a storm of memories and longing. But though resisting Aidan's passion proves impossible, Kate must try not to love him all over again. For her seemingly quiet London life shields a dangerous secret, one that will catch up to her the moment she lets herself fall…
Praise for A Little Bit Wild
"The classic Beauty and the Beast tale is twisted into something new… funny and unlike the others." -Publishers Weekly
"A sharp and sassy romance, with a unique blend of an original, quick story and romantic characters." --RT Book Reviews
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August 02, 2011
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Excerpt from It's Always Been You by Victoria Dahl
Kingston-upon-Hull, England September 1849
"Thank you, Mr. York. It's been a pleasure, sir. A pleasure."
Aidan York smiled grimly at the florid-faced squire. The hard, hot spark in the man's eyes couldn't truly be described as pleasure. The emotion was closer to abject relief. The man had invested all his income in a ship, and rough seas had brought him to ruin soon after.
Aidan inclined his head. "The money will be delivered to your representative this afternoon."
"Thank you." The man bowed with a jerk. "Thank you, sir."
Even as Aidan nodded, he turned away, his mind already moving on to other ventures. If he departed Hull before nightfall, he'd be back in London and on the hunt for a buyer before the ship's repairs were even started. A thousand pounds profit within a fortnight, if he calculated correctly--and he always did. Not a bad morning's work. Stepping off the walk and onto the cobblestones of the street, he barely noticed the beauty of the scene that spread before him. Kingston-upon-Hull was a bustling river port--the clean streets and quaint lanes of the old town were crowded with goodwives and servants, sailors and merchants, all industriously occupied. Several faces turned up to look at the sky just as the sun broke through the clouds. Aidan did not look. There were arrangements to be made, deals to be brokered. The weather concerned him not at all, unless, of course, it affected the shipping schedule.
Outpacing the crowd swirling around him, he turned right to head toward the docks and the small office he'd let there. But his rush was interrupted when he found himself on a narrow lane that was even more crowded than the last. Unable to bear the slower pace, he bit back a growl and searched the lane, looking for an opening, a break in the crowd.
His eyes caught for a moment, moved on, then blinked as something clicked with razor sharpness in his mind. A tightness in his chest struck him, immediately familiar regardless that it had been years since he'd last felt it. Before he could think to resist the urge, he began a quick study of the people in front of him. Women, men, children. He shifted through them like cards at a table.
There. A woman walked far ahead, her dark green skirt kicking out slightly with each step she took. The plain wool fabric of the dress revealed nothing; her hair and face were completely concealed from his gaze by a rather large, very plain hat.
Aidan frowned at the way his pulse leapt. He was being ridiculous. Pitiful. But his eyes followed with close intent, taking in the details of this stranger. The line of her shoulder, the tilt of her head.
Sneering, he cursed himself for the terrible hope that bloomed in his chest. Even if there were something familiar in her walk, it certainly was not Katie.
He swallowed hard and forced himself to look away. He had not done this in years. Had, in fact, thought he'd left this stupid impulse well behind him. Still, his pulse stuttered and his cheeks betrayed him with a hot flush. His gaze jumped back to search her out. As if in a trance, he slowed his pace and watched the woman stop to unlock a cheerfully blue door. She left it open to the cool day and disappeared inside.
One step out of the flow of traffic, Aidan studied the building. Just a small, tidy row of shops. The sign above the door she'd entered read HAMILTON COFFEES.
Perhaps the woman was Mrs. Hamilton. She certainly wasn't Katie. It never was and never would be. He'd known that long enough that it shouldn't hurt anymore, but somehow he still felt that ache in his throat. His lips thinned at the idea of grief. Even his sorrow had finally come under his control in the past few years. He could not let it loose again.
Inhaling slowly, he focused on the heavy smell of the shipyard that hovered over the whole town. Water and tar and wood. He closed his eyes and listened for the incessantly screaming gulls. They sounded as much like money to him as any pile of clinking gold.
When he opened his eyes, he was calmer. The blue door was just a door. The shop was just a shop. At some point, the woman would appear again. She'd step outside for a breath of fresh air or to sweep dust from the walk. And she'd be a woman, not a ghost. Then he could walk away and send the past back to hell where it belonged. He waited. Waited as carriages and carts rumbled by, blocking his view for torturous seconds, waited as a rotund woman entered that dark doorway, then left again with a small package. He waited until the pressing urge lifted, and he knew he could move on. He didn't need to see the mysterious woman again.
She was not Katie.
Aidan turned away from the shop and walked in the other direction.