Excerpt from my one Arizona contemporary. There will be more coming probably in May. Shorter books than I've been writing. Desert Inferno is set in Nogales and the desert. Jake is with Border Patrol and Rachel is a painter. Her ancestors were also in the Arizona Historical Romances.
"Let it go, Rachel. Look, I don't get it.” The expression in his eyes hardened. “What's a woman, who looks like you, doing with a guy with a face like mine, a guy whose own mother couldn't stand him, who has a brother doing time? I’m not your kind of guy, Rachel O’Brian."
She leaned forward, reaching out, lightly tracing his face with her fingertips, her fingers wreaking havoc with his resolve to keep everything casual between them. “How do you know what my kind of guy is?” she asked huskily, trying to keep her tone light and knowing she was failing.
"I am an ugly man, inside and out."
Her fingers tipped his chin up and she looked into his eyes. "Obviously," she whispered, "we don't see your face the same way. Know what I see when I see you?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “I see a strong face but with too much sadness. Your face is like the desert, craggy and rugged. The desert is not ugly but beautiful."
Before he could respond, she pressed her fingers against his lips. "You’ve protected yourself all these years by not caring. You figured that worked.” She felt an almost unendurable surge of sadness to think of what Jake had said and not said about the little boy he’d been, the man he was. She wondered then why she knew so well who he was inside. She knew it better than he knew himself. She had no answer for why that might be true.
"It does work."
"Does it? Or has it only left a lonely boy inside a lonely man?"
“People do what they have to do. I don’t want pity."
She shook her head. "I don't pity you, but can't I feel sympathy for what you've been through?"
“Are you a fixer upper? One of those women who goes around finding people who need somebody to redo them.”
She laughed. “So you think I’d want to remodel you?”
“You sure couldn’t want me as I am, but I don’t want remodeling. I am not here for any woman and that’s how it is.”
“It’s how it has been.”
“You don’t give up. Listen, I told you about my brother so you’d see this interest you think you have in me is not going to work.”
"Because of your past? The past is just that—done and gone."
"It colors today, tomorrow. You see your world in bright, shiny colors. You've grown up to be a princess, surrounded by luxury."
"And what have you grown up to be, Jake?"
He stared at her. “What are you getting at?”
“Back to the start of all this conversation. Why did we meet?”
His smile was faint. “I do a fair amount of interrogations, and that sounds like a trick question to me.”
“Not really, but you said you’d never normally have been where you were that day. You didn’t have to decide you’d be the one to come out to the ranch. Don’t you ever think that some people are meant to meet? It’s fate. I won’t say why or even know, but there is more going on with human life than meets the eye.”
“Babe, it’s all biology.”
“I don’t think it is. I think with you and me there was something there that first day, and we both could have walked away from it. You would have.”
“And why didn’t you?”
“Because I hadn’t felt it before, that magnetic pull to get close to a man, to learn who they were, to follow the trail where it went with them. I wasn’t sure I ever would again if I walked away from what was possible.”
“What is possible is a dead-end.”
“I won’t deny that could be, but don’t you want to know—for sure? Some things aren’t logical. Feelings don’t always fit facts. Sometimes though they are strong enough to surmount what might seem insurmountable.”
“You think that’s what this is?”
“Jake, ours is a story that hasn’t yet been written. It could be by us.” Her smile was confident and so sexy that he felt as though the wind had been knocked from his lungs. "How would you write our story? If I am the princess, who are you?”
“I wouldn’t write a story about us because there isn’t an us.”