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Friday, October 20, 2006

The Lawman's Wife ~ Excerpt

The Lawman's Wife excerpt was just released. Yea!
I've copied it below. Check it out.
The book goes on sale November 1st at Siren Publishing.

Lara Santiago
Copyright © 2006 Lara Santiago

All rights reserved, Siren Publishing, Inc.

Cannot be reproduced in whole or in part in any form without expressly permitted to do so in writing from the author.

Story Excerpt

Grace haltingly re-entered the stage. Every other woman ahead of her up for auction had fairly flown off the stage. She couldn't figure it out.

She was in serious trouble if she wasn't attractive enough to get a single desperate guy to bid. Even with her nearly non-existent pride, she had hoped for more than one offer besides Danny's today. But she hadn't even gotten him to bid. And he'd laughed when she'd exited the stage the first time. She'd know that whiney nasal snicker anywhere.

As each subsequent woman was snapped up, Grace formulated a plan to beg. She didn't care if she wasn't supposed to speak. She wanted her daughter back. Once they found out about the identity of Emma's father and her inability to have any more children, she'd have a hard enough time keeping any other man interested. She'd deal with that when the time came.

The auction was all she could manage for now.

"Here is the last female we have up for auction today. So you'd better get her while you can. Now, what's my bid for this lovely, young girl?"

Again, every man became mute. Grace couldn't help the angry tears tumbling over her lower lids. Emma's forlorn little face at yesterday's tearful separation swam in front of her eyes.

"Surely one man among you is willing to bid on this female. Look how pretty she is."

Tears fell copiously, and she sniffed loudly at the very moment everyone was supposed to see how pretty she was.

"Please," she whimpered. "Please."

"Little lady, you can't speak. I told you already. Now, why won't anyone bid on this sweet little girl?"

"Because she's frigid and terrified of sex. Plus she's got another bastard's kid already, and she can't have any more children. She's completely worthless. Give it up. No one's bidding on her," said a callous voice from the audience Grace didn't recognize.

How did the man in the audience know all her secrets?

Grace squinted through her tears to search for Danny. He smiled in that superior way he had, making her feel small and valueless as a human. He apparently had made sure no one would bid on her today. She should have known. Now when she went to the Institution, they would pay him to marry her, but Emma would be gone to her forever. She fought the urge to run into the audience and strangle him.

"Please, someone, bid on me!" she screamed in anguish, not caring that she wasn't allowed to speak.

"Hush now. No more talking," the auctioneer admonished her again and then turned to the audience to seal her fate.

"No one willing to bid on this female? Not anyone in this room? You are all a bunch of damn fools." The auctioneer shook his head and raised his gavel to seal her fate as an institutionalized female. She covered her ears to muffle the sound of her doom.

The doors to the back of the room burst open and bounced off the interior walls. Grace lowered her hands. A huge lawman strode through the door and shouted, "I bid ten dollars over the standing floor bid for this woman."

"Sold to the lawman for ten dollars," the auctioneer said, not missing a beat, as if he'd expected the bid all along. He banged his gavel to complete the deal. Grace bent over in grateful disbelief. She was sold. Thank heavens. She didn't care if it was the devil himself who'd just bought her. She could have Emma back. She straightened quickly and looked to see who owned her. Her future husband would not be Danny. She found that a huge relief, too. She didn't know what her future husband would want, but she knew exactly what Danny expected.

"Wait, I'll bid twenty dollars for her," Danny's friend Walter called out.

"Too late," the auctioneer said. "You gave up the right to bid when I asked the room."

"Well, the other guy was in the room earlier, too, and he left. He shouldn't get special privileges."

"I'm a federal interstellar lawman. I was called away momentarily on official business. What's your excuse for not bidding the first time?"

Walter snapped his lips shut, pressing them flat, and gave the lawman a sullen look, as if he were the one being treated unfairly.

Grace listened to her savior speak, and a tingle of recognition brushed against her memory. She put a hand up to her brow to block the floodlights above her and to get a glimpse of the lawman soon to be her husband. He looked vaguely familiar.

"What's your name, Lawman?" the auctioneer asked.

"Jonathan Brent."

Grace sucked in a breath.

"Well then, this little lady is about to become a lawman's wife." He banged the gavel again. "Sold for ten dollars to the lawman, Jonathan Brent."

Walter started to protest again, but Grace ignored him, still stunned at the name of her intended husband. Jonathan Brent.

He was the lawman in the elevator from three years ago. Not a single day had gone by that she hadn't thought about his strong body hugged close to hers. The initial brush of his firm lips sliding over her mouth in the dark had crept into her dreams more than once.

She wiped the tears from her face and prepared to face him. Squinting into the dim light, she saw he was even more gorgeous than she had remembered. He exceeded six feet by several inches. His dark hair looked wiry and coarse, but she knew from personal experience it felt very soft sifting through her fingers. She couldn't see his eyes from this distance or in this light, but knew they were a comforting gray.

Grace waited onstage for him to come fetch her, but instead he crossed to where Danny and Walter were standing. She looked over at the auctioneer, who motioned for her to greet her soon-to-be husband. She wiped her face again, took a deep breath, and went to face her future. It was the first moment in a long while that she wasn't absolutely terrified. Grace's new-found courage lasted only until she saw her future lawman husband pull a set handcuffs off his belt.

She paused, waiting to see what he was going to do with them.

Was he about to handcuff her?

"Walter Dennis, I have an order from a magistrate to bring you in for criminal activity."

"What?" Walter looked at Jonathan as if he'd only just noticed he was a lawman and then turned to run. The tall, menacing, yet gorgeous Jonathan clamped a hand on Walter's arm and stopped him. He had the handcuffs around Walter's wrists in no time. She brushed away the dread that came with her fear of being handcuffed and started moving toward her now bright future.

"How did you find me?" Walter asked.

"Someone ratted you out and called in an 'anonymous' tip as to your whereabouts. I wonder who knew you'd be here today?" Jonathan asked.

Walter turned to Danny. His big, goofy face turned red. Grace wasn't the least bit surprised. She'd be willing to bet her last two hundred and sixty-three hidden dollars it was Danny who had ratted her out to the Tiberius Family Group too. She wanted to smack Danny, but decided she had already expended too much effort on him. It was time to move on to a better life as the wife of a federal interstellar lawman. She smiled for the first time in two days.

"Thank you. Thank you so much," Grace said to Jonathan, stepping close to him once she realized the handcuffs he brandished weren't for her.

"Sure. Listen, I hate to do this to you, but unfortunately, Walter will have to accompany us to the wedding ceremony."

"It doesn't matter. I'm so grateful you bid on me. You saved me—again."

Jonathan Brent tilted his head and gave her an engaging smile. "Come on. I need to get going." She wanted to throw her arms around him and bury her face into his throat. She knew she would be safe in his arms. He was a lawman. That was what lawmen did. They protected people.

"Wait a minute. Don't you want to know what you're getting for a wife? She has serious sexual problems, and she's got a kid, too."

"Danny, shut up. You have no right to say a word." Grace operated under the hope that Jonathan didn't know all of her secrets. He hadn't entered the room until after the loudmouth in the audience had announced her life story. Perhaps she still had a chance to keep him.

The tempting and wicked thought of sex with him already danced around her brain. She remembered begging him for amazing sex in the elevator. He had turned her down then, but perhaps not because he wasn't interested. Perhaps her future husband had bid on her today so he could take her to some quiet place to make fabulous and amazing love to her. A buzzing sensation vibrated her long-buried sexual arousal wide-awake. It was about damn time for some amazing sex in her life.

Jonathan turned a ferociously lustful gaze toward her and winked. "Believe me, I know exactly who I'm getting for a wife." Grace smiled and held his stare. She relived the kiss in the elevator as if it had happened a minute ago. Her tongue slipped out to wet her lower lip. She couldn't wait to get him alone.

"But she's frigid." Danny insisted, as if Jonathan were too stupid to understand his brilliant analysis. Grace frowned at him, willing him to shut his fat face and leave her be.

"Not with me, she's not." Jonathan averted his gaze from her and scowled at Danny. "I know everything I need to know about her. You, on the other hand, are trying my patience. Get lost."

"Don't come crying to me when she won't have sex with you. I'm warning you, you'll have to handcuff her to a bed to cure her sexual deviance." Danny put his hand on his waist as if to suggest the lawman was the most obtuse human ever.

Jonathan frowned at him. "You're one sick bastard, you know that? Trust me, I won't cry to you for anything. She's not frigid. I suspect she told you that so she wouldn't have to endure your soft, clammy hands. Back up." Jonathan took a menacing step in Danny's direction, dragging Walter behind him. Danny frowned and took a shuffling step away.

Jonathan turned to her. "Ready to go?" She nodded and fell into step behind him. He had earned her eternal gratitude for telling Danny off the way she had wanted to for years, but couldn't. In her position as second-class citizen, she had put up with loads of crap and endured years of biting her tongue to keep silent. She enjoyed giving Danny a smug smile on her way past him as she followed her delicious future lawman husband.

They filled out the paperwork, and a few minutes later, for the pitiful price of ten dollars, she was married to a man who made her heart pound in her chest. A cheap hamburger at a fast food joint cost more. Ah well, it didn't matter.

Her new lawman husband held onto Walter during the ceremony, but she didn't care. She could get Emma back, which was the only important thing. She'd get a honeymoon, which was another thing gathering importance low in her belly. A heart-pounding vibrancy radiated through her at the thought of a real honeymoon night. Sex with Jonathan would certainly be the pinnacle of her sexual experience, as long as he didn't handcuff her or hold her arms down. She spoke her vows to love, honor, and—most importantly to the Tiberius Group—to obey her new husband. She wondered what he might require of her in the bedroom. They were pronounced man and wife. Thank heavens.

"How are you going to fulfill the forty-eight hour consummation dictate, Grace?" Danny asked.

Danny lingered several steps away, approaching her only after the marriage vows had been spoken. "You know the minute he snaps the handcuffs tight you'll faint. You should have let me cure you a long time ago…"

She didn't have time to answer. Jonathan pulled the regulation-issue weapon off of his belt, checked the load—presumably to make sure it was ready to fire—and gave Danny a positively satanic glare. His wicked-looking gun was pointed at the floor, but the threat was unmistakable. Grace wondered if Jonathan was going to shoot him.

"I've heard enough out of you. Grace and I will be at your residence later on to pick up her things. I don't need a reason to shoot you. Quit trying to give me one. Grace is my wife. She was never yours. I suggest you leave. Now." He tightened the grip on the gun's handle.

Jonathan radiated an aura of anger she could stick a fork through, and even she could tell he was trying to calm down and not kill her ex-roommate.

Danny gave them both a sour look and retreated, finally figuring out he shouldn't aggravate a grumpy lawman.

Jonathan promptly leveled the gun at Walter's chest. "Don't move, or I shoot to kill. Do you understand me?" At Walter's fearful nod, Jonathan wrapped his free arm around her waist and pulled her close before she realized his intent. His firm lips landed on hers in a passionate kiss. Even this early in the morning, he had a tantalizing five o'clock shadow on his face. His delicious scent wrapped around her with his sizzling, warm body pressed close.

Grace melted into him as her knees weakened. Her hands went to his chest first, then circled around his neck and anchored herself to his strong warrior body. She ran a hand up the back of his head, through his silky hair. Unlike the vigorous, eager kiss in the elevator, this one was lazy and thorough. He kissed her tenderly, stroking his tongue slowly and methodically against hers as if he had all the time in the world to make love to her mouth. She sagged in his arms, unable to hold herself upright any longer, and heard moaning.

Oh God, she was moaning!

* * *


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