Molly has forever lusted for all three Barksdale brothers, but could never choose. Instead, scandal chose for her, and she married the youngest of the three. Then the brothers go to war, and Molly finds herself a grieving widow when her husband is murdered by a merciless band of Union soldiers.
Hardin Barksdale is hell-bent on avenging his brother. Greer Barksdale is honor-bound to protect his home. They both want Molly—and this time, they’re willing to share. The temptation is seductive, the passion sizzling. In harsh, post-war Tennessee, their nightly forbidden trysts wield the power to heal them all—if they can escape the twisted desires of a man bent on seeing all three of them dead.
A Romantica® erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave
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An Excerpt From: SCARLET WIDOW
Copyright © DEBRA GLASS, 2011
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
Molly stopped in the doorway of Greer’s room. He stood at his chest of drawers, gazing wistfully at a carte de visite of him with Hardin and Witt. Many times, she’d stood in exactly that same spot, staring at that same photograph. They had all known happier times before the war.
A lock of Greer’s wavy brown hair had fallen forward and Molly had the inexplicable desire to smooth it back into place. A muscle along his jawline twitched. Of all the brothers, Greer looked most like the paintings Molly had seen of his mother. The fairest of them all, Greer’s face was dominated by his owlish hazel eyes and unruly, deep-molasses-colored hair. Not quite as tall as Hardin or Witt, Greer possessed an air of quiet dignity and intelligence, a gentleness that would have never been construed as weakness.
Molly saw it as perfection.
When he sniffed and brushed a tear away from his cheek, Molly could no longer allow her presence to go unknown. She ventured into the room, the rustle of her stiff petticoat attracting Greer’s attention.
He blinked, attempting to bat away his tears.
Molly cupped his freshly shaven cheek. “You don’t have to be strong with me, Greer. I miss him too.”
A stifled whimper escaped Greer’s lips as he folded her into his arms and nuzzled her hair. His shoulders shook with silent sobs. Molly held him, rubbing her palms over the thin linen covering his back, trying to discern if the hollow grief she felt was for Greer’s loss or her own.
She ached to close her eyes and seek comfort, to beg him to stay here instead of following the army northward. Sweet, kind Greer. It broke her heart for him to know how Witt died. Tortured. Left in a battered, bloody heap on the side of the road. Molly hugged Greer tighter as she tried to force the haunting mental images away. There were no words she could utter to soothe him or ease his pain. Nothing she could do would alleviate his grief, and she knew she was helpless to do anything except stand here and hold him in her arms.
They stayed that way for what seemed an eternity before something inside her shifted. Grief melted into need. Her fingers flirted with the curls winding over the collar of his shirt. One palm moved over the sinewy muscles and hard bones from his shoulder down his back. Heat radiated through his shirt, promising an elusive comfort she knew wouldn’t last. Molly brushed her cheek against his neck. He smelled different than either Witt or Hardin. Where Hardin smelled like the outdoors and something else she couldn’t define, Greer’s fragrance hinted of leather-bound books and shaving lather.
A thought rose in Molly that caused a shard of guilt to stab her. What if she had married Greer instead of Witt? Constant, thoughtful Greer, who stood here alive and capable. This moment would have a different meaning. She would be fearful and yet hopeful that her husband would return for good soon. The Yankees would not have humiliated her. She squeezed her eyes shut against the images assailing her mind. Naked. Taunted. Shamed.
A shudder tore through her and Greer gathered her closer. The images melted away and she focused on the strong arms around her, even as her conscience railed at her to drive the fantasy far from her mind. Her body, however, refused to let it go.
She pressed impossibly closer to the hard man in her arms, loving the unyielding feel of him countering her from head to toe. Her traitorous body reacted to his heat, to the feel of a steely and protective embrace. She felt small in his arms. Loved.
This was wrong. She wore mourning black for this man’s brother and all she could think about was assuaging the rising need urging her toward sinful desires.
She drew back just far enough to look into his tortoiseshell eyes. His pupils enlarged, drawing her in.
“Greer,” she whispered, trembling like a trapped hare in his arms.
His thick lashes fluttered down as he slanted his head and captured her lips.
Molly’s heart pounded as his mouth teased across hers. The tip of his tongue swept over her lips, prompting her to return his kiss. She opened for him, admitting him, kissing him back.
A soft moan filled her mouth and his big hands caught her shoulders, anchoring her against him as he plundered her mouth.
Dear Lord, what was she thinking? But she had not the will to stop this.
Instead she arched into him, opening further, clinging when his tongue intruded to spar with hers. Need unfurled, heating her blood and pooling between her legs. It was unladylike of her but she had enjoyed coupling with her husband. She’d loved the sensation of physical release. Even now, she craved it.
Even now, with her deceased husband’s brother.