Mountian Jewel -- e-Book From Samhain Publishing
A dangerous love, any way you cut it.
After four years at a conventional Boston boarding school, Hannah Jackson is perfectly content to live a quiet existence at her grandparents’ Adirondack homestead. However, her peaceful existence is soon shattered by the arrival of the formidable Chase Malone, a representative of Tyler Mining.
Though the year is 1880, nineteen-year-old Hannah isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Garnet mining would ruin North Creek, the life blood of her sanctuary. Carrying her stubborn resolve with her like a shield of armor, Hannah vows to keep that from happening.
From the moment Chase and Hannah clash, more than simple conflict ignites. He is a man with secrets—a U.S. Customs agent on an undercover mission to prove Tyler is passing cheap garnets off as priceless rubies.
In the raven-haired beauty he finds a fearlessness to match his own—and an intelligence behind those sapphire eyes that sees too much. Soon they are both entering the world of gem smuggling—and encountering danger from which their love may not save them.
He was curious about how she really felt about marriage and about love--trusting one person for the rest of your life. Could she ever imagine herself married to a man such as him? …
… “Opposites attract, you know.” He studied her face. Her eyes were filled with uncertainty. Her pink lips were pursed together thoughtfully. She continued to twirl the blade of grass between her finger and thumb, seeming intent on shredding it to bits. He wondered how she felt about the sanctity of marriage. If she truly believed in the commitment, or if, like so many other young women her age, if it was just another whimsical childhood fantasy.
“It is possible for complete strangers to fall in love. It’s happened plenty of times before.” He stood next to her, his shadow covering her body.
“I don’t know of any strangers who’ve fallen in love.” She tossed the grass into the pond where it floated lazily to the shore.
He decided it was best not to press the issue with Hannah. Chase had a surprise for her, one that he’d been keeping for her for several weeks now. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a small pouch.
She looked up when he dropped the small white sack in her lap. "What's this?"
"Open it and find out."
The square bag had “Tyler Mining, East Street, New York, NY” neatly stenciled in the center of one side. Hannah pulled open the drawstring with both hands and peered inside. Her face lit up with delight as she dumped the almond-shaped treasure into the palm of her hand.
"Have you ever seen a gemstone this lovely before?" Chase squatted behind Hannah, peering over her shoulder.
The heat from his body flooded over her. "No," she managed in a whisper.
"This garnet came from McCleary's mine, right from the very ground that you and I are sitting on."
"It's beautiful." For a moment she forgot what the harvesting of this gem had cost the land. Then the promise that she’d made to Sallie McCleary came back to haunt her. It wasn’t possible to condone the mining, even if it produced something so stunning.
"Here, hold the garnet up to the sunlight."
She allowed him to touch her hand, guiding it to the sunlight.
"See how those yellow lines look like a star?"
She nodded her head. Her hand tingled from his touch.
"This particular stone is called a star garnet, and those tiny lines are rutile. What you’re holding is a very rare specimen."
"What is this worth?" She wanted to know the value of the destruction. Hannah studied the gemstone. She couldn’t seem to put her finger on it, but it reminded her of her days at the boarding school.
"A great deal. Hundreds of dollars." Letting go of her hand, he bent to nibble at her earlobe.
"Chase..." She breathed his name into the warm mountain air. “Oh, Chase, please don’t do this to me.” Shivers of delight ran up and down her spine.
Hannah turned to around to face him. “Because you’re making it impossible for me to think straight.”
Suddenly, she remembered what bothered her about the garnet. "A friend of mine, at boarding school, she had a lovely brooch with a similar stone. Hers was a ruby."
"The stones are quite similar." He lifted her hair. Exposing the nape of her neck, he planted a feather-light kiss there.
"How can you tell the difference?" Hannah asked, her voice a mere whisper.
"Sometimes it’s almost impossible." He turned her face to his and slowly, kissed her parted lips.
She leaned towards him and, wrapping her arms about his sinewy neck, she kissed him back. He ran his tongue along her mouth, outlining her lips. He tasted like the cherry pie they'd just eaten, sweet and syrupy. The passion hidden deep within her bubbled to the surface. She wanted him to be the one who would unleash that passion.
A low moan escaped her as he ventured to run his hand along her rib cage. Her breathing came in rapid bursts as he continued to move his hand up her torso, stopping when he reached her breast.
Hannah broke away from the kiss first. Chase looked into the sapphire pools that were her eyes. The depth of her arousal was clear, even to him. A rosy flush had crept up the smooth skin of her neck, reaching her face.
She covered his hand, still lingering on her breast, with her own. "Please, don't say a word. We have to stop this before Julia and Stephen return. It's different for them. They’re going to be husband and wife."
The yearning he saw in her eyes made him wish he could tell her the truth, but he was bound by duty not to. He felt the walls of his deceit close about him.
"I don't know what we are to each other." Hannah bowed her head to kiss the top of his hand, her warm lips barely skimming the tops of his knuckles.
Silently Chase pulled her to stand next to him on the rock. Wrapping his arms around Hannah's waist, he pulled her close. How he longed to be able to tell her that they could be together one day! It just wasn't time yet. There was still so much to unravel with Tyler Mining.
Hugging her against his chest, he looked over the top of her head. He saw only clear blue water and rocks and trees. So many trees. Their green leaves waved at him in the breeze, as if they were trying to tell him of some great secret. He wondered then when he would learn the secret--the one that kept Hannah bound to these mountains.