Julia Flores has dreamed of spending her life with Ruíz Navarro since they were children growing up on the Texas frontier together. When Ruíz goes to fight the war for Texas independence, Julia vows to wait for him.
Ruíz returns home, having lost his father in the war, and he’s no longer the innocent boy Julia knew. War has shattered his soul and made him a bitter, cold man. Yet he cannot ignore the raven-haired beauty Julia has become.
Working side by side to save their families’ vineyard from foreclosure, they are tormented by an unspoken desire.
And as they find their true passion in each other’s arms, they cannot deny the powerful destiny that has brought
them together. But forces of greed and jealousy surround them, threatening the very dreams they both hold most dear.
Ruíz’s eyes appeared sleepy. His gaze lingered on her, open and unguarded for the first time since he’d returned home. And the admiration in his golden-brown eyes was unmistakable. Like a silent caress, his gaze slid over her. And her body responded immediately with a shuddering awareness and a hot rush of blood, making her dizzy.
“I believe a toast is in order.” He poured a fresh glass of wine. “Won’t you join me?”
Julia considered his offer and then shook her head.
He shrugged one broad shoulder and sauntered around the table. He stopped a mere breath from her. His own distinctive masculine scent mingled indiscriminately with the earthy aromas of the wines.
Ruíz propped one hip on the table. “If you won’t take the credit for your plan, Julia, then I must toast someone. Me gustan los vinos. They are excellent. Paco is a genius.” He lifted his glass again. “To Paco, the master vintner.”
She scooted backward on the bench by the table, but he caught her arm and gave it a gentle squeeze. She faltered, enthralled by his touch. Tentatively, he rubbed his calloused thumb up and down the soft inner flesh of her arm.
The candlelight glowed softly behind him, and Julia was bewitched by his touch. Trailing tendrils of fire scorched her skin where his fingertips brushed her. Gooseflesh rose on her arms and her breasts swelled, hot and heavy.
He abruptly withdrew his hand, and she almost cried out. Almost. Instead, she took a shaky breath and prayed that he wouldn’t notice how she was trembling.
He poured himself another glass of wine and raised it to his lips. He lowered the glass, but her gaze was riveted upon his lips, stained crimson from the wine.
He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, but his gaze never left her. And what she found in his eyes jolted her to the very core of her being. His brown sugar-colored eyes were dark with lust and something else, too. A look of longing. Their gazes locked in silent understanding. An understanding as old as time itself.
He finished the glass in one swallow and set it upon the table. “No more for me, I’m afraid. If I keep going, I’ll drink up all the profits in one night.” He quirked one eyebrow at her.
This was the Ruíz she knew, always in control. Sometimes, though, she despised his cold and aloof demeanor. A glimpse of the warm and more relaxed Ruíz had been welcome tonight, even if his usual guard had been eroded by Paco’s wine.
He reached out and touched one of the braids of her hair. Gently, he tugged on the braid. “I used to tease you unmercifully when we were children, Julia. Do you remember? Pulling on your braids.”
“Sí, I remember.”
He grinned but didn’t remove his hand. Instead, he gently threaded his fingers through her hair, working to release the interwoven strands and combing his fingers through them. She trembled again and her nipples pebbled into hard points.
What was he doing? What did it mean? And did she have the fortitude to push him away?
But when she tried to pull away, she couldn’t move or speak. What he was doing to her hair was unspeakably intimate. And when he freed the coils of her hair, it was as if her body and heart soared free, too. Her hair fell about her face, unfettered, like a thick curtain. The strands caressed her shoulders and bare arms. A blind craving rose within her, turning her insides to masa and causing simmering heat to build between her thighs.
Melting slowly, from the inside out, she leaned into his arms.
He buried his hands in her hair and pulled her closer. Rational thought fled as she savored his hands stroking through her unbound hair. His touch was soft and tender, just as she’d always known it would be.
“Your hair. How I’ve longed to … Julia. You are beautiful. So very, very beautiful.”
And then his mouth captured hers.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hebby Roman is the author of nine print published romances: five historical romances and four contemporary romances. Her first contemporary romance, SUMMER DREAMS, was the launch title for Encanto, a print line featuring Latino romances. Her latest historical romance, published by The Wild Rose Press, is a medieval romance, entitled: THE PRINCESS AND THE TEMPLAR and is available in e-book form as well as printed copies.
Hebby is a member of the Romance Writers of America, and the past president of the local chapter, North Texas Romance Writers. She is a current member of The Yellow Rose chapter. She was selected for the Romantic Times “Texas Author” award, and she won a national Harlequin contest. Her re-published e-book, SUMMER DREAMS, was #1 in Amazon fiction and romance.
She graduated with highest honors from the University of Texas in Austin with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. She was selected for inclusion in the first edition of Who’s Who in American Women.
She is blessed to have all her family living close by, including her family’s latest edition, a granddaughter, Mackenzie. Hebby lives in Arlington, Texas with her husband, Luis, and maltipoo, Maximillian.