Shannon here: Ane Mulligan shares a romantic excerpt from her latest Historical Romance, On Sugar Hill. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a copy, winner’s choice or print or digital. Deadline: July 26th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Ane:
Excerpt from On Sugar Hill:
Inside the mine, I turn to Boone. “Are you having trouble breathing in here?”
“A little. There’s no air circulation to pull in fresh oxygen.”
The walls seem to close in on me. A cough threatens, but I have to go on. It’s up to me to keep a roof over Mama’s and Aunt Clara’s heads, not to mention keeping us all fed.
I hope I can really do this. We move ahead, shining our lights left and right, up and down. Boone stops.
“Wait here. I want to see what’s through this opening.”
The moment he releases my hand, panic rises within me, like a tsunami. I glue my eyes to Boone’s back. He stoops down and disappears into the darkness. I can’t decide whether to hurry after him or turn and flee.
“It’s okay, come on in, but crouch down. The ceiling’s not as high in here.”
I follow his instructions, but my heart pounds against my ribs. I glance back, but there’s nothing. How can the dark be so obliterating? There’s a total absence of light. I don’t like this. It’s like being in a grave. I take a tentative step forward.
My stomach clenches. “What’s wrong? Are we lost?”
“No, but look at this. A large vein of quartz. If we can get this out, we can crush it and extract any gold.”
I crouch and step through the low opening, shining my light where his illuminates the wall. The rock is lighter, with rust and dark colored veining. I touch the quartz, then notice another place where the wall is very black. I touch it and feel … something. I shine the light on my finger. Soot.
“Why would the rock have soot on it?”
“It’s carbon, I think. I’ve heard they build a fire next to the wall that cracks the rock. It’s said that makes for faster removal. I’m not sure about that, but we can talk to Mr. Shelley or one of the other mine owners about it.”
I hate to leave without trying to find some gold. It’s like failing. My throat closes and I have to cough before I can speak.
“Is there any way to take a piece of the quartz and crush it like you said?” I tug at a chunk of rock.
“You didn’t bring any tools.”
He blurs in front of me and I can’t speak around the lump in my throat. I lower my light and turn back the way we came.
Boone’s hand on my arm stops me. He pulls me into his arms. “Cora, don’t cry. You didn’t know.” His hand caresses my back. “Let me help you. I’ll find out what you’ll need.”
He lifts my chin so he’s looking in my eyes. His lips are so close, I can scarcely breathe. I’ve never let a man near enough to kiss me.
His thumb brushes my cheek, and a tremor like ripples from a stone cast upon the water, radiate from my core. His gaze lowers to my mouth, and his thumb follows, caressing my lower lip. My mouth turns dry. Slowly, he lowers his head and his lips touch mine ever so gently. His kiss deepens and I’m floating on a wave of strange desire. All too soon, he pulls away while my heart thrums in my ears. I can’t seem to catch my breath. As effectively as flash fire cracked the walls of the mine, his kiss creates a fissure in the wall I’d built around my heart.
“Cora? Are you okay?”
I nod, incapable of words. It was my first kiss. Every night throughout high school, I dreamed about kissing Boone. I’m glad his light is shining down and not on the sappy smile on my face.
I duck my head. I’ve broken my own rule about men. The senator’s voice inside my head whispers, “You’ve done it now. You’ll get your heart broken. Just wait and see.”
About Ane: Ane Mulligan has been a voracious reader ever since her mom instilled within her a love of reading at age three, escaping into worlds otherwise unknown. But when Ane saw PETER PAN on stage, she was struck with a fever from which she never recovered—stage fever. She submerged herself in drama through high school and college. One day, her two loves collided, and a bestselling, award-winning novelist emerged. She lives in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. Learn more & connect:
About the book – On Sugar Hill
She traded Sugar Hill for Vaudeville. Now she’s back.
The day Cora Fitzgerald turned sixteen, she fled Sugar Hill for the bright lights of Vaudeville, leaving behind her senator-father’s verbal abuse. But just as her career takes off, she’s summoned back home. And everything changes.
The stock market crashes. The senator is dead. Her mother is delusional, and her mute Aunt Clara pens novels that have people talking. Then there’s Boone Robertson, who never knew she was alive back in high school, but now manages to be around whenever she needs help.
Will the people of her past keep her from a brilliant future?
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