Shannon here: Delia Latham shares a romantic excerpt from her latest Contemporary Romance Novella, Hummingbird Kisses. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter the drawing for an e-book copy of the Cooking Up Kisses Novella Collection – 5 stories in one – including Delia’s. Deadline: March 31st, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Delia:
“GOOD MORNING, LITTLE ONE.” TONI Littlebird spoke softly to the tiny creature perched on her outstretched hand. As always, a thrill of pleasure coursed through her blood at the simple but exhilarating contact. “Aren’t you a beauty!”
The hummingbird cocked his head one way and then the other. When another hummer landed on Toni’s opposite shoulder, his wings fluttered with the lightning speed typical of his species but then settled again without further protest.
Toni laughed—a gentle purr of delight that wouldn’t frighten her little feathered friends.
“That’s right…be nice. I know you guys like to guard your turf, but here in the hollow, you’re on my territory. You’re all welcome, and I’ll not have you running each other off.”
As if they understood every word, the hummers seemed content to allow each other a bit of space. Within moments, small jewel-toned birds lined both of Toni’s arms and shoulders. A couple of them nestled into the palms of her hands.
She continued a stream of quiet conversation…a variation of the same words she spoke to her tiny visitors every day. A few she addressed by names she’d given them, though she could never explain how she recognized those few hummingbirds apart from the others.
“I must go inside, my sweet darlings. The Coming Up Valentines Dinner and Dance is tonight, so there’s a lot to be done today. Will you all be on your best behavior for my guests, please? Diamond, you keep the peace out here, OK? Sapphire will help, won’t you, sweetness?”
She gently lifted her arms and, as a matter of routine, began to turn in gentle, swaying circles, honoring her hummingbirds in what she thought of as a ritual “see you later” dance. Eyes closed, she drank in the warmth of the sun on her face and the near-zero weight of the birds lining her arms and riding her shoulders. Her favorite part of every morning was this time spent with the lovely, fascinating birds who so inexplicably loved the hollow and her gardens as much as she did.
But this time her dance wasn’t destined for the customary slow-to-a-standstill finale—the gentle farewell to the birds, who always remained in place as she danced, never lifting off to soar away until she’d blown kisses and spoken soft, loving words of goodbye.
Instead, an ugly roar split the air. Distant at first, it became more abrasive and disruptive with every moment. Loud music accompanied the discordant, mechanical growl. As the noisy intrusion reached a decibel of such intensity that Toni’s ears ached, the tiny birds on her arms and shoulders first began to tremble—despite her quiet reassurances—then lifted and darted away, almost as one.
A sudden, overwhelming chemical smell filled the air. Toni’s hands flew to her face, but covering her nose didn’t reduce the unpleasant odor. The distinct stench of oil and gas billowed over and around the house in a noxious cloud. Never had Hummingbird Hollow been subject to such odorous and ear-crunching company!
Anger bordering on outrage drove Toni toward the inn, set on giving a proper tongue-lashing to whomever was responsible for the rude intrusion on the peace and quiet of the hollow…but mostly on her treasured morning interlude with her tiny, winged friends.
She rushed through the kitchen, ignoring the wide-eyed, questioning glances of the kitchen staff. On she went, past a formal dining room and through the huge common room with its impressive rock fireplace. Today she didn’t give the striking floor-to-ceiling feature a fleeting glance.
An over-sized entrance served as the sign-in space for her bed and breakfast, Inn the Hollow. She flew through the archway and zoomed across the floor toward the door, which opened just as she reached it. Toni catapulted into a big, broad, unyielding chest covered in black leather.
“Oh!” She bounced backward, but was saved the indignity of falling on her backside when a strong arm circled her waist and pulled her against the leather-covered chest once again.
“Whoa! Can’t have you falling for me like that.” Amusement lent pleasant undertones to a deep voice that rumbled like silent thunder in the chest against which Toni’s body was pinned. For an inexplicable moment, she found herself longing to simply stay there, held in those strong arms, with the smell of male sweat and warm leather filling her senses.
She gasped and pushed herself away. The contact suddenly felt disturbingly intimate.
“Don’t flatter yourself. You were in my way, and besides, I’m pretty sure you’re the one who interrupted my morning meditation and frightened my friends away.”
Despite her own respectable five-foot, eight-inch frame, Toni found she needed to look up to make eye contact. Right now, she could see nothing but that broad, leather-covered chest. The fact that she was reluctant to look elsewhere stoked the fire of anger already lit within her. She jerked her traitorous gaze upward…
Delia and her husband Johnny live in East Texas, where their pampered Pomeranian, Kona, kindly allows them to share her home. The author enjoys multiple life roles as wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but above all, she loves being a princess daughter to the King of kings. She admits to a lifelong, mostly unbattled Dr. Pepper addiction, and loves hearing from her readers. Learn more and connect:
About the book – Hummingbird Kisses: Toni Littlebird believes that when she meets the man God created for her, she’ll know—and she’ll love him in that very moment.
But then Dax Hendrick roars into Hummingbird Hollow on a noisy, crippled Harley, stinking up the air and chasing away her beloved hummingbirds. One look into the intruder’s eyes and her heart sinks. He’s “The One.” She’d been right about knowing, but wrong about something far more important: She will never love this man!
Can’t wait for the drawing? Get your copy now!
Question for Readers: How do you feel about Toni’s firm belief that God has a life partner for her, and will send Him when the time is right?
Come back March 27th for Barbara J. Scott!