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Seduced by an Angel
(Velvet Lies, Book 3)
Written by Adriennede Wolfe
Jesse Quaid can't let Sera's sweet kisses distract him from rendezvousing with Cass, a childhood friend, to clear his name of a crime he didn't commit.
But then a case of mistaken identity turns Cass into Jesse's deadliest rival for Sera's heart.
Now, Sera must find a way to end the feud before the man she loves is lost forever.
Seduced by an Angel
Lincoln County, KY
"A preacher's wife has no business riding around on the back of a horse, especially one as high-strung as a thoroughbred," grumbled the mountain-sized man in the elegantly tailored, black broadcloth.
"I'll have you know, Michael Jones," retorted his spirited young companion, a petite southern belle with a heart-shaped face, "I shall not be rushed into marrying some fuddy-duddy preacher just because you would rather chase your new wife around the bedroom rather that act as a respectable guardian to me."
Michael's clean-shaven face turned crimson. "Seraphina, that is not only ludicrous, that's offens—"
"And secondly," Sera interrupted breezily, tossing her blue-black ringlets, "you're not footing the bill for my filly. My brother who loves me is."
Straining his ears to eavesdrop on this family dispute, Jesse Quaid stroked the nose of the frisky filly in question and murmured endearments to silence her whickering. The rangy, trail-weathered Texican considered himself a good judge of horseflesh, and he knew that Michael Jones had accurately assessed the yearling's temperament after watching her perform in the pre-auction parade around the racetrack at Sportsman's Hill.
On the other hand, Jesse had always possessed a knack for handling horses. He'd sneaked into Tempest's stall to acquaint himself with the coal-black mischief-maker so he could pose as the filly's trainer. Jesse was hoping this ploy would finally let him meet Seraphina Jones.
For nearly a month, Great Spirit had been sending him dreams of a dark-haired White Woman riding astride a flying raptor. Jesse's Cherokee grandmother had taught him to look for signs in his waking world when the Eagle Messenger of Great Spirit appeared in his sleeping world. Still, Jesse had never imagined that Sera was real.
Then, earlier that morning, Jesse had spied her from across the street as she and her chaperones had exited the Gables Hotel. Stunned to observe his dream in the flesh, Jesse had broken one of his cardinal rules of self-preservation: he'd risked being recognized in a crowd. Discreetly trailing Sera, he'd entered a restaurant to watch her eat breakfast with her sister-in-law. He'd strolled across the street as she'd window-shopped with her brother along Stanford's busy commercial district. He'd tracked her family's private carriage to the yearling auction at Sportsman's Hill.
All of this reconnoitering had taught Jesse a great deal about the Jones family, and more importantly, about the vivacious Sera. He knew that she considered herself a proponent of the Woman's Reform Movement, and that she was hoping to vote in a presidential election someday. He knew that she had a soft spot for a 16-year-old orphan, named Collie, who'd been failing to report for his chores on the Jones's property. He knew that she was excited to become an aunt to the baby that her sister-in-law, Eden, was due to birth in six months.
Jesse had observed that Sera freckled in the sun; that she was fond of flavored ices; that she favored gardenia perfume; and that she never removed her white matinee gloves, even if she was buttering cornbread at a restaurant.
This observation had been Jesse's first clue, explaining why Great Spirit had led him to Sera.
Jesse's second clue had been Sera's collapse in the milliner's stairwell. The incident had occurred shortly after lunch, in plain view of Stanford's commercial district—or rather, it would have, if her brother, Rafe, hadn't sheltered her so expertly with his body. Sera had emerged from the hat shop without her right glove. By the time Rafe had noticed that the glove was missing from her hand, Sera's fingers had already closed over the wrought iron banister.
In a flash, the color had drained from her face. Her knees had buckled. Even from Jesse's hiding place, some ten yards away, he could see Sera's bright, curious eyes grow dull and sky-blue vacant.
"Sera!" Rafe cried, dropping her hatbox and squatting in the stairwell beside her. "What is it? What's wrong?"