Excerpt: Spanish Flame by Patricia Bates (Historical/Western Romance)
Adam glanced behind him at the sound of hooves on stone and watched the elegant carriage roll to a halt in front of the main house. Black, trimmed with gold, the exterior of the coach gleamed in the rapidly sinking sun. The doors were covered in intricately gilded patterns of silver and gold, and pale curtains fluttered in the breeze.
The team that pulled it matched the rig—six midnight black horses pranced in their harness as the doorman climbed down and set a step by the door to allow the passengers to disembark. Adam watched as the door opened and a young man of maybe thirteen hopped out, followed by a young woman a couple of years older. She was dressed in gray traveling garb, and her long, full skirts dusted the ground as she walked. Around her head white lace crested and fluttered with each movement of her head.
Adam felt his breath catch when a dark-haired beauty stepped out of the carriage. The long, intricate lace veil she wore covered her elaborately styled hair but did little to hide the ebony strands. Rounded with delicate cheekbones, and a high upturned nose, her face was flawless, beautiful—unlike any other woman's he'd ever seen. Her olive complexion was so different from the aboriginal women his father had employed.
He shivered as her eyes lifted away from her older companion and met his. With the force of a kangaroo kick, attraction slammed into him. He inhaled, frozen, unable or unwilling to break eye contact. Her eyes widened a degree, and he saw her plump lips part in a soundless gasp before she ducked her head, a wave of pink staining her cheeks.
He glanced away as he walked toward the team. He wasn't the son of an affluent man here; there was no room for anything between them, not now. As Adam strode forward to hold the horses, he caught the look of disparagement, the lack of emotion in the depths of the older gentleman's eyes. Adam stared at the wealthy, distinguished man for a moment then began to unhitch the wheeler.
"You will do well," the man said, venom lacing his words, "to keep your distance. A criado has no place near royalty." The well-dressed gentleman stared down at him, condescension in his eyes.
Adam lifted his head to glare at the self-important man. "Señor, welcome to Los Santiago Hacienda."
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