Excerpt from Tennessee Waltz

     "Don't close your eyes," Wyn growled in a barely discernible voice. "They're beautiful. Like pools of deep brown velvet."
     She flushed at the compliment, her head dropping to avoid letting him see the misery she knew had to be filling her face. She'd started to think of him as a friend, but she couldn't tolerate teasing gibes about her looks, even from a friend. She got enough of those from other people with whom she came into contact.
     He tucked his index finger beneath her chin and brought her head back up. "What?" he asked. "Would you rather I compare them to that bright, pretty brown Granny uses to trim some of her blankets?"
     "I'd prefer you didn't tease me about them at all." Sarah forced herself back from his hold. "I know how plain I am. I've had enough mocking of my looks over the years to last me a lifetime."
     "I don't understand what you mean by mocking, unless you're jeering at me instead." Wyn shrugged his shoulders. "You're betrothed. I'm sure you had plenty of suitors before that, and evidently one man found you attractive enough to propose to. And you found him attractive enough in return to accept his proposal."
     "So what are you trying to do?" Sarah said angrily. "Make time with someone already spoken for? Or seeing if you're missing something that Stephen saw beneath all my plainness? For your information, I'm the one who chose Stephen, not the other way around. It's amazing what money will buy, even for a homely woman!"
     With a sob, she gathered her skirts and raced away, toward her tiny cabin.
     * * *
     Stunned, Wyn stared after her until she disappeared through the cabin door. With her long stride, she was gone before he could take a second breath. He moved a step after her, then paused. What on earth was she talking about? But having seen her temper before, he didn't feel like taking a chance on following her right then and demanding an explanation. He'd wait until she cooled down a little bit.
     Did she really think she was plain? Lord God above, didn't the woman ever look in a mirror? Sure, she was tall, but that meant she fit into a man's arms like a proper armful. A man wasn't squeezing air half the time with a woman like Sarah in his hold.
     He hadn't been teasing her about those beautiful brown eyes, either. A man could fall into them if he didn't watch out, like a shooting star streaking across the vast night sky and disappearing, never to be seen again. It would almost be worth it to determine if the velvetiness were as soft and soothing as it looked.
     Yet when Sarah got angry or excited, the gold-dust sparks in her brown eyes danced and sparkled. They reminded him of the coated wire sparklers he ordered for the younger children's enjoyment on the Fourth of July.
     Her features weren't dainty. Heck, dainty features would be awkward on her. What she had fit in good proportion—a straight nose and high cheekbones. A mouth wide enough to fill that space above her firm chin and fit just right over a man's mouth—his mouth.
     That brought him back to the truth of one of Sarah's other comments, however. She had been right about her already being spoken for. He'd had his hands on another man's property, whether or not it had been Sarah's decision or her Stephen's to become betrothed.
     He didn't feel a bit guilty about kissing her for some reason, and the reason became clear as soon as he admitted his lack of guilt. If Stephen was too ignorant to appreciate Sarah, he knew of one man who wasn't.
     Not that he had any intentions of getting serious with a woman like Sarah Channing, he reminded himself. She would go back to her nice, rich life as soon as she had her fling here in the mountains. Right now she fancied herself on one of her do-good missions in life, which people with plenty of money felt obligated to accomplish now and then—although it seemed Sarah had a little deeper feelings about what she was doing than some of the do-good political wives he'd met in Washington.
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