Once Upon a Masquerade by Tamara Hughes
New York City, 1883
A Prince Charming meets his match…
Self-made shipping magnate Christopher Black first spies Rebecca Bailey at a masquerade ball and is captivated by her refreshing naiveté and sparkling beauty. She’s a stark contrast to the hollow behavior of the ton and the guile of his former fiancée, but the closer he gets to her secrets, the further she pushes him away.
A Cinderella with a secret…
Rebecca is drawn to the charismatic Christopher from the first, but she cannot risk him discovering that she is really a housemaid impersonating an heiress. Her father’s life depends on it.
A Happily Ever After that could never be…
When Christopher’s investigation of the murder of his best friend leads him straight to Rebecca, he fears his ingénue may be a femme fatale in disguise. Now he must decide if he can trust the woman he’s come to love, or if her secrets will be his downfall.
Christopher stepped onto the balcony as the enchantress he’d followed spun about and retrieved her duster. The hint of fear that flashed in her eyes disturbed him. “Could I persuade you to work for me? You appear quite capable with a duster.”
She glanced at the item in her hand, and her shoulders relaxed, descending several inches. She cocked her head to the side as if contemplating his offer. “I’m afraid not, sir. But, I could teach you how to fend for yourself.”
With a slow grin, he drew closer. “You’re obviously more adept than I in such matters. What incentive can I use to entice you to come to me, fair maid?”
She stroked the feathers of her duster almost nervously. “My services come at a high cost.” Her eyes darted to the floor. “I… What I meant was—”
He raised a finger to her lips, but didn’t touch. “As I suspected for someone as skilled as yourself.” He rubbed his stubbled jaw and motioned for her to turn about before him. “Are you an agreeable sort?”
She stood her ground, resting her hands on shapely hips. “Always.”
Christopher began to circle her, surprised but amused by her pluck. “Do you polish furniture?”
“I do.” The dark color of her gown accentuated her smooth, porcelain skin. The material hugged her enticing curves, from the gentle swell of her breasts to her narrow waist. Unlike those of her gender schooled to show vulnerability, this woman had vitality, an inner strength that beckoned.
Playfully, she leaned toward him, presenting her straight, white teeth for his inspection, and flexed the muscles of her arm. “Of course.”
With a chuckle, he stepped around to her back. “Do whatever your employer demands?”
“That depends on the demands.”
When she straightened, he admired the delicate skin at the nape of her neck exposed by her upswept hair. He leaned in from behind and breathed in the faint scent of cloves. “Would a kiss be too much to ask?”
She shivered and twirled around with a small gasp, her face inches from his. The unusual color of her eyes, a blend of soft greens, drew him in as sure as a wave to shore.
The corner of his lips curled. After failing to discover anything new about Nathan’s lady friend, he might be able to salvage this evening after all. “Or maybe a simple touch.” He reached down and lifted her gloved hand, his index finger stroking her palm. “Followed by a kiss.” Looking deep into her lovely eyes, he settled his lips on the back of her fingers. “I’m Christopher Black, fearsome pirate. Who might you be?”
A small town girl with a big imagination, Tamara Hughes had no idea what to do with her life. After graduating from college, she moved to a big city, started a family and a job, and still struggled to find that creative outlet she craved. An avid reader of romance, she gave writing a try and became hooked on the power of exploring characters, envisioning adventures, and creating worlds. She enjoys stories with interesting twists and heroines who have the grit to surmount any obstacle, all without losing the ability to laugh. To learn more, stop by her website: www.tamarahughes.com. You can also find her on:
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/tamarahughes
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