If you haven't picked up your copy, please do. I think you'll really enjoy their story. And to whet your appetite, here's a quick excerpt from the early part of the book:
"You know what? Let's just think about something else for a little while." Gabe's gaze scanned the apartment. "Do you have a deck of cards?"
She furrowed her brow, trying to follow his swift change of subject. "Yeah, somewhere around here."
"Great!" He grinned up at her. "Find them and I'll teach you a fun new game."
She wasn't sure she trusted the wicked look in his eyes, but she was up for anything that would take her mind off the threat hanging over her head. She headed in search of cards.
"It's called Popsmack and it's very easy to play." Gabe dealt the deck of cards evenly between them.
He grinned. "Long story. It's something my brother Jake and I made up on a rainy afternoon when the folks wouldn't let us out on the water. Because of the lightning."
"Yeah, I could see where being on the water during a lightning storm might not be wise."
He shot her a quick look, grinning. "Chicken."
"Is Jake older or younger?"
"Older. By ten minutes. And he never lets me forget it."
"Oh, twins. Identical or fraternal?"
"Fraternal, although we look enough alike that people who don't know us well get us mixed up."
She couldn't imagine mistaking anyone for Gabe Cooper. "Do you have that twin vibe thing people talk about?"
"I'm not sure I believe in that stuff, but I do seem to know when something's not right with Jake. And vice versa." Gabe dealt the last card and sat back. "Okay, here's how the game works. We lay out one card at a time. The person with the high card gets to ask the person with the low card any question they want. And the loser has to answer truthfully."
She saw danger written all over this game. But a different kind of danger than lurked outside her small apartment. A kind of danger that was so tempting, she could feel her blood singing at the prospect.
"Ready?" He asked.
She nodded, a nervous bubble rising in her throat.
He laid out a card. Jack of spades. Her heart gave a little dip, then began to race as she laid a six of clubs on the table between them. She looked up at him, waiting for his question with a mixture of dread and anticipation.
He met her gaze, silent for a long moment. His eyes glittered with wicked delight, as if he was contemplating just how naughty a question he could ask. By the time he finally spoke, her whole body was vibrating with tension.
"Why criminal psychology?"
She gave a small start of surprise, nearly overbalancing on her ottoman perch. She clutched the cushion to steady herself and wondered how to answer his unexpectedly serious question without baring parts of her soul she'd never shared with anyone.
She decided to go with part of the truth. "Rebellion."
"Against your parents? Or your brother?"
"I thought it was just one question per deal."
He smiled. "Fair enough." He laid down another card. Three of hearts.
She smiled back as she laid down a ten of clubs. "Have you ever been in love?"
"Right to the money question, huh? You women are so predictable."
"Trying to avoid the question?"
"No." He sighed, running his finger around the edge of the card he'd dealt. "I thought I was in love in high school. Mary Beth Traylor. Cutest majorette on the team. Really good with her hands."
Alicia groaned at the innuendo.
"No, seriously," Gabe said, although the gleam in his eyes was anything but sincere. "She was a runner up in the Miss Alabama pageant about ten years ago. Twirled a mean baton."
"So why didn't you marry Miss Almost Alabama?"
"She met a plastic surgeon who was mad about her. How could a country boy who spent his day catching fish compete with something like that?"
"You dumped her?"
"Entirely too high maintenance. I'd have gone broke from the hairspray bill alone."
Grinning, she laid down another card. "Oh, look. A queen."
He flipped over a card and grinned. "Oh, look. A king."
She eyed him suspiciously, not liking the way he was looking at her. "I'm not sure you don't have this deck stacked in your favor."
"Cheating at Popsmack is a hanging offense. I would never besmirch the honor of the game that way." He toyed with the card in front of him, a thoughtful look on his face. Finally, his gaze whipped up to meet hers, surprisingly serious. "Rebellion against whom?"
A sex question would have been less painful to answer, she thought, nudging her inadequate Queen of Diamonds toward the middle of the coffee table. "Both my parents and my brother, I guess. I was determined not to be like any of them."
She could see him itching to ask a follow-up question, but she thwarted him by setting her stack of cards on the table and getting up, walking over to look out the window. Night was falling fast, making her wonder if she and Gabe had made a mistake by sending Cissy off for food with dusk so close.
"I wonder what's taking Cissy so long?"
"It's been only ten minutes." Gabe's voice was so close she jumped. Turning, she found him standing right behind her, so close that her arm brushed against his hard-muscled abdomen when she turned.
He didn't move away, and the expression on his face suggested he had no intention of doing so. His eyes had turned a smoky blue that reminded her of the color of San Francisco Bay when a storm was brewing in the Pacific.
His head bent closer. "I'm going to kiss you now. If you want me to stop, say so now."
Her throat seemed to close, rebelling against the warning signals blaring from her brain.
She didn't want him to stop.
Gabe dipped his head lower, his lips brushing hers. The touch was light and undemanding. A taste, as if offering a sample to see if she wanted more. And she did.
Sliding her fingers into the crisp, dark hair at the back of his head, she drew him down to her, lips parting in invitation. Then his lips claimed hers, and the world spun out of control.
(Just a caveat--this scene was clipped from the final draft manuscript and may not reflect minor edits made before printing).
The Man from Gossamer Ridge is available at bookstores, WalMart, some grocery stores and online. You can still find the previous book in the trilogy, Hitched and Hunted, online. And you can order the final book of the series, Cooper Vengeance, right now at eHarlequin and coming in June to bookstores.