Copyright © 2011 Marianne Stephens
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Summer Nights of Delight
Rebel Heart
by Denyse Bridger


Rebel Heart

After she’d mopped up the water they’d dripped on the floors, Frankie headed back to the
kitchen. Sipping coffee and listening to the shower run became the background to her
chaotic thoughts while she considered what to do with her unexpected houseguest. She
could hardly tell him to sleep in the barn, not on a night like this. If, indeed, he even
needed a place to stay. She hadn’t remembered to ask that, had she? But the thought of
Nick Red Cloud in the guest room across the hall from her was vaguely terrifying.

She shifted in her chair, annoyed by the incessant throbbing between her thighs. She’d
never met a man who made her feel this way. She’d been afraid for too long to consider
the possibility that it could ever happen. Then, sitting behind Nick as his motorcycle
roared along the road, it had taken all her concentration not to wrap her legs around him
and beg him to put an end to her sudden yearnings.

Memory began to rise inside her, dark and painful recollections that hadn’t haunted her
for a very long time. She normally pushed them away, but now she clung to them as
reminders of what would happen if she trusted the handsome stranger who’d saved her
a long walk home. The part of her brain that relied on pure instinct assured her Nick Red
Cloud was nothing like that other man, but she deliberately ignored it. She didn’t want to
trust Nick. If she were honest, she didn’t want to even like him. Wanting him was so alien
to her that she hadn’t yet figured out how to approach that part of the enigma he

Sighing, she rose and walked back to her bedroom to put on some clothes. When she
passed the bathroom, she stopped, drawn in spite of herself. The water was off, and for
an instant, she could envision Nick’s tall, muscular body completely naked, sparkling
droplets of water clinging to his smooth bronze skin. Her knees wobbled, and she bit
back the whispery moan that had risen in her throat. Gulping down the sudden heat that
flushed her skin, Frankie ran the last few steps to her room and slammed the door behind

Leaning against the solid wooden panel, Francesca forced the cadence of her breathing
back to normal, and the furious timpani of her heartbeat began to slow to a calm, steady
rhythm. Pushing away from the door, Frankie went into her cozy bedroom, oblivious to
the subdued serenity she’d always felt in this part of her home. She unbelted the robe
and tossed it on the bed, then turned to the wardrobe. She caught sight of herself in the
full-length mirror in the corner, and her attention was snared at once.

Francesca stood in front of the long glass, surveying herself with critical eyes. She was
fair-skinned naturally, and no amount of time in the sun really deepened her color. She
was too heavy to be fashionable, her hips curving but wider than she liked. Her breasts
were full and firm, and the merest thought of Nick Red Cloud’s elegant, long fingers
brushing over them made her nipples peak to painful hardness.

“Stop it!” The words were snarled at her reflection, and she spun away, her emotions
erratic and vacillating between tears and frustrated rage. Frankie threw the towel that had
held her hair onto the bed and reached for a brush, dragging it through her waist length
mane of auburn waves. It would be hours before it was dry, but it was already setting into
the tight coils it fell into when damp. She put the brush on her dresser and went to the