Just Once
The Runaways Book 2

Jemma O'Hurley, a spoiled New Orleans debutante of 1816 who, rather than marry the man her father has chosen for her, chooses to run away one dark and stormy night. She prays for a way out and fate brings her in contact with a young woman running for her life who is more than willing to step into Jemma's shoes. Alone on the dangerous streets of New Orleans, Jemma is soon spotted by Hunter Boone, a backwoodsman from Illinois who takes her up the Mississippi where she not only has to cope with Hunter but his hardscrabble life on the frontier and the cast of hard working, kindhearted characters she meets. Adventure, humor and passionate "old school" historical romance fill the pages of JUST ONCE.

Note: this is a re-issue of a classic "old school" style historical romance with explicit love scenes. It was not written for the Inspirational reader.

© Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

A Condensed Excerpt

On the trek to Kentucky, Jemma O'Hurley, raised by her father in proper Boston society, has much to learn from her backwoods "Kaintuck" guide, Hunter Boone.

Hunter sat back down and stretched, then crossed his legs at the ankles. He pulled his hat on, using the brim to shade his eyes from the firelight until all she could see were his lips--finely tapered, strong, masculine, but compelling. And unforgettably soft.

As they sat there chatting, an outrageous idea nagged at her. It would require her to be downright brazen, but there was only one way to satisfy the curiosity that had been planted with the kiss he had given her to protect her back in the rowdy Rotgut Saloon in New Orleans.

"Since you are a self-proclaimed loner, perhaps you wouldn't mind kissing me again."

"What?" He looked at her as if she had just lost her mind.

"Experimentally, of course."


Jemma shrugged and tried to voice her opinion in a logical fashion. "It has to happen sometime, doesn't it? To me, that is. It might as well be now."

"What has to happen?"

She was afraid his big green eyes might roll right out of his head "Kissing. We've been alone together for over a week. I've found you to be just the man I thought you were. You are trustworthy and a man of honor. You obviously aren't interested in women--"

"Hold on a minute--"

"I mean, enough to want to settle down. You said yourself, you are a loner."

He cleared his throat. "I am, but--"

"Exactly. You aren't looking for attachments. You can remain clear and objective."

"About what?"

"Kissing. I want to know all about it. I want you to show me the differences. I need to know what to watch out for. I'm a woman alone in the world right now, Hunter Boone, and when it comes to kissing . . . and all the rest . . . well, I'm utterly uneducated."

"I thought you said the nuns covered it pretty thoroughly."

"Yes, in theory. I've had no real experience, except for the kiss you gave me in New Orleans."

"That was only to protect you." He actually looked shaken.

"So you see. Another aspect of the whole. Obviously, you can remain clear and objective."

"Objective." He shook his head. "Do you think you can remain objective, Jemma?"

"Of course. Why not?"

"You are obviously very innocent."

"Will you help me?"

"Kiss you, you mean?"


He sat there looking at her for a long while, simply staring at her across the fire as if either he were having trouble making up his mind, or he thought she had completely lost hers while she was frying bacon. She didn't think she was asking too much. All the man had to do was pucker up and kiss her a few times, stressing the differences in technique. Judging from the way her body had reacted to him at the Rotgut, she suspected he'd already done most everything except slip his tongue into her mouth, which would be the ultimate step before . . . well, before the unspeakable. They would never get that far.

"What do you think?" She was beginning to feel uncomfortable under such intense scrutiny.

"I think you need to move closer if you're serious about this."

She got to her knees and crawled the short distance around the fire until she was kneeling beside him. "I'm so glad you're willing to help."

"Only because I'd hate to have you stumble into trouble later on." His lips were twitching at the corners again.

"You look as if you're trying not to laugh, Hunter Boone. What do I do first?"

"Close your eyes. I'll give you the kind of a kiss a man gives a woman when he kisses her for the first time."

She closed her eyes. Her heart fluttered like a leaf in the wind. Hunter put his hand on her shoulder and pulled her closer, but not too close. His breath was warm on her face. So were his lips when he touched his mouth to hers. It was barely a touch, more of a stroke, an invitation for more. His lips met hers and pressed gently against her closed mouth. Just as she had in the bar, she experienced a warm, heady sensation that spread like slow molasses through her veins.

Suddenly his lips were gone and the kiss was over. She felt cheated of something that had beckoned just beyond that simple meeting of mouths. Slowly, she opened her eyes.

His face was still near, his eyes dark, contemplative. She had to clear her throat to speak. "What comes next?"

"I'll kiss you the way a man kisses a woman he's known a while. You shouldn't let anyone kiss you like this unless you want him to."

His lips were on hers before she was ready. There was no gentle invitation to this kiss. It began with more intent, with a sense of purpose. His lips were moving against hers, his mouth pressing harder than that first time. She reached up and slipped her arms around his shoulders for fear that she might tip over backwards.

By hugging him, she was able to steady herself, to give resistance to his pressure. It was all very stimulating. She actually felt tingles run through her. Before she knew what to think, she felt his tongue teasing the seam of her lips. A shiver ran down her spine and back up again. She held on tighter, shocked and delighted by the warm, slippery, seductive feel of his tongue as he traced her lips again and again.

He pulled back abruptly this time. The smile had faded from his mouth. He seemed to be having a hard time breathing.

"Are you all right?" she asked softly.

"Yeah. I'm . . . I'm all right. You need to open your mouth."

"I need to do what?" Indescribable things were already happening to her. She shuddered to think what might occur if she did as he asked and took another big step.

"Open your mouth."

Sister had outlined the forbidden act of open-mouth kissing in glorious detail. Definitely, the nun had warned, this sort of activity would lead to other things. Now Hunter Boone wanted her to actually open her mouth when he kissed her.

She was on the brink of one of life's darkest carnal secrets. She was terrified. She was exhilarated. There was no way she was going to let this moment slip away.
Jill Marie Landis ©2013 All Rights Reserved.