Diamond Heart                                    

Heat Level: Spicey, M/F

Western Historical Romance








After catching her cheating fiancé in bed with her best friend, Rowan Belmont leaves the mills and factories of the Midwest to be closer to her sister in San Francisco. After being robbed in Kansas City, she loses the money to complete her journey and she tries to pawn her engagement ring, only to find out that it's as fake as her ex-fiance's love. Alone, broke, and on the edge of giving up, Rowan needs a miracle.

Marcel Champlain can't get the beautiful woman he met at the Kansas City hotel out of his mind. When she turns up at his family's jewelry store he knows that God has brought them together, unfortunately she's not interested in any type of romantic relationship. Desperate to keep her with him, he makes Rowan a job offer: Go with him to Decker's Creek, Wyoming to open a new jewelry store and pose as his wife.

With only three months to convince Rowan that she should become his wife in truth, Marcel intends to show Rowan that no other man on earth will ever love her as much as he does. Their time together may be cut short by when it seems like fate will take Marcel from Rowan all too soon and leave her once again alone in the world.

Warning- This book contains frank language and sexual situations that may be way too steamy for the delicate reader.



Chapter One

Kansas City

  Rowan Belmont leaned her forehead against the locked door of her hotel room and swallowed back tears. The pink and gray bonnet perched atop her head tipped to the side and she jerked it off and threw it to the ground, pulling a few strands of her hair with it. Along with the last of her funds needed to get to San Francisco, a pickpocket had filched her room key. The cut silk rope of her purse was still wadded into her gloved fist and she muttered the vilest curses she could think of for being so distracted by the sights and sounds of Kansas City.

An accented male voice as smooth as caramel interrupted her internal thoughts. “Pardon me for intruding, Mademoiselle, but I could not help but overhear you swearing at the door. Are you all right?”

 She blushed to the roots of her hair and closed her eyes. “I’m fine. Thank you for your concern.” Her voice cracked on the last word but she hoped her cold tone told the man to go away. Instead of leaving he took a step closer and the scent of his rich and spicy cologne with a hint of smoke and whisky scented the air.

Petite coeur, what is wrong?”

She took a deep breath and prayed for patience. “Excuse me, sir. I don’t believe I know you well enough for you to call me familiar...what did you call me?” She turned to glare at him and ended up gaping instead. Dressed in an impeccable gray suit, he was the handsomest man she had ever seen. Mahogany brown hair fell in careless curls over the tanned skin of his brow. Firm lips graced by a dimple deep in one cheek curved into a warm smile that seemed to light his face from within. His smile transformed him from handsome to amazing.

 Looking into his clear gray eyes her breath caught in her throat as her heart beat so loud she could hear it pounding in her ears. His gaze captured hers, bringing a flood of burning warmth to her body. To her embarrassment the soft flesh between her legs grew moist with desire.

His friendly smile faded as the silence between them deepened. Unsettled by the warmth in his eyes, her gaze skittered down his body. Broad shoulders filled out his suit and the pants clung to narrow hips and heavily muscled thighs. The heavy gold chain of a pocket watch glittered in the subdued lighting of the gas lamps lining the hallway.

 Her attention returned to his face as he said, “I called you little heart.”

The words brought reality back into focus and she took a step back, almost tripping on the train of her dress. “That is awfully bold of you, sir.” Clutching the remains of her purse in her hand, she lifted her chin and tried to look down her nose at him. Hard to do when he stood at least five inches taller.

“My apologies.” He executed a perfect bow and gave her a devilish grin. “I couldn't help but notice your earrings.”

Taking another step back, she bumped into the wall. The small dangling silver hearts were the only thing she had left to her name besides the steamer trunk of hastily packed clothes in the locked bedroom and the engagement ring from her ex-fiancé. “They’re not real.” She cleared her throat and tried to see down the hall past his broad shoulders.

Raising his eyebrows he carefully slipped his hands into his pants pockets. “Please allow me the pleasure of introducing myself. My name is Marcel Champlain, and you are?”

Gritting her teeth, she debated lying to him and realized it was as foolish as thinking he would steal her earrings. The ruby cufflinks he wore probably cost more than she earned in the eight years she had worked at the paper mill. “Rowan Belmont.” She gave him a frosty glare that never failed to intimidate the men back home. “I appear to have lost my room key,” she lied and gripped the cut string of her purse in her fist. “If you’ll excuse me —”

He reached for her hand and she clasped them together behind her back. This resulted in another amused smile that highlighted his dimple. Moving slowly as if she were an easily spooked cat, he gestured to her door with one silk gloved hand. “Mademoiselle Belmont, if you will permit I would be honored to open your door for you.”

“I don’t need help from the likes of you!” Hurt shone in his eyes as the muscles around his mouth tightened. Taking a deep breath she tried to get a hold of her temper. She couldn’t afford to pay for a lost key. As usual, her overblown sense of pride was getting her in trouble. “Do you work for the hotel?”

Reaching into his breast pocket, he pulled out a slim black leather case. “Non, but I do know my way around locks. My grandfather manages to lock his key into the safe at least once a week.” He withdrew two long bronze picks and knelt before the door. Three quick twists of his long fingers and the lock popped. “There we are.”

Relief that something had gone right tonight loosened her tense shoulders. “All I want to do is go into my overpriced hotel room and pull the pillows over my head,” she muttered under her breath as she watched him put away his tools. What was she thinking, squandering her money on such a luxurious room? She could have slept perfectly well in a cheaper hotel where they didn’t have crisp white linens and indoor plumbing. So what if the room smelled like flowers and the bed was the softest thing she had ever touched? Every penny was to be—

“Do you often talk to yourself, Miss Belmont?” His voice came from way too close and she let out a little gasp. She hadn’t noticed it before, but the grey irises of his eyes were surrounded by the thinnest circle of black. Warmth blazed through her body in such a powerful rush that she couldn’t think of a pithy comeback, a rarity to be sure.

Her voice came out in a husky whisper. “Only when I’m upset.”

“Anyone who upset a woman as beautiful as you deserves to be taken out back and whipped.” His lips softened as his gaze roamed her face. “Ravissante. May I call upon you?”

“Certainly not. Thank you for your help. Goodnight, Mr. Champlain.”

Her heart pounded as he got down onto one knee before her and she was sure her face must be as red as a tomato. “Please, Mademoiselle Belmont, let me at least accompany you to dinner tomorrow night. We can eat at the hotel’s restaurant if that is acceptable to you, or I can take you any place you like.”

At the end of the hall the bell to the elevator rang and trio of older women in elegant gowns stepped out, pausing and laughing to each other as they spied Marcel kneeling before her. The elevator doors closed behind them and they slowly walked toward them where Marcel knelt before her, their gazes averted but knowing smiles tugging on their lips.

She lowered her voice to a whisper. “Mr. Champlain, get up this instant!”

He gave her an unabashed grin that made her body warm and tingle like she had stepped into a puddle of sunshine. “Please, do me the honor of sharing a meal with me. I promise I’ll be on my best behavior and if you find me to be too big of a boor simply send me away and I will bother you no more.”

“I’m trying to send you away right now,” she said in an exasperated huff.

One of the elderly women paused as they walked past and patted Marcel’s shoulder. “Give him a chance, dear. What I wouldn’t give to have a handsome young man like this begging for my company.” Her friends admonished her and the women laughed and entered a room further down the hall, leaving Rowan alone with Marcel.

She considered him, the ruined remains of her purse still clutched in her hand. From a practical stand point eating with him would save her money on a meal, and goodness knows she could never afford to eat in the hotel. It would be only logical to take him up on his offer. Her decision to see him again had nothing to do with how charming and handsome he was. “I suppose you’ll stay here all night unless I relent to your demands.”

Sensing victory, he smiled at her and his eyes seemed to light from within. “I would kneel here until my knees gave out, then I would merely lie before your door, hoping for the honor of having one of your feet tread upon me as you left.”

A smile, the first real one in a long time, twitched on her lips but she tried to keep her expression cold. “I will meet you at six pm, in the lobby.”

He rose to his feet in a graceful motion that reminded her of a cat. “Thank you, Mademoiselle Belmont.”

He took a step back and bowed to her, a strand of his dark hair sweeping over his forehead. She wanted to brush it back, to run her fingers through the silk of his hair. Embarrassed by the carnal turn of her thoughts she gave him a stiff nod and picked her hat up off the floor from where she’d flung it earlier. Avoiding his gaze, she went into her room and closed the door behind her before locking it tight. With her back pressed against the wood she let out a long, weary sigh. What in the world had she just agreed to?     

She tossed her hat on the lovely brass bed and rubbed her hands over her face. Marcel was obviously a man of wealth and good breeding. While she could pretend to be the same, that’s all it would be, pretending. It had been awhile since she’d eaten a formal meal and she tried to remember the intricate dance of what fork to use when, how to arrange her napkin, and dozens of additional rules of etiquette that were part of the invisible boundaries between the haves and the have-nots. Then again she could really use the distraction of just one evening where she could imagine being a carefree young woman of means, being courted by one of the handsomest men she’d ever seen. She could use that memory to get her through the tough times ahead, to give her a taste of what might be if she worked hard enough in San Francisco.

A box of matches lay next to the oil lamp atop the dresser and she lit the wick, adjusting the flame until it shone bright and high. The dangling cord of her cut purse caught her eye and the despair that had disappeared around Marcel came rushing back in. Her breath caught in her throat and tears threatened to spill down her cheeks again. Closing her eyes so tight she saw spots, she willed herself not to cry even as a few drops of moisture escaped and traced down her cheeks.

The last time she had indulged in giving over to her tears was when her parents had died when she was fourteen, leaving her and her younger sister alone. She hadn’t cried when she worked in the paper mill and chemicals burned her eyes and skin. She hadn’t cried when her sister took a position as a nanny in San Francisco, and she hadn’t cried when she saw the slender, pale legs of her best friend wrapped around her ex-fiancé’s naked waist as he moved above her. The last thought tightened her stomach with anger and disgust.

Tugging off her gloves and placing them on the dresser, she knelt before her steamer trunk and fished the key out from where it hung on a silver chain around her neck, tucked safely beneath the bodice of her dress. A quick twist of the lock and she dug through her clothes until she came to the false bottom of the trunk. Pressing her fingers into the small hidden cache, she lifted the panel and took out the ring from within. Diamonds blazed in the light and she turned the band, admiring the fire within. The memory of the night Calum had given it to her tried to intrude, but she wouldn’t let it.

She was a survivor, and survivors did their best on their own.

Against her will, images of the sparkling chandeliers of the parlor at the Frisk mansion filled her head. Calum had looked impeccable as usual with his perfectly styled blond hair and skin tanned from riding. His elderly parents had watched with such pride as he’d gone to one knee before her and asked for her hand. Mr. and Mrs. Frisk had embraced her afterwards with tears in their eyes and for the first time in a long time she’d felt loved. What she should have done was paid more attention then to the little clues that Calum didn’t truly care for her, but she’d let herself be seduced by the luxury and security that he provided.

She had planned on selling the engagement ring in San Francisco and using the money to set herself up with someplace to live. Now she would have to use the money to fund the rest of her trip. Grief tightened her throat, but she buried her emotions beneath ruthless practicality. No use moping about, what’s done is done. She would just have to sell the ring and use the money to get to San Francisco. Once there she would stay with her sister for as little time as possible before she got a job and made a life for herself. And next time she let anyone into her heart it would be after a lengthy courtship so she could be absolutely sure of what kind of man he was. Never again would she be fooled by a handsome face hiding an ugly soul.

Tucking the ring back into its hiding place, she began the task of unlacing her bodice. She folded the dress and her undergarments over a chair next to the bed and shivered as she slipped between the cool, crisp sheets. The stress of the day overcame her and she drifted quickly off to sleep, the memory of Marcel’s smile following her into her dreams.


Copyright Ann Mayburn 2011-2012. All rights reserved. No part of these publications may be reproduce, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the author.