Andrea Hollister seeks a quiet career as a mainstream archaeologist—nothing more or less—and she’s one dig, and an ancient secret, away. So when Andrea must join super-hot maverick prodigy Daniel Fuchs on a New Mexico dig, her smartest move is to secretly undermine his unconventional theories, despite growing attraction and guilt. But what if Daniel is right? Two betrayals and a devastating court order later, Andrea and Daniel find their careers, and their shaky relationship, on the brink of ruins. To survive professionally and emotionally, Andrea must come clean and save Daniel’s dig. But can she do so in time, with bulldozers poised to level the site?
Despite the warm evening wind, Tala drew her knees close and shivered. Under the starlight, below the community’s terraced crops, mastodons filled the valley, their footfalls echoing in the dirt. But above, the Fire Star grew.
Not a good sign.
“I have something for you,” said Bin. He crouched near her on the grassy hill. “Close your eyes.”
She inclined her head. “What is it?”
“Hold out your hands,” he prodded.
She complied. A cold weight pressed down upon her palms. “Can I look now?”
Her breath caught in her throat. His gift was a beautiful bowl, bright and colorful with intricate, flowery designs. Around its interior were three words.
Bin loves Tala.
“Do you like it?” he asked.
She didn’t know how to respond. It was very sweet. But now? The Fire Star loomed. They faced imminent change—a shift that would unbalance everything. Still, this simple display pierced those concerns.
“I want you and no one else,” he said.
He frowned. “You feel that way, too…don’t you?”
Tears welled. She glanced at the Fire Star.
He followed her gaze. “That’s a good sign,” he assured her. “It means we will be happy.”
He extended a hand. She drew a deep, slow breath, accepted his hand, and stood. The bowl slipped from her lap and cracked against a stone.
His eyes widened. His Adam’s apple bobbed. An intense remorse swept through her, momentarily eclipsing her fear of the Fire Star. She had to make this right.
She placed her hand on his chest and held his gaze. “I do love you, Bin.”
She kneeled and lifted the bowl and a fragment that had fallen from it. “This is a good sign. The words are intact.” She then handed the piece to him and arranged his hand. She held the bowl and placed it with the shard in his hand, matching. “This is yours.” She motioned. “And this is mine. It means we belong together.”
She watched his expression shift from despair to joy. He smiled and wrapped his arms around her. His eyes sliced to the Fire Star and back. He flashed a cocky smirk. “Everything will be fine,” he crooned. “You’ll see.”
She pressed her face against his chest. No, she thought. It won’t.
Bin lowered his mouth toward her ear. “We have everything we need. Nothing can change all this.”
She squeezed. He was right about how she felt. She would accept him into her heart. She saw no reason to deny that. But he was wrong about everything else.
Things would not be fine.
They would not last.
At least they had each other—even if only for now.
Three unexpected visitors waited at the summit overlooking the New Mexico high- desert site. Wind whipped at them. Crouched near the center of the dig, Daniel recognized only one—his friend, Sammy Bia, the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer.
The others wore suits.
Daniel groaned. He dropped the unusual artifact he’d been examining into a plastic bag, scribbled a precise location with a fading pen, and stuffed the sample into his shirt pocket. He did not need a distraction. Just yesterday he rid himself of the pesky Spring- semester team. The next batch had to be better.
Daniel climbed the makeshift walkway to greet the trio. He didn’t want them tromping all over the excavation.
This encounter does not go well. To read more, go to Liquid Silver Books: http://www.lsbooks.com/hearts-
Released on Cinco de Mayo (May 5, 2014), Hearts in Ruin can be purchased in any eBook format at Liquid Silver Books: http://www.lsbooks.com/hearts-
J. C. Conway is a romance, science fiction and fantasy author, writing novels and short stories for adults, young adults and teens. He is a grand prize winner of the Yosemite Romance Writers Smooch contest. His writing passion began with a grade-school assignment to write anything he liked, which, at the time, included dinosaurs, robots, army heroes and alien invaders. Since then he’s added romance, tense internal conflict and emotional dilemmas. To learn more, visit his website at http://jcconway.com, his Facebook page athttps://www.facebook.com/J.C.