"The Bourbon Thief isn’t just good, it’s exceptional. The story captured my imagination; the characters captured my heart." — Literati Literature Lovers
"Reisz fills the narrative with rich historic details; memorable, if vile, characters; and enough surprises to keep the plot moving and readers hooked until the final drop of bourbon is spilled." — Booklist
THE BOURBON THIEF EXCERPT
A Family With Bourbon in Its Blood, and Blood on Its Hands
The rain had returned by the time she made it back to the stables, her hands cramped in her gloves and her cheeks chapped raw from the cold wind. She unsaddled Kermit and brushed him down, showering him with all the pets and scratches any horse in the world would want. She left to fetch a fresh bale of straw for bedding, and found Levi waiting for her in Kermit’s stall when she returned. He’d turned the heater on in the stables and had taken his coat off. In his long-sleeved flannel shirt and jeans he looked more handsome than he had even an hour earlier. An hour from now he’d look even more handsome than he did right this minute. She wasn’t sure how he accomplished this feat but she was quite happy to observe it in action.
“Here.” Levi held out a small red box no bigger than a deck of cards.
“What’s this?” she asked, taking the box from him.
“Your birthday present.”
Tamara’s eyes widened.
“How did you know it was my birthday?”
“You said so about ten million times today.”
“You got this for me today? While I was riding?”
“Then you already knew it was my birthday. So you must have gotten it earlier. Unless you keep presents for me hidden around here all the time. You do, don’t you?”
“I knew it was your birthday because George told me he bought you a Triumph Spitfire for your sweet sixteen. I don’t give a damn it’s your birthday. I just wanted to borrow your car.”
“I’ll trade you the car for a kiss.”
“Forget it. I’m keeping your present.”
He reached for the box and Tamara yanked it away, nearly biting off her fingertips in her urgency to pull her gloves off her hands. They were shaking by the time she got the box lid open. One of the girls at school—Crissy, God help her with a name like that—said girls should always play it cool with guys, not act too eager. Well, Crissy had never been given a birthday present by the most handsome man in the entire world, and Tamara couldn’t play it cool if she were sitting in an igloo.
From a bed of yesterday’s newspaper Tamara pulled out a little gold horse on a little gold chain.
“You like horses,” he said before she could say anything about it.
“I like you,” she said.
“An hour ago you were threatening to turn me into a spaghetti strainer.”
“I only threaten to turn people into strainers if I like them. Is this a bracelet?” The chain was only a few inches long.
“Necklace,” he said.
“If you put this short chain around my neck I’ll choke to death.”
She glared at him.
“It’s an ankle bracelet, Rotten,” he said. “Unless you have really fat wrists, then it’s a regular old bracelet.”
“I don’t have fat wrists.”
“All I’m saying is if you did happen to have unusually fat wrists it could be a bracelet.”
“I weigh one hundred pounds, Levi.” She draped the ankle bracelet around her wrist to show how loose it fit on her.
“One hundred pounds of wrist. I’m not saying it’s a normal place to carry extra weight, but it happens. Maybe you could do some wrist exercises or something…”
Tamara kissed him.
It wasn’t a cheek kiss this time. She wasn’t playing junior officer to his mon capitan. She kissed him like she meant it. Because she meant it. God almighty, did she mean it.
Levi gripped her by the upper arms and pushed her back gently, but still, it was a definite move to put distance between them.
“Sorry,” she said, flushing slightly. “Got a little twitterpated there. You know, because I like horses.”
“You know you can’t go around kissing guys like that.”
“Like me. You can’t go around kissing guys like me.”
“You’re sixteen, Tamara.”
“I was fifteen yesterday.”
“That’s the opposite thing of what you should say.”
“What should I say?”
“Maybe that you won’t kiss me on the mouth again. Or anywhere else? I think that would be a good start.”
He crossed his arms over his chest.
“But it’s my birthday.”
“You don’t get to do everything you want to do just because it’s your birthday.” He sounded wildly exasperated with her, and wildly exasperated Levi was her favorite version of Levi. “Try telling a police officer you’re allowed to kill anybody and everybody you want just because it’s your birthday. That duck won’t fly.”
“I didn’t kill anyone. I kissed. Two s’s, not two l’s. Makes all the difference.”
“Rotten, I’m way too old for you. I work for your granddaddy. He’d have my hide if he caught me messing around with you.”
“I want a kiss, Levi, not a marriage proposal. I’ve never been kissed before. Not really. And that didn’t count because you didn’t know it was happening.”
“I think I knew. Parts of me sure did.”
She bounced up and down in her boots.
“Just one? Please? A real kiss?”
“What do you consider a real kiss?” he asked.
She shrugged her shoulders, shook her head. “I don’t know. Like the way they kiss on The Young and the Restless?”
“Which one am I? The young or the restless?”
“You’re the restless, obviously,” she said. “Because you’re so so so old, and I’m so so so young.”
“Will it shut you up if I kiss you?”
“Can’t talk with a tongue in my mouth, right?”
He took the box from her hand and tossed it onto the pile of hay. He took her hand and pulled her flush against his body.
“Finally,” he said, smiling down at her. “Now we have a persuasive argument.”
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