Managing the farm since her pa’s death hasn’t been easy for Jillianne Prescott. The list of repairs is long and money is scarce. To add to her burdens is the deal Ma struck up with the sheriff. In exchange for food and a warm bed, the sheriff sends his prisoners to work the farm. Never one to bother with men, Jillianne is nonetheless thankful for the help, until, one by one, they run off. This latest one won’t be any different. Heavily muscled and full of tomfoolery, she has no doubt he’ll sneak off to Mexico before the sun rises. But when he proves her wrong, and takes it upon himself to find the coyote prowling the farm at night, Jillianne can’t help but admit there’s more to Slade than sinew and tomfoolery.
Be the guest at a necktie social or work at the widow Prescott’s farm? He might be an outlaw, and have a lot of faults, but stupidity isn’t one of them. Slade Barlow will hide out at the farm until tempers cool and then leave Texas for good, have the spread he’s been saving for. But the widow isn’t the frail woman he expected. And her daughter does things to his gut best left ignored. Then again, Jill has an intriguing birthmark. And curves his fingers itch to explore. Sassy and pretty, she’s the type of woman a man marries. Never one to favor a woman’s long list of rules, he’ll keep his distance, track down her coyote, and steal more than one kiss from her.
Excerpt: (Long) Jill tossed aside the covers and shoved her arms through the sleeves on her robe. Slipping out the back door, she quietly made her way across the moonlit yard, her toes curling inward to ward off the chill of the damp grass. Tugging open the barn door, she paused a moment to let her eyes adjust to the darkness then headed for the first stall. Slade had forked a good amount of straw in there yesterday. With the blankets Ma had given him, he’d made a comfortable bed for himself.
“Don’t care if you are a woman,” a lethal voice hissed from behind before the barrel of a gun poked the back of her neck. “Take another step, stranger, and I’ll pull the trigger.”
Her heart thudded against her breast. “S-Slade,” she squeaked, her knees wobbling. “It’s me.”
“C-could you l-l-lower your gun?”
“Huh?” He breathed. “Oh, yeah.”
He removed the barrel from her neck and she let out the breath she didn’t know she held. Turned on her ankle to face
him but collapsed at his feet instead.
“Sonofa…” Slade thundered. “Jill, honey…”
And then his arms were around her, lifting her against him. He carried her to a bale of hay and sat, cradling her against
him as though she were a newborn.
“I’m sorry, darlin’. I’d never hurt you.” He hugged her tight. “I was out prowlin’ for your intru―coyote. Didn’t see
you leave the house. Heard you open the barn door and…” he crushed her closer to his thick chest of muscle.
Cocooned in his arms, feeling his heart beat as erratic as hers, she slid her arms around his waist and held tight to him.
Took comfort in the heat of his body seeping through her thin robe and nightgown into her skin. After a spell, her
heartbeat eased, but her pulse continued to race. Slade was a big man. She remembered thinking he could crush a body.
Or hold a woman tenderly. She couldn’t attest to her first thought, but the second was true. He held her gently, and
Mmmm, she closed her eyes and savored the feel of his sinew. To fall asleep nestled against him and wake up in the
same fashion… to taste his kisses and have him bestow on her the same reverence from this afternoon…
She snapped her eyes open, caught him staring down at her. With the aid of the moonlight shining behind her, she
noted the stubble along his jaw, but the expression in his gaze was unreadable.
“Your trembles have ceased.” He grinned wickedly. “Let’s disturb them again.”
Without warning, he shifted her to sit upright, rested a large, calloused palm against her cheek and lowered his head,
touched his lips to hers. Bright lights exploded behind her eyes. Moisture dampened her palms, and when she kissed
him back, her trembles returned. The kind that robbed a girl of breath and made her heart sing. The kind that made her
feel special. Wanted.
Excitement over these new sensations shimmied down her spine. But fast on its heels was scorn for her wanton
behavior and a sobering truth. She pushed away from him, scrambled off his lap and ran for the door.
“Jill!” His voice cracked like a whip as he grabbed her elbow, halting her escape. “If you don’t like my kiss, say so.
You don’t have to run away.”
“I…” she swallowed hard, felt her eyes mist. “Camille’s who you want to kiss. You settle for me because she’s sick.”
“Hardly.” He spun her around to face him. “I’ll keep Camille safe, because she’s your sister, but she isn’t who I favor.”
He trailed his knuckles along her cheek. “You are.”
She stared at him for a long spell then fled to the safety of her room.
Only a fool would believe an outlaw. She slid beneath the covers, her body trembling as her vision strayed toward the
A tall, handsome, muscular outlaw who held a woman tenderly.
And savored freedom.