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Warning. Besides hand-tooled boots, content contains: a big-hearted, hasty-tempered cowboy, a homeless young woman, an orphaned little girl and a wild white stallion.
Storyline. Coop Malloy receives a telegram that his sister and brother-in-law have died and Kallie, his ten-year-old niece, is on her way to Texas to live with him.
Still reeling from the loss of his sister, he receives another shock when his childhood friend Randa Lockhart steps off the stage with Kallie. He’s stunned to see that the little pigtailed nuisance that tagged after him and his best friend years ago has turned into a beautiful young woman.
Randa and Kallie have barely settled in when Coop finds buffalo hunter Marvin Doolin beating the local blacksmith within an inch of his life for laming his horse. Coop steps in and when the buffalo hunter tries to kill him, he shoots him. Now Doolin’s four brothers are out to even the score.
When they go after Randa, they cross the line. They’re about to find out that’s there’s nothing Coop won’t do, and no one he won’t track down to protect the two females that have burrowed hard and fast into his heart.
“Something on your mind?”
That was another thing she’d forgotten. How easily he read her. Considering her attraction to him, that definitely wasn’t a good thing. Nerves had her pleating a piece of her skirt between her fingers. But she looked him in the eye when she spoke. “I was wondering why you didn’t bring her in the house instead of sticking her in that dark little hut.”
He rocked on his heels and studied her. “What do you think?”
She gave him a level look, but couldn’t bring herself to make an accusation. There had to be another explanation. “I don’t know, Coop. That’s why I’m asking you.”
His face darkened. She could almost see the anger roll through him. He’d always had a quick temper. Got over it quick too.
“You think it’s because she was captured by the Indians and has a half breed son? Come on, Randa. You know me better than that.”
“I knew you better than that. It’s been a few years. Men change.”
“So do women. There was a time that thought would have never entered your head.”
She shrugged. “And I don’t really believe it now.”
Relief spread like sunshine across his features. Wiping out the angry.
Just like a popup storm, she thought. Here and gone.
“So, tell me. Why did you stick her in that dreary little shed of a building instead of the ranch house? My heart knows you even if my head questions. What was the reason?”
He drew himself up and looked down his nose at her. “I don’t make a habit of explaining myself, Miranda.”
She remembered that too. And the fact that he’d used her full name just went to show the storm wasn’t over.
“But I will.”
He held up a finger. “It’s where we take all the injured and sick because it’s close to Coosie.” He held up a second finger. “Yes, it’s dreary and it’s a shed, but it will be theirs. I told Anna she’s welcome to stay on once she’s better. We can use her help with the cooking, sewing and cleaning. As time allows, we’ll add a couple of bedrooms and windows. I figured she’d be more comfortable if she had a place she could call hers, no matter how small. I know the boy would.”
Remorse washed through her as heat flooded her cheeks. When had she got so smallminded? There must be some of her father in her after all. “I’m sorry, Coop. I sometimes forget, no matter how much trouble you got into, you always led with your heart.”
“You instigated your fair share of that trouble, Randa.” His voice gruff, his dark, slashing eyebrows still maintained their downward spiral.
She gave him a playful nudge in the ribs. “I learned from the best.”
The eyebrows rose to their normal position and his lips quirked in that lopsided smile that showed a snaggletooth and made her knees weak.
She’d get over it. She had to.
Bio. Sandra is a vegetarian, animal lover and avid gardener. She lives with her husband, their dog and several cats in sunny North Carolina.
Besides all things western, she also writes in several other genres. She is a category bestselling Amazon author, Eppie finalist and Golden Ankh Award winner.
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