Being part of the second RB4U Boxed set this year was looking doubtful for me when real life got in the way, and I was late with my story. BUT, thanks to patience from the organizers of this set and determination from me, I'm back! Westerns are really my favourite genre, but historical westerns, not so much contemporary. I chose a darker subject than usual for this one, it's a story about finding you way back to love and hope after devastating injuries - one psychological and the other physical. Ultimately, it's a love story, and one I hope readers enjoy! Have a sneak peek below, and don't forget to order your copy of the set - it's only 99cents at Amazon, and it's up now for pre-order. Release is next week!!
Heat rating: 3 chili peppers
Enroute home to Gold Ridge, Colorado after their honeymoon, David and Hannah Logan are attacked by a pair of bandits who plunge them back into a past they shared, but never truly came to terms with together... It’s been almost a year since the nightmare of violence and assault tore Hannah from David’s side and left him bereft and angry. When she returned to him, determined to rebuild what they’d lost, the light of love had come with her. Now, a new torment threatens to destroy everything, and Hannah’s biggest enemy might just be David himself…
“I wanted a father, and I got Jonas Wilkes. I needed to trust him, and he made me feel...” She shuddered, visibly changed her train of thought. “Then I met you; Gold Ridge’s most respected citizen. I’d never met anyone quite like you, David Logan. You were handsome, sophisticated, powerful... What was it Margaret called you? A charming outlaw.” She smiled. “She was right, that’s exactly what you are. But you took my breath away the moment I saw you. I will never forget that day, or turning around to see you on the stairs of the Nugget, all elegance and danger. You terrified me, and you excited me. I felt things in those first seconds that I have never felt before. My God, David, I think I fell in love with you before you even spoke to me.”
“You do know how to flatter me, Hannah,” he whispered.
“But it’s not flattery, David. Every time you walk into a room, you make my heart feel like it’s going to burst with the love that fills me. I can’t believe you’re my husband. That you chose to give me that much of your life.”
She smiled, tilted her head to one side, whimsical yet more serious than he’d ever seen her.
“Finish, Hannah,” he requested. “I want to know what you’re feeling.”
“Do you remember the first time you kissed me?”
“I would have behaved like a common whore for you that day, and it frightened me to death, David. I was with a fine, Southern gentleman. A man well-bred, respected, all the things that a lady wants. And instead of being a lady, I was ready to─”
His laughter stopped her abruptly.
“You do yourself a great disservice, Mrs. Logan,” he teased tenderly. “Any gentleman is still susceptible to the charms of a lovely woman. And you do take away my sense of propriety, Hannah.”
“The first time you made love to me, I was certain that God had put me on this earth to belong to you, David. You gave me everything that my heart had ever wanted, even the things I didn’t let myself hope for. I felt safe, and whole, at peace. Every time you touch me, I feel that way. Beautiful... complete...”
“Then why are you so afraid, Hannah?”
“I don’t want to be,” she said fiercely. “I hate it, David! I despise myself for feeling like this. But─”
“But?” he coaxed gently.
“Elizabeth was right,” she put her fingers to his mouth when he would have objected instantly. “She was right about some things, David. I’ll never know you the way Ellen did. I’m not from the same world. Your Southern honor is one of the things I love most about you, but it’s a mystery to me, too. You were married and fighting in a war when I was little more than a baby at my mother’s breast. Your soul was scarred in ways that I can only imagine.” Tears flooded her eyes as she stared up at him. “David, the sun in my world rises and sets in your eyes.” She gulped in a sharp breath. “I’ve never needed anyone that much, and it frightens me.”
David nodded, lifted her hands to his lips again as he kissed the fingers that shook within his light grasp; then he looked intently at her.
“Will you listen to me now?”
“Of course,” she replied, voice thick with emotion. She watched as he rose, took the other chair on the balcony, and set it directly in front of her. Then he sat and took her hands again.
“I love Elizabeth, Hannah,” he began quietly. “But, you’re wrong. She doesn’t know me. Not now. She remembers the child she grew up with, the young boy who adored her, and looked up to her. She loved Ellen; partly because I did; and partly because Ellen needed her approval and acceptance. Beth doesn’t know how to make you need those things from her, because the truth is, you don’t.” He smiled at her, warmed by the returning glow of devotion that stared back at him from her eyes. “The war cost us our way of life, and for some, it’s not a thing they’ll ever recover from. I feel like I’ve lived in two worlds for a long time, Hannah, not belonging fully to either one. When I let myself love you, I discovered that I had a home again.”
Her tears fell, silent, silvery trails of sorrow and gratitude that wet the gentle contours of her cheeks. David brushed them aside, then kissed her forehead.
“When you came to the Nugget after Wilkes left for
St. Louis, I told myself
that I was doing the honorable thing by protecting you.” He snorted softly,
self-derisive. “I was doing nothing of the kind. I wanted you close to me,
looking at me with that adoring, trusting awe that made my heart feel like it
was trying to escape my body.”
“And I thought you didn’t want me near you.”
His laughter was low, genuinely amused.
“I didn’t want to make a fool of myself in front of you,” he corrected. “I don’t think any woman has ever looked at me with the trust and respect that’s in your eyes each day. You humble me, Hannah. No one’s ever done that. Not even Ellen.”
Startled, she looked closer at him, felt herself falling into the aching darkness of his eyes. She slid off her chair and settled at his feet, her head in his lap. David’s fingers brushed through her hair, and she shivered as she stared up at him.
“You are one of the most courageous women I’ve known, Hannah. Strong, independent, passionate, and loyal. Any man can buy a whore, Hannah. Few men are lucky enough to know a woman’s heart is his possession, and that she can be trusted to keep his in return.”