Excerpt: Mail-Order Husband
Order Today: Mail-Order Husband
Woman rancher in immediate and desperate need of a man! Interested applicants should:
1. Be 25-45 years of age and looking for a permanent relationship—a kind and gentle personality is a plus.
2. Have extensive ranching background—be able to sit a horse, deal fairly with employees, herd cattle, etc.
3. Have solid business know-how—particularly the type necessary to please a bullheaded banker.
What Leah Hampton really needed was a knight in shining armor, ready and able to slay all her dragons. A foolish wish, she knew. Even so, some silly, romantic part of her couldn’t help wishing for the impossible.
She glanced at her watch. Her final interview should arrive any time. As though in response, a solitary rider appeared over a nearby ridge, shadowed black against the burnt-orange glow of a low-hanging sun. She shaded her eyes and studied him with keen curiosity. Could this be H.P. Smith, her final applicant?
He rode easily, at home in the saddle, swaying with a natural, effortless rhythm. Even from a distance she could see the beauty of his horse, the pale tan coat without a blemish, the ebony mane and tail gleaming beneath the golden rays of the setting sun. The animal was also a handful, but one he mastered without difficulty.
She frowned, something about him setting off alarm bells. If only she could figure out what. Then it hit her. She knew the man. On some basic, intuitive level she recognized the way he sat his horse, the simple, decisive manner with which he controlled the animal, the square, authoritative set of his shoulders. Even the angle of his hat seemed faintly familiar.
But who the hell was he?
She waited and watched, intent on the stranger’s every movement. He rode as though he owned the place, as though he were lord and master of this land. From beneath the brim of his hat Leah caught a glimpse of jet-black hair and deep-set, watchful eyes, his shadowed features taut and angled, as though hewn from granite. He dismounted a short distance away, tying his buckskin to the hitching post. Not giving the vaguest acknowledgement, he turned to cross the yard toward her.
He stripped his gloves from his hands as he came, tucking them into his belt, and she found herself staring at those hands, at the strength and power conveyed by his loose held fists. She knew those hands. But from where?
A flash of memory hit her. She saw those hands, sinking into the silvery paleness of her hair, anchoring her against him. The nimble way they unbuttoned her shirt, sweeping it off her shoulders. The skillful drift of callused fingers lingering on her breasts, tender and yet forceful. The short, sharp images brought ecstasy mixed with unrelenting pain, and she gasped.
He looked up at the small, feminine sound.
Full sunlight cast the shadow from his face and revealed to her the threat—and promise—in his cold black eyes. In that instant she recognized him, and knew why he’d come.
“This just isn’t my day,” she muttered. Acting on blind instinct, she shouldered her rifle and fired.
The first blast cratered the ground a foot in front of him. He didn’t flinch. He didn’t even break stride. He came for her, his steady gaze locked on her face. She jacked out the shell and pumped another into the chamber. The second blast landed square between his boots, showering the black leather with dirt and debris. Still he kept coming, faster now, hard-packed muscle moving with catlike speed. She wasn’t given the opportunity to get off another round.
He hit the porch steps two at a time. Not hesitating a moment, he grabbed the barrel of the rifle and yanked it from her grasp, tossing it aside. His hands landed heavily on her shoulder, catapulting her straight into his arms. With a muffled shriek, she grabbed a fistful of shirt to keep from falling.
“You never were much of a shot,” he said, his voice low and rough. And then he kissed her.