Availability date: 12/18/2015
Casey Morgan opened Hope Ranch for troubled teens in a rural Texas community, but not everyone welcomed her. The unexplained death of her security guard and other disturbing activities prompts her to advertise for help to make her ranch the safe haven she envisioned.
The lady pointing a rifle at his head wasn’t the greeting Major Nathan “Max” Maxwell expected. Max needed the job to give him a place to finish his recuperation before returning to his Spec Ops team, but instead of the serenity he expected, he walked into a web of deceit and danger.
Torn between his growing feelings for Casey and his need to return to his team, Max searches for the strength to help the beautiful ranch director. Casey wasn’t looking for a man, especially one whose career choice didn’t mix well with her life. Would Hope Ranch give them a chance to find a future together?
She strolled through the crowd, spoke with several neighbors, checked on the students, then walked to the door at the same time Max stepped into the barn. Her chest lightened immediately.
He smiled as he walked up to her. “Sorry I was so long. Everything is fine with Carl. We started talking about the horses, and I guess the time flew. I hope you weren’t worried.”
Casey laughed. “Why would I be worried?”
Max chuckled. “Everything okay here?”
“Everything is great. Go get something to drink and have a seat. I’ll be over soon.”
Max grabbed a cola, then made his way back to the table where he kept an eye on Casey as she made her way through the crowd talking and laughing. Watching her relaxed him, but he realized it was getting near the end of the dance. If he was going to try out his leg, it was now or never.
When the next song started, he walked toward the food table where Casey was helping Buddy’s wife remove some of the empty platters.
“They got you working?”
She looked up surprised. “No, I was talking with Ginny and we just started helping the crew pick up.”
“Do you think she’ll miss you if I take you on the dance floor?”
Casey blinked a couple of times, then put her platter down. “Absolutely not. I wondered if I’d get a dance with you.”
“Well, you got it for what it’s worth.” He led her to the dance floor and put his arms around her. Before he pulled her close, he looked down at her. “Don’t expect anything fancy. I love to dance, but—”
“Max, I know you’re not one hundred percent. I’m just glad you’re going to try it out.”
That was all it took for Max to pull her to him. He felt a jagged breath shake his body. Casey melted into his arms as if she’d been dancing with him all of her life. Like she belonged there.
That thought nearly did him in.
He concentrated on moving his leg to the music and not on her soft body jammed up against him or the tiniest scent of perfume that floated up to him.
He wanted to talk to her as he did with other dance partners who were just friends, but for some reason, he had nothing to say—nothing, that is, that wouldn’t give his feelings away. He wasn’t sure what those feelings were, but holding her seemed right, and it certainly was playing havoc with his body.
She followed him, almost floated with him, across the floor, even when he missed a beat because his right leg didn’t move. He looked down and smiled. “Sorry.”
She did nothing but hold him tighter.