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Samantha Ward hops a westbound train, risking everything to rescue her swindler father. When her train is robbed and she is taken hostage, she escapes. Alone in the wilderness, she comes across a lone cowboy and steals his horse and the shirt right off his perfectly sculpted back. But just as she falls for Jesse Colburn, she learns of a devastating connection behind her father’s disappearance and the rugged rancher who stirs up all kinds of sinful thoughts.
Jesse Colburn’s sole desire is to redeem his late father’s good name and save the family legacy, Enchantment Ranch. He must find out who is sabotaging his land and killing his livestock before he loses everything. Revenge is all he cares about until the mysterious spitfire Samantha Ward rides into town--on his horse. Her courage and curves threaten to distract him -- until he discovers she may be part of the plot to steal his ranch.
Page Count: 342
Word Count: 83524
The woman was scared but determined. It wasn’t just the gun and fiery temper that piqued his curiosity. It was the flush of her cheeks and the dignified raise of her chin that caught his breath. She was keeping herself ace-high, for now anyway.
Her black hair spread across her reddened cheeks. “This is your land?” she asked, sweeping the gun around and pointing with it.
He instinctively ducked; fortunately, she hadn’t shot the gun. When he looked up, his eyes fixed on her slim fingers wiping her hair from her face proving what his body was already telling him: although dirty and beyond sense, she was stunning. “Yes. And how did you get out here?”
“By horse,” she said in a tone reminiscent of a schoolteacher scolding her class.
“Right.” He swallowed the words he wanted to say. “Since we’re clear about that, what are you doing out here, alone?” He changed his tone and spoke in his softest voice, the one he used when soothing a spooked horse.
“I am on my way to Aspen.”
“To see Luke Tremain.” He nodded encouraging her to continue.
“Tell me where to find him,” she said ignoring the bait.
He sighed, “Probably in town. But I wouldn’t…”
“Step across the river,” she demanded, aiming her gun at his chest.
He smiled again, this time to calm himself.
“You’re a couple hours from Aspen. Just follow the river over that last mountain,” he said, nodding his head west. “By horse, that is. Perhaps if you call…”
“Is that so? Guess I better commandeer a horse.”
“Is that so?” he uttered through clenched teeth. He knew a challenge when he heard one. “How do you think you’re going to do that?”
A brief, yet vexing smile crossed her face, as she eyed her revolver. “Guess.”
He returned her smug grin with one of his own. “I can’t imagine.”
Her hands shook. “That’s what the gun is for.”
Jesse reached to loosen his already open collar. Lord, she was a hell of a spitfire. But no matter how much grit or how inviting her curves looked in what was left of that god-forsaken dress, she wasn’t taking his horse.
Keeping her weapon trained on him, she advanced toward Rusty. “Look, mister, I’m sorry, really I am, but it’s a matter of life and death.”
“Your life and my death?” Sarcasm was never a smart tactic, but the lady’s sudden apology was a little hard to swallow.
“You said this was your land.”
“It is. So?”
“So, you can walk home. You don’t need a horse.”
Walk home. Had she just dropped from the sky? “Lady, I don’t know where you come from, but out here homes are not exactly close. My ranch is a three-mile walk over the most treacherous mountains you’ll ever climb.
“Now, it’s dangerous to be out here alone, so I’ll bring you to Aspen,” he offered. It wasn’t the animal wildlife that worried him; it was Luke’s roaming men. He wouldn’t leave a woman stranded on Independence Pass.
She shook her head. Then, as if she suddenly remembered her manners, she declared, “No. Thank you.” She waved her gun toward the opposite bank of the river. “Cross to the other side.”
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