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by Josie Okuly
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Historical Fiction
Description: An unlikely hero--until Fate steps in. Cal Riker isn't just a wanted man. His skill with a gun makes his name synonymous with notoriety. Deserved or not, a deadly reputation can sometimes come in handy for things like saving a beautiful woman from a ruthless outlaw gang. They're all afraid of him--all except his enticing captive. Laurel Daniels is furious at being abducted, even more so at the indignity of being purchased with ill-gotten money. Then she's terrified when she realizes the cool, silver-eyed stranger who bought her is none other than an infamous, legendary killer. Is he truly as lawless as they say? As she discovers an interesting side to this renegade cowboy, Laurel starts to wonder? Product Warnings Warning: Strong sexual content, lawless bad boys, language, some violence.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2008
eBookwise Release Date: February 2011
10 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [202 KB]
Reading time: 127-178 min.
Blessed warmth. It came from him, radiating from his much larger body. How he wasn't chilled to the bone she didn't know, but without thought she moved closer and he didn't object but instead slid his arms around her and adjusted their position so she rested against his broad chest. Laurel sighed, her cheek against the flannel of his shirt, one muscular shoulder serving as a pillow.
"You're a brave young lady, Miss Daniels."
It seemed like her head fit just perfectly under his chin and she was unexpectedly comfortable. She mumbled, "Uhm...how so?"
"Seems to me you're sleeping with Cal Riker."
The hint of bitterness in his tone surprised her a little but she was too exhausted to analyze it further. "If you wanted to hurt me, you'd have done it by now."
"I suppose that's a logical way of looking at it."
"If you were in my position, you might say it was the only way of looking at it."
"Maybe, maybe not. Most women would have gone into hysterics at some point during all of this."
"Are you an expert on women, Mr. Riker?" Laurel shifted just enough so she could see his face. The moonlight softened his normally hard expression and lent shadows to the clean lines of brow and jaw.
"I've known my share." The response was said with a hint of cynical amusement.
With his potent good looks, he probably had. Even with his reputation it was easy enough to suppose he could find female company if he wanted it. Curiously, she asked, "Do you have a sweetheart somewhere?"
"It's a pity." She could hear the strong, steady thud of his heart and his scent, a woodsy mixture of male and the outdoors, was inexplicably intriguing.
"Why is that a pity?"
She hesitated, not sure what made her venture into such a personal discussion with a man known for his lethal ability with a gun, not to mention he was apparently also a thief. "You aren't all bad," she said finally. "Maybe if you--"
"I hope you aren't about to tell me the right woman could redeem me, Miss Daniels." He shifted a little as he interrupted, his powerful body moving against hers. "That's an illusion you need to get out of your pretty head right away. I may not believe in violence against women, but that doesn't show anything except a legacy of marginal decency from a childhood I think of now as a distant dream."
"You are very much more decent than any of those men who took me off the train." It was true, without an audience, he had been both respectful and solicitous.
"Yeah, well, I'm sorry, ma'am, that's not much of a compliment."
She couldn't argue that point. Just the thought of Ferris Norton with his pawing hands and lascivious sneer made her feel ill. "No," she admitted, "I suppose it isn't."
An owl called, the sound drifting in the night. A light, cool breeze had stirred and she felt it brush her cheek, though she felt warm and content cradled in his arms.
In the arms of the Cal Riker. It was a ludicrous thought, but then again, the entire abduction seemed unreal, as if someone else had lived it.
"Why did you join up with them?" The question seemed a natural one. "Obviously it wasn't for the money, otherwise you would have kept your share. It isn't because you enjoy their company either, I got that easy enough."
"And here earlier I was thinking you were something I didn't reckon I'd ever run across, a female who didn't ask a bunch of questions." He drawled the words in that soft southern accent she found so attractive.
Defensively, she said, "It's natural to be curious, especially since I am forced to trust you at this point."
"Don't." The word was abrupt and edgy.
"Trust me. Not for one minute. I'm not worthy of it, and I don't want the responsibility. Just because I didn't force you last night doesn't mean I wasn't thinking about what it would be like if you were willing. In fact, I'm pretty sure you noticed I was."
How he'd moved against her wasn't something she'd likely forget. Even though they hadn't done what he pretended they were doing, he had still pushed her legs apart and lain between them. How easily he had subdued her with his superior weight and strength was a sobering reminder of her vulnerability. "I noticed," she admitted, her voice low and a slow blush burning her cheeks.
"Your problem is, Miss Daniels, you are one very pretty young lady. Maybe the prettiest I've ever seen."
His hand lifted and he touched her cheek very lightly with his long fingers, the caress just a brush but the contact sending a jolt of awareness through her entire body.
...if you were willing...
His voice was husky. "I'm going to guess your father has his hands full keeping all those hungry ranch hands away from you. For his sake, I hope you don't have any sisters."
"One brother," Laurel managed to say, aware he was staring at her mouth. Her pulse fluttered in her throat as she saw his lashes--ridiculously long and thick for a man--drift downward a fraction as he bent his head. Warm breath fanned her cheek. She vaguely heard herself ask, "What are you doing?"
"Showing you why you can't trust me. Maybe I didn't take advantage of you last night, but for twenty thousand surely you owe me a kiss."