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Jordan [The Buckhorn Brothers] [Secure]
by Lori Foster

Category: Romance
Description: Jordan Sommerville was a healer of helpless animals, rescuer of strays, a man who could seduce a woman with his voice alone. Yet he didn't use that power often. His brothers kidded that he was holding out for a paragon of virtue and not many in Buckhorn qualified. But then he met Georgia, and broke all his own rules. Georgia Barnes supported herself and her kids as a dancer--an exotic dancer. If Jordan Sommerville didn't like it, he could take a hike. So what if he was the most caring, gentle, desirable man she'd ever known--he was still a man like all the rest. Surely he couldn't be as perfect as he looked--or could he?
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Special Edition,
eBookwise Release Date: July 2007

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Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [315 KB]

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1

THE SWINE.

Jordan Sommerville stared at the hand-painted sign positioned crookedly over the ramshackle building. Visible from the roadway, the sign boasted some of the worst penmanship he'd ever seen. The bright red letters seemed to leap right out at him.

He cursed as another icy trickle of rain slid down the back of his neck. He could hear the others behind him, murmuring in subdued awe as they took in the sights and sounds of the bar. It was late, it was dark, and for September, it was unseasonably cool. Surely there didn't exist a more idiotic way to spend a Friday night.

The idea of trying to convince a bar owner to institute a drink limit, especially a bar owner who had thus far allowed quite a few men to overimbibe, seemed futile. Jordan started forward, anxious to get it over with.

Somehow he'd become the designated leader of the five-man troop, a dubious honor he'd regretfully accepted. The men had been organized by Zenny, a retired farmer who was best described as cantankerous—on his good days. Then there was Walt and Newton, who claimed to be semi-retired from their small-town shops, though they still spent every day there. And Howard and Jesse, the town gossips who volunteered for every project, just to make sure they got to stick their noses into anything that was going on.

Jordan stopped at the neon-lighted doorway to the seedy saloon and turned to face the men. A strobing beer sign in the front window illuminated their rapt faces. Jordan had to shout to be heard over the loud music and laughter blaring from inside the establishment.

"Now remember," he said, and though he used his customary calm tone, he infused enough command to hold all their attention, "we're going to talk. That's all. There'll be no accusations, no threats and absolutely, under no circumstances, will there be any violence. Understood?"

Five heads bobbed in agreement even as they looked anxiously beyond Jordan to the rambunctious partying inside. Jordan sighed.

Buckhorn County was dry, which meant anyone who drank had the good sense to stay indoors and keep it private. There'd been too many accidents on the lake, mostly from vacationers who thought water sports and alcohol went hand in hand, for the citizens to want it any other way.

But this new bar, a renovated old barn, had opened just over the county line, so the same restriction didn't apply. Lately, some of its customers had tried joyriding through Buckhorn in the dead of the night, hitting fences, tearing up cornfields, terrorizing the farm animals, and generally making minor mayhem. No one had been seriously injured, yet, but in the face of such moronic amusements, it was only a matter of time.

So the good citizens of Buckhorn had rallied together and, at the suggestion of the Town Advisory Board, decided to try talking to the owner of the bar. They hoped he would be reasonable and agree to restrict drinks to the rowdier customers, or perhaps institute a drink limit for those that leaned toward nefarious tendencies and overindulgence.

Jordan already knew what a waste of time that would be. He had his own very personal reasons for loathing drunks. He would have gently refused to take part in the futile endeavor tonight, except that he and his brothers were considered leading citizens of Buckhorn, and right now, due to a nasty flu that had swept through the town, Jordan was the only brother available to lead.

With a sigh, he walked through the scarred wooden doors and stepped inside. The smoke immediately made his lungs hurt. Mixed with the smells of sweat and the sickening sweet odor of liquor, it was enough to cause the strongest stomach to lurch.

The dank, dark night worked as a seal, enclosing the bar in a sultry cocoon. The walls were covered with dull gray paint. Long fluorescent lights hung down from the exposed ceiling beams, adding a dim illumination to an otherwise gloomy scene.

Men piled up behind Jordan, looking over his shoulder, breathing on his neck, tsking at what they saw as salacious activity. Which didn't, of course, stop them from ogling the scene in deep fascination. Jordan could almost feel their anticipation and knew the evening was not destined to end well.

Hoping to locate someone in charge, Jordan looked around. A heavy, sloping counter seated several men, all of them hanging over their beers while a painfully skinny, balding man refilled drinks with the quickness of long practice. At the end of the bar stood a massive, menacing bouncer, the look on his face deliberately intimidating. Jordan snorted, seeing the ploy for what it was; a way to keep the peace in a place that cultivated disagreements by virtue of what it was and the purpose it served.

There were booths lining the walls and a few round tables cluttering up the middle of the floor. Overall, the place seemed crowded and loud, but not lively. An atmosphere of depression hung in the air despite the bawdy laughter.

Then suddenly the noise of conversation, clinking glasses and rowdy music died away. In its place a heavy, expectant hush filled the air. Jordan felt the hair on his arms tingle with a subtle awareness. Everyone stared at a low stage to the left of the front door, almost in the center of the bar. It couldn't have been more than eight feet wide and ten feet long. A faded, threadbare curtain at the back of the stage rustled but didn't open.

Jordan stared, feeling as mesmerized as everyone else, though he had no idea why. Behind him, old man Zenny coughed. Walt eased closer. Newton bumped into his left side.

Copyright © 2000 by Lori Foster.


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