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by Aurora Rose Lynn
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: Book one in the Riding Shotgun Series Life in a small town brothel has been difficult for beautiful Emma Brewster. When she sets out on a stagecoach for her new life in Kansas City, she rides away from the only man who treated her with respect. But Branson has other ideas and is only too willing to teach her a lesson about leaving him behind...
eBook Publisher: Total-e-bound, 2008 http://www.total-e-bound.com
eBookwise Release Date: September 2008
28 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [53 KB]
Reading time: 29-40 min.
"Careful for your step, Ms. Brewster."
Emma lifted her silk skirts with one hand and set the other in the stagecoach driver's bulky paw. This was the beginning of a new life, she thought with a mixture of enthusiasm and fear. She guessed he probably knew who she was, but she didn't care as she tipped her head back and gave him a wide smile. It was the first time in eight years she'd actually smiled at a man without offering sex in the brothel where she'd spent that time.
Her heart sang as he returned her smile with a careful gruff upturn of his chapped lips. "Are you sure you're up to this trip, Miss?" he asked solicitously. "Them Indians ain't no white man's friend."
Emma settled herself facing forward on the hard, damask-covered seat and regally spread her dark mauve skirts about her. She was no longer beholden to any man. She was free. "I'm not afraid of anyone," she said, eyeing the driver with a full gaze.
"Right," he muttered, giving her the distinct impression she didn't know exactly what she was getting herself into. "We're off then."
Moments later, the vividly painted stagecoach lurched forward, and Emma was off to her new life in Kansas City. The interior sported delicate gold trim and the outside of the coach was painted a vivid red with bright yellow trim. On the door was a delicate hand-painted landscape. The sun cast short, early afternoon shadows on the narrow, dirt streets but no one waved farewell although a young boy ran alongside hollering and whooping. The wheels rattled and dust billowed under the hooves of the four horses pulling the vehicle. In Kansas City, with her savings, Emma vowed she would go into business as a respectable seamstress. She'd be able to hold her head high and look friend or foe straight in the eye.
She couldn't say she would miss anyone in the brothel. Not that anyone had mistreated her, but she'd had her share of drunken louts groping her body. Only one of the dozens of men had caught her fancy, and briefly, for a few minutes at most, she'd imagined herself in love with the tall, dark stranger who'd bestowed flowers, small trinkets and fancy chocolates on her. Branson had never treated her with anything but respect, had never drank to excess or presented himself as uncouth or foulmouthed. He'd been a rare gentleman, the kind of man a woman, a well-bred one, could easily love--if the woman believed in love and hadn't had a past. Emma didn't pride herself on servicing the needs of the miners in the small town, but she'd done what she had to do after, at seventeen, she'd been kicked out of the orphanage where she'd barely survived. If there was a thing called love in the world, it hadn't made its appearance in hers.
The coach left the small town behind and jolted into the desert-like country. Tall reeds waved rhythmically in the breeze. Black-eyed Susans dotted the edge of the dirt road. Dust rose from the dry ground, enveloping everything, including Emma in her silk gown. However, she didn't regret wearing the finery one bit. She was a lady and would act every bit like one.
Her thoughts returned to Branson. She hadn't told him she was leaving, had never even discussed the possibility with him. She hadn't felt the need, and she supposed she was reluctant to tell him anything personal about herself when he shared nothing about who he was. She'd heard, from Mel, another one of the brothel women, that he was on the make, but Mel hadn't been able to tell her more than that. Emma guessed that like herself, many in the small town stayed only as long as they made a buck, and when the marshal went after them or the going got rough, they left without warning.
Branson didn't strike her as the kind of man who fled the law. She remembered gazing into his eyes one night and finding herself holding her breath. The man was strikingly handsome. And big in all the right places. She was tiny compared to him, with a slim waist and small breasts, easy enough for him to 'palm her delicate beauties', he'd told her once with a wicked twinkle in his eyes. When he strolled into a room, he owned it with a presence that dominated everything and everyone around him.
Her thoughts drifted to that day, he'd caught her watching him when he'd purportedly been sleeping after what had been an unusually demanding sexual escapade. She'd reached out with a forefinger to touch his lower lip, and as her flesh had met his, his eyes had flashed open.