Abandoned by his father and betrayed by his half-brother and fiancee on the eve of his wedding, JAKE GALLAGHER no longer believes in love. Though he longs to go home, his undercover work for the Texas Rangers keeps him in a lawlessTexasborder town. Even though it jeopardizes his mission he refuses to stand by and watch outlaws rape and murder a young woman. Getting shot and losing his memory wasn’t part of his plan.
While fleeing from her stepfather’s plans to steal their ranch, CHRISTINA GOODWIN witnesses her brother’s murder and is left in the hands of a merciless band of outlaws. Raised in a strict convent, Christina has little knowledge of men or the world, its dangers and temptations.
Frightened and alone, she is forced to accept the help of the dark gunslinger who rescues her. Though drawn to Jake’s potent masculinity, she hesitates to trust him, fearing her stepfather has sent him to bring her back. Unsure of Jake’s motives for helping her, she struggles against him, determined to find a way to avenge her brother’s death and regain control of her ranch from her stepfather.
First Kiss Scene
“You did just fine. I’m living proof.” Jake watched with pleasure as a smile lit up her face. He returned it. “Tell me how your brother came to hire me? Where we met? Maybe you can help jog my memory.”
A panicked looked crossed her face and she went suddenly pale. “I-I, w-we…” Her gaze darted around refusing to settle on him. Then with an audible breath she regained control. “I’m not sure how or where Christopher met you. He never said. I was staying in, um, in Ramblin waiting for him. He brought you there and we headed out forSt. Louis.”
Jake listened to the girl’s lies. Like before, she didn’t do it well. Her nervous plucking at her skirt and the way her gaze avoided his gave her away. “If we met in Ramblin for me to guide you north toSt. Louis, how did we end up in Peaceful which is southeast?”
Color crept into her cheeks as she stared at him in horror. “You remember?”
For some reason she didn’t want him to remember, which made him more determined to do so. “No, but I know where Peaceful is and it isn’t on the way toSt. Louisfrom Ramblin. So how did we end up there?”
“You had some business there.” Her chin came up, but her eyes didn’t quite meet his. “I don’t know what it was. You didn’t say. But that’s where Christopher died. Can we not talk about this anymore? Please.” Her voice broke on the last word and she bent her head to hide the tears he saw gathering in her eyes.
As much as he needed the truth, he found himself unwilling to push her. Her tears softened the hard knot of anger inside him.
A tendril of hair fell forward across her face and he reached out to brush it away. His knuckles touched the tender skin of her cheek and lingered. She looked up with startled eyes, her lips parted in question. Her lies forgotten, his gaze locked with hers. He caressed her face then threaded his fingers through her hair. Like silk it flowed over his hands.
Cupping the back of her head in his hand, he leaned toward her. The tempo of her pulse increased beneath his fingertips. Her breathing grew shallow and her eyelids fluttered shut. At his gentle tug, she swayed into him. His other arm went around her back and pulled her into his embrace. With a soft sigh she surrendered to his caress. Without hesitation he slanted his lips across hers.
Sensations swamped him, his own hot, pounding hunger and her sweet, warm yielding. His arms tightened as he deepened the kiss. With a gentle probe he urged her lips apart. After a slight hesitation, she allowed him entrance and his tongue explored the moist recesses of her mouth.
Take it slow, gentle, Jake warned himself. One hand massaged the small of her back and molded her slim frame to his harder one. The other anchored her head so she could not escape his kiss, even though she showed no signs of wishing to. With difficulty he held his passion in check.
He filled his nostrils with her scent, the smell of warm, willing woman. Pulling his lips from hers he buried his face in her hair and struggled to control his desire.
“So sweet, so soft,” he whispered. “Do you know how I want you?”
How he longed to strip her of her clothing. The urge to lay her in the fragrant grass and drown in her velvet warmth beat like a drum in his blood.
Her hands clutched his shoulders, her fingers kneading his flesh as she pressed herself against him. Her lips sought his. She whimpered when he pulled back.
“Slow and easy, Kitten.”
After trying her hand at a variety of careers: retail sales, insurance
underwriter, video store owner, home day care provider, and motherhood, Elysa
Hendricks, a longtime reader of romance, sat down to write a short contemporary romance. When her heroine turned out to be a winged, telepathic alien, Elysa decided she enjoyed writing stories set in different places and times. Fortunately for the reading public that book remains hidden under her bed along with the evil killer dust bunnies.
After spending some time (longer than she cares to remember or tell) learning
how to write she then penned a series of fantasy romances. GEMINI MOON, CRYSTAL MOON, SHADOW MOON and FORBIDDEN MOON are available from ImaJinn Books.
THIS HEART FOR HIRE is the first of two books set in 1870’s westTexaswhere a convent reared innocent and a gunslinger with no memory struggle to survive and find love while crossing the dangerous westTexasfrontier.
With THE BABY RACE and COUNTERFEIT LOVE Elysa penned two short contemporary love stories set in the real world of small townAmerica.
While living inIllinoisshe helped found the Windy City Chapter and the
Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal Chapters of Romance Writers of America as well as taught workshops on writing at writer’s conferences and at local community colleges. Recently relocated to centralOhioshe’s happy to be part of the Central Ohio Fiction Writer family. Someday she dreams of writing on a laptop while sitting on a tropical beach.