Cowboy musician Tyler Garrett has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to put aside his rough-and-tumble rancher’s lifestyle and realize his dream. He’s on the road to Dallas to record a demo when that dream gets kicked sideways by a beautiful woman on the run.
Leah Benson will do whatever it takes to keep her daughter safe. But when her dangerous past catches up with her, she needs a hero—and luckily for her, Tyler Garrett was born and bred for the role.
They made a bed for Ty on the lumpy sofa. He’d insisted he could sleep in the truck, but gave in when Gran insisted.
“In the old days, the hands used to stay in the bunkhouse,” Gran said. “There are beds and a kitchen. It used to be real comfortable.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Ty said dutifully.
“But, it’s not clean out there. You just make yourself comfy right here.” She patted the sofa invitingly.
Leah cast a last glance at Ty and headed for Gran’s spare room, Gracie in tow. She found their nightclothes among the hurriedly packed bags and dressed Gracie for bed. Tucking her in, Leah gave her a kiss on the forehead. Eddie jumped on the foot of the bed and curled up too.
Gracie mumbled a hurried prayer, ending with, “an’ God bless Mommy, an’ Gran, an’ Ty. Amen.”
Leah’s breath caught in her throat. How could this big cowboy come to mean so much to them both in so few hours? How is Gracie going to feel when he’s gone? She swallowed hard. How am I going to feel?
She leaned down to brush a kiss on her daughter’s forehead, and pulled the covers up under her chin. “You go to sleep now.”
Dutifully, Gracie snuggled down beneath the quilt and closed her eyes, her angelic expression the picture of peace and contentment.
Gazing at her child’s sweet face, a knot formed in her chest. This is the best place for us. I haven’t been able to give Gracie much, up until now, but maybe that will change. She gave herself a mental head slap. It will change. Things will get better.
Leah thought about her options. Maybe she could get a job back in Langston. It was the closest town and where Gracie would be enrolled in school, come September. She wasn’t quite sure what she might be able to do, but she was used to hard work, so surely someone would give her a chance.
The house was quiet. Tiptoeing out of their room, Leah padded down the hall toward the kitchen in her bare feet. Silently, she took a glass out of the cupboard and filled it with water from the tap. Moonlight spilled in through the window, bathing her in a soft glow as she lifted the glass to her lips. When she’d finished, she set the empty glass in the sink.
Turning, she almost stumbled over Lucky. The dog had been so quiet she hadn’t heard him approach. Leaning down, she stroked his head. “Hey there, stealth doggy. You snuck up on me.” She spoke in hushed tones, barely above a whisper. The dog swished his tail from side to side.
“Do you need some water too? I put a big bowl right over here.” She checked the corner of the kitchen where she had left one of Gran’s mixing bowls earlier, but found it empty. “Oh, thirsty, doggy. Let me give you a refill.” She held the bowl under the tap and set it on the floor, tucked in the corner so no one would run into it. “There you go.”
The dog began to lap noisily. Leah knelt down beside him to run her hand over the silky fur. “Good boy” she whispered and rose from her crouch. When she turned, she ran smack into a brick wall. A warm muscled brick wall with arms. She stifled a scream as she pushed off the wall and was gathered into a rough embrace.
“Oh, Ty! You scared me.” Swallowing hard, she braced her hands against his powerful bare chest. The sensation sent her heart into a flutter. Longing surged through her. Longing for what, she wasn’t quite certain, but longing nonetheless.
“Sorry,” he murmured, his voice deep and raspy. “I thought Lucky was getting into something. He held her firmly against his warm torso.
She swallowed again. “N—No, I’m sorry I woke you.” Gazing up, she couldn’t read his expression in the darkness.
He expelled a breath, staring down at her moon-washed face. “You are just too pretty for my own good.”
A rage of desire swirled low in her belly. Her pulses pounded in her ears. With no direction, she rose on her tiptoes and lifted her chin.
He made a sort of growl back in his throat before his arms tightened around her and he lowered his head. His kiss was soft, tentative at first, and then deepened. Lifting her off her feet, he devoured her mouth with hungry kisses. Heat from his bare flesh infiltrated her thin gown, setting fire to her desire.
His hunger seemed to fuel hers, as the kiss continued to escalate.
Passion bloomed in her chest, sending a flush of pleasure throughout her being. When she came up for air, she had wrapped both arms around his neck. Gasping for air, she shivered. Everything was happening too fast. The room seemed to be spinning, or was it just her head? Heat emanating from his warm skin sent a spiral of lust to her core. She stroked her fingertips against the side of his face. The rough stubble of his beard rasped against her cheek, her neck, her shoulder. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. Holding her tight he gave her a squeeze before setting her on her feet. “I had no business doing that.”
Stunned, Leah stepped back, “No—I…I mean…”
Ty rubbed her cheek with the back of his fingers. “I’m sorry.” He stepped away and, giving one rueful glance at her, he strode from the kitchen leaving Leah leaning against the cabinet, shaking in the aftermath of their encounter.