Danger lurks in the mountains of New Mexico when sheriff-turned-bounty-hunter Brock MacDermott goes on the prowl for infamous outlaw Zeb Logan. Logan killed Brock’s brother and his family in an ambush, and Brock has never forgiven himself for failing to keep them safe.
Driven by his single-minded mission to make Logan pay, he rides from town to town on a lonely quest, careful to keep emotional attachments at arm’s length—until young, beautiful Stevie Rae Buchanan insists on joining his hunt. Stevie Rae’s father was also brutally murdered by Logan, and she won’t rest until the outlaw is either behind bars or dead.
There’s no room for romance when you’re chasing down a dangerous criminal, but when undeniable feelings develop between them, Stevie Rae and Brock must decide whether capturing Logan is worth sacrificing everything else.
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Chapter 1: New Mexico 1885
Stephanie Raelene Buchanan, Stevie Rae to those who knew and loved her, slouched in her chair in the corner of Hagan’s Saloon and watched the room darken as Brock MacDermott opened the batwing doors, his broad shoulders blocking the sunlight. A hush settled over the occupants as all eyes turned toward him. Even the piano player missed a few keystrokes in his rendition of “Camptown Races,” which didn’t seem to make much difference.
“Brock, honey!” A woman straightened against the long mahogany bar running the length of the room, feathers fluttering from a twist in her flaming red hair. She pulled the strap of her maroon and black gown back up her shoulder, patting the attached silk flower for good measure, then directed her attention to the man behind the bar.
“Winston, whiskey for Mr. MacDermott.”
No smile graced Brock’s face as he took careful measure of each and every person in the room. Stevie Rae held her breath as his gray glare fell upon her then released it when his gaze drifted on to the next person. Seemingly satisfied, he sauntered into the saloon as if he hadn’t a care in the world and yet, she knew better. He had a loose-hipped gait, but she could see the tension in him—his eyes darted from one side of the room to the other.
Did he expect trouble? Here in Little River? In Hagan’s Saloon?
Well, of course, he does. He probably expects trouble everywhere he goes.
“Pepper,” he said, acknowledging the woman now rushing across the floor, a glass of whiskey in one hand, the bottle in the other. He pulled his hat from his head, revealing a wealth of dark hair with just a touch of gray at the temples. He removed his dark brown duster and laid it across an empty chair, then took a seat at a small table with a long, drawn-out sigh. Pepper placed his glass as well as the bottle in front of him. “Thanks.”
Stevie Rae continued to watch from beneath the brim of her hat, fascinated by everything about him—the way he moved, the dark stubble on his face, and the tightness of the black shirt stretched across his wide chest. He was more handsome than she’d remembered him to be and his voice…well, his voice was something straight out of heaven.
She shook herself and clamped her lips together tighter to ignore the heat bubbling in her stomach.
He took a drink, tipping the glass back until all the liquid was gone, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed. He slid the glass onto the table, then ran his fingers through his hair before pouring himself another shot of Pepper’s whiskey.
She didn’t know him personally, had never met him, but she’d seen him before and knew of him. From Denver, Colorado, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and all places in between, everyone knew of the bounty hunter Brock MacDermott. His reputation, at least. No one could claim to know the man behind the reputation. Speculation abounded.
Some said he was a former military man. Others said he’d been a lawman in Texas. Or it could have been Colorado. Maybe Arizona.
No one in Little River seemed to know. He’d shown up one day a little over a year ago, bringing three outlaws to Sheriff Hardy, and had been back a few times since, but he never stayed long…only long enough to collect his money, send a couple of telegrams, have a drink, and perhaps a little tumble with one of Ruby’s girls, before he left again.
Rumor had it he always got his man…except for one…the same man Stevie Rae hunted. Zeb Logan. Thief. Cattle rustler. Bank robber. Murderer. No, cold-blooded murderer. Thinking about the man who had changed her life made her heart hurt all over again.
Stevie Rae took a sip of the whiskey in front of her and turned her attention back to Brock MacDermott. She hadn’t seen him in over six months, not until earlier today when she saw him ride into town with Hank “The Gun” Simms tied to the saddle of the horse behind him just moments after she had arrived in town empty-handed once again. Zeb Logan proved to be elusive prey, though she’d searched for him throughout the mountains and valleys of northern New Mexico—heading out several times in the four months since he’d killed her father.
She decided then and there she’d offer to ride along with him in his pursuit of Logan.
Two heads were bound to be better than one when it came to the outlaw. She didn’t even want the bounty on the man. She just wanted her revenge for the senseless killing of her father. Now, all she had to do was work up the nerve.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As with most writers, Marie has had a love affair with words for as long as she can remember. One of her fondest memories is of sitting in a rocking chair with her grandmother, reading “Little Golden” books. As she grew up, Marie read everything she could get her hands on – bookstores and libraries became her favorite places. In Marie’s opinion, there is nothing better than curling up in a comfortable chair and reading about far away places, history and ROMANCE and letting her imagination take flight. She will admit to being a romance junkie – from the moment she scoped out her first historical novel, saved up her babysitting money, and bought it, she wanted to be those women and live in those times and experience every ounce of romance she could.
The love affair has not stopped – in fact, it has grown over the years. On a trip to Arizona, where she now makes her home, Marie became inspired by the sometimes desolate yet beautiful landscape. She began to envision what it would be like to live in the past, when the west was untamed, when the good guys wore white hats, and the saloon girls always had hearts of gold. Marie says her romance with the west began with her first sunset over a sea of saguaro cacti but her inspiration doesn’t just come from the wild west. It comes from history itself. She is fascinated with pirates. Sailing ships. Trains. Men in uniform (or out of uniform). And lawmen with shiny badges.