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Texas Bluff [Secure eReader]
eBook by Linda Warren

eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Luke Chisum spent most of his life running from his past. Now a family crisis has brought the former River Bluff daredevil home. Home to the small-town girl he still loves--and the secret that could tear them apart again. Sixteen years ago, Luke dated Becky on a dare and broke her heart. Now he's back, rekindling desire and tempting Becky to give him a second chance. But she can't risk Luke discovering the truth about the child she's kept from him all these years. Becky isn't the only one keeping secrets. A shocking revelation about his own family is about to test Luke in ways he never imagined--as a father and a son.... Luke Chisum spent most of his life running from his past. Now a family crisis has brought the former River Bluff daredevil home. Home to the small-town girl he still loves--and the secret that could tear them apart again. Sixteen years ago, Luke dated Becky on a dare and broke her heart. Now he's back, rekindling desire and tempting Becky to give him a second chance. But she can't risk Luke discovering the truth about the child she's kept from him all these years. Becky isn't the only one keeping secrets. A shocking revelation about his own family is about to test Luke in ways he never imagined--as a father and a son....

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Superromance
Fictionwise Release Date: February 2008


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CHAPTER ONE

TO LUKE CHISUM, COMING HOME was like walking naked down Main Street. He felt exposed. Vulnerable. Everyone in the county knew every misdeed he'd ever done and they never missed a chance to remind him. He'd spent years running from his past, but the moment he stepped foot in River Bluff, Texas, he became daredevil Luke, eighteen, wild and a little crazy.

The last thing he needed first thing this morning was a confrontation with the woman who more than anyone stirred memories of his misspent youth—Rebecca Lynn Parker. But there she was, standing on the sidewalk in front of the medical clinic. With a sigh, he swerved his truck into a parking spot.

The morning sun glistened off her auburn hair, a display of fiery waves and sparkling sunlight. As he reached to turn off the ignition, he was unable to look away. Not from her, not from a long list of regrets and recriminations.

She'd married, and her last name was Howard now. He'd never get used to that. The thought settled in his stomach like a pile of rusty nails. It had been his fault. He'd had his chance with Becky and he'd blown it—big-time.

One of those reminders that followed him everywhere.

Like the scar across his side and the gash on his leg.

He removed his keys, never taking his eyes off her. She barely resembled the young girl from their high school days. Then, her unmanageable curly hair had been usually pulled back into a fuzzy ponytail. She'd worn glasses, had never worn makeup and had a sprinkling of freckles across her nose. She hadn't been beautiful by any means, but she'd had a fresh, innocent appeal that even a foolish boy of eighteen could recognize.

Luke shifted uneasily in his seat.

Even though she was shy and quiet, everyone liked her—including Luke. She'd helped him with his homework more times than he could remember. Being the sheriff's daughter kept her out of the dating scene, though. Sheriff Hubbard Parker got the message across to all the boys—"Mess with my daughter and it's jail or hell, my choice." Everyone knew what jail meant but no one was sure what the hell part meant, and they weren't brave enough to find out.

One night as his high school Texas Hold 'Em poker buddies were playing and drinking, they talked about who they were going to take to an upcoming school dance. Jake, Brady and Cole already had dates. Luke had just broken up with Candace Spangler and decided he wasn't going.

The guys insisted he had to go, but he pointed out that all the girls had been paired up by now. Jake said he could ask Becky. Everyone laughed. Brady looked right at Luke and dared him. They all knew that baiting Luke got results.

Jake double dared him. Cole topped that with a triple dare.

Luke folded out of the round. "Y'all think I won't do it."

Brady called and won the hand. Shuffling the cards, Brady replied, "I don't think even you have enough guts." He dealt the hole cards around the table.

Luke picked up his two cards, not comfortable with his friends thinking he was afraid of the sheriff, even though he was. "I'll ask her."

Cole folded. "Well, Luke, you can be the first one to find out what jail or hell means. Or which comes first."

The guys laughed, but Luke had made up his mind. The next day he asked Becky and she accepted. The night of the dance he stood on the sheriff's front porch thinking he had more guts than common sense. The urge to run was strong.

The sheriff opened the door. He stood over six feet, and was broad and muscular. Luke was tall himself, but Hub Parker seemed like a giant. The gun on his hip reinforced Luke's urge to run. Then Becky came into the room. His fear quickly subsided. Her blue eyes sparkled and her warm smile welcomed him. For the first time he realized she was pretty.

"Good night, Daddy." She stood on tiptoes to kiss her father's cheek.

The sheriff pointed a finger at Luke. "No speeding with my daughter in your truck." The growl in his voice reminded Luke of Mr. Bailey's junkyard dog.

"Yes, sir," Luke replied without taking a breath.

"And, Chisum, you have my daughter home by midnight or I'll come looking for you."

"Yes, sir." Luke backed out of the house knowing hell included a large dose of fear, just as he was experiencing at that moment.

He soon forgot about the sheriff. He kept an eye on his watch most of the night, though, but he and Becky had a good time. They danced, laughed and talked. He didn't do much talking with other girls, and he found he liked talking to Becky.

At eleven they left the dance and went to the Dairy Queen for a burger and fries. Then he took her home. He didn't kiss her because he knew the sheriff was on the other side of the door. But he'd wanted to.

The next Monday in school he couldn't wait to see her. Becky wore a perpetual smile and it was one of the things he liked about her. She was friendly, nice and sweet. That was why everyone called her Sweet Becky Lynn.

He never noticed those qualities in other girls. Hot and sexy were the qualities at the top of his list. A great personality wasn't required of his dates and neither was scintillating conversation. He had been such a puffed-up idiot in high school. But he hadn't been a complete loser—at least he'd recognized all of Becky's good qualities.

Copyright © 2008 by Linda Warren.


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