Sex in the Old West [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Jillian Hart & Lynna Banning & Carol Finch
eBook Category: Romance/Historical Fiction
eBook Description: An outlaw on the run, a ranger tracking his brother, a rancher gifted with horses--hard men living hard and dangerous lives--lose their hearts to strong-willed, warm-hearted women in these sizzling tales of romance and desire on the western frontier. Bundle includes The Horseman, The Ranger and the Redyhead and The Last Honest Outlaw.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Historical
Fictionwise Release Date: November 2007
7 Reader Ratings:
Montana Territory, 1882
I should be holding my baby now. Katelyn Green sat up in bed and buried her face in her hands, unable to hide from the grief. Pain filled her up, cold and dark as the night. She didn't want to feel it; the loss was overwhelming. She was empty, her stomach strangely quiet.
By all rights, she ought to be cradling her daughter, safe and warm in her arms.
But instead she had this horrible sorrow, deep like a well and as dark. With a groan she shifted carefully, ignoring the physical pain the early birth had brought her. She climbed from the bed as if she could escape her sadness, but it followed her like the gloom to the window where she leaned her forehead against the frosty glass.
If only the baby hadn't come early. If only she had lived.
Try not to think of it and maybe you'll be all right. She willed her heart to be as cold as the glass at her brow. As icy as the frigid world outside her window. As quiet as the hard frost that painted the black reaching limbs of the leafless trees a solid snowy white and coated the vast Montana prairie with a frozen hush.
The moon was out, a bright round disk that warmed the ice-cold light from a thousand stars scattered across the void of night. The silvered light glinted across the prairie, as if more stars had tumbled to earth and still shone where they had fallen in the rises and draws of the high plains.
Like a lure, the night beckoned her, as if in those deep shadows where the moonlight and stardust did not reach, Katelyn could hide forever in the cold and night. Surely the grief could not follow her there.
"What are we gonna do with her?" a man's deep voice demanded from the kitchen down the hall.
A voice hard and violent with anger. Katelyn shivered, her insides coiling up into a hard knot. She feared her stepfather, Cal Willman, but not as much as the husband who'd cast her out.
"She's not staying with us much longer." Cal sounded adamant and forceful, the way he always did when he'd been drinking.
"She's my daughter. I guess I have to help her." Her mother's voice answered, perplexed and put-upon, sounding thin and torn.
Katelyn could picture her mother in the parlor, hands to her stomach, helpless to know what to do. Katherine Lyn Willman was not good at decisions or seeing past her own needs. It was a weakness of character and one of heart.
Katelyn knew what her mother would say next. She'd learned from the hard experience of growing up in this house. And from similar conversations her parents had had about her since she'd arrived five weeks ago.
"But we must consider our reputation." Mother's words vibrated with the worry of it. "I've had plenty of sympathy from my friends. They say it's terrible how her husband set her aside."
"Terrible? It's scandalous. It's ruining my business, that's what it's doing, and I can't have much more of it."
"Yes, but if we cast her out, think of how that would make us look."
"But she's useless, nothing but a burden—"
Useless. That's what Brett had called her, the man who'd vowed in front of God to honor and cherish her. Katelyn squeezed her eyes shut, soaking in the cold draft seeping through the single-paned glass.
If only she'd had someplace else to go. It hadn't been easy coming back. Walking the mile from town after a difficult birth and surgery three days after losing her baby, a girl child and not a son. You're useless to me, Brett had told her. Worthless and replaceable.
He was a judge, and he'd found a way to dissolve the legal ties of their marriage.
"No decent man will have her." Her stepfather sounded deeply disgusted. "It's not as if we can find someone to marry her. She's barren."
"When she's well, she could help with the housework. We'd be able to get by without a second housemaid."
"Did you hear me, woman?" Cal's disdain rang bitter and cold as the night outside. "I don't want to cast my eyes on that daughter of yours. She's a disgrace, and I have my business to think of."
Katelyn covered her ears, refusing to listen to her mother's answer, for it would be filled with her own selfish worries, as always. This was no home, no refuge, the way it had always been. This place was only another form of hell that she'd married to escape.
And the joke was on her. Marriage had been worse than this place, and now she had nowhere to go, no one to turn to, and her future was gone, vanished like a puff of smoke in midair, evaporating as if it never had been.
Her stepfather had said it. No decent man would want her. And she had to wonder if there were any decent men, husbands who treated their wives with tenderness and honor.
Maybe there were no men like that, like the princes in the fables she'd read about as a child, or heroes in the novels she so loved to read. Heroes of heart and courage and integrity were fiction, and nothing more.
What am I going to do? She couldn't stay here, and she wasn't yet strong enough to leave. Hopelessness lashed through her, smarting like the tip of a bullwhip against the inside of her rib cage.
I can't stay here a moment longer. She had to escape, even if only for a few minutes. Her fingers glided over the glass panes. She unlatched the lock with a flick of her thumb.
Copyright © 2007 Harlequin Books S.A.