The ranch is in Texas and Claire has been informed she is in danger of losing it if she doesn’t marry, as a woman the law won’t recognise her ownership.
Claire hates the thought of marriage and family thanks to her philandering father; but to keep the ranch that she loves she knows she has no other choice but to marry.
She refuses to marry anyone from her ranch, or in town, so her neighbour suggests she write to a mail order bride agency. Claire writes to an agency in Forbes and explains her situation.
She tells in her letter that the marriage will be one of convenience with none of the privileges normally shared between a husband and wife. The man will have a share of the profits but, if he decides to end the marriage and leave, he will have no claim on the ranch and Claire will be free to start again.
When her neighbour, Henry, suffers horse rustling and killings, the finger is pointed at Claire and her men. Henry knows it’s not them and decides he needs outside help to solve the crime. He visits his friend in Forbes who’s the head of the Rangers. Henry explains the situation to his friend and his friend helps out by talking to two of his Rangers who have just resigned to move on with their lives.
Peter Reynolds has just quit the Rangers to set himself up on a ranch. When his boss explains Claire’s situation he jumps at the chance to partly own an already established and successful horse ranch even it does involve marriage. Marriage is the last thing Peter wants after the betrayal he suffered but one of convenience in exchange for a ranch seems like a good offer.
When Claire’s horse is poisoned and she gets shot in broad daylight; Peter and his best friend, who is using Henry’s ranch as his cover so he can help Peter investigate, know they have to find the man responsible before someone gets killed.
Peter stays by Claire’s side while she recovers and he finds himself losing his heart to his brave little wife. Claire also finds a love she never believed in before she met Peter.
Their love is put in jeopardy when the shooter takes advantage of the men searching the mountains for him and he breaks into Claire’s room. He is determined to kill her!
Will Claire survive to be with the man who has finally broken down her barriers and captured her heart?
Henry Carlson climbed up the steps leading into the Ranger’s Office in Forbes. He had high hopes his long-time friend – William Campbell, head of the Rangers in Forbes, will be able to help him.
He approached the front counter and attracted the attention of a young clerk.
“May I help you sir?” the young girl, whose spectacles rested on the end of her nose, asked.
“I’d like to see William Campbell please.” Henry replied.
“I’ll see if he’s available.” the clerk began to walk from the front room.
“Tell him it’s Henry Carlson.” He called out as she approached the door leading out to the back.
The clerk returned in less than a minute with William a step or two behind her. “Henry, what the devil brings you here?” William shook hands with his friend.
“Got some bad trouble Bill, can we talk in your office?” Henry requested as he looked around at other people milling about.
“Yeah, course we can. Sally, bring us some coffee please?” William indicated for Henry to follow him.
The bespectacled clerk hurried away to fetch coffee.
William led Henry behind the counter, through the doorway he’d seen the clerk disappear through and down a corridor to his office.
They had known each other all their lives and had been close friends for most of it. They got together now and again for a meal and a chat to catch up on the latest happenings. He had never visited William at his office so he knew his friend would be concerned as to why he was here now.
While he had been a rancher for the past 40 years William had been a Ranger for just as long.
William had been married to Gwen for almost 35 years and, despite not having being blessed with children, they were still very much in love and happy. They were Godparents to both Howard and Mary and treated them as if they were their own.
As Henry and William sat down in their chairs, Sally arrived with the coffee and a plate full of oatmeal cookies. She placed the tray onto the centre of the desk, poured coffee into two mugs and left the office quietly closing the door behind her.
William placed one of the mugs in front of Henry and the other in front of himself before sitting back in his chair.
“What’s going on Henry? You haven’t ever needed to come here to the office before so I know it’s serious.”
Henry wrapped both hands around his mug and, as the warmth of the hot liquid penetrated his skin, he began. “Just on a week ago the men found the fence cut through and six horses were missing. Claire, from the property next to ours, offered her men and we searched both properties for two days but found nothing. Two days ago we found another section of fence between our two properties had been cut and another six horses were missing. The boys found them on Claire’s property; they were dead, their throats had been slit”
Henry paused to take a mouthful of coffee and felt the hot liquid burn as it slid down his throat. “Anyone who knows me and my men or Claire and her men knows that we would never harm a horse. I reckon it’s a stranger but I don’t know who or why and neither does she. Someone is trying hard to make me think it’s her or one of her men but they slipped up bad when they killed the horses.”
Henry slurped at his coffee. “I know for sure it isn’t anyone from the Flying J, Bill. Someone is trying to set me and Claire against each other. I’m real afraid someone is gonna get hurt if it keeps up and I couldn’t bear for anything to happen to Claire. You know I love her like my own daughter.”
William rubbed his hand over the fresh stubble on his chin and cheek. “Has anyone been angry about anything you or Claire might have done recently? Seems to me, from what you’re saying, someone is trying to cause real trouble between you two. You can’t think of any reason at all?”
“We can’t think of anything excepting Howard’s real angry that Claire wouldn’t walk out with him when he asked but he would never hurt our horses. Claire has hardly left the ranch since John and Vivienne were killed. She comes to see Mary but on the couple of occasions she’s been to town she hasn’t got anyone off side. Everyone’s been real good to her and you know she has got the softest heart of anyone we know. I have a suggestion if you are willing to listen.”
Henry drank more of his coffee as he waited for William’s response.
“Go ahead. I’m willing to listen and I’ll do what I can to help.”
“Well as you know when her Ma and Pa were killed it left Claire alone. Her Ma and Pa were only children so there aren’t any aunts or uncles. She needs to marry real soon if she wants to keep the ranch. I don’t wanna see her lose it. June and I have been giving her some advice.” Henry paused to finish his coffee.
“Trouble is, she doesn’t ever wanna marry nor have a family so she’s hoping for a kind of ‘marriage of convenience’ where some man will marry her and work alongside her as a pardner. She needs a man who doesn’t want a real marriage or family or any of the privileges of marriage. She’s willing for him to use the cathouse in town whenever the need arises but if he decides to leave he’ll have no claim to her ranch and she’ll be free to find someone else and try again.”
William was confused. “I don’t understand what this has to do with me.”
“I’m coming to that. I was hoping real hard that you might have a man here who was close to retiring and who would like the idea of ranching. He could investigate the horse thefts undercover. I know it’s a big ask Bill but we’re pretty desperate on both fronts. Claire isn’t fussed too much about age since it won’t be real anyway.”
Henry watched in silence as William finished his coffee; he could see he was thinking. He suddenly put down his mug and stood up. “Wait here. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Henry stayed seated as William walked out; he reached over and helped himself to a cookie.
Henry was pouring himself another coffee when William walked back in with two Rangers. He figured them to be in their late 20’s.
They were both tall men. Claire’s head would sit under their chins when she got close. One had jet black hair that rested on the collar of his shirt and he had dark brown eyes. The other had brown hair and golden brown eyes.
They had well-muscled chests, trim waists and slim hips. Henry noticed the twin colts slung low on both men. They were both extremely good looking. He dared to hope that one of them would be returning back to Claire’s ranch with him.
Henry stood up as William moved to one side and the two men stepped closer.
“Henry, this young fella is Peter Reynolds.” Henry held out his hand and the black haired Ranger shook it with a firm grip. “Pete, this is my very old friend, Henry,” he continued as they shook.
“Very pleased to meet you, sir.” Peter said politely before stepping back and letting the brown haired Ranger come closer.
“This is Cameron Holt.” Cameron shook Henry’s outstretched hand with an equally firm grip.
“Pleased to meet you sir.” he also said politely.
William asked for them to be seated so they could all talk. The two younger men dragged chairs up close to the desk before sitting. Once they were all settled William placed his hands on the desk and began.
“I’ll ask you all to sit and listen while I give you some background. I’ll explain what’s wanted and then you can ask questions; okay?”
The three men nodded their agreement.
“Henry, Pete here was a Marshall in Madigan County when I met him just on ten years ago. He was only 21 at the time and had a reputation for being both loyal and trustworthy. I finally managed to convince him to join us and he’s one of my finest men.” Peter smiled at the compliment from the boss he admired.
“Pete’s been saving hard for a ranch of his own and two weeks ago he gave me his three months’ notice. I hate the idea of losing him but if he is willing to help us this will be his last assignment.” William sat back and relaxed.
“Cameron has been a Ranger with me for ten years, he’s 29, and he’s moving on too. These two plan on ranching nearby each other as they’ve been best friends for years. While Pete doesn’t ever wanna marry or have a family; Cameron wants to settle down, find a wife and start a family. He wouldn’t do it while he was in such a dangerous job. Cameron is a real fine Ranger too.”
Henry was becoming more hopeful.
William glanced at the two Rangers he admired, they were watching him closely. “Henry has got trouble with horse rustlers and killers. He will be your last assignment.”
“What can we do?” Peter asked anxiously.
William explained about what had been happening at Henry and Claire’s ranches over the past week or so. Peter and Cameron could understand why Henry had come to them. This was a job that would be difficult for just a lone sheriff.
“Tell us what you want done” Cameron jumped in when he thought the older men were finished.
“This is where it gets a little tricky and real unusual so I’ll let Henry explain and remember men, you have every right to refuse and no-one will think any less of you.” William advised.
The young Rangers stared at each other in confusion. Neither man could understand why William would think they’d refuse an assignment to catch horse thieves and killers.
Henry began to explain his plan. “My neighbour, who I share a boundary with, Claire, has to marry to keep her ranch.” Henry watched as the two Rangers paled and his heart began to thump hard in his chest.
“She’s sent a letter to the agency here in Forbes to try and find a husband but she’s had no replies and she’s fast running out of time.” Henry sighed heavily.
“We’ve exhausted all other options and getting married is the only thing that will help her keep her ranch safe. Claire is real independent and she doesn’t want to marry or have a family. She needs a man who doesn’t want to marry or have children to pardner up with her so she can legally keep her ranch.”
Peter sat up in his chair and leaned forward with his elbows resting on his knees. Henry thought he was becoming more interested. “She has no objection to sharing the house. She’s prepared to offer an equal share of the profits, provided he does his share of the work, and he can visit the cathouse in town if he needs to. He’ll have to sign some legal papers which I’ve helped her have drawn up that say he’ll lay no claim to the ranch if he decides to leave.”
“Count me out. I wanna wife and family.” Cameron stated as he relaxed in his chair.
Peter watched as all eyes turned to him. “What kind of ranch does she run?”
“It’s all horses. She has a contract with the Army to provide horses every six months. She’s the best horse breaker you’d ever lay eyes on and her wranglers are the best in the business. It’s a real good, profitable ranch and it doesn’t have a mortgage.” Henry assured him.
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Charlotte Campbell is a beautiful 22 year old who has spent her life, since the age of 6, in boarding school in Boston. She has been raised as a lady and taught to keep her nose in the air and her manners impeccable. Neither her mother nor her father wanted her at home and her father didn’t want her at all!
When her mother passes she returns to the family home in Tulsa in the hopes she can stay and care for her father. Her father has other ideas and Charlotte is forced to leave.
When she answers an advertisement as a Governess on a ranch outside Fort Stockton her life becomes all that she’s dreamed until an unwelcome visitor snatches her from the man that she loves.
The race is on for Charlotte to be found before she perishes in a dark cave outside Lambert! Will Harrison find the stuck up governess he has fallen in love with?
“Do ya know where ya luggage is?” Harrison asked Charlotte.
“I have five large trunks that the guard said would be placed in the luggage room to await collection” Charlotte explained.
“Five! Lucky I brought the buckboard then ma’am. Let’s go see if we can find ‘em”
Harrison took Charlotte’s arm by the elbow to lead her to where her trunks should be but Charlotte shook his hand free. “I am quite capable of walking without your help thank you” she told Harrison primly.
Harrison; usually a gentle, easy going man; became annoyed at her attitude. “As ya wish ma’am” he said and strode on ahead. Charlotte had to almost run to keep up and she arrived at the luggage room out of breath.
She noticed her trunks stacked against the wall. “Those are mine” she pointed out as she attempted to catch her breath.
Harrison nodded and, leaving her standing in the middle of the room, he walked over to talk with the porter. “Could ya please ask ya men if they could help me get them five trunks onto me buckboard out front?”
“Certainly sir” the porter replied and called over three of his men.
The trunks were loaded and Harrison gave the porter and his men a few coins for their help before he went in search of Charlotte. He found her sitting on a chair in the far corner of the room and walked over to her.
“Ma’am; if’n ya ready ya luggage is loaded and the buckboard’s out front”
Charlotte nodded and stood up. She noticed Harrison begin to reach out his arm to escort her out to the front but he quickly thought better of it, lowered his arm, and walked out of the building. Charlotte was beginning to regret being so rude.
Charlotte followed Harrison as fast as she could and by the time she got out front she saw him sitting on the seat of the buckboard with the reins in his hands. She walked over and, lifting her skirts, she attempted to climb in. She lifted one leg and bounced on the other but she just couldn’t seem to get her skirts out of the way to get up onto the seat. Before she knew what was happening she lost her balance, and with a loud thud, she landed on her backside in the dust.
Harrison watched with amusement as Charlotte attempted to climb into the buckboard but he knew any offer to help her would probably be rejected so he stayed where he was. When she landed on her backside in the dust; it took all of his control not to burst into laughter. He watched as she sat with a stunned look on her face and then burst into tears.
“Would ya like some help Miss Campbell?” he asked gently.
“Yes please” she sobbed as she sat in the dust. Harrison quickly jumped down from his seat and went to her side. He lifted her up from the ground like she weighed no more than a feather and held her to him as she sobbed.
“I’m sorry Mr Tate. I’m tired, I’m dirty, I’m hungry and I’m scared” Charlotte confessed through her tears.
Harrison pushed her back and looked down into her face. “Let’s get ya to the ranch and ya can have a bath, somethin’ to eat and a sleep” He placed his fingers under her chin and tilted her face up to look at him. “Ya have nothin’ to be scared of here I promise ya” He took a handkerchief from his pocket and began wiping away her tears. “Ya ready to go?”
Charlotte nodded and he lifted her up onto the seat of the waiting buckboard. He climbed in beside her, lifted the reins and set off towards the ranch; Charlotte’s new home.
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Blind Acceptance – Book 1
Will Luke accept his son, Phillip’s blindness?
When Phillip is injured in a wagon accident and blinded for life; his father must come to terms with the fact that his only heir will be unable to run his beloved ranch unaided. He struggles to accept his son is still whole; even the beautiful teacher he employs to help Phillip can’t seem to break down Luke’s walls.
Then, without warning, there is an event on the ranch that will change their lives forever.
Received 4 1/2 star review from InD’tale Magazine and Crowned Heart for Excellence – November 2013
…..Phillip rifled through the things his father had stacked in the shed until he finally found his fishing pole.
“Phillip, please hurry up.” Marie snapped impatiently. She knew Jack would be waiting to take them to town.
“I found it, Ma. I’m coming now.” Phillip called over his shoulder as he pulled at his fishing pole. It was wedged under several other objects and as the pole came free they collapsed at his feet and began to spill out of the door.
Phillip put his pole on the ground and began putting things back in the shed.
“Just leave all that Phillip; I’ll help you put it away when we come back.” Phillip ran to his mother and held his pole up proudly. “We’ll have to get some worms, Ma, if we’re gonna catch fish. They’ll be in the mud on the bank. Pa showed me how to get them.”
Marie ignored what he said, took his free hand in hers, and began heading for the trees and the river.
Phillip’s small legs had to run to keep up with his mother’s fast pace. When he stumbled Marie tightened her grip causing him to cry out in pain.
“Ma, I don’t want to go any more. I wanna go back home.” Phillip began crying. He sensed something was wrong. He wanted to return to the comfort of the house and to Miss Meg who he knew he could trust.
Marie finally stopped and glared down at her son in disgust. “Don’t be such a cry baby. We’ll have such fun. Dry your eyes and let’s go.”
She handed Phillip a hankie from her pocket and he swiped at his tears before handing it back. Marie again picked up his hand but this time held it more gently and slowed down her pace.
At the tree line she began looking around for Jack and her head turned from one side to the other.
“Are you searching for someone pretty lady?” Jack stepped out from amongst the trees and he swept Marie into his arms for a kiss.
She pushed at his chest with one hand while she continued to hold Phillip’s hand with the other. She needed Jack to release her.
“What’s wrong my pet?” Jack didn’t like being pushed away and Marie thought he looked almost angry.
“Phillip is here Jack.” She inclined her head to the side to indicate her son who now stood with his mouth open.
Who was this man who was kissing his mother?
Jack crouched in front of Phillip and held out his hand. “Hello Phillip, my name is Mr Wright. I’m a friend of your Ma’s and I thought you might like to go for a ride in my wagon.”
Phillip shied away and hid amongst his mother’s skirts. He didn’t like Mr Wright.
“Phillip, please behave like a proper young man and say hello to Mr Wright.” Marie pulled Phillip out of her skirts with a jerk and stood him in front of her. “Now be a good little man and shake hands”
Phillip heard the threat in her voice. Jack once again held out his hand and Phillip placed his small, trembling hand into it and shook.
“That’s much better.” Marie glanced down at her son with a smile on her face.
“How about that wagon ride Mr Wright offered? I thought we’d spend the night in town and have supper at the hotel”
Marie took Phillip’s hand and began walking towards the tree where she’d hidden their suitcases. When she pointed it out, Jack reached in and pulled a case into each hand before leading the way to where he’d hidden the wagon.
Phillip pulled back on Marie’s hand which only tightened its grip once again.
“Ma, noooo.” he cried as he planted his feet and finally brought his mother to a stop. “We can’t go; I’m going into town with Pa after lunch.”
Marie thought fast. “I left a letter for Pa to meet us at the hotel, now come on.” Phillip began crying as she tugged on his hand and forced him to begin walking.
When he began crying louder Marie hurried to catch up with Jack.
“I’m afraid he’s going to start screaming Jack and with the way sound travels around here Luke is sure to hear him.”
Jack stopped and placed the cases onto the ground. “I don’t know why you insisted on bringing him. What does it matter if he stays at the ranch instead of going to school? Either way you’ll be rid of him.”
He untied his cravat and began moving towards Phillip who started backing away. Jack snaked his arm out and grabbed him around his waist; Phillip began to wriggle and kick. “Hold him still.” Jack snarled as he took hold of Phillips head.
After stuffing part of the cravat into the little boy’s mouth he tied it securely at the back of his head. “If you touch it I’ll cut your fingers off.” Jack threatened before picking up the cases and continuing on.
Phillip sobbed as his mother dragged him on.
She didn’t care.
“Lift him up on the seat while I put the suitcases in the back and for God’s sake make him shut up.”
Phillip clutched hold of his fishing pole with the grip of someone three times his size.
Marie was forced to allow him to keep it as she positioned him onto the centre of the seat.
“Be quiet. Jack will not put up with this behaviour.” She climbed up onto the seat next to her son while Jack climbed up on the other side and took the reins into his hands. He released the brake holding the wheels, turned the horse towards town and, when he made a clicking noise with his tongue, the stallion broke into a canter.
As they travelled further from home Phillip became more distressed and began wriggling around on the seat. “Keep that damn brat still, Marie, he’s going to unsettle the horse and cause an accident.”
Marie reached around Phillip’s shoulders and attempted to calm him. He only became more hysterical and he used as much force as his little body could muster to push his mother away. His strength caught Marie by surprise and she almost slid off the seat and into the dust.
“Phillip, you almost pushed me off and under the wheels.” she screeched as she positioned herself closer to the centre of the seat. She slapped him hard on the arm which only served to make him behave even worse.
Jack could see the stallion had become skittish with Marie’s screeching; with a crack of his whip he urged him to move faster in the hopes it would settle him down.
Phillip continued to wriggle and jump up and down as the wagon thundered along the uneven road. It didn’t matter how much Marie or Jack threatened, he just refused to calm down.
Jack saw Phillip raise his fishing pole above his head in anger but couldn’t react fast enough to stop what happened next.
Phillip brought the pole down on the horses’ rump as hard as he could. The horse whinnied and reared before beginning to run in a frenzied zigzag pattern from one side of the road to the other.
Jack couldn’t bring the huge stallion under control and as the terrified horse galloped flat out; Jack began to panic. He knew their speed along such a rock littered road was dangerous.
It was all he and Marie could do to hold on and Phillip bounced up and down like a ball in between them.
Then it happened – the wagon’s wheels hit a boulder and all three were thrown from the seat high into the air.
The stallion, with the wagon behind, continued to race towards town leaving three broken bodies behind in his wake.
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Blind Achievement – Book 2
Phillip Johnson has been blind since the age of six after sustaining a head injury in a wagon accident. Growing up on a ranch outside of Austin hasn’t been easy for the young man but he has thrived with the loving help of his Step-Mother, Rachel, and the faithful support of his father, Luke. At 18 years old, he has made the decision to head to Macarthur to attend the Wyoming College for the Blind. He plans to study Civil Government Law and Political Economics. It is here that he meets Belinda and he falls deeply in love with her. Belinda hides a dark and dangerous secret. A ruthless man is obsessed with owning her. This threat has the power to ruin their relationship and put their lives in jeopardy. Can they overcome such obstacles and find happiness together?
….Phillip’s first day of classes passed uneventfully but he found his mind wandering to where his family might be. Several times he had to refocus his attention back on his teachers.
He felt bone weary as he traipsed back to his room with Daniel by his side.
“Do you have any assigned work tonight?” Daniel enquired.
Phillip’s arms were full of books and his cane was tucked firmly under his arm.
Daniel gently guided his friend with a nudge to his elbow and verbal commands.
“No, nothing tonight. I think they are giving us time to settle in before assigning us extra work.
“I would appreciate another lesson in Braille if you’re not too tired. It seems the rest of the class is doing better than me and I have some catching up to do.”
“I am planning on an early night but I have time to spend with you first.”
Daniel placed his books on the floor while he unlocked the door to their room. He removed the books from Phillips arms and set them down on his desk. He guided him to a chair at his desk.
After Daniel retrieved his books and closed the door, both boys collapsed onto chairs facing their desks. Phillip ran his hands through his hair. “I’m glad today’s over.”
“Yeah, me too.” Daniel agreed. “They sure keep us busy.”
“At least it all ran smoothly. Thanks for getting me to all my classes on time.”
“It was easier than I thought it was going to be. The teachers’ don’t hold us back because they know a lot of us have to help the blind people move around.”
Daniel rose and headed for a pitcher of water that stood on the chest of drawers. “Glass of water?”
Daniel placed the glass on Phillip’s desk.
“I wonder how everyone is. They should be halfway back to the ranch by now.”
“You’re gonna miss them a lot aren’t you?”
“Yeah. I have relied on them for so much over the years. It seems strange not having them near me. I will miss my long talks with Pa, Ma’s encouragement and hugs. Not to mention her cooking.”
“It will get easier with time and classes will help keep your mind busy.”
“I sure hope so. Let’s get into your lesson before I fall asleep sitting here. I’m sure weary.”
Daniel shimmied his chair closer to Phillip and placed his writing materials on the desk in front of them.
Six months had passed and Phillip was thoroughly miserable. Teachers favoured him for his good nature and excellent grades while other students taunted him mercilessly for it. He thanked the Lord daily for his friendship with Daniel. Without him school would be unbearable and he would be on the next train back to the ranch.
He was now familiar with the classrooms and labyrinth of hallways so he was able to get around if Daniel was required elsewhere.
It had been a long day and he tapped his way back to his room. He was startled from his thoughts by an ear piercing scream. Coming to an abrupt stop he listened. Sounds of a scuffle and banging came from what he knew was a classroom ahead. He approached and threw open the door without hesitation.
“What the hell? Get out!” a gruff voice bellowed.
“Please help me.” A girl’s agonized plea tore at his heart.
“What’s going on?” Phillip demanded to know.
“None of your damned business, half-wit. Get out.” Phillip could not place the voice.
“Let me go,” she screamed again.
“Let the young lady go.” Phillip said angrily. “Come here to me Miss.”
He could hear her struggling to get free.
“I have asked you to let her go. I will not ask again.” Phillip loaded his voice with menace.
The man guffawed. “Do you really think a blindy like you can stop me?”
Phillip used the man’s voice to help him move closer.
The girl took advantage of her captor being distracted and bit down hard on his arm. He yelped with pain, and she wrenched free of his grip and launched herself into Phillip’s arms.
The air rushed from his lungs as she collided with his chest. He wrapped his arm protectively around her trembling body as she sobbed into his shirt.
Phillip lifted his cane as a warning for the man not to approach. “I am taking her to speak with Mr Carver. I expect he will also want to speak with you.”
The girl in his arms continued to tremble and sob.
“Come with me. We’ll ensure this never happens again,” he told the girl gently.
She moved from his grasp and wiped the tears from her eyes. Mr Collins, I will make you sorry for this,” she promised bravely.
“As if Mr Carver would believe you over a teacher he respects and trusts. I will tell him you made advances towards me,” he snarled.
The girl grasped hold of Phillip’s hand. Her obvious terror fired his anger.
“You forget, sir. I was here.”
“You’re blind,” he sneered. “How would you know what was happening?”
“A girl doesn’t scream like that if she is a willing participant.” Phillip tightened his hold on her hand and pulled her from the room.
“We will check Mr Carver’s office first. He often works late so he may not have gone down to his cottage yet.” Phillip led her back down the hall he had just come from.
“What is your name?” he asked.
“I’m Belinda. Thank you for rescuing me.”
“My name is Phillip and you are welcome. I’m just happy I came along when I did. What happened?”
“I was on my way back to my room after delivering some papers to a student. He grabbed me as I passed the classroom. He said he had been watching me and knew I wanted his body.” She shuddered and burst into tears.
Phillip stopped and pulled her into his arms. She buried her head into his chest as she shivered and cried.
He ran his hand gently over her back in an attempt to soothe her. He could smell the subtle perfume of her hair and skin, lavender perhaps?
“What’s going on out here?” Mr Carver growled from his office door up ahead.
Belinda stepped back and Mr Carver noticed her red, teary face. “Belinda, what’s wrong?” he asked as he rushed towards the young couple.
“We need to speak with you, sir.” Belinda squeezed Phillip’s hand tight as he spoke.
“Come into my office.” He led the way in before closing the door.
Belinda led Phillip to a chair facing the desk. Once he was seated she sat in the chair next to him and clutched at his arm. He ran his thumb over the back of her hand in an effort to reassure her.
“Explain to me what’s happened. You’re as white as a ghost, Belinda and I can see you shaking from here.”
“I was coming down the hall after delivering some papers to a student when Mr Collins dragged me into his office. H….he made improper advances and I couldn’t get away.” She withdrew her hand from Phillips, lowered her head into her hands and sobbed.
“I can see how distressed she is but what do you have to do with all of this, Phillip?”
“I was on my way back to my room when I heard her scream. I entered the room and confronted Mr Collins. He eventually let her go. We came straight to you here, sir.”
Belinda lifted her head and swiped at her tears with the sleeve of her dress. “He only let me go because I bit him.”
She watched as Mr Carver’s face darkened with shock and fury.
“I’m very sorry, Belinda. I have suspected impropriety from Mr Collins before but we were unable to prove anything. I assure you he will be dismissed immediately.”
“Thank you, sir. I will see Belinda back to her room if you don’t mind.” Phillip stood and she slipped her hand trustingly into his and it felt good.
“I think a cup of tea may be in order first. Take her down to the dining room and tell the staff I sent you. I will deal with Mr Collins immediately.”
“I will and thank you again, sir.”
“Thank you.” Belinda murmured.
Amazon US: http://amzn.com/B00GW5NCMK
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00GW5NCMK
Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00GW5NCMK
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00GW5NCMK
PRIZE GIVEAWAY FROM SAMANTHA GENTRY
My time at the Spookapalooza party has come to an end. I need to sign off.
Wishing everyone a Happy Halloween (or at least what’s left of it). And don’t forget that the U.S. goes off Daylight Saving Time this weekend (at 2 AM Sunday morning).
Knights of Stone
Highland Gargoyles 1
Gargoyles, tree witches, and wolf shifters have divided the Isle of Stone after a great battle twenty-five years ago. When Kayla, a tree witch, hears about the unconventional rock concerts in the gargoyle’s territory, she sneaks from her coven and into their territory to see for herself. Night after night, she returns to see one in particular shift into human form and play guitar at these unconventional shows.
For several nights, Mason has kept watch for the pixie-like female. He plans to seduce her, thinking she’s a visitor from another island. When he discovers she’s one of the tree witches, he retreats, attempting to keep his distance. The temptation is strong, but forbidden.
Kayla and Mason attempt to meet in secret, but other elements on the isle command their attention. A magical cloak created by the three clans on the island is thinning, leading to repercussions for all the clans. Kayla and Mason are caught in the middle of it, and their actions may change the fate for all.
This novella was originally released as part of the USA Today bestselling Highland Shifters paranormal romance boxed set.
The crowd pushed Kayla closer to the stage as the last trails of fiery sunset faded. They knew what happened once darkness fell. She recovered her footing and focused again on the five life-sized stone gargoyles perched on pedestals on the perimeter of the stage. The space between them was set with instruments—guitars, a drum set, mic stands, and massive amplifiers, while a bonfire in a pit behind them cast the statues in a warm glow.
A stagehand with tartan draped over one shoulder climbed onto the stage and walked to the closest statue. He fastened the kilt over its shoulder and around its waist with a thick belt, covering the statue’s massive thighs. Kayla flushed, picturing why the coverings were necessary once the transformation began. The kilt had become a key detail in her fantasies about the guitarist, since it was the only clothing he wore. The stagehand continued dressing each statue with the same brilliant blue tartan worn by the gargoyle clan.
The last vestige of sunlight disappeared from the sky, and night draped the stage like a closing curtain. The statues loomed, dark silhouettes barely discernible by the crescent moon with the backdrop of the craggy cliffs and the rugged peaks of waves in the Atlantic Ocean behind them. The murmur of voices was replaced by silence. Waiting…
Five torches blazed on the stage all at once, lit by an unseen force. The audience erupted in cheers as the dancing lights from the flickering fire basked the statues. The flames lowered, casting the gargoyles in an eerie, almost reverent glow.
Movement. So slight, Kayla wondered if it was simply a play of light and shadows in her anticipation for the change. She fixed her gaze on the statue in front of her, the one she’d gravitated to each time she had sneaked out to see the show. Its massive gray form stood straight on two legs built for sturdiness. Its chest jutted out proudly. Gray wings with detailed feathers etched in the stone arched from a point below its shoulder blades. Eyes cast straight ahead on a face that appeared to be a mixture of canine and lion. Its right hand twitched, so slightly she would have missed it if she hadn’t stared so intently. Then a clawed foot inched forward.
Murmurs of astonishment burst from the crowd as the transformation began. Their cries of fervor grew louder as the monstrous statues transformed into taller, slimmer figures with the bronzed skin of warriors who battled under the midday sun. The tartan fabric fell over their thighs as they stood erect, covering their nudity.
Kayla barely blinked, mesmerized as always, as the statue before her stood to full height, taking on the form of a human male, but with beautiful raven wings. Hair just as black snaked rebelliously past his chin. The stony eyes flickered with animation, turning to a mossy green. His deep gaze seared the audience, seeming to burn anything in the path. When he found Kayla, he stopped. His expression was unreadable, but the intensity in his unblinking eyes made her swallow. She froze under the scrutiny as if hypnotized, unable to break eye contact. Her stomach lurched, heart pounded, and every muscle in her body tightened, fueled with blood now scorching through her veins. His penetrating appraisal affected her so. When his eyes took on a smoldering glint, her skin tingled and a red-hot awareness grew between her thighs.
He broke the stare and continued to assess the audience. She gasped, not realizing she had been holding her breath, and panted while she tried to breathe at a normal rate.
He turned on robust legs and strode to a guitar stand. She tore her eyes from him to note the other gargoyles. They, too, had shifted into the form of striking males. One had black hair draped further down his back, one had long blond hair, and two had reddish-brown hair—one wavy and shaggy, the other straight. They took their place at other instruments. She sought the guitarist again and caught the first sound of the pick striking the strings. On hearing the guitar projected through the amp, the crowd roared again, pressing Kayla forward.
The freak show was about to begin.
Spotlights flooded the musicians, powered by solar panels near a massive amplifier. The guitarist continued playing and the others joined in, playing a raucous crossover between hard rock and heavy metal. The one with long blond hair grabbed hold of the microphone and belted out a shattering cry that sounded like a call to battle. The crowd went pin drop silent to listen and then cheered in unison as the band played on. The front man sang piercing growls and low croons about the Knights in Stone, the protectors of the ancient forests, battling against the evil tree witches.
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About Lisa Carlisle:
Lisa Carlisle is a USA Today Bestselling author of romance and suspense. She loves stories with dark, brooding heroes and independent, caring heroines. Her travels have provided her with inspiration for various settings in her novels, including deployments while she served in the Marines. She lived in Parris Island, the California desert, and Okinawa, Japan. She also backpacked alone through Europe, and lived in Paris, France, as an au pair before returning to the U.S. and buying a book store. She now lives and works in New England with her husband, two children, a cat, and many fish.
Connect with Lisa:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LisaCBooks – @lisacbooks
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Lyndsay Richards is an experienced Park Ranger so, why is she missing in a National Park she knows as well as the back of her hand?
Rick Masters is a Detective, a man who had a huge crush on Lyndsay in high school. When he sees a poster showing she is missing, secret memories flood back. He is determined to find her.
Does Rick still have feelings for Lyndsay? Will this be his chance to capture the girl of his dreams?
Set in Kuringai National Park and Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
Amazon US: http://amzn.com/B00NTMG48I
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NTMG48I
Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00NTMG48I
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00NTMG48I
Follow the lives of the three Glenmore brothers and their only sister as they face life threatening danger, solve murder, prevent cattle rustling, help protect an Indian settlement and fall in love.
Book 1 – The Glenmore’s: Revenge –
Amazon US: http://amzn.com/B00CANO26I Revised September 2014
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CANO26I
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00CANO26I
Book 2 – The Glenmore’s: Deputy -
Amazon US: http://amzn.com/B00CB5KFN4 Revised September 2014
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CB5KFN4
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00CB5KFN4
Book 3 – The Glenmore’s: Sacred Secrets -
Amazon US: http://amzn.com/B00DFDZFU4 Renamed September 2014
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00DFDZFU4
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00DFDZFU4
Book 4 – The Glenmore’s: Caught -
Amazon US: http://amzn.com/B00CJDZMR2
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CJDZMR2
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00CJDZMR2
I will gift an ecopy of a book of your choice from my website to an attendee who leaves a comment.
Forbidden love…Broken vows…Betrayal…
Callisto is the daughter of the great Arcadian King Lycaon and the nymph Maia. She studied all her life to attain the high position of Bear Goddess among the nymphs of Artemis, taking a sacred vow of purity. But when she meets a mysterious man, her life changes forever.
Kasin is a prince among the fierce centaurs and one of few who can take human shape. A follower of Zeus, he is mystified to save a nymph’s life and even worse, to fall in love with an enemy of the centaurs. He is torn between his duty to his people and his love for Callisto.
When the nymphs capture Kasin for their next sacrifice, his capture threatens to expose his secret connection with Callisto and her betrayal to Artemis. Soul bound to him, she cannot allow him to be sacrificed and helps him escape. Obsessed with having Callisto for himself, the god Pan is determined to kill the centaur. On the run from the nymphs, danger and betrayal follow Kasin and Callisto. To survive, they must evade Pan’s vengeance as well as others who also want to keep them apart. Will their love for each other be enough to save them?
A low growl rumbled in his throat. He kissed her breasts, easing his body over her, his hands moving between her thighs. She didn’t want him to stop the caresses that made her quiver with such pleasure.
She let out a strangled moan, the shocks of pleasure engulfing her. Her mound throbbed with need. “I-I have never…” Tears stung her eyelids. “I have never been with a man.”
“I will be gentle,” he whispered.
Her body tensed in a moment of indecision, her hand pressing against his broad chest, her fingers splayed within the light patch of coarse dark hair. She was certain she appeared frightened, but her body cried out for his touch.
“Do you want to do this?” He watched her with a tender expression.
His kiss and his touch made her feel so alive as if a tiny ember inside her had suddenly built to a towering blaze. Her body wanted more, her hips arching with a will of their own. “Yes.” She removed her hand from his chest.
With the slightest hesitation, he eased his engorged manhood inside her, claiming her once again with his fiery kiss.
She trembled beneath him, unfamiliar with the act of mating or with a man’s body, but her fear changed to excitement. Her body seemed to naturally respond to his kisses and caresses. The hard planes of his male body awakened unimaginable pleasures in her. His thrusts hurt at first as he pierced her innocence, but soon wrought pleasures inside of her. She had never realized how much she desired companionship, how much she needed a man’s touch. With him, she felt complete.
She moved on instinct in a rhythm matching his tender thrusts. Never before had she imagined a Zeus lover could be so gentle. Now she understood why some of the nymphs refused to take the vow of purity, giving up a man’s touch for Artemis. The sensation of a thousand tiny, pulsating tingles filled her with a craving she needed to have again. That thrilling feeling kept building. She let out a strangled cry and wanted to explode. All the passion he gave her filled her with an emotion she never wanted to set free.
Kelley Heckart, Historical fantasy romance author
The Bear Goddess will be available in print and Kindle very soon from amazon.com. To be notified of the release date, please sign up for my special notices newsletter.
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