CAN HE GET PAST BETRAYAL?
Allison Hathoway's life was about healing. And she was good at it. Or had been good at it until the tragedy in South America. Now she couldn't even fix herself. She didn't know how to go on, didn't know what to do, or who to be.
She had that in common with Gene Nelson. After the rancher found out the truth about his father, he'd realized his whole life was a lie. He'd gone a little wild, and saw no reason not to give in to his every desire. And the minute he saw Allison, he wanted her. But underneath their explosive passion, Allison and Gene found comfort in each other's wounded souls. And a chance to start over.
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July 25, 2011
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Excerpt from Nelson's Brand by Diana Palmer
He was very noticeable, and he knew it. He also had a pretty formidable reputation locally with women and he didn't usually turn down blatant invitations. But the wide-eyed scrutiny he was getting from the woman at the corner table only irritated him tonight. The past six months had been difficult, and he'd been drinking too much and womanizing too much...or so his family kept saying. Not that he was listening to them much these days. Not when he knew that they weren't really his family.
She wasn't hard on the eyes. He gave her one encompassing glance that took in everything from the French plait of black hair at her nape, down high, firm breasts under a soft white blouse, to a small waist and full hips and long elegant legs in tight jeans. She was sitting at a corner table, a little away from it on one side, with his half brother Dwight, and Dwight's fianc�e, Winnie. He didn't know her name, but he was pretty sure that she was Winnie's out-of-town houseguest. Pryor, Wyoming, was a small town, and news traveled fast when anyone had company.
He took another sip of his whiskey and stared at the small shot glass contemplatively. He drank far too much lately. When he started staying out late at night and couldn't remember anything about it the next morning, he needed to take another look at his life, he thought bitterly. Dale Branigan had caught him in a weak moment and now she was hounding him for dates. Not that she was bad-looking, but she reminded him of the excesses that were taking him straight to hell, according to Dwight.
He glanced toward Dwight's disapproving face, so unlike his, and deliberately raised the shot glass to his thin lips with a mocking smile. He drained it, but when the bartender asked if he wanted another, he said no. It wasn't Dwight who stopped him. It was the expression on that woman's face who was sitting with Dwight and Winnie. There was something quiet and calming about her face, about the oddly compassionate way she was looking at him. What he'd thought was a flirting stare didn't seem to be one. As he met her eyes across the room, he felt a jolt of pure emotion run through him. Odd. He hadn't felt that before. Maybe it was the liquor.
He looked around. The bar was crowded, and there weren't many women around. Thank God Dale wasn't here to pester him. Frequently on a Friday night, he drove up to Billings for a little entertainment. Tonight, he wasn't in the mood. He'd overheard a chance remark from one of his men and his quick temper had cost him a good mechanic. It was his nature to strike out when he was angry. With a soft, cold laugh he considered that he'd probably inherited that trait from his father. From his real father, not the man who'd been married to his mother for more than twenty years. Until six months ago, his name had been Gene Nelson and he was accepted by everyone as Hank Nelson's son. But six months ago, Hank Nelson had died--ten years after Gene's mother--and he'd left a will that was as much a confession as a bequeath. It had contained the shocking news that he'd adopted Gene at the age of four.
Gene realized that he was idly sliding the shot glass around on the bar and stopped. He paid for the drink and turned toward the door.
Dwight called to him and he hesitated. His younger half brother was the head honcho at the Triple N Ranch now. That was the biggest blow to his pride. He'd been the eldest son. Now he was the outsider, and Dwight was the rightful heir. That took a lot of getting used to after thirty years.
He cocked his hat over one eye and strode toward Dwight's table, his lean, dark face rigid, his pale green eyes like wet peridots under lashes as thick and black as the straight...