Ten years ago Army Ranger Cameron Morgan left his family's ranch with no plans to return...his former sweetheart and the life he'd fled.
Jennie Ward had been injured and her ranch sabotaged, so Cameron was critical to surviving an investigation that was getting riskier by the minute. But keeping his professional distance was nearly impossible, especially after Jennie nearly lost her life on his watch. Still, as his need to guard her mixed with his hunger to find the truth, Cameron found it hard to resist the pull of his old life--not to mention Jennie's offer of a second chance....
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May 07, 2007
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Excerpt from Cowboy Sanctuary by Elle James
Cameron Morgan pulled his cowboy hat from his head, leaned his eye against the scanner next to the door and waited for the green light to pan across his eyeball. When the lock clicked open, he straightened and stepped through the heavy glass doors into the spacious offices of Prescott Personal Securities. After being gone for the past month on assignment, he felt as if he was coming home. He inhaled, expecting the soothing scents of eucalyptus and furniture polish. Instead, an acrid aroma stung his nostrils.
"Hi, Angel," he said to the receptionist behind the bleached pine countertop. Cameron wrinkled his nose.
"Was there a chemical spill somewhere?"
Angel, the street punk adopted by the agency's owner out of some attempt at being charitable, rolled her eyes. "'Sup?" She barely looked up as she smacked her gum between black lipstick-covered lips while she painted another coat of dead black polish on her clawlike fingernails.
Cameron wrinkled his nose. Ah, the source of the odor. "Do you have to do that here?"
She answered by raising her brows. No wonder memos from Angel were often misspelled and calls were misdirected. With nails like that, she couldn't possibly hit the right keys on the computer keyboard or the telephone switchboard. Despite the everythingblack, Goth look, she showed an occasional spark of intelligence that invariably took everyone by surprise and she was puppy-dog loyal to the boss.
"Any messages?" he asked.
"Give me a few, and I'll check." She capped the fingernail polish and shook her hands, blowing on the wet paint.
"A few" meant some time in the next hour or two--if she remembered after the paint fumes subsided and her brain activity reengaged.
Cameron shook his head and continued on to his office. Before he'd gone five steps, Angel called out, "Hey, wait. I was supposed to tell you something."
Perhaps the cloud of vapor had cleared and she was remembering. Cameron turned and smiled, encouraging the young woman.
Her pale forehead wrinkled and her thickly lined eyes squinted to slits. "Oh, yeah, the boss wants you in the conference room."
"When?" Cameron tapped his Stetson against his thigh.
She stopped chewing her gum long enough to snort and say, "Like, now. I believe her words were ASAP." She resumed blowing on her nails and smacking her gum.
Letters. A S A and P are letters. Cameron inhaled and blew out a calming stream of air before he smiled again. This wasn't the first time Angel had delayed an urgent message or misdirected a memo. He couldn't even count the number of times they'd had to call the repairman to fix the copier after she'd done whatever she did to break it. One of the machine mechanics had gone so far as to nickname her the Angel of Death. "Thanks, Angel. What would we all do without you?" Hire a real secretary?
"I don't know, but you better hurry," she said without looking up.
When Cameron entered the conference room, every gaze turned toward him. Four other agents sat around the table and an elegant blonde stood at the head. He nodded toward his friend, Jack Sanders, seated to his left and then fixed his attention on the woman standing, Evangeline Prescott, head of Prescott Personal Securities. "You wanted to see me?"
With her long blond hair pulled back in a French twist and wearing a medium gray skirt suit, Evangeline was a cool professional with a warm smile. She looked much better than she had when she'd first lost her husband in a plane crash two years ago. Perhaps she was finally moving on.
Evangeline stood with a laser pointer resting in her palm and her back turned to a projected view of a map depicting the state of Colorado. With a brief smile she nodded toward a seat. "Good. You got my message. If you'll take a seat, I'll explain why you're here." She nodded, the few curls that had managed to escape bobbed with the motion.