Half dressed and going for naked...
Starlight Tyler needs to lose her virginity, as in yesterday. With her mother, a Pinkerton, and a wealthy man she doesn't love on her tail, there's only one place to cut their cruel intentions off at the pass--get herself back into the arms of long-lost love Cordero Tate. Pronto.
She never expected to be tripped up by someone else's past.
Sheriff Cordero Tate is a haunted man on a mission. Come hell or high water, he'll round up every member of the gang responsible for the deaths of his wife and unborn child...and make damned sure he never puts his heart on the line again. As in never impregnating another woman. One look at Star, though, and all the old feelings come back in a rush. Worse, she's just as determined to brand him as hers as he is to keep her chaste.
Their exploration of ways around that impasse leads to three nights of unbearable sensual pleasure. Until her past catches up to her...
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December 15, 2009
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Excerpt from Seducing the Sheriff by Marie-Nicole Ryan
Star's hands shook, but she kept them in front of her so Cord couldn't tell how much seeing him after four long--damn long--years affected her. He was a man grown all right, in every sense of the word. Four years older than she, he was a good head taller. His craggy face was darkened by the sun, but the warmth of his dark eyes hadn't changed since the time he teased her at the age of six and dropped a mess of earthworms in her lap in the town's one-room schoolhouse. And sadly enough at one time, he and her half-brother had been the best of friends.
Now they were on the opposite sides of the law.
More important, this Cord Tate with his double six-shooters was nothing like the lecherous lawyer with sweaty hands and unyielding mouth her mother tried to marry her off to back East. Her mama's re-entry into polite society and Star was the price. It'd taken Mama four years to find a man with the right setup--respectability, money, social position--who was willing to take an old maid daughter off her hands.
An unfamiliar stirring of emotions hit her from the moment Cord identified himself. While she might've had a schoolgirl's crush before her mother dragged her along to Boston, what she felt now didn't feel very girlish. Her feminine core clenched at the sight of his long legs and muscular thighs while he cared for his horse before filling his canteen. A man who took good care of his horse would treat his woman with respect, too. But was it respect she wanted?
Never mind what she wanted. She needed a husband and needed one fast before they dispatched someone else to bring her back. And Cordero Tate fit the bill on both accounts.
"I'm glad you came home. Never dreamed you would." His tone was deep and soft. The richness of it resonated deep within her, turning her into a warm pool of...need? Was there even a word that described how she felt at seeing him again? More than anything she wanted to surrender to impulse and throw her arms around his neck.
Anything to erase her lingering revulsion of Teddy Darwin. She shook her head in an attempt to erase the memories. But none of that emotional stuff mattered. What mattered was keeping to her plan of seducing and marrying Cord as soon as possible. She'd only been home three days. His showing up uninvited and unexpected was an omen. And every minute counted.
She fluttered her lashes. "My mother--"
"How come she let you come back? I would've thought with her family's connections, she'd marry you off to some rich fellow."
"She tried." She averted her gaze, remembering how the oh-so-upright Theodore Darwin's clammy hands felt on her thighs when he tried to force them into her underwear. She shivered again. Barely an hour after her mother informed her she was engaged to the middle-aged lawyer, he'd tried to force himself on her. Randy old goat--had to be forty if he was a day. Still, she bet it'd be the last time he tried to force a woman without her say-so.
Tears sprang to her eyes as she met his gaze. "I ran away." Twice. "And I'm not going back. You can't make me."
His dark gaze softened. "Darlin', nobody's gonna make you go back there. You're home now."
If only it were that easy.
His strong arms surrounded her. She gave in to his warmth and relaxed in his embrace. Her entire body twitched, and all she cared about was the sandpapery touch of his warm, callused hands caressing her. Quite a contrast to the way old Teddy made her feel. By damn, she'd never let another man make her feel like a cheap whore again.
Cord was her answer. Better than she could've ever hoped. And why shouldn't he marry her? They were in love before she left. Nothing had changed. She could see heat in his gaze. And she'd make him a good wife.
She gazed into his warm brown eyes. "I'm yours, Cord. Why do you think I came back? We were always meant for each other. Make me your woman."
He dropped his hands and stepped back. His eyes widened, and shock scrawled in uneasy lines across his handsome face. He ran his fingers through his hair, blue-black as a crow's wing, a gift from his Mexican mother.
"God-amighty, woman. Have you no shame? Is this how decent women in the city talk?"
The heat of embarrassment flushed her entire body and flooded her cheeks until they were so hot they must've been fiery red. What was it her mama said? Desperate times called for desperate measures.
She stiffened, scowled and dared him to interrupt. "Seems like making me your woman was exactly what you had in mind the night before my mama jerked me onto that eastbound train. Guess you've changed your mind." She whirled and ran for the house.
She reached the door first, but he clapped a hand on her shoulder and whipped her around to face him. "Lot of water under that bridge. You got no idea."
Tears threatening to spill down her cheeks, she glared at him. A burst of fury and a mixture of fear drew her innards into knots. Her heart thundered loud as cattle stampeding headlong toward a sheer cliff. "No idea? You're the one with no idea. You could've claimed me then. Stopped mama from taking me away. If you'd just stepped up and said the word, I'd have been yours these last four years."
"What and let you pass up the great life you were supposed to have back East? Your ma said--"
"What'd she say?" Star clenched her fists, but at the same time a curl of hope flickered in her belly. "Did she actually stop you...?"
"Yeah, she did. Said I was selfish to keep you here in this backwater. Said I didn't really love you 'cause I was too young and stupid to know the difference between a lady and the half-Mex son of a rancher."
"My mama?" Star straightened her spine and hissed, "In spite of her family connections, we were treated like poor relations. So she tried to barter me off to the highest bidder like a prize heifer. It was her big plan to regain entrance into polite society. I was supposed to marry this despicable man...a lawyer...and he was old." In spite of her best efforts to remain in control, the last came out as a wail.
She rested her head on his chest and sniffed. Against her ear, his heart pounded almost as loud as hers. "I didn't know she talked to you. All I did know was that you didn't so much as come to the train station to say good-bye." She paused and gazed into his eyes. "I cried all the way to North Carolina until she threatened to slap me silly if I didn't stop."
Gently Cord nudged up her chin until her gaze met his. "Darlin', I didn't think I deserved someone as sweet as you." He dipped his head and kissed her full on the lips. His mouth was warm and tender, nothing like the lawyer's. Cord's every touch felt so right. Her body grew heavy with desire. Her knees weakened until she thought she might faint. His tongue swept inside her mouth, and his hands splayed down her back until he cupped her bottom and pulled her close to his hard cock.
Her body grew rigid. She tried to pull away. So, he wanted her, too. But she needed more than a quick roll in the hay...although turning down his overtures didn't have a lot of appeal at the moment. After all, she'd come home to trap him into marriage. It was the only way to keep her mother and old Teddy Darwin at bay.
If she were safely married, this time whoever Darwin sent after her would have no choice but to return to Boston empty-handed.
"So...you want to be my woman?" His tone was raspy and breathless, his breath hot on her neck. "I can't marry you."
"You can't? But you have to. I-I need more." What the Hades was the matter with him? What had she done wrong? Dammit. His hard member was pressing into her belly. She hadn't done anything wrong...yet.
He scowled down at her and adjusted his crotch. "You need more than this, darlin'?"
She scowled up at him. "Yes, dang it. I'm talking something more serious than the size of your...your Johnson."