When Elizabeth O'Leary meets up with the cowboy she's been avoiding for over two years, she doesn't know whether to trust her heart or her head. One tells her Grey Wulfsen just might be The One, the other tells her it doesn't matter because he'll never forgive her when he finds out what she took away with her on that one starlit night.
Free Wulfsen learned early on that rodeo relationships never last. After one wild weekend, the barrel racer finds herself married to bull rider Zane Malone. She's all set to ask him for a divorce when she takes a fall--and finds out she'll have more to remember him by than a ring. Now it's up to Zane to convince her that love can last after the rodeo's over.
Bull rider Dusty Wulfsen has been thrown to the ground by more bulls than he can remember, yet nothing caused as much pain as losing Carrie Montgomery. When she shows up in Wayback determined to have a second ride at his heart, he knows he'd be a fool to let her near him. But memories of those nights under a rodeo moon have him coming back for more.
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The Wild Rose Press
May 27, 2009
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Excerpt from Finding Their Way Back by Roni Adams
She'd never witnessed anything so beautiful and terrifying at the same time.
Eyes wide, one hand death-gripped to the folder against her breasts and the other pressed tightly against her mouth, Elizabeth O'Leary stared in fascination and fear as the dust fogged up, blurring the man and beast combating in the rodeo arena. The cheers and taunts from others gathered to watch only spurred the hefty bronco on. In all logic, the cowboy atop should have been tossed around like a rag doll, but the hard thighs and molded shoulders matched the beast's strength, thrust for powerful thrust, like a lover.
Why did I have to think of it that way?
Her hand moved back to brush against her cheek, heated at the sudden onslaught of memories of that particular solid body atop hers.
Flashes snapped and whirred, startling her out of the vivid vision. For the first time, she noticed the photographers and reporters avidly watching the demonstration. Her brows creased. Not that she had come to the rodeo grounds much in the last couple years, but when had the Yellow Rose Arena become such a paparazzi zone? It was only Thursday afternoon, for goodness sake; the qualifying didn't even begin until tomorrow afternoon, continuing through Saturday and finishing up with the crowd-drawing finals on Sunday.
An angry snort drew her attention back to the inner-ring combat and Elizabeth involuntarily clutched the weathered accordion folder tighter to her chest. She watched in horror as furious nostrils flared, the saddled bronc fighting madly to throw the man from its back.
Grey! Oh God! He'll be killed! The thought flew in haphazard shards in her mind like the dust around the warring pair.
This was a mistake--in more ways than one. She should have just grabbed Henry's receipts and audit papers from the manager's office and left quickly. But something had pulled her to the practice ring...a single name called out in a squeal of feminine giggles and overt appreciation. His name had overridden the stab of finger-curling jealousy, had grabbed her chest and yanked her unwillingly over.
"Hey...oh!" Shouldered from one side by the excited group and pushed into the elbow of a cameraman on the other, the momentum jostled her arms and the folder slipped from her grasp.
"Sorry about that, missy," the burly man said absently. "Didn't see you there." She might have believed his apology had he attempted to help retrieve the few papers scattered from the pack.
Elizabeth puffed her bangs up in a huff of mixed self-contempt and frustration. If not for the manager, Henry Garza's, audit appointment first thing Tuesday morning--which he neglected to tell her about before this morning--she would have never set foot on these grounds again.
"Clients come first. They pay the bills," Granny O'Leary's smoke-scarred voice scolded her in her head. Heaven knew she understood that fact these days, but still, if she'd had the choice...
At the exact moment she stuffed the last windblown scrap back to safety, a loud buzzer went off above the crowd. Her gaze automatically darted to the ring just in time to see the body of the cowboy sail through the air like a tossed away, dented soda can.
"Grey!" The name tore from her lips involuntarily and she clasped a hand over her mouth to silence the terrified screams clogging her throat.
Painfully still moments coursed by before she saw the gloved hands brace themselves in the dirt and a dusty blond head raise.
Still crouched on the ground over her folder, she was in perfect alignment for eyes the color of buffed steel to lock onto hers.
Oh God. This was exactly what she had wished for--and prayed to avoid.