For Beth Lindstrom, the rundown caf� she inherited in the small town of Lone Wolf was simply a means to an end. Selling it and moving on was the young widow's only hope of a fresh start for her and her five-year-old daughter--though she doubted there was any place on earth they'd feel really safe ever again.
However, she hadn't counted on Joel McAllen getting under her skin. The handsome ex-cop seemed to sense that her past held a terrible secret that kept her on the run. But it wasn't until her husband's killer followed her to Texas that she realized she'd need to trust Joel with her life--and her heart.
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September 10, 2007
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Excerpt from Lone Star Legacy by Roxanne Rustand
"Officer down! Officer down! We need help."
Gunshots punctuated the frantic call that came through on Jeremiah Tucker's police radio. He listened closely to the dispatcher's response.
"There's a pile-up on I-35. Hold on. Help is on the way. We're routing someone there now."
Tuck's hands gripped the steering wheel. He'd known of the wreck, and had taken a detour on 12th Street through an Austin residential area. He was near the address, and unable to ignore a fellow officer in trouble. He swerved onto Springdale Road then sped down another street and whipped into a trailer park.
As a Texas Ranger, he didn't usually answer calls. His job was investigating crimes, but this was different. Every second counted and it sounded as if the officer was short on seconds.
He pulled up behind a police vehicle, both doors of which were flung wide. An officer knelt on the graveled road, half lying against the seat of his squad car, shouting into his radio.
The trailer faced the road. Two old rusty vans were parked to the right, and a dog pen was to the left, shaded by a large oak tree. An officer lay facedown in the middle of the overgrown yard.
Tuck jumped out and ran to the officer by the car. "What's the situation?"
The officer gasped for breath, one hand clutching the radio, the other clutching his upper arm as blood spurted through his fingers. Blood pooled on the gravel and his blood-covered gun lay on the seat. "We answered...a domestic call. As we walked up to the trailer someone...someone opened fire. I crawled back here, but Brian is hit bad. I can't get to him. The idiot keeps...firing." He gasped another breath. "Where in the hell is everybody? Brian needs help."
"They're on the way." Sirens blared faintly in the distance. "Take a deep breath and try to relax."
"I can't, man. Brian is..."
"Let me take a look at your arm. Relax."
"Help Brian, please," the officer wheezed and slumped onto the seat.
Tuck checked his pulse and then the wound. A bullet had ripped straight through his upper arm, tearing open flesh, muscles and veins. Tuck's main concern was the bleeding. He reached for his handkerchief and tied it tight above the wound. Soon the bleeding stopped. He felt the officer would be okay. He'd just passed out from loss of blood.
The sirens were drawing closer, but weren't close enough. Tuck surveyed the scene and glimpsed a rifle poking out of one of the windows. The dog pen was made out of chicken wire and two pit bulls thrashed at the fence, testing the strength of the flimsy wire and barking aggressively at the downed officer in the yard. Any minute the structure was going to collapse like a cheap umbrella.
Tuck didn't have any time to waste. Bending low, he darted to his vehicle, all the while keeping an eye on the rifle and the dogs. The officer on the ground moaned and Tuck knew he was still alive, but he needed medical attention immediately.
Several shots exploded, kicking up dirt around Brian. to do something fast or the officer didn't stand a chance.
Without another thought, he zigzagged toward the house. A shot blasted near his head, knocking off his hat. The sound burned his ears, but Tuck didn't pause. He rolled and landed up against the cool aluminum siding on the front of the trailer--the rifle above his head.
Adrenaline chugged through his body like hillbilly moonshine. He sucked in a controlling breath, knowing the guy couldn't get off a shot at that angle. Staring at Brian, Tuck debated how to get to him. Suddenly he heard loud voices, a woman's and a man's. He couldn't make out the words, but they were angry. The curse words he heard clearly.
Standing slowly, Tuck considered the situation. The rifle was to his right. He could jerk it out of the man's hands but before he could act, the gun was pulled inside. The voices grew louder, as did the cursing. The trailer shook from the impact of something thrown against a wall. Tingly sounds of glass breaking mingled with loud thuds.
Curtains covered the windows so Tuck couldn't see what was going on inside. The only uncovered opening was the small pane on the front door. Taking a deep breath, he eased up the concrete steps. The voices weren't close now--they'd moved farther down the trailer. He took a quick peep through the pane and saw complete chaos--broken furniture, dishes, junk, clothes and clutter everywhere.
But no people.
Drawing back, an image registered in his mind. It couldn't be. He glanced again to make sure he wasn't seeing things. He wasn't. Among the clutter was a small boy, probably not even two years old, sitting in a corner chewing on a bag of dog food.