Caine Allen is definitely not the marrying kind. But when he rescues a kidnapped woman and returns her to town, his honor and his desire for Desi won't allow him to let her go.
From the moment he beds Desi, Caine knows turmoil will follow. Desi might have the face of a temptress, but she also has a will of iron. And while she needs his protection, she's determined that no man will control her again. They establish an uneasy bond, but it isn't enough for Caine. All he wants is to keep her in his bed. But with a bounty still on her head, first he must keep her alive.
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January 01, 2011
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Excerpt from Caine's Reckoning by Sarah McCarty
1858: Texas Territory
He hated the sound of a woman's scream. Caine pulled Chaser up short. The black Appaloosa's hoofbeats ended in cadence with Tracker's and Sam's horses. After fifteen years together, there was no guesswork to the men's moves. They were a team.
The high-pitched scream came again, cutting through the cold morning air, hovering a desperate moment on the heavy mist before dropping off with eerie abruptness.
Tracker took the blade of grass he'd been chewing from between his teeth. "Looks like we've found them."
"Yup." Caine pulled his rifle from the scabbard, scouting the surrounding area. There weren't that many areas a man could hide here in the flatlands.
Sam tipped back his hat, his blue eyes glittering like cold ice. "About the only place that offers protection is that cluster of trees yonder."
Caine didn't need to hear the grim edge to the statement to know what that meant. If those were true Co-mancheros who'd stolen the women, they'd already been spotted. The women were as good as dead, and that scream had merely been a baited invitation to a trap. However, nothing in this whole kidnapping spoke of the snake-in-the-grass intelligence Comancheros were known for. Greed, yes. The women stolen had been the youngest and prettiest, but there was a certain lack of intelligence displayed in taking the sheriff's wife. Even if he had been out of town at the time. There were some things a smart man didn't do, and one of them was stealing a lawman's woman.
Tracker slid off his horse, stepped forward and squatted next to hoofprints in the mud. He flicked aside some debris and touched the base of an indentation.
"Same notched shoe?" Caine asked.
"Yup." Beneath his hat, Tracker's long black hair blew back from his face as he followed the trajectory of the tracks to the cluster of trees, revealing the hard ridge of scar tissue puckering the dark skin of his cheek. A scar he'd earned at the age of fifteen when he'd extracted justice for his mother from the man who'd raped her. He pointed to the copse of trees halfway up the rise. "They're in there."
Another scream tore through the morning calm, this time rising and falling on a ruptured, barely recognizable "No!"
"Shit." Sam flipped the strap on his holster. "Stopping to fuck with a posse on their tail? I've a mind to complain to the padre. It's a waste of time sending us out to round up this bunch when any kid in knee pants could do the job."
Remnants of the scream echoed off the surrounding hills, raising the hairs on the back of Caine's neck. Right along with memories he'd rather have stayed buried. "Gotta admit that much stupidity fairly begs a man to put it out of its misery."
"That it does." Sam checked the cylinder of his pistol, the easy nonchalance of his attitude belied by the grim smile lifting the corner of his lips. Nothing irritated Sam more than a stupid outlaw. "But seeing as they chose to bring their law-breaking to our land, I suppose it won't overwork us none to teach them a lesson."
The same tug of cold intent in Sam's smile flowed through Caine's blood, sharpening his senses, giving a home to the anger that had festered without satisfaction for the last fifteen years. They'd fought long and hard for a place to call their own, carved two thousand acres out of these canyons with their sweat and blood. This was their home, and the only law that existed in it was the one they enforced. And on Hell's Eight land, a body could do a lot of things, but hurt a woman and live wasn't one of them. "I don't suppose it will."
Sam dropped his revolver back into his holster.