“Are you sure you read the email right, Miranda?” Gracie asked, for
what had to have been the fourth time. “And the date’s correct?”
“Yes, Gracie,” Miranda replied once again, forcing herself to
remember to speak nicely. Here they were, in the infamous West for only
a matter of hours, and already her sister was getting on her nerves,
peppering her with questions when she was already nervous. “I’ve
spoken with the guy in the bus station, remember? He told me this was
the correct day and we were on the correct bus. Whoever was supposed to
pick us up from the station is just late.” She continued to fan
herself forcefully, wishing more than anything that she could take off
her thick overcoat to get some relief from the unbelievable heat, but
what kind of first impression would that make if she showed up dirty and
stained from the bus ride? She had chosen this outfit specifically
because not only did it look pretty, but it also looked responsible and
powerful. It was an outfit that said, “I’ve taken all the crap I
plan to take from people, so don’t even start.” So she sat to wait.
And wait. More than once, Miranda entertained the idea of going into one
of the two buildings closest to the fairly good-sized station, as one
was clearly a shop of some kind and the other looked to be some sort of
restaurant. But looking at the patrons leaving the shop loaded down with
fifty pound sacks of feed, she wasn’t sure that she wouldn’t be in
the way. That left the restaurant.
“Let’s go, Gracie. We can get something to eat and at least get out
of this heat and into the shade.” Miranda walked ahead of Gracie,
after asking the guy behind the counter in the bus station if he would
guard their suitcases, leaving her teenaged sister to scamper after her.
It only took a moment to realize their mistake.
As the two ladies pushed open the half-door and stepped into the
darkened tavern, Miranda immediately threw one delicately gloved hand
over Gracie’s eyes, pinning the girl’s head to her own chest to
prevent her from seeing the display taking place inside. Not only were
half the men wearing barely more than undershirts hanging out of filthy,
ill-cut pants, but two sad-looking girls—no doubt around Gracie’s
age—were doing what could only pass for dancing in this town as the
unwashed, undressed men stared on. That alone was bad enough, but the
fact that the girls had on almost no clothing, their bare breasts on
display as the men leered, was horrifying.
Miranda wasted no time in turning them around and barreling out the
door, letting it slam shut on its rusty spring without caring for the
fine fabric of her power outfit. Gracie blinked at the harsh sunlight
when Miranda released her eyes, then visibly shuddered.
“What kind of place is this?” she asked quietly. “Are those girls
“Yes, Gracie, I’m very sorry you saw that. Believe it or not, those
girls have chosen to work here. At least, I hope they’ve chosen to.”
Miranda pulled herself up to her usual formal posture and turned on her
heel, eager to put as much distance between that den of Gomorrah and
their physical bodies as possible.
She didn’t make it very far. Before she could take a full step, she
found herself pressed against another person, this one very much a man
if the solid wall of muscle beneath where her hands had landed was any
indication. She immediately pulled her hands away from the man’s
chest, but he gripped both of her elbows tightly and pulled her
impossibly closer to keep her from falling backward. Even that type of
physical contact was too scary, especially from a stranger. Miranda
wrenched herself away with a stomp on the unsuspecting man’s foot and
a forceful shove to his chest, only to find herself staggering backward
until she lost her footing and fell, landing unceremoniously on her
bottom in the dirt. Her eyes traveled up from his broken in and scuffed
boots to his well-worn jeans until finally she found herself looking up
at his tanned skin and dark eyes, shaded by a weather-beaten cowboy hat.
The whole image would have been almost funny, like a walking cliche, if
he hadn’t been so damn gorgeous.
The most alarming thing about him was the complete lack of emotion on
his face. Miranda, of course, expected chivalry and apologies but given
the scene inside the bar, she could have also understood a debasing,
slovenly grin. But this man was blank.
“Oh, no! Miranda!” Gracie cried, throwing herself down beside
Miranda and inspecting the damage. Miranda glared up at the man who had
all but thrown her to the ground, glowering fiercely and readying
herself to scream for the cops, as Gracie turned red in the face and
balled up her fists before yelling, “Who do you think you are?”
Excerpted from "Contemporary Cowboy Romance 3 Book Box Set" by Amelia Rose. Copyright © 2014 by Amelia Rose. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.