First excerpt: Sparta Rose
The early fall humidity dampened her temples and sent a trickle of perspiration between her breasts. She stopped and blotted her face with her shirtsleeve, wishing he would go away. Far away.
“Maybe I should ride with you?” Ty suggested.
She spun around. “No! I…uh…I mean, no thanks. I doubt you’d feel comfortable sipping tea and talking about female things.”
His throaty laugh bounced off the weathered timber. “Guess I wouldn’t be much good at gal talk. But be careful. The boys didn’t pick up a trail on the shooter, but I doubt whoever did it is gonna hang around. I’d bet a month’s pay the Bryants were behind it, but they probably meant to frighten you more than hurt you. Fools that they are, they think one little bullet is gonna scare Ben into selling. They’re probably in Sparta having a drink at the saloon as we speak.
His confidence rankled her, but she reminded herself to keep a civil tongue. “Well, don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere near town.” The lie came easy.
“Good idea.” He grinned. “Go ahead and have a nice visit with your friend.”
She struggled to keep her gaze from lingering on his cocky stance—the way his faded denims fit just right, but she turned her attention back to her animal. Besides, who was Tyler Bishop to tell her she could go?
Ellie led Chessie out of the stall and mounted. Ty walked alongside as she rode out of the barn. Hopefully he was wrong about the Bryants being in town because she planned to make this trip come hell or high water. One incident wasn’t about to keep her ranch-bound; if anything, it was the reason to go and buy that gun.
Once outside, she reined her horse and looked down at Ty. “Tell Pa I’ll be home before sundown.”
Ty peered up from under the dusty brim of his hat. “You best be.”
Those eyes. They pierced her very soul, until he opened his mouth. She nudged her mount in the sides and left him standing in a cloud of swirling dirt. “Don’t tell me what to do, Tyler Bishop,” she yelled over her shoulder. “You aren’t my boss.”
A smile tugged at her lips. It pleased her to put him in his place and leave before he could utter a sound. Her smile blossomed into an actual giggle at the thought of him wheezing and sneezing in the wake of her departure.
Note: Galley copy