Title: A Walk on the Wylder Side
Author: Laura Strickland
Genre: Western Romance
Outspoken, rebellious Cissy Arkwright was sent west from her Chicago home to work at a boarding house in Wylder, Wyoming. The last thing she expects is friendship with the handsome new boarder, a man with an air of danger and the power to make her smile.
Buck Standish is on the run from his past. He'd like to put aside the life of a gun-for-hire, especially once he meets Cissy. But experience tells him the past has a way of catching up, pistols in hand. He's lost his heart to Cissy—should he protect her by hitting the trail again? Or stay in Wylder and fight for their future?
She picked up two of the empty plates and pushed through into the kitchen. Mrs. Culpepper swept in after her.
“Cecilia, do not coddle the guests. I’ve been keeping rooming houses in one city or another for a long time. Believe me when I say, men like that will take every advantage.”
Men like that?
“Best to lay the ground rules at the outset. Otherwise we’ll be serving him supper at all hours of the night.”
Perfectly aware that sound—and their conversation—traveled through the door to the dining room, Cissy said, “I just thought since his board does, in fact, include two meals a day—”
“He forfeits the privilege if he isn’t on time. Now, get this kitchen cleaned up, and do it right.”
She sailed back out. Cissy scraped down the plates—not much left on them—before stepping into the dining room for a second load.
Saunders sat there in splendid isolation like a king at his banquet table. He’d taken what was left on the platters and ate with apparent enjoyment, though he paused with his knife and folk aloft when she came in.
The eyebrow went up. “Cecilia?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“That’s your name?”
Cissy flushed. She wasn’t sure why.
“Cecilia Arkwright.” She extended a hand across the table. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“Bu—Burt Saunders. The same.” His fingers felt warm and rough. She half expected to experience a tingle or something, having an attractive man holding onto her hand that way.
“Thanks for taking my part, Miss Cecilia—again. I don’t want to cause you any trouble.” He smiled, a slow thing that spread across his face and put light in his black eyes. Ah, there came the tingle. Lord, have mercy.
“I’m usually in trouble.” She took back her fingers and cocked one hip. “Goes with the territory.”
“I’ve just met my erstwhile hostess, and already I don’t see how you can stand working for the woman.”
“Needs must. I have a little brother back east. Me being here is—well, part of the conditions for keeping him where he’s comfortable.”
“Back east, where?”
“Wylder, Wyoming’s a far cry from Chicago.” Was that curiosity Cissy saw in his eyes?
“That it is.”
“Sure would like to hear the rest of your story sometime.”
“It’s not as interesting as you’d think.” Cissy picked up two more plates and carried them out. When she returned for the cups, he said, “Sorry to hold you up.”
“Please, don’t worry about it. These dishes will take me an hour anyway.” She leaned toward him. “Tell you what. If you get detained at the bank and arrive too late in the future, I’ll hold a plate for you. Just come to the kitchen, and you can have it there.”
His gaze clung to hers. “Don’t want to be a bother.”
“Won’t be. I usually eat supper after, anyhow. We could—could eat together.”
“That sounds real fine.”
“And—if you want to come into the kitchen when you’re finished here, I saved a piece of cake you can have for dessert.” She needn’t tell him she’d saved that piece for herself.
“I’ll take you up on that, Miss Cecilia. And thank you for your kindness.”
Now, what had made her invite him to have supper with her? Cissy wondered as she returned to the kitchen.
Miss Cecilia. She liked the sound of that.
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Multi-award-winning author Laura Strickland delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Her first Scottish Historical hero, Devil Black, battled his way onto the publishing scene in 2013, and the author never looked back. Nor has she tapped the limits of her imagination. Venturing beyond Historical and Contemporary Romance, she created a new world with her ground-breaking Buffalo Steampunk Adventure series set in her native city, in Western New York. Married and the parent of one grown daughter, Laura has also been privileged to mother a number of very special rescue dogs, and is intensely interested in animal welfare. Her love of dogs, and her lifelong interest in Celtic history, magic and music, are all reflected in her writing. Laura's mantra is Lore, Legend, Love, and she wouldn't have it any other way.
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Laura Strickland Author @LauraSt05038951