Title: Lawless Love
Author: Andrea Downing
Genre: Western Historical Romance
Lacey Everhart has carved out a tough existence in the wilds of 1880s Wyoming, working hard to build a secure life for herself and her younger brother, Luke. She will stop at nothing to protect what's hers and keep them safe. Even if it means keeping a secret that could destroy their lives.
Marshal Dylan J. Kane is a man who considers everything as black and white, right or wrong. He's never seen life any other way until he sets eyes on Lacey. Suddenly the straight and narrow that he's followed has a few twists and turns. Loving Lacey offers the home life for which he hankers...but can he really love a woman who seems to be plain lawless?
Lacey retreated behind the door. Her gun belt hung on a hook nearby, and at the sight of the marshal, her hand automatically felt for it. But shooting a U.S. Marshal wasn’t a good idea, not at least, until she discovered what he wanted. She crossed her arms over her chest.
“What exactly is it you want now? And how did you find me?”
“What I want is a room for the night—”
“You must be joshin’—”
“And a meal. Sheriff said this is a boarding house. Sign outside says ‘room available.’ Guess I’ve come to the right place.” Dylan’s jaw clenched, and he tapped his foot a moment.
“There’s no room.” Lacey tried staring him down, but it didn’t work. Every time she looked into the marshal’s eyes, she had the most uncomfortable feeling that she’d forgotten to dress. And she had other uncomfortable feelings, too. She took a step back.
Unfortunately, Dylan saw it as an invitation to step forward.
“Just where do you think you’re going?”
“To see my room, where else?”
“I just said—”
“I know what you said. And I know what the sign says.” He locked eyes with her and took in a deep breath. “And I need a hot bath.”
“I’ll say. I think you might recall where the river is.” A smell like rotting weed wafted off him.
“What’s the matter? Your husband can’t protect you from me?”
“My hus…? I haven’t got a blamed husband, and…What exactly is it you want, Marshal?”
“Like I said—a room and a bath and a meal. It’s been a long day.” Dylan placed a hand up on the wall, locking Lacey between him and a convenient hat rack behind her. He turned his head and eyed the gun belt, then turned back to her. “I guess you’re used to protecting yourself?”
“Myself. And my brother.” She made a point of saying brother. Silence fell between them for a moment as they ogled each other. “You’re not going to leave, are you?” Lacey sighed.
“No, ma’am.” His body shifted slightly, and she could feel his breath on her cheek, the Chinook come in to melt winter’s ice.
Lacey shook her head slightly, disappointed with her susceptibility to the dang man.
“Room’s at the top of the steps on the right. You can put your horse to graze in the pasture, and there’s feed in the barn. I’ll put some water to heat for your bath. There’s a washhouse out back.” She turned to go, then looked back at him. “And maybe I’ll just sit and watch you bathe and see how you like it!” And get another look at them muscles I caught sight of back at the river.
But she didn’t watch him. Lacey busied herself in the kitchen listening to the male sounds—the squeak of the bed as he tried it out, the clink as he dropped his spurs on the floor, and the heavy footsteps that made their way down the stairs and out the back before the humming started.
Her brother never hummed any more. The last few weeks Luke had been sullen and taciturn, moving round the house like a shadow. He had come to dislike Morgan—she hadn’t liked Frank Morgan calling round herself, but that was over, and they needed to get on with their lives. She peeked at the roast in the oven and wondered what Luke would make of the marshal. She needed to warn Luke, but there was no way now. Just thirteen, he would be home in a day or so after his work at one of the ranches over by Twin Pines. Home…and with the marshal.
Lacey slammed the oven door shut and straightened to her full height, aware of the marshal’s long frame filling the doorway, his hand up on the door, clean clothes and not a straggly whisker in sight. His light brown hair was still long, but washed, and pushed back off his face to reveal a strong chin and rugged good looks that made a gal feel safe and cared for.
He visibly took in a deep breath, aromas of rosemary and baking potatoes and gravy filling the air.
“Smells good.” His voice was low, the contrary and truculent notes gone now.
Lacey sighed. “Seems like you’re having your wish. We’re eating dinner together after all.”
Dylan stepped into the room. “No other boarders?”
“I’ve only got two spare rooms. I don’t rent my brother’s.”
“He’s not coming home?”
“Not tonight.” Lacey gazed at the floor and bit her lip. Townspeople considered it indecent for her to be running the boarding house on her own, but it was the only way to keep her head above water. Ha! That’s a good one, all things considered. “How long you plannin’ on stayin’, Marshal?”
“Dylan. Name’s Dylan Kane. No idea, depends on whether I can find the man I’m hunting.”
Lacey turned back to start podding peas. “What’d he do?”
“Killed a man.”
Lacey’s head shot up as her glance met Dylan’s.
His eyes narrowed for a moment. “Shot him between the eyes close range. Stole his horse. A real killer on the loose.”
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A native New Yorker who has spent most of her life living in the U.K., Andrea Downing currently divides her time between the canyons of city streets and the wide-open spaces of Wyoming. Her background in publishing and English Language teaching has transferred into fiction writing, and her love of horses, ranches, rodeo, and just about anything else western, is reflected in her award-winning historical and contemporary western romances. Lawless Love, a novella, part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, was a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards.
Social Media Links:
WEBSITE AND BLOG: http://andreadowning.com
Twitter: @andidowning https://twitter.com/AndiDowning
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Downing/e/B008MQ0NXS/