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“He took a hostage, but got a wife. Desperate to keep the bank from taking his land, River Kirby kidnaps Abigail Hoff with the intent to hold her for ransom. The spunky heiress proposes a mutually beneficial plan instead, one that will save his farm and allow her to stay in Kentucky -- Abigail hires River to pose as her husband.”
The glass of whiskey River Kirby held in his hand froze halfway to his mouth when she walked in the saloon. Usually he didn’t give brunettes a second look, but something about this one drew his eye away from the three queens in his hand. Like the sun rising in the morning sky, she illuminated the room as she crossed. The stale scent of sawdust and sweat was dispelled by a faint scent of flowers. He tracked her as she passed.
What a pleasant distraction she was. He needed a bit of a distraction today. His future had been looking pretty good until this morning. He and his buddy, Sam, had spent the last week tracking Hollis Wakefield and dragging his sorry behind back to Truman’s Crossing. They recovered the money he’d stolen from the bank and brought all of it, just as promised, to Eustace Foster. Eustace had promised each of them, both River and his buddy Sam, five hundred dollars. It was five hundred River needed to make good on his loan. Five hundred he needed to recoup after a long hard winter that had killed nearly half of his horses. But his run of bad luck was holding true. He had the misfortune of arriving on the same day as the owner’s son-in-law, Frederick Hoff. Frederick hadn’t agreed with Eustace about the reward.
It had taken him hours to convince Eustace to use the reward to pay off his bank note, but today Frederick Hoff unconvinced him. If River didn’t pay soon, the bank got his land and livestock all because Frederick Hoff didn’t think he and Sam deserved the reward.
River sipped more of the whiskey, savoring the aromatic flavor a moment before swallowing it. His eyes traveled back to the woman. Like the fine whiskey he was drinking, she was out of place in this sad excuse of a saloon. Sour mash and fallen women were the usual fare in these parts.
What he wouldn’t give to remove that feathered hat and loose the curls she kept in a disorderly upswept style. He would bury his face in her soft hair as it fell free and trail kisses from her neck to her shoulders. Her bare shoulders, he corrected as an afterthought.
She didn’t look too happy. Her lips turned down like a heavy rosebud on a wilting stem. Her eyes were tired and shadowed. Would his kisses drive away the sadness in her eyes? Could he make her face blossom into smile? He took another drink and decided if he couldn’t get a smile he’d settle for a breathless look of awe.
As if feeling the pull of his heated gaze, she made eye contact with him. River gave a one sided grin. If only she could read his mind... she’d throw the rest of his drink in his face. This was a woman who inspired prose and sonnets. Unfortunately, he was no Will Shakespeare.
Her eyes demurely darted away from his. What the heck was she doing walking into the Dew Drop Inn? Hoyt Wright, the sheriff, walked up to her. Interesting. She nodded and spoke to Hoyt, then lifted her hand to move a stray curl behind a dainty bejeweled ear.
Boy Howdy. Forget the woman. Hello Beautiful.
A revoltingly large diamond ring glittered in the dusty sunbeams of the saloon. Now that just wasn’t right. No one should own something so completely for show.
Shoot, he didn’t want a big diamond all he wanted was a little bitty farm.
After being denied the reward, he’d spoken to the banker about an extension, explained who he was, where he’d come from and why the reward money was so important. Frederick Hoff had listened to him attentively then laughed.
Hoff accused him of setting the whole thing up with Hollis.
“He robs the bank, then you catch him, bring back the cash and get the reward,” he said. But Hoff hadn’t been content to leave it at that. He’d had to rub a little more salt in the wound. He had to ask what a man, half-Irish and half-Shawnee, would want with a farm?
Sheriff Wright spoke, drawing River’s attention back to the present. “I am so sorry to have to call you over here, ma’am.”
“You’re just doing your job, sheriff.” The woman answered.
Mallary Mitchell loves writing as much as reading. After years of teaching, Mallary returned to writing. When not typing at her computer she enjoys spending time with her children and husband. Mallary’s previous releases are The Widow’s Ransom and Cissy Cain and Abel.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 238
Paper Weight (lb): 10.2
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