Okay, what's the book about, you ask? Here you go!
Kendra Zelner has three brothers: Eight-year old Noah she's determined to protect, Joel who has no clue she exists, and Robert who wants her dead.
With reason to be distrustful of cops, she takes Noah and flees their Manhattan home for Joel’s ranch in Colorado. Under the pretense of needing a job, she plans to hide out until her twenty-fifth birthday, when she’ll inherit her trust fund and legally gain custody of Noah away from Robert’s greedy hands. Unfortunately, her brother’s sexy, infuriating ranch manager insists on demolishing her defenses and digging into her past.
Colton Lawe has good reason to suspect Joel’s beautiful, long-lost sister isn’t what she seems—the little liar stole from him! He silently vows to expose her secrets, but long hours together on the ranch fosters a closeness and fiery attraction neither of them expects.
Can Kendra trust Colton with the full truth before Robert finds them?
Excerpt: (Note: This takes place after the excerpt posted on my website.)
As the horse lipped at his palm for more treats, he spotted Kendra walking from the middle barn toward the guest house. Another look at her three inch heeled boots reiterated her growing list of lies. People with designer boots like that didn’t care about anyone but themselves—and people he cared about were the ones who’d end up hurt.
He realized right then he needed to raise the stakes in his current plan of action. Sally’s nose bumped against his chest and reminded him of Kendra’s reaction to Nobel that morning. Nobel was big. His brow rose. But he knew someone bigger.
Colton walked to the barn entrance and leaned a shoulder against the side. “Where do you think you’re going?”
Kendra jerked to a stop and pivoted to face him. “It’s almost four.”
Her chin lifted just enough to hint at defiance, and he rose to the challenge. “So?”
“I’ve put in my eight hours for the day. I’m done.”
That’s what you think, honey. “You’re done when I say you’re done. Joel may sign the paycheck, but he made me your boss.” Her small fists balled at her sides, but Colton continued before she could argue. “You got a problem with that, take it up with him later. For now, I want you to get Paelo out of his stall; he needs to be brushed.”
He kept a straight face with effort as she walked to the barn. This was going to be good. He’d bet money she’d be on her way back to New York before dinner.
When she located Paelo, her eyes went wide, and he saw her swallow hard.
Yeah, that’s right, sweetheart, Paelo’s a brute.
What she didn’t know is he’d chosen Paelo because, though he was big enough to scare the daylights out of someone who didn’t know horses, he was harmless as a lamb.
Colton went back by Sally and waited for Kendra to make the first move. Finally, she turned with an expression of dismay and fear. He squashed an unexpected flicker of guilt and concentrated on the fact that he’d won. After a day of her one-upping him, he couldn’t hold back a smile for this triumph.
In the blink of an eye, determination flared in her eyes, and she spun back to the stall. Colton’s smile faded. Hmmm, she had guts. Admirable. Just for a second, he’d give her that.
“Where’s his collar?”
Colton snorted in disbelief. “His what?”
“His coll—or h-halt—” She grimaced, squared her shoulders, lifted her chin again. “Where’s his
Grinning again, Colton pointed to a hook around the corner. She grabbed it and slid the stall door open. “Don’t I need a leash?” she asked.
There was no containing his laughter. “He’s a horse, not a dog.”
She whirled around to snap, “Laugh all you want, I can do this.”
“Go ahead then, let’s see you walk the puppy around the block.”
Her jaw clenched, and she spun back toward the stall. Paelo stretched his nose forward to bump against her cheek, a ‘kissing’ trick Britt had taught him years ago. Kendra’s panicked shriek echoed in the barn. Paelo’s head jerked up; Kendra scrambled back. Her boot heel hooked the edge of the cement at the base of the stall.
She went down, but caught herself before her head slammed the concrete. Paelo moved forward again, and Kendra began to scream and kick her feet.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake.” Colton rolled his eyes as Paelo looked at him as if waiting for his help. Colton hurried over and knelt down on one knee next to Kendra, laying a hand on her shoulder. She shrieked all the louder, caught in her hysteria.
“Stop it.” She didn’t hear him, but who could hear anything above her yelping? Guessing Paelo’s ears were as strained as his, he gave her a sharp shake and commanded, “Shut-up already!”
Her gaze snapped to his, focused, and just like that, she quieted. Until she saw Paelo hadn’t moved, then she turned into Colton’s body. “Get it away.”
Her plea was downright pitiful. Half on his lap and tucked tight against his side, her body shook as much as her voice. He realized she was genuinely terrified. Forgetting his plan had been to do exactly that, he forced her to look at Paelo and spoke in a low, soothing voice. “He won’t hurt you.”
Paelo stretched his nose toward her, and she pressed closer to Colton. He took her hand and extended it toward the stallion’s soft muzzle. Halfway there, the uneven surface of her palm made him pause to turn her hand upward. Guilt stabbed hard at the sight of her raw, blistered skin. Stupid fool, he thought. Only he wasn’t sure if he was referring to her or himself.
He shook off the unwelcome attack of conscience, and laid her hand on Paelo’s nose. The stallion nuzzled her palm. She pulled back the moment Colton let go to fish a sugar cube from his shirt pocket. With his hand under hers, he held her steady as the horse gently lipped up the sweet.
“Paelo is Britt’s horse,” he explained softly. “She raised him from a foal. Both Cody and Dustin ride him.”
She touched the horse of her own free will now, so Colton lowered his hand to rest on her thigh, his arm curved around her. Her trembling stopped, and her breathing steadied.
“They ride him?”
He nodded. “I’ve seen them crawl under him as babies—he didn’t twitch his tail until they were safely out of the way.”
He watched her hand drift lightly over Paelo’s nose and was distracted by a thought of what that touch would feel like on his own skin. His hand flexed against her thigh.
All of a sudden, her whole body stiffened. She placed her hand on his leg to leverage quickly off his lap. Through the material of his jeans, the warmth of her hand sent a kick of desire straight to his midsection.
Damn that knee-jerk reaction.
He assisted her the rest of the way up with a rough hand on her arm. She stumbled, making a sound of annoyance as she righted herself. Colton surged to his feet. He didn’t like the feelings she stirred; he needed to stay on guard so he could expose her to Joel for a thief and con artist.
Momentarily distracted watching her brush the dust from her jeans, he came up with, “You should’ve seen yourself.”
Her head jerked toward him in surprise.
He adopted a high, whiney tone. “Please, please, help me—he’s gonna smell me to death.” His forced chuckle of disdain succeeded in making her flush with embarrassment.
“He surprised me,” she defended quietly.
“If I’d had a camera, I’d be in the running for a hundred grand on America’s Funniest Videos.”
She turned to slam the stall door shut without taking Paelo out. “Fine, so I was a little scared.” A measured pivot brought them face to face again. Her gaze did not waver. “But whoever it was that gave you the idea it’s okay to make fun of someone’s fears is probably a son of a bitch…just like you.”
She stared him down, her chin tilted, her eyes full of indignant reproach. Guilt mushroomed and the only way for Colton to combat it was a full-on attack. As he advanced, her censure transformed into uneasiness. He clenched his jaw against her fear with grim determination and moved closer.
“I don’t have to be nice to you,” he stated. “You may have fooled Joel and Britt, but I’m going to figure out exactly what the hell you’re playing at.”
“I’m not playing at anything.”
“No?” He took another step, and she backed against the stall door. “You really expect me to buy your coincidence story any more than I buy your claim to be experienced with horses?”
“It’s not a story.”
“Bull,” he bit out, leaning close while bracing a hand on either side of her. She swallowed hard before lifting her chin with that aggravating defiance again, prompting him to promise, “I’m gonna expose you, Kendra. You’ll slip up again and I’ll be watching when you do. Might as well leave now.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” she snapped.
“We’ll just see about that.”
“Your accusations are as tiresome as your Neanderthal act. Move.” She placed her palms against his chest and shoved. He took a voluntary step back, grasping her slim wrists at the same time. He applied just enough pressure to let her know he was in charge. Her eyes widened with renewed apprehension.
“Don’t push me,” he warned. “And I don’t mean physically. Your best bet right now is to go home.”
She pulled against his firm hold. “I’m trying to.”
He gave a short laugh. “I meant New York, you thieving little con artist. Pack up that brother of yours and get the hell out of here. JBM isn’t your home.”
Her nearness was affecting his pulse again so he released her with an angry flick of his wrists. She gave him one last glare before stalking from the barn. He walked after her, but stopped at the doorway.
“I mean it, Kendra. Go home.”~*~
Thanks for reading! I'll post another excerpt from later in the book this afternoon.
TRUST IN THE LAWE can be found at: www.TheWildRosePress.com