January 29, 2019

One Tough Cowboy by Lora Leigh & Veronica Chadwick

Hunter shook his head, sitting in his truck, watching Sam’s silhouette through the window as she moved through the house. Just keeping an eye on her, he told himself. The circumstances behind her aunt’s death weren’t sitting well with him, and that worried him. It made him worry for her.

Sam would protest that she could take care of herself, and no doubt, she could in most circumstances. But he couldn’t seem to help the impulse, couldn’t help following the movement of her shadow from one window to the other, and wish he were in there with her.

A grin tipped his lips at the thought. In the little time he’d spent with her since she’d been back in town, she’d fascinated him. She was quick. She was smart. And she was damned dangerous to a man’s heart if he wasn’t careful. It didn’t help that he’d missed her with a surprising strength when she’d left town all those years ago. He’d keep expecting to see her just behind him, waiting to sabotage his date to slip into some kind of mischief. And slipping into mischief was something she’d been real good at.

As the windows went dark, he waited until the back bedroom light came on to start the Jeep and pull away. But it didn’t stop thoughts of his Pixie Pest.

He had been willing to bet she’d have a family by now. He certainly never imagined she’d be a cop. He’d imagined Sam married, maybe with a kid or two of her own. Undoubtedly no threat to his bachelorhood, or sanity, whatsoever. Yeah, right. She had no husband or kids to protect her from him. Or him from her. Over the years what he’d seen in those pretty, wide, blue-green eyes of hers had gone from wild, innocent wonder, to yearning curiosity. Independent, bad ass cop or not, there was still that same sweet, mischievous innocence in her eyes along with a fiery determination that only made her all the more intriguing.

Hell yeah, he was going to be distracted. That was an understatement.

Maybe she had changed. They both had. Life had a way of doing that to everyone. But Sam was still the same in a lot of ways. He’d be willing to bet that she’d caused a ruckus or two with that balls-to-the-wall approach to anything and everything she went after. There was no doubt she was a damned good cop. It was in the way she watched every one, gauged their actions, kept her eye on everything without seeming to. She was suspicious and no way would she sit back and leave this investigation to him.

He almost hadn’t shown up at all. He hadn’t gone to the viewing and deftly avoided the funeral. It wasn’t all that hard to do. He needed to stay on top of this investigation, and no one was making it easy for him. Add to that, the fucked-up mess of paperwork he’d inherited with the position. It was more than fair to say he was swamped. The truth was, in spite of all that, he knew he’d have to see her. Not really sure why the idea of seeing her again put him off so badly. But it had been easy for him to follow his instinct.

Where Sam was concerned, his instinct had told him to keep a good, safe distance from anything outside the perimeters of friendship.

She had been a funny kid, always getting into jams and running to him to get her out of them. She’d pretty much used him as her own personal guard dog. He hadn’t minded so much. The girl thought she was invincible and could take on the whole world. It seemed she still believed she was.

But when she came to town with her daddy to visit Dottie, everything had changed. She had just turned seventeen, but she sure as hell hadn’t looked seventeen. He’d been nearly twenty- six and engaged to Kelly. His reaction to seeing her scared the bejeezus out of him. So, he’d stayed away.

Even if he hadn’t been about to get married, he would have stayed away.


As tough as Sam liked to think she was now, she was still a tender, innocent little thing, and he wasn’t interested in being the one to destroy that. It was too rare. What he’d wanted to do was protect her and keep her that way forever.

Damn stupid notion, that was.

His gut had been right. It never let him down. He should have heeded its warning about Kelly. Distractions like Sam were more than he needed right now anyway.

No way in hell was she going to be easy to deal with, though. If there’s one thing he knew all too well about Samantha Jolene, it was that she never let go of what she was after.

She wanted in on this investigation, and she wouldn’t let him get in her way. But his intense attraction and need to protect and shelter her made the situation dangerous. The whole combination of woman-child was messing with him on too many levels.

Ah shit.

Yeah, his fucked-up situation just got worse.

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