Cowboy Comes Home [NOOK Book]

Overview


She Couldn't Keep Running

Not when she had finally found a place to call home. So this time, when her past reared its ugly head, Anna Fleming dared to seek shelter in the last place she had ever thought possible…the arms of a man.

Hugh Gallagher knew what haunting memories could do to the mind. He taught her to trust, to embrace the passion his gentle touch evoked…and to make a stand for their future.

...
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Cowboy Comes Home

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Overview


She Couldn't Keep Running

Not when she had finally found a place to call home. So this time, when her past reared its ugly head, Anna Fleming dared to seek shelter in the last place she had ever thought possible…the arms of a man.

Hugh Gallagher knew what haunting memories could do to the mind. He taught her to trust, to embrace the passion his gentle touch evoked…and to make a stand for their future.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781460311653
  • Publisher: Silhouette
  • Publication date: 12/17/2012
  • Series: Conard County
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 196,110
  • File size: 516 KB

Meet the Author


Rachel Lee was hooked on writing by the age of twelve, and practiced her craft as she moved from place to place all over the United States. This New York Times bestselling author now resides in Florida and has the joy of writing full-time.

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Read an Excerpt

Cowboy Comes Home


By Rachel Lee

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-38814-4


Chapter One

Anna Fleming was sure no one could see her.

She stood in the back of Good Shepherd Church in a dimly lit corner and watched the wedding ceremony. It was everything she had ever dreamed of for herself and the embodiment of all the dreams she had lost. A sad little sigh escaped her, but almost at once she lifted her chin and reminded herself not to wallow. It was always wiser to count one's blessings.

She was a mousy woman, small and bland looking in a shapeless brown dress and sensible shoes. Her dark hair was drawn back severely, and her wide brown eyes peered at the world from behind gold-rimmed glasses. Those glasses were the most flamboyant part of her apparel, but they were nothing out of the ordinary.

And that was how she liked it, she told herself as she watched Sheriff Tate's daughter marry the policeman from Los Angeles. No one noticed her, no one at all, and in her invisibility and anonymity, she found the only safety she had ever known.

Reverend Fromberg, a gentle man in his late forties, read the vows in a sonorous voice that reached the back of the church without difficulty. Anna listened to the words and wondered what it would be like to trust someone enough to make those promises. She couldn't imagine it. Trust, she had long agolearned, was more likely to be betrayed than fulfilled.

Stifling a weary sigh, she turned quietly and slipped out the side door into the vestibule, where she descended the stairs into the church basement. The room was brightly lighted and decorated for the reception and supper to follow the wedding. Anna walked swiftly around, checking to be sure that everything was in order. The caterers were putting last-minute touches on everything, and it wasn't really her responsibility, but she checked anyway. This was her church, and she was secretary to Reverend Fromberg, as well as leader of the youth group. She couldn't help but feel that whatever happened on church property reflected on her employer, and upon herself.

Satisfied, she darted back toward the stairway, planning to vanish back into the shadows in the church above, but found her way blocked by the looming bulk of the man known to everyone as Cowboy. He wasn't a large man, but he was solidly built, with dark hair and dark eyes, and a face that looked as if it had seen a great deal of hardship and sorrow. Anna was scared of him for no other reason than that she didn't know him, or anything about him, really.

Being caught by him like this, all alone - she completely forgot the caterers at the other end of the basement - startled and unnerved her. She jumped back and stumbled.

His arm shot out as swiftly as a striking snake and caught her elbow, steadying her.

Anna froze, looking up at him, uncertain what would happen next. Part of her realized he had just saved her from falling, but mostly she was aware that he was touching her. She hated to be touched. Suddenly, freed from her paralysis, she shook off his hand.

"Sorry," he said, his voice slow, deep and steady. "I didn't mean to startle you."

"I ..." Suddenly embarrassed by her reaction to him, she felt she needed to say something. But what?

He gave her a half smile. "It's okay. I saw you come down here and wondered if maybe you were sick or something. People don't usually run out in the middle of the wedding vows. I thought you might need help." He shrugged a shoulder. "I didn't know all these other folks were down here."

Before she could think of a single thing to say, Cowboy turned and climbed the stairs. Anna stared after him, her eyes full of unspoken fears and wishes.

Hugh Gallagher, known far and wide as Cowboy for some damn reason he'd never been able to figure out, took his place at the back of the church and watched Janet and Abel Pierce pose for photographs with the wedding party. A steady stream of guests began to make their way to the rear of the church, toward the stairs that led down to the church basement. There would be laughter and food and many more pictures taken before the day was over, but Cowboy turned toward the door, getting ready to leave.

He was invited to the reception - hell, the sheriff had invited damn near everyone in the county to one or another of the parties he was throwing to celebrate this event - but he wasn't a party person. Crowds still made him uneasy, and the basement itself was too confined a space to make him comfortable, even when it was empty.

He hesitated, though, thinking of mousy Miss Fleming, the church secretary, and how startled she'd been to run into him on the stairs. He didn't like it when people reacted to him that way. It reminded him of things better left forgotten.

If he made himself go down there, maybe he could talk to her a bit, get her over her fear. He didn't want her reacting that way when she saw him again. On the other hand, if he went down there he was going to have to deal with his damn claustrophobia and all the other phobias that he preferred to leave undisturbed as much as possible.

Hell.

He hesitated a few moments longer, then decided to head outside and smoke a cigarette. Forcing the issue wasn't going to make Anna Fleming any more comfortable with him. He would just have to bide his time until a better opportunity came along.

Outside, the October twilight was already fading into night. The air was chilly but still, not too uncomfortable. Besides, he was used to far worse after wintering in the mountains in lean-tos and tents. He stepped off the walk onto the grass and lit a cigarette, inhaling with real pleasure. He ought to quit, and knew he was going to have to if he ever got his dream of a youth ranch off the ground, but for now, he savored every puff.

He wasn't the only one who sneaked out for a smoke. A couple of minutes later the double doors opened to disgorge a group of laughing men. He recognized them all - with only five thousand people in this county, it was hard not to learn to recognize most of them - but he stepped around the corner so that he was out of sight. People tended to regard him uneasily, as if he were a time bomb, and while he didn't exactly blame them, he resented the hell out of it. Besides, he didn't much feel like being sociable. The only reason he was here was that he didn't want to offend the sheriff and his family. They'd been too good to him.

The group out front stayed where they were, and Hugh let the deepening night wrap comfortably around him. Unlike most people, he always felt safer at night. At night he could be invisible. At night he could vanish.

The basement was a madhouse. Everyone was drinking, laughing, talking. The noise level was almost deafening in the confined space, and the temperature was soaring, even with all the windows open to let in the fresh air.

Anna was beginning to feel claustrophobic, as well as far too hot in her wool dress. She had always hated large crowds and was able to tolerate Sunday worship only because everyone was so orderly. They were not at all orderly right now, and the champagne was making everyone a little bit raucous.

She was, she realized, afraid of being grabbed. It wasn't so much the crowding as the smell of champagne that was affecting her. The scent of alcohol had preceded some of the worst experiences of her life. As soon as she felt she decently could, she grabbed her jacket and slipped out the side door.

She was hurrying, not wanting to be stopped by anyone, and had her head bowed as usual. She didn't see Hugh Gallagher until she plowed right into him.

He reached out swiftly to keep her from falling to the cold, hard ground. She felt his arms close around her and heard him say laughingly, "We've got to stop meeting like this."

In an instant, panic flared in her. She flailed against his restraining arms, and as soon as he released her, she backed up quickly, nearly falling again in her haste to escape him. Some portion of her mind was screaming, "No! No!" even while another part was recognizing that he wasn't coming after her. That in fact he had stepped back, as if recognizing her terror and wanting to soothe it.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Cowboy Comes Home by Rachel Lee Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2013

    Entertaining fast read

    I would recommend all of the Conard Co. Books. You won't be disappointed.

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