Fortune's Prince (Harlequin Special Edition Series #2335) [NOOK Book]

Overview


Once upon a time… 

There was a beautiful princess, raised in riches but lonely of heart. When Amelia Fortune Chesterfield discovered her Texas roots, she hurried to Horseback Hollow, eager to find her past. And there she found her future…. 

The prince wore spurs and a Stetson and was unlike any man she had ever known. In one magical night, Quinn Drummond transformed the shy, reserved girl into a passionate, feeling woman. But in the ...

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Fortune's Prince (Harlequin Special Edition Series #2335)

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Overview


Once upon a time… 

There was a beautiful princess, raised in riches but lonely of heart. When Amelia Fortune Chesterfield discovered her Texas roots, she hurried to Horseback Hollow, eager to find her past. And there she found her future…. 

The prince wore spurs and a Stetson and was unlike any man she had ever known. In one magical night, Quinn Drummond transformed the shy, reserved girl into a passionate, feeling woman. But in the morning, the princess had to flee, tearing asunder their happily ever after. The prince, in his anger, retreated. Would a small miracle reunite the gun-shy cowboy with his lady love? Don't miss the heartwarming conclusion of The Fortunes of Texas: Welcome to Horseback Hollow!


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781460333259
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 6/1/2014
  • Series: Fortunes of Texas: Welcome to Horseback H
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 32,087
  • File size: 275 KB

Meet the Author


A frequent name on bestseller lists, Allison Leigh's highpoint as a writer is hearing from readers that they laughed, cried or lost sleep while reading her books.  She credits her family with great patience for the time she's parked at her computer, and for blessing her with the kind of love she wants her readers to share with the characters living in the pages of her books.  Contact her at www.allisonleigh.com


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Read an Excerpt


He stopped cold when he heard a faint rustle. The only light there was came from the moonlight sneaking through the barn door that he'd left open behind him.

Standing stock-still, Quinn Drummond listened intently, his eyes searching the black shadows around him. He'd built the barn. He knew it like the back of his hand. He knew the sounds that belonged, and the ones that didn't. Animal or human, it didn't matter. He knew.

He reached out his right hand, unerringly grabbing onto a long wooden handle. He'd prefer his shotgun, but it was up in the house. So the pitchfork would have to do.

This wasn't some damn possum rooting around.

This was someowe. Someone hiding out in his barn.

He knew everyone who lived in his Texas hometown. Horseback Hollow was the polar opposite of a metropolis. If someone there wanted something, they'd have come to his face, not skulk around in the middle of the night inside his barn.

His hand tightened around the sturdy handle. His focus followed the rustling sound and he took a silent step closer to it. "Come on out now, because if you don't, I promise you won't like what's gonna happen."

The faint rustle became a scuffling sound, then the darkness in front of him gathered into a small form.

His wariness drained away. His tight grip relaxed. Just a kid.

He made a face and set aside the pitchfork. "What'd you do? Run away from home?" He'd tried that once, when he was seven. Hadn't gotten far. His dad had hauled him home and would have tanned his butt if his mother hadn't stepped in. "Never works, kid," he advised. "Whatever you think you're running from will always follow."

The form shuffled closer; small, booted feet sliding into the faint moonlight, barely visible below the too-long hem of baggy pants. "That's what I'm afraid of," the shadow said.

Forget wariness. The voice didn't belong to a child. It was feminine. Very British. And so damn familiar his guts twisted and his nerves frizzed like they wanted to bust out of his skin. A runaway would have been preferable to this. To her.

Amelia.

Her name blasted through his head, but he didn't say a word and after a moment, she took another hesitant step closer. Moonlight crept from the dark boots up baggy pants, an untucked, oversize shirt that dwarfed her delicate figure, until finally, finally, illuminating the long neck, the pointed chin.

The first time that he'd seen her had been six months ago on New Year's Eve, at a wedding for one of her newly discovered cousins, right there in Horseback Hollow. Her long dark hair had been twisted into a knot, reminding him vaguely of the dancers at the ballet that his mom had once dragged him and his sister to. The second time that he'd seen her months later at the end of April, had been at another wedding. Another cousin. And her hair had been tied up then, too.

But that second time, after dreaming about her since New Year's, Quinn hadn't just watched Amelia from a distance.

No.

He'd approached her. And through some miracle of fate—or so he'd thought at the time—later that night, he'd taken the pins from her hair and it had spilled down past her shoulders, gleaming and silky against her ivory skin.

He blocked off the memory. He'd had enough practice at it over the past two months that it should have been easy.

It wasn't. It was the very reason he was prowling restlessly around in the middle of the night at all when he should have been sleeping.

"What the hell'd you do to your hair?"

She made a soft sound and lifted her hand to the side of the roughly chopped short hair sticking out from her head. She'd have looked like a boy if her delicate features weren't so distinctively feminine. "It's lovely to see you, too." She moved her hand again, and it came away with the hair.

A wig. It was stupid to feel relieved, but he did.

She scrubbed the fingers of her other hand across her scalp, and her hair, the real stuff, slid down in a coil over one shoulder, as dark as the night sky. "It's a wig," she said, stating the obvious. Her voice was unsteady. "The second one, actually. The first was blond, but there were reporters at the airport, and—" She shook her head, breaking off.

That night—the night he'd twisted his hands in her hair and thought he'd tasted perfection on her lips—she'd talked about the reporters who had dogged her family's footsteps for as long as she could remember. How she hated being in a fishbowl. How her life felt claustrophobic. How she envied his life on a ranch; the wide-open spaces, the wind at his back when he rode his horse.

Again, he pushed away the thoughts. He shoved his fingertips into the pockets of his jeans, wishing he could wipe away the memory of her silky hair sliding over his chest as they'd made love. "What are you doing here?"

"In your barn? Proving I'm better at remembering a Google Map than I thought." She let out a nervous sound that was maybe supposed to be a laugh but could have been a sob.

"Not my barn," he said tightly. "Here."

She took a quick, audible breath. She was young. Seven years younger than his own thirty. Practically a girl. Except she wasn't a girl. She was full-grown. Self-possessed. Aristocratic.

And now, she was hiding in his barn, stumbling around for words.

"Amelia," he prompted sharply. He couldn't pretend her unexpected appearance didn't make him tense. Any more than she could hide the fact that she was clearly nervous. The way she kept shifting from one foot to the other, almost swaying, told him that.

"Yes. Right. The, um, the last time we spoke—"

"What are you doing here?" He didn't want to rehash that phone conversation. It had been nearly two months ago. He didn't want to think about what had precipitated it. Didn't want to think about it and damn sure didn't want to feel anything about it. Not that conversation, or whatever was making her so skittish now.

Her lips moved again but no sound came out. She lifted her hand to the side of her head again. Swayed almost imperceptibly.

And pitched forward.

He let out an oath, his heart nearly jumping out of his chest, and barely caught her limp body before it hit the ground at his feet.

He crouched beside her, carefully holding her. He caught her chin in his hand. She felt cold. And was out cold. "Amelia!"

Dim light or not, he could see that her lashes, so dark against her pale, pale cheeks, didn't so much as flicker.

He rose, lifting her in his arms. It was easy. He routinely tossed around hay bales that weighed more than she did, and she seemed even thinner now than the night he'd replaced her fancy gown with his hands. She was neither short, nor tall. Pretty average height. But that was the only thing average about Amelia Fortune Chesterfield.

Everything else—

He shook his head, blowing out a breath and carried her out of the barn, not even bothering to pull the door closed though he'd likely come back in the morning to find that possum taking up residence there again. He aimed for his truck parked up by the house, about a hundred yards away, his stride fast and gaining speed as he went. The moonlight shone down on her, painting her face an even whiter hue, and her gleaming head bounced against his arm as he ran.

He could hardly breathe by the time he made it to his truck, and it wasn't because he was out of shape. It was because the nearest hospital was in Lubbock, a good hour away.

He could deal with a lot of minor medical emergencies.

He couldn't deal with an unconscious Amelia Fortune Chesterfield.

Adjusting his grip beneath her, he managed to get the door open with one hand and settled her on the seat.

Her head lolled limply to the side, quickly followed by her lax shoulders.

"Come on, princess," he whispered, gently situating her again, holding her up long enough to get the safety belt clipped in place. The chest strap held her back against the seat and he started to draw his hands away from her waist and her shoulders so he could close the door, but her arm shifted slightly. Then her hand. Sliding over his, lighter than a breath but still enough to make the world seem to stop spinning.

"I'm not a princess," she whispered almost inaudibly.

He exhaled roughly. She'd said the same thing that night, too.

Only then she'd been looking up at him through her lashes; a combination of innocence and sexiness that had gone to his head quicker than the finest whiskey.

Maybe she wasn't a princess. But she was still the youngest daughter of Lady Josephine Fortune Chesterfield and the late Sir Simon John Chesterfield. And since it had come out last year that Horseback Hollow's own resident Jeanne Marie Jones was a long-lost sister of Lady Josephine, the Chesterfield family was officially one of the town's hottest topics. Even Quinn's own sister, Jess, usually practical and definitely down-to-earth, had been struck royal-crazy. It had gotten so bad lately that he'd pretty much avoided her whenever he could, just so he wouldn't have to listen to her jabber on about the latest news from across the pond.

And for the past few months, particularly, he couldn't even visit the Superette in town to pick up his weekly milk and bread without seeing a magazine on the racks that mentioned Amelia in some way.

He took her hand and set it away from him, backing away to slam the truck door closed. He strode around the front and got in behind the wheel, not wanting to look at her, yet not being able to stop himself from doing so. The dome light shining on her face was more relentless than the moonlight, showing the dark circles under her eyes.

She looked ill.

He swiftly turned the key and started the engine. "I'm taking you to the hospital in Lubbock," he said flatly.

She shifted, her hand reaching for his arm again. Her fingertips dug into his forearm with surprising strength for someone who'd nearly face-planted in the dirt. "I don't need a hospital," she said quickly. "Please." Her voice broke.

"You need something." He shrugged off her touch and steered the truck away from the house. "And you won't find it here."

She sucked in an audible breath again and even though he knew he was in the right, he still felt like a bastard.

"You fainted. You need a doctor."

"No. I just… It's just been a long trip. I haven't eaten since, well since Heathrow, I guess."

He wasn't going to ask why. Wasn't going to let himself care. She was just another faithless woman. He'd already graduated from that school and didn't need another course. "First-class fare not up to your standards?"

She ignored his sarcasm. "I was in economy." She plucked the collar of her shirt that was mud-colored in the truck's light. "I was trying not to be noticed." She turned away, looking out the side window. "For all the good that did. I managed to lose Ophelia Malone before I left London, but there were still two more photographers to take her place the second I landed." She sighed. "I lost them in Dallas, but only because I changed my disguise and caught a bus."

He nearly choked. "You rode a bus? From Dallas to Horseback Hollow?" It had to have taken hours. On top of the flight, she'd probably been traveling for nearly twenty-four hours. "You have no business riding around on a bus!"

She didn't look at him, but even beneath the rough clothes that dwarfed her slender figure, he could tell she stiffened. "It's a perfectly convenient mode of transportation," she defended.

Sure. For people like him. He was a small-town rancher. She was the Amelia Fortune Chesterfield. And since the day she'd returned to England after her night dabbling with Quinn—after making him believe that she was going back to London only to attend to some royal duties and would quickly return to Horseback Hollow—she'd become one half of the engaged couple dubbed "Jamelia" by the media that dogged her steps.

Amelia Fortune Chesterfield was to marry James Banning in the most popular royal romance since the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Lord James Banning. A viscount, whatever the hell that was. A man who was her equal in wealth and family connections. A man who was slated for an even higher title, evidently, once Amelia was his wife. Earl something of something or other.

His sister had talked about it so many times, the facts ought to be tattooed on his brain.

His fingers strangled the steering wheel. "Wedding plans becoming so taxing that you had to run away from them?" He didn't wait for an answer. "Never mind. I don't want to know." He turned through the overhead arch bearing the iron Rocking-U sign and pressed harder on the gas. The highway was still a fair piece away, but once he hit that, it'd be smooth sailing. He'd leave her in capable medical hands and wash his hands of her, once and for all.

Somewhere inside his head, laughter mocked the notion. He'd been doing that so-called washing for the past two months and hadn't gotten anywhere. There had to be something wrong with him that he couldn't just file her away as a one-night stand where she belonged and be done with it.

"Please don't take me to Lubbock," she said huskily. "I don't need a doctor. I just need some sleep. And some food." She reached across as if she were going to touch his arm again, but curled her fingers into a fist instead, resting it on the console between their seats. "Drop me on the side of the road if you must. I'm begging you. Please, Quinn."

He ground his molars together. Would he have had more resistance if she hadn't said his name? "I'm not gonna drop you on the side of the damn road."

He should take her to Jeanne's. Recently discovered family or not, the woman was Amelia's aunt. Jeanne would take her in. Even if it was the middle of the night.

He muttered an oath and pulled a U-turn there on the empty highway.

Maybe Amelia wouldn't mind Jeanne's questions, asked or unasked, but Quinn would. Particularly when he had unanswered questions of his own.

He didn't look at her. "I'll take you back to the Rocking-U. And then you can start talking."
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2014

    Great read

    Really enjoyed this story. Love the series, looking forward to the next one.

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