Loaded [NOOK Book]

Loaded

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426818295
  • Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises
  • Publication date: 1/1/2008
  • Series: Four Brothers of Colts Run Cross Series , #1065
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 165,564
  • File size: 201 KB

Read an Excerpt

Shelly Lane walked into the Country Café at one-forty on a Friday afternoon in the middle of June, following on the heels of Matt Collingsworth. Smells of fried chicken, cinnamon and fresh-brewed coffee greeted her. It looked like the sort of place you should seat yourself, but a short, plump woman with a knot of graying curls on top of her head was smiling and sashaying toward her.
"Hi, there," the lady said, her charming Texas drawl pulling her words into extra syllables. "You can just sit anywhere, and Jill will be around to take your order in a jiffy."
"Thanks." Shelly glanced around and noted that she was the only one eating alone. Most of the customers were family groups, though there were a few tables with just lone cowboy types. Several looked her way. Most grinned and nodded. A few waved. Colts Run Cross was a very friendly town.
Shelly located Matt—he'd joined a group of men and one super-cute young lady at a table near a window—then chose a spot where she could observe him without making it too obvious. Actually, she didn't mind him seeing her now that she was about to make contact with his mother.
The chair wobbled a bit as she slid it closer to the square wooden table covered in a blue plaid cloth. A simple vase holding two silk daisies sat in the middle, flanked by inexpensive salt and pepper shakers and a bottle of catsup.
Her attention returned to Matt. He was far more handsome in person than in the likenesses she'd studied of him. His hair was short, dark brown and only slightly rumpled by the Western hat he'd been wearing before entering the restaurant. His jeans were worn, but clean, and though she couldn't see it now, she knewfrom stealthily following him about town that they showed off his lean, hard frame to perfection.
He glanced her way and smiled. A treacherous skip of her heart forced her to take a deep breath and regroup. Even the slightest attraction on her part could compromise her mission.
Jill stopped at Shelly's elbow. "The special today is fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and pinto beans. That comes with corn bread or biscuits and a dish of peach cobbler and ice cream for dessert.
Or you can order off the lunch menu. It's on the back."
The waitress turned the menu over and tapped the offerings with her index finger. "What would you like to drink?"
"Just tea, please, with lemon."
"Sure thing."
Jill stopped off at Matt's table, flirting shamelessly with him and his cohorts. Not that Shelly blamed her. They all had that sexy cowboy mystique about them. It was even more potent than Shelly had expected, but she knew that Matt Collingsworth was no simple cowboy. Nor was he your everyday Texas rancher.
Not only did his family own the second-largest spread in Texas, but they were sole owners of Collingsworth Enterprises, which encompassed the operations of Jack's Bluff Ranch as well as Collingsworth Oil and its related subsidiaries. Which meant they had ties to some of the most high-ranking businessmen and politicians in this country and in other key parts of the world.
The waitress arrived with the tea and Shelly ordered a grilled chicken salad, which arrived in short order. She lingered over her food, finally leaving though Matt was still engaged in a very animated conversation with the others at his table.
The sun was blinding when she stepped out the door of the small café. She fished in her handbag for her sunglasses and put them on as she crossed the street to her dark blue, nondescript sedan. She was opening the door when she spotted a black car rounding the corner, speeding toward her.
Sunlight glinted off the barrel of a revolver as it slid through the open window. Her instincts and training kicked in at the speed of light. She searched the empty streets for someone to warn, then crouched behind the car door as the sound of gunfire and bullets pinging against metal shattered the quiet afternoon.
Even if she'd had time to retrieve her weapon from the car, she wouldn't have had time to fire back. The car had roared past and she could hear the footsteps and voices of people rushing from the nearby shops, before she realized she'd been hit by a ricocheting bullet.
The keys slipped through her fingers and it felt as if a dozen wasps had all found the same spot on the back of her upper arm. Blood soaked the sleeve of her blouse. She stared; the incredulity of the situation made the facts difficult to register. This couldn't have happened. She was CIA and deep undercover. Not even her own mother knew she was in Texas.
"She's been shot," a female yelled.
But when Shelly looked up, she was staring right into the dark, piercing eyes of Matt Collings-worth. Trouble had never been more ominous— or looked so good.
My name is Shelly Lane. I'm a physical therapist who's just arrived in Colts Run Cross and has no idea why anyone would be shooting at me.
Shelly worked to keep the lies firmly implanted in her mind as she fought to overcome the effects of pain and unexpected vulnerability.
"Some fool fired at me from a passing car and I think a bullet ricocheted into my arm," she said, as Matt crouched down beside her.
"Is that the only place you were hit?"
"I think so."
"You're damn lucky. Your car wasn't so fortunate."
She only nodded, wondering if he was as innocent in all this as he seemed. Her experience told her to doubt him. Her instincts said differently.
"Hope this isn't your favorite blouse," Matt said, wielding a pocketknife and staring at the bloodied mess. "No, cut away. Not the arm—just the sleeve."
"Picky, are you?" He cut away the fabric and then helped her to the sidewalk where someone had brought out a chair for her to sit on.
"The ambulance is on the way," a bystander announced.
"Who shot her?" someone else yelled.
"Some guy in a black Ford. Skidded around the corner. He's long gone now."
"Son of a bitch!"
"Probably stings like hell," Matt said, shifting so that he could get a better look. "The bullet tore into the flesh of your arm, but there are no exposed bones. A few stitches should put you back together."
He applied pressure to slow the bleeding as she dealt with the bizarre irony of having him come to her rescue. His touch was strangely heady— probably from the rush of adrenaline and the loss of blood. Still, his take-charge attitude was impressive. It was easy to understand why the ranch he comanaged with his bother Bart was so successful.
But then, organizational skills and money were exactly what was making the Collingsworths'ties to terrorists so difficult to trace. She could not let down her guard for a second.
"Who shot at you?" Matt asked.
"I have no idea."
"Do you have that many enemies?"
"I don't have any that I know of. All I know is the car came from nowhere and someone started shooting at me."
"Are you saying this was just a random drive-by?" There was no mistaking the suspicion in his voice.
She tried to move her arm so that she could see the wound.
"Probably best to keep it still," Matt said. "The ambulance will be here soon."
"I don't need an ambulance."
"Maybe not, but you have to go to the emergency room and that's as good a way as any to get there."
"Are you a doctor?"
"Nope, just a rancher. Name's Matt Collings-worth."
"Of Jack's Bluff Ranch?" She hoped there was ample surprise in her pain-laced tone.
"That's right. Have we met?"
"No, I've only been in Colts Run Cross a few days but I have an appointment with Lenora Collingsworth tomorrow at the ranch."
His eyebrows arched. "I'm the physical therapist she hired for her father-in-law." That much was true. She'd been a physical therapist, before going back to school for a degree in criminal psychology and going to work for the CIA. Her PT background was the only reason she'd drawn this kind of major assignment so early in her career.
"Bum luck to show up in town for a new job and get shot before you even get started," Matt said.
"Do you have many drive-by shootings around here?"
"Never. This makes no sense at all."
And she could tell from his tone and expression that he liked things to make sense. She suspected he also liked being in control. He'd certainly taken over here quickly enough.
"I'll let Mom know not to expect you tomorrow— if ever. I can see how a welcome like this might convince you to turn around and go back home."
Nothing would make her willingly leave before the investigation was completed, but her supervisor was not going to like this development. If the shooting wasn't a random act of violence, then someone had to know who she was and why she was here. In that case, she'd be jerked off the assignment before she even made it to Jack's Bluff Ranch.
A siren sounded and a sheriff's squad car pulled up. A couple of uniformed lawmen jumped out, and the bystanders who had gathered around her all started talking at once.
"A bullet hit the car and…"
"No one saw the shooter, but he was in a sedan…"
"Okay, let's try to talk one at a time," one of the lawmen said. "Did anyone get the license plate number?"
"The car was a black, late-model Ford Fusion, but there was no license plate," Matt said.
"Did you see the whole thing?"
"No, I was inside the café when the shots were fired, but I raced to the window in time to get a good look at the back of the vehicle before it rounded the corner and disappeared from sight."
The lawman put up his hand to signal for quiet. "Did anyone get a look at the shooter?"
"I came running out of Flora's Antique shop when I heard the shots," an overly plump woman with heaving bosoms offered. "All I got was a glimpse of the back of the car."
The others shared similar accounts.
The lawman doing all the talking turned to Shelly. "Did you get a good look at him?"
"No. The second I saw the gun, I ducked out of the way." Which meant there were no eyewitnesses, just as the brazen shooter had no doubt intended.
"Could be some kind of gang-related initiation," one of the young cowboys who'd been sitting with Matt in the café said. "Same thing happened in New Orleans when I was there a few months back helping rebuild a church lost to Katrina."
"Well, hells bells, Charlie. This ain't New Orleans."
The ambulance arrived, and two paramedics jumped out and ran toward her. One started tending the wound that was now only oozing blood. The other commenced with a series of routine questions about the injury and about any allergies she had.
"Let's just hold on here a minute," the lawmanin-charge interrupted. "I need the victim to answer a couple of questions before you go rushing her to the hospital, seeing as how she's not in dire need of emergency medical care."
He introduced himself as Sheriff Ed Guerra, and she told him her name.
"So, Miss Lane, do you know why anyone would be taking pot shots at you?"
"Absolutely not. I don't know anyone in Colts Run Cross except the people I've met over the last four days. They were all very friendly."
"So you just moved here?"
"I've been staying at the motel on the highway, but I came here to work for the Collingsworths. I'm a physical therapist."
The sheriff and Matt exchanged glances. "She's supposed to work with Jeremiah," Matt said.
The sheriff nodded and nudged his cowboy hat back a bit farther. "Where are you from?"
"Atlanta."
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2008

    A reviewer

    It¿s Matt Collingsworth¿s turn for love in this installment of the ¿Colts Run Cross¿ series by Joanna Wayne. He can¿t explain his attraction to Shelly Lane, the physical therapist who¿s been hired to work with his grandfather, and he can¿t explain why she seems to attract violence where ever she goes. But his cowboy code of honor won¿t allow him to leave her alone and unprotected when someone obviously wants to do her harm. But Shelly Lane isn¿t who she seems to be. How¿s a girl supposed to keep up a false front when all she wants is to declare her love for Matt? And how would Matt ever forgive her for betraying him and his family? This is the first-rate conflict into which author Joanna Wayne has dropped her latest hero and heroine. As fast paced and exciting as the other ¿Colts Run Cross¿ books, Loaded will not disappoint the romance reader who has a special spot in her heart for cowboys.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2013

    Violet

    Said in his ear: fu.ck me hard

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2011

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    Posted September 30, 2010

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    Posted August 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 7 Customer Reviews

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