Never Marry a Cowboyby Lorraine Heath
In his arms she found the greatest joy she'd ever known . . . but his heart belonged to another. Can her love make their marriage real before their time together ends—forever?See more details below
In his arms she found the greatest joy she'd ever known . . . but his heart belonged to another. Can her love make their marriage real before their time together ends—forever?
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Fortune, Texas 1870
Christian Montgomery had no desire to be a hero, but it seemed Fate held little regard for his aspirations.
The crack of a gunshot echoed, through the saloon. The young woman who sat on his lap twitched, and he tightened his hold on her as he slowly brought his glass of whiskey away from his lips.
Standing in front of the bar, a man badly in need of a shave and a bath released a hysterical guffaw before firing into the wooden floor again. The fellow before him hopped and jerked his gangly body, his arms flailing like those of a scarecrow caught in the wind. The cowboy with the pistol laughed louder and shot the floor again.
Christian thought he might never understand these Texans' sense of humor. He cast a quick glance at the faro dealer who owned the saloon. Behind his gaming table, Harrison Bainbridge reached for his cane. Bloody hell.
Tenderly, Christian guided Loma off his lap. "Excuse me for a moment, sweetheart."
"Now don't go gettin' yourself kilt." She pushed her full lower hp into a pout that made him wonder if she might truly care.
He scraped back his chair, stood, and winked at her. "Not to worry."
He strode across the saloon as the cackling man shoved bullets into his gun before spitting a stream of tobacco juice, not even bothering to aim for the polished brass spittoon. Another disgusting habit many of these Texans possessed.
"Let's see some more dancin'," he ordered and pointed his gun between the feet of the poor fool who had been too frightened to move beyond harm's way
"Excuse me," Christian murmured.
The man with the gun jerkedhis head around, his tobacco juice seeping between his lips. With the back of his hand, he wiped his mouth. "What'd you say?"
Imploringly Christian held out a hand. "You must forgive me, but I don't quite. understand why shootIng the floor would make you laugh like a lunatic."
The man darted a glance at the three men who'd accompanied turn into the saloon, men who were alternately flexing their fingers and stroking their guns. Then he grinned, and the tobacco juice once again claimed its freedom. "It ain't the shootin'. It's the dancin'."
He fired a bullet into the floor between Christian's feet. Christian didn't flinch, although he heard Loma's tiny screech and someone else's gasp.
"Hey, Jasper, the fella don't seem to know you was aimin' for his toes," one of the cowboy's comrades shouted, grinning around the thin cigar clenched between his yellowed teeth.
Jasper wrinkled his pug-shaped nose. "I reckon he didn't at that." He aimed.
"Give me the gun," Christian ordered quietly. "I know the couple who own the saloon, and the wife is not going to be pleased that you have marred her floor."
"Think I give a damn?"
"You would if you knew her," he assured the man, but Jessye seldom worked in the saloon, now that she had children to keep her busy He held out his hand. "Give me your pistol."
"Take it from me," Jasper dared with a steely glint in his brown eyes as he jerked up his chin.
Christian plowed his fist into the target the man had conveniently provided. The gun thudded to the floor a heartbeat before Jasper did.
Christian might not understand their humor, but he understood their pride. Cowboys settled everything with a gun. They seldom fought hand to hand because they considered it an embarrassment to take a punch. Bullets and blood they could fathom. Boxing baffled them.
Leaning down, Christian picked up the weapon while Jasper watched, stunned, his face burning a dull crimson.
"About time you took action, Marshal," Harrison Bainbridge said as he limped closer, I heavily on his cane.
Christian gave his friend a warning glare as he readied into his pocket and wrapped his fingers around his tin star. "I had planned to take the evening off.
He pinned the symbol of his authority onto the lapel of his jacket, right over his heart. Then he gave a pointed look to each man who had accompanied jasper into the saloon. "Gentlemen, I'll take your firearms."
"You can't be the marshal. You ain't wearing a gun," the one with the cigar protested.
"I find them cumbersome." He pointed toward his fallen comrade. "But as you can see, I don't require one in order to enforce the law of this town, a law which prohibits the bearing of firearms in the saloon."
"You hit jasper," another man said, his eyes blinking rapidly.
Christian nodded at the scruffy fellow's brilliant deduction. "Shall I hit you as well?"
"That ain't fair," the man pointed out.
"Little in life is. Now, give me your weapons or spend the remainder of the night within the confines of my jail."
Grudgingly, the men unfastened their gun belts and handed them over. Christian gave them a perfunctory nod. "You may retrieve these from my office when you leave Fortune, which I trust will be tomorrow morning after you've finished sanding and smoothing Mrs. Bainbridge's floor."
With Iong, confident strides, he returned to his table, set down the weapons, and sat.
Lorna grinned brightly. "Gawd, you are so brave."
She plopped onto his lap and flung her arms around his neck. He wrapped one arm around her tiny waist to support her precarious position. With his free hand, he removed his badge, slipped it into his pocket picked up his glass, and smiled warmly "Now where were we?"
"You was tellin' me naughty things you done in England. She lifted her bare shoulders to her tiny, delicate ears. "And how you might do 'em to me iffen I wanted."
"Ah, yes. I assure you, sweetheart, that you will Want --"
He scowled as Harrison Bainbridge approached his table, dragged back a chair, and dropped...
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