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"Danged devil's rope." Jackson Kellar checked the stallion's withers where the barbed wire had nicked it. "It ain't too bad though, Nate. Shouldn't be a problem for the trip back home, less it festers."
"Good. McLeod was right about this fellow being high-spirited. It should be a treat to ride him." Nate ran a hand down the horse's neck and crooned softly until it gentled. Nate had mighty talented hands when it came to soothing the beasts. Or any other animals he came across.
Jackson included himself on that list.
Aware of the McLeod field hands watching them, Jackson positioned himself between the horse and the hands to check his six-shooter. Something about the look of some of those men left him uneasy. Once assured the gun was loaded, he surveyed the ranch. Long strands of the barbed wire outlined the fields and pastures, where a decade before this valley had been open. Not that it stopped the cattle rustlers from tearing down the silver barriers. Rumors he'd heard in town questioned just which side of the McLeod fence the rustled cattle were herded.
A flash of pale blue hurtling at Nate had Jackson whirling on his heel. He cocked and aimed the Colt until he realized Nate's attacker was a shovel-wielding woman.
He holstered his weapon and watched the she-devil swing the shovel at Nate with an admirable ferocity. From the way he was deflecting the blows instead of landing his own, Nate must have figured out she was of the female persuasion. If the woman was as pretty from the front as she was from the back, Jackson couldn't blame him.
"Need some help there, Nate?"
"Nope, I got it." A grinning Nate dodged the shovel, and again when it returned for a yet another go-round. She'd put so much oomph into it, she lost her balance. Seizing the opportunity, Nate snatched the shovel and tossed it to Jackson, who caught it one-handed.
Danged if the she-devil didn't ball her hand into a fist and catch Nate with a right hook that snapped his head back.
"You sure you don't want some help?"
"Naw, I got it." Nate caught the fist as it whizzed past his face a second time, pulling the hellion against him. "Now, see, ain't this more cozy, darlin'?"
"I'm not your darlin'." She jammed her knee into a part of Nate's anatomy that no knee had a right being anywhere near.
The color drained from Nate's face, and he dropped to the ground with a croaking sound that had Jackson wincing in sympathy.
With a growl, Jackson caught Nate's attacker from behind. He banded his arms around her, trapping her arms at her side. It didn't stop her from hauling her foot back to continue the assault.
"That's enough of that. He ain't goin' nowhere for a while." He swung her out of the way before she kicked Nate into a patch of prickly pears.
She struggled against him, her behind rubbing his cock. From the way she was cursing him six ways from Sunday, he doubted she was aware of how the danged thing was rising up to salute her efforts.
"Your mama know you use language like that?" Jackson asked, keeping an eye on Nate, who was turning a disturbing shade of green.
"My mama died last spring." She stilled, her voice dropping to a whisper.
"Well now, I'm right sorry about that. But you can't just go around attacking folks for no reason."
"No reason?" The hellcat started struggling again. "You're on my land, stealing my horse. If I'd had my gun handy, I could have shot you and no one would have stopped me."