The Raven and the Cowboyby Sandra Chastain
He first came to her in a dream: a sleek and tawny cougar with the power to protect her. So when Raven Alexander/i>
From bestselling author Sandra Chastain the award-winning author of The Redhead and the Preacher comes a spellbinding novel of romance and adventure, as a beautiful Indian and a hardened drifter embark on a perilous quest...
He first came to her in a dream: a sleek and tawny cougar with the power to protect her. So when Raven Alexander awoke to find herself lying beside the rugged stranger, she wasn't afraid. He might be an unruly cowboy with a checkered past but Raven believed the spirit guides had sent him to help her find the sacred Arapaho treasure. But Tucker Farrell didn't trust women, even exotic innocents like Raven. And though he agreed to join her quest, Raven feared it was because of the gold. Now, when the last thing in the world she should do is fall in love, Raven finds herself fighting an impossible battle... caught between her duty to her people and the passionate longings of her heart.
- Random House Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.25(w) x 6.92(h) x 0.85(d)
Read an Excerpt
It was the sound of thunder that woke Tucker, followed by hard, pelting rain that stung his face. He sat up, disoriented for a moment as he tried to remember where he was.
Rain. He was outside. But where was Yank? A flash of lightning lit up the sky, revealing the side of the cliff and an opening in the rock before him. He pushed himself onto his elbows, his head vibrating as if he'd been hit by the lightning flashing in the distance.
Gingerly he began to feel his way toward the wall, his hand encountering something in the darkness--something that ought not to be there. An ankle. A slim ankle leading to a foot encased in a soft moccasin.
Tucker froze. He wasn't alone. Wherever on the west side of hell he was, he had a woman with him. But why wasn't she having a reaction to his touch? Another jagged streak of silver split the sky and illuminated her face--he could see that she was an Indian, wearing a buckskin dress.
He must have had more to drink than he'd thought. Maybe he was hallucinating. Or this was a dream. No, the leg he held was real. It was warm and soft and feminine. But something was wrong. No woman would sleep through a storm.
As the rain streamed down his face, Tucker turned to look behind him. All he could see was rain and--space.
Space? His stomach contorted and his knees quivered. He said a small prayer of thanks that it was dark. He didn't want to know how high they were. They were on some kind of damned ledge and she was hurt or unconscious.
He blinked, trying desperately to close out the ringing inside his skull. Once a horse he'd tried to break had kicked him and left him like this. A couple oftimes, he'd tied on a good one, but nothing like this had happened to him then. Too much whiskey made a man weak, and Tucker Farrell never lost control.
The rain came down harder. The woman. If he didn't get her out of this downpour, she'd get sick. Taking her by the arm, he tugged her against him. With one hand behind him and the other arm around her waist, he inched away from the edge.
At last, with one final jerk, they were inside the cave, out of the elements. Tucker shivered from being wet. His bedroll was on Yank's back, wherever Yank was. Tucker didn't want to think that the horse had gone over the edge with him. Tucker always took care of his horse. Just like his namesakes, the big black was indestructible. They were a good match, a Southern Rebel and a horse named Yank. Both were survivors.
The cave was small and damp. The woman, still lying against his chest, was cold. He shook her gently, waiting for a reaction. But the only response he felt was his own as the top of his index finger found the space beneath her breast.
"Ma'am...Lady...I beg your pardon, but would you wake up."
She moaned and turned slightly so that her face was against his chest. His hand, below her breast only moments ago, was now holding it. Tucker froze, waiting for her to come to her senses and chastise him for his liberties.
But she didn't wake. He had the absurd feeling that he had been cut into two people. His head ached fiercely while the lower half of his body, very much alert, announced a raging male hunger. Until he understood what was happening, he'd force his thoughts and touch away from that need as he cradled her head and laid her down.
That's when he found it, the wound, blood now dried across a deep cut in her scalp behind her ear. However she'd come to join him in this godforsaken place, she, too, had come accidentally. Nobody deliberately fell off a cliff. But what was he going to do? The rain hadn't let up. It was too dark to see how to get back to the trail, and he wasn't sure he was steady enough on his feet to get them there.
If he could find some dry sticks or limbs, he could build a fire. Reluctantly he let go of her and waited for the next flash of lightning. Once he was reasonably certain that they weren't sharing the cave with any animals, he began to explore, encountering the remains of a pack rat's nest.
In the cantina he'd had tobacco and matches. He reached into his shirt pocket, hoping they were still there. They were, along with the half-breed's gold nuggets and the watch fob. Now the bandits had another excuse for chasing him--the loot.
Shielding his meager makings of a fire from the wind, Tucker cupped his hands and struck the first match against a stone. It flared briefly, then died. There were only a few matches left. He couldn't afford to waste another. By touch he found a tuft of dried moss and encircled it with his legs, planting his back to the cave opening.
Over the moss he crumbled tiny filings of dried leaves.
Closing his eyes, he prayed for a moment of calm as he lit another match. This time the moss blazed up, igniting the sticks. Momentarily he had a tiny fire going. By its light he could see other animal nests and a stack of pine cones. Wild animals hadn't been the only ones to use this small cave. He hoped the Indians in the area wouldn't decide to collect rent because he was using their firestarters.
With a fire going, he moved the woman farther into the cave. The heat brought out the smell of whiskey sopped up by his shirt when he'd knocked over the bottle at the card game. He wished he had it back. It would taste a hell of a lot better on the inside than out.
Though meager, the fire soon warmed the air inside the small cave. Tucker sluiced water through the woman's head wound and winced at the depth of it. He didn't know why she wasn't dead. She could die still if he didn't get her warm.
Removing his sheepskin jacket, he covered her, checking beneath her wet clothing for a sign that her body temperature was rising. It wasn't. Finally, because he knew nothing else to do, he lay down beside her and pulled her against him. He didn't intend to doze off, but the heat from the fire and the woman's body soon made him drowsy.
As the storm Aged outside, Tucker Farrell covered himself and the woman with his jacket. Then he did something he had never done with a woman before. He slept.
Excerpted from Raven and the Cowboy by Sandra Chastain. Copyright (c) 1996 by Sandra Chastain. Excerpted by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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