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Will Brody and Laura get a second chance for happiness?

          “Brody.  Brody is that you?”
          Slowly he turned.
          Laura stood before him like a vision from the past that he wasn’t sure was real or imagined. All the pain and confusion from ten years ago rushed through him, filling his head with so much chatter he couldn’t hear a word.
          Brody rocked back and forth from his heels to his toes. This little ruse of his had been a stupid idea from the get-go.
          He should leave Laura to deal with Hawkes.
          But he couldn’t.
          Hawkes destroyed everything in his path. He couldn’t let the man destroy Laura. He had to get her out of there.
          His head demanded he leave.
          His heart propelled him to her side.
          “Tell me straight.  Why’d you come back here?” He clenched his fists at his sides to keep from reaching out, from taking her in his arms.”
          “It’s not what you think, Brody.”
           Again, that look he remembered well, as if she was peeling back his skin and looking straight inside him. His heart beat faster. His chest felt tight. Once upon a time he thought he knew her. Now he had no idea if he ever had. His gut clenched. He wouldn’t be making that mistake again.
          “You have no idea what I think.”

Don’t miss this heart-warming new Western Historical Series, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  Get book 1 HERE.


COMING SOON!

BRADLEY'S BRIDE


Chapter One


         What a picture-perfect day for a wedding! Amanda was so excited she could barely keep still next to her best friend, Laura, who was exchanging vows with Brody Mason. Laura looked truly radiant in a lace gown inlaid with hundreds of pearls, her eyes aglow with happiness and love behind her veil.
         A beacon of happiness Amanda saw mirrored on the groom’s face.
         As she shifted her gaze from Brody to his six brothers, her eyes lingered on Bradley, third from the end.
         The preacher’s voice interrupted her perusal. “I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.”
         Laura turned and passed her the bouquet just before Brody gathered his bride close for the wedding kiss. Amanda sighed at the sheer romanticism of the day. As she sighed, her mind skipped back to that secret and joyful place. A magical evening here at the Copper Moon Ranch, and the dances she had shared with Bradley.
         In typical male fashion, he had avoided her ever since.
         Amanda watched the gracious way Laura flitted from guest to guest, thanking them for coming. A keg of beer had been tapped and its consumption among the gents added to the buzz of merriment floating through the air. A four-piece group of musicians began warming up on the make-shift stage and dance floor to the left of the barn.
         Amanda circled the group of guests, wondering why she felt so lonely in the midst of a party. An only child, her life had always felt pretty solitary with only her and Ma. Living in a small town in the shadow of Yuma, Arizona. Amanda told herself she preferred the small-town life. But how could she be sure when that’s all she knew? She felt restless. Ready for some sort of change. Harking back to the first day she met Laura.
         On the far side of the dance floor she spotted Bradley, standing alone, his face in shadow. Perhaps he felt as lonely as she did, part of the reverie but never really belonging. One more thing they had in common.
         She was gathering her courage to approach him, suggest they share a dance like they had once before, when there was a loud clang of spoons against glassware, a signal for the newlywed couple to exchange a kiss, which was followed by whistles and catcalls.
         As she looked around the happy gathering, she nearly missed seeing the back side of Bradley as he made his way toward the barn. Before she had a chance to talk herself out of it, she set down her glass and followed him.
         She wasn’t overly surprised by Bradley’s destination. Somehow, she instinctively knew he preferred the company of animals over humans. As Bullet was too small to have a fulltime vet, Bradley was frequently called by the nearby ranchers should they have an animal in distress.
         The barn’s interior was dim, its only illumination from the lanterns outside, the air peppered with the smell of hay and warm animal flesh. As she walked past the shadowy stalls and heard the occasional snuffle or stirring of sleeping animals, her feet made no noise against the straw-strewn floor.
         She heard Bradley before she saw him. Caught the low murmur of his voice as he soothed an agitated mare in a nearby stall. She saw him crouch down and run a large, capable hand up the mare’s front leg, as he spoke in soothing tones. Amanda stood still as stone, envying the bond between man and beast. The moment was both intimate and poignant.
         Suddenly, feeling as if she was intruding, she spun to leave but the hem of her gown caught on a nearby pitchfork and sent it clattering to the ground. Bradley bolted upright. Their gaze met.
         “What are you doing here?”
         Amanda opened and closed her mouth several times but couldn’t seem to find any words.
         She cleared her throat and tried again.  “Maybe I was looking for you.” She shocked herself with the boldness of her tone, along with the way she sashayed toward him as if she’d been doing it her entire life, taking her cue from the professional ladies she’d seen in town.
         “Maybe I was remembering how well we moved together on the dance floor the night Laura was rescued. Wondering what else we might do well together.”
         Merciful heavens! Was that her speaking? She sounded like a total hussy. His eyes on her were dark, unfathomable, giving away nothing. Was he intrigued? Or repelled by her forwardness?
         “I’m going to do us both a favor and forget what you just said.”
         When he made to brush past her, almost as if she didn’t exist, Amanda couldn’t help herself. “Bradley, I—” She reached for him, caught the sleeve of his formal linen shirt.
         “Don’t!”
         One word.
         Dismissive.
         Final.
         Before she had a chance to reply, their exchange was interrupted by a ruckus outside. She started at the sound of shots being fired. They both dashed toward the door of the barn as more shots rang out.


Pre-order BRADLEY'S BRIDE here!

Release date: August 30, 2019



BRAYDON'S BRIDE


         Henrietta heaved a sigh of relief as Braydon sauntered back to the bride and groom’s head table. “Don’t encourage him,” she hissed under her breath to her friend, Percy.
       Percy shook his elegant blond head. “Darling, Henny. Men like Braydon Mason don’t need encouragement. They thrive on any sort of challenge.”
         Henrietta sniffed. “As long as he doesn’t consider me one. I was warned he fancies himself quite the ladies’ man. He was raised in a brothel, of all places.”
         Percy laughed out loud, causing a few of the guests to look their way, wondering if they had missed a good joke. “I don’t know if I ought to envy the bloke or pity him. Oops, don’t look now, but here he comes.”
         Sure enough, Henrietta looked up to see Braydon making a bee-line for their table. She rose before he reached them, scanning the room for the nearest exit, but only made it two steps before he caught her arm. She glanced back, horrified to see he held her shawl and her reticule in one large, sun-browned hand.
         “Forgetting something?”
         There was no mistaking the teasing glint in his dark eyes. She tossed her head proudly. “Not at all. I was just …” She glanced around, seeking an excuse for her attempt to flee. “I was just going for another glass of Champagne.”
         “Great idea. I could use a beer.” Before she knew it, her hand was tucked in the crook of his elbow, and secured there with his free hand. The warmth of his clasp sent unwanted tingles of awareness up her arm and beyond.
         Henrietta felt the curious gaze from more than a few pairs of eyes following their progress, and much as she wanted to pull away and tell Braydon Mason to keep his filthy hands to himself, she reminded herself there was a time and a place for everything. She was the newcomer here, and something of a curiosity to the locals.
         “’Nuther beer, Bray?” the bartender greeted him.
         “And Champagne for the lady, Mac.”
         “Coming right up.”
         “Thank you,” she said, accepting the glass Braydon held her way, relieved when he released her to pick up their drinks from the bar.
         “My pleasure.” The way he watched her over the rim of his glass implied his pleasures were vast and varied. And that he wasn’t above sharing.
         Two could play at that game!
         She leaned against the bar, not taking her eyes from him. “I hear the women in town are all wondering who will be the next Mason brother down the aisle, and with which lucky lady.”
        “I’ve got four other brothers in the running. I’ll sit that race out.”
         “Don’t be saying that too loudly,” Henrietta said. “I can’t bear the sight of female tears.”
         “One more thing we have in common.”
         “I wasn’t aware we had anything in common, Mr. Mason.”
         “I told you. Braydon.” He reached forward and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear with an easily familiarity that annoyed her. She went to bat his hand away, but he caught her hand in his and raised it to his mouth. Before she could jerk free his tongue made the most delicious warm, hot swirls across her palm at the same time his thumb stroked the sensitive underside of her wrist.
         Pulling her hand away was the furthest thing from her mind.
         Instead, she dashed her glass of Champagne in his face.

Pre-order BRAYDON'S BRIDE here!
Release date: September 15, 2019