What Was I Thinking???
Meet me in Tombstone, Arizona – epitome of the Old West, home of the gunfight at the OK Corral, Bignose Kate, and the Birdcage Saloon. Walk the dusty streets and you feel those ghosts and hear their stories, rugged men and alluring women. The search for gold looms large and the whisper of a hidden mine with a remaining vein of gold echoes in the rocky hills.
Hot damn! My imagination kicked into gear. I had my unique setting for a Southwestern romance, a story of love and intrigue.
Enter Tory, a modern, no-nonsense entrepreneur from California. She is drawn, not by the lure of wealth, but curiosity about a father she never knew. Of course, her love challenge must be someone quite different from her, someone like Dodge Callahan, a rugged cowboy-type looking for gold. Oh, and my cousin, Johnnie picked the name for our macho hero! I love that! And I love Dodge! Hope you do, too.
Here's an excerpt from this month's featured ebook, CALLAHAN'S GOLD - one of my Romancing the West series when Tory Talbot comes to the Old West town of Tombstone believing that gold will never take the place of love. But love replaces the lure of gold when she meets Dodge Callahan. Will she change everything for love?
They drove out to the old trailer where her rental car was parked. She made a motion to open the car door. Reluctant to leave, she paused and gazed gratefully at him. "Thank you for helping me shop today, Dodge. And for everything—dinner tonight, even the beefalo whatever this morning. Today has been . . . nice. Very nice."
He looked at her and smiled softly. For a moment, she fell under his masculine spell. His brown eyes were like chocolate, shining with pleasure, his lips slightly parted and appealing. The mustache shrouded his lips darkly.
Oh, God, what was wrong with her? She found this man extremely attractive. No, he was more than that. He was alluring and downright irresistible.
She wanted to feel his lips on hers, to know the sweet caress of his breath on her cheek, to respond to the warmth of his masculinity. She wanted him close. She craved his kiss and leaned forward and waited as his energy enfolded her and he edged closer . . .
The strength Tory had expected claimed her lips as his mouth melted over hers. There was no resistance to her invitation, for Dodge Callahan was a man to take advantage of every opportunity. And she had certainly offered that opportunity.
However, the warmth that radiated between them and engulfed her was more than she had anticipated. More than she had experienced in a long time. Suddenly, she felt like soft clay, ready and willing to be shaped and formed into whatever Dodge's hands chose to do with her.
Dodge was the first to pull back, although his eyes were hooded with desire and his lips smiling with the sweet taste of her. "Oh, yes, Tory, nice . . . very nice. But I – "
"I know. You have to go. And you should."
"I—uh—don't intend for this to happen again." She looked down at her tightly clinched hands, suddenly angry about her response to him.
"No? Now, that's a shame. Looks to me like we two matched up perfectly."
"No, we didn't. It was a spontaneous moment. I, uh, had better get my packages and go."
Silently, he helped her load her newly acquired clothes into her rented car. "I'll pick you up Friday, Tory, and we'll head up the mountain. Plan on staying about two weeks."
"Yes," she said, nodding weakly. "Friday."
He waved as she pulled away. When she disappeared from sight, Dodge felt strangely empty and alone. Damned curious woman, he thought. Maybe I was a fool to fall for her sex appeal. But she gave me that look, that damned feminine invitation that said, "It's okay this time." And, oh, God, I wanted to consume her with everything I have.
He ambled toward the trailer and felt an eerie glow, almost as if someone were there. He glanced around shakily, half expecting a form to appear around the corner of the old tin building. But who? "Sharkey? No, that's ridiculous," he scoffed aloud in a low mumble.
He sat on the doorstep and gazed skyward. The immense black sky overhead was sprinkled with a million distant stars, glittering as they had for millions of years. Even in the midst of such enormous grandeur, Dodge couldn't shake thoughts of Tory. She made him feel as he hadn't felt for many years. He was definitely attracted to her.
Today, in spite of her tough facade, she had seemed vulnerable, in need of help. Or a friend. Or both.
Dodge saw himself as her protector, her defender. Responsibility for this attractive young woman now rested on his shoulders—had been given to him by Sharkey. And he wanted to assume this responsibility with all his energy.
And undeniably, the man in him wanted to possess her completely with his body.
Tory was still thinking of Dodge's kiss when she arrived at her motel. With arms full of packages, she struggled to unlock the door to her lonely little room. Kicking the door open, she staggered inside and dumped her things on the floor.
But when she switched the light on, she drew back in horror.
Everything in the room had been turned upside down and inside out. Pillows, dresser drawers, bed covers, suitcases, and clothes lay in complete disarray. A cool breeze, deceptively peaceful, ruffled the curtain at the open window beside the bed.
Someone had broken into her room and searched every item there! She backed out the door. Could the intruder still be hiding in the bathroom?