***Warning Adult Material***
Her Unlikely Bodyguard - ExcerptJemma Leigh woke to a high-pitched wailing sound and tried to sit up but couldn't, only then realizing she was strapped down in a moving vehicle. Before she could panic or even give voice to the questions floating around in her head, there was a flurry of movement in her peripheral vision.
One of the paramedics kneeled beside her in an instant. "Don't be alarmed, Miss Harding. The straps are for your own protection. You can't be expected to hold on in a moving vehicle when you're unconscious."
"Yes. That truck knocked you unconscious when it hit you. Don't you remember?"
"I remember hearing the truck and jumping back to the sidewalk. I was standing there, watching the approach of a rather irate driver when everything became foggy. I don't remember anything after that."
"We couldn't find any signs of a head injury. Is it possible you just fainted?"
"I've never fainted in my life!" she exclaimed.
"Shock does strange things to people, especially when there's personal injury involved."
"Shock I can understand, after seeing that monster of a truck coming directly at me, but I jumped clear. How could there be personal injury?"
"You have a nasty abrasion on your left ankle. It's going to require stitches, at the very least."
"What? How?" she asked, confused, finally becoming aware of a gentle throbbing in her foot.
"The driver found blood on his front fender. Your ankle got a good clip before he managed to stop."
At mention of the driver, Jemma Leigh's thoughts returned to Theodore Garrity. The moments they'd shared during high school and summer vacations were still mighty precious, turning her dreams into an erotic oasis on more than one occasion over the years. Why did she have to have a close encounter with him of all people…and on her first day back, too? What was he doing in town? Her mother told her he'd married and lived out west somewhere.
The cessation of movement brought her back to the present predicament and she gave the paramedic a questioning look.
"We're at the hospital. The staff here will have you stitched up good as new in no time. You'll soon be on your way as long as there are no internal injuries."
"Hopefully sooner. I don't have time for this."
"Some things you have to make time for and having that ankle tended to is one of them," he answered. Another paramedic opened the rear doors, helped roll the stretcher out of the ambulance and into the emergency department. The smell of antiseptic and disinfectant assaulted her nostrils as they wheeled her over to the nurses' station.
When the nurse came out to greet them, Jemma Leigh stated, "Hi, I need to make a phone call."
"I'll bring you a phone just as soon as we have you settled in an examining room," the nurse assured her.
As luck would have it, emergency wasn't busy that day and the doctor arrived as they transferred her from the stretcher to a bed. He was tall, with short blonde hair and electric blue eyes, and extremely good-looking. "Good afternoon, Miss Harding. I'm Dr. Harrison. Heard you had a run-in with a truck and the truck won," he stated, turning a megawatt smile in her direction.
Wow! She wondered what had happened to draw so many handsome men to this backwater town. This guy seemed almost too perfect…good looks, a sense of humor and a secure, good paying job at that. Clueing in to the silence surrounding her, she shot a shaky smile at the doctor and said, "I prefer being called Jemma Leigh. The truck was much bigger than I was and all it got was a bit of skin off my ankle. I think the fact that I'm still here means I won that round."
"Either that, or God isn't ready for you yet," Ted quipped sarcastically from where he stood in the doorway listening to the exchange. "Maybe it was just my excellent reflexes that saved your hide."
"You always did have a strange sense of humor, Teddy. You should pay more attention when you're behind the wheel of that brute. What are you doing here?"
"Just checking on the invalid. I was worried when you didn't immediately regain consciousness."
"As you can see, I'm fine. No insurance claims pending, so now you can go."
"Consider me gone."
Surprisingly, he left without a good-bye or a backward glance, just as he'd done...no, she wasn't going there.
A Cowgirl's Pride - ExcerptPrologue
Four years ago
Leah sat straight up in bed, listening intently, wondering what, or who, had awakened her. Roddy’s side of the king-sized bed was empty. Where was he?
A fresh breeze blew in on the night air, causing her to hug herself and rub her arms to erase the chill. She pulled the blankets more securely around her nude form, but still she was cold. She rose to close the window, the autumn winds a bit too brisk for her liking. That’s when she heard it.
Her hands stilled on the frame as she heard the raised voices, anger and rage ringing in their depths.
“Hey, man! I wasn’t coming onto your woman. You can have her. Leah’s a bit too scrawny for my taste.”
“Now you’re insulting her? If you’re not interested, why did you get so close when she danced? Why did you try to climb up on the stage?”
“I do that with all the girls, Rod. You know that. I just try to encourage their dancing. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“It does to me. You touched her…touched my woman, and I won’t have it.”
“She flaunts herself in front of everybody in the club. Can I help it if her moves are drool worthy?”
“Drool worthy? I’ll show you drool worthy.”
The sheen of metal flashed in the moonlight. A knife! Roddy held a lethal looking knife.
“You’re dog meat, Parker.” He plunged the knife into his friend then pushed him backward onto the ground.
Leah gasped in shock, quickly covering her mouth, but he must have heard. His head jerked up and focused on her window—on her. Good Lord!
“Roddy, help me,” Alex’s pain-filled voice begged, drawing his focus. “I thought we were friends.”
“Hard to be friends with a dead man.” He stabbed him again, then whistled for his dogs as he wiped the knife on Alex’s shirt.
Jumping back from the window, horrified at the cold-blooded murder she’d just witnessed, she backed away, ever so slowly, hoping he hadn’t seen her.
She should run! Far and fast. This was a side of Roddy she’d never known existed. Footsteps pounded up the stairs. Too late! She jumped into bed, pulling the blankets tight, her entire body shaking in reaction. What kind of man had she gotten involved with that he could kill one of his best friends in cold blood?
The bedroom door slammed back against the wall and she cringed in fright. He threw back the covers, grabbed her arm and hauled her out of bed.
“You fucking whore!”
“Roddy, stop! You’re hurting me!” She fought against his hold, but it was no use. He half-lifted, half-dragged her to the window, where the sound of his dogs snarling and growling could easily be heard.
“You bitch! See what you made me do? Look! Open your eyes, damn it!”
He jerked her hard against the sill, banging her head on the window. She straightened, felt the tip of the knife under her chin and her eyes flew open. A gory sight met her gaze. Roddy’s dogs, wolfhounds, were tearing poor Alex limb from limb. Bile formed in the pit of her stomach, threatening to erupt. She tried to look away but the knife pierced her skin. A trickle of blood warmed a trail between her breasts. Terrified, she tilted her head back, squeezing her eyes shut against the horrid image. “Roddy, please!”
“Please what?” he asked, skimming the blade from her throat to her ear.
“Please, let me go,” she whimpered. She hated showing weakness of any kind, but she couldn’t stop herself.
“Why? You don’t like the show?” he taunted.
“No…no, I don’t.”
“Maybe you’ll like this better.”
With one hand he scraped the knife down over her shoulder and up again; the other he used to squeeze her right breast painfully hard while holding her tight against him. His erection poked into her backside. She couldn’t believe it! How could he kill a man and get off on it? She held her breath, scarcely daring to breathe as the blade came across under her other breast.
“I could rid you of these, then you wouldn’t be of any use as a topless dancer at Le Club Rouge Sang. What do you think?”
His voice was low, evil with intent.
She sucked in a breath, alarmed at his words. “If my dancing bothers you, why not just allow me to quit?” she asked, a measure of backbone finally coming to her aid.
He flung the knife to the floor and spun her around to face him, his eyes fiery orbs in the glistening moonlight. “Oh, you’ll dance. But no more touching. You’re mine! Do you hear me? Mine! I own you, body and soul! You’d be nothing if not for me.” He shook her roughly, emphasizing his words.
Before she could reply, he’d swung her up in his arms, carried her across the room and threw her down on the bed. She scampered backwards, pulling at the covers to hide her nakedness. His sinister laugh rang out followed by one quick tug wherein he removed all the blankets, only the fitted sheet remaining. His gaze locked on hers, challenging, almost daring her to protest as he kicked off his shoes and began removing his clothes.
“You’re an accessory to murder. How does it feel?”
“I’m not! I didn’t…”
“You could’ve run for the phone, called it in, but you didn’t. That makes you an accessory.”
“Yes!” he hissed. “And if I hear you breathe a word of what happened here tonight, your fate will be the same as dear Alex’s. Understand?”
She nodded, afraid, truly terrified for the first time in her life. Without a doubt, he’d kill her and never suffer a moment’s remorse. Her lover was a monster, someone she didn’t even know, evincing a dark evil; the spawn of the devil.
He grabbed her feet and yanked her to the edge of the bed, his hard cock pushing against her clit as he held her legs at his sides. “Understand? I want to hear the words.”
“Yes, Roddy, I understand.”
I understand that you are not the charming, debonair man I thought you were. She vowed to get away as soon as she could. But how?