Cast out of China, Chin knows all about how hard life in a foreign country can be, especially for a woman on her own. Given the name Jade and a job packing in the crowd as an exotic dancer at the Red Petticoat, Chin thinks she’s finally carved a safe and secure place for herself when, looking out across the dance hall, she spies the son of the man who murdered her family. Panicking, she flees into the night, into the worst storm in living memory.
Struggling on a failing ranch, neither Cullen Drake nor his brother Garrett has any idea how to combat the illness ravaging their herd. But the night Cullen finds himself slogging after sick cows during the worst storm in California’s history, he happens to be in the right place at the right time. At first, he thinks it’s a child he’s rescued from a flashflood. It’s not until he gets her home that he realizes Chin is every inch a woman grown… and a woman on the run.
Chin knows better than anyone the risks of staying too long in one place or letting people get too close. Yet the harder she tries to escape, the worse off she becomes until finally, sick and wounded, she finds herself unable to run and her past is closing in. Fortunately for her, Cullen has a past of his own and a fearsome determination to protect, whether she wants him to or not. Unfortunately, he also knows how to handle young ladies more interested in running than behaving.
His chair creaked as he shifted, swiveling on his rain-soaked and muddy butt to face her head-on. His broad hands came to rest on his wet thighs. If she thought that not being his kid would save her, she had one hell of a surprise (and whupping, if she continued to test him) coming. Already his palm itched.
“One,” he told her in a measured tone.
Another wisp of emotion flittered across her muddy features, there and gone again before she asked, “One, what?”
“Lie to me again,” he clarified. “I dare you.”
The smell of crisping bacon, like hot summer’s comfort, wafted through the house. A log in the stove popped. Chin and Cullen stared at one another, neither blinking.
“I’m going to ask you only once more,” he said, keeping a tight grip on his patience. “This time, I expect the truth. Are you a runaway, girl, or do I need to get back on my horse and go searching for your kin before they fall in the same wash that almost killed you?”
Her tiny fingers tightened in the folds of her blanket, twisting the homespun before drawing it in close around her. She shuddered, for the first time dropping her gaze to her lap as if searching for her answer among the filthy wrinkles of her skirt. “My family died years ago.”
“I’m sorry,” Cullen said without softening. “Where you headed?”
Black eyes rose and locked with his again. He knew professional gamblers with more revealing stares than hers. “San Francisco.”
Cullen’s chair creaked as he shifted again, that coal burning hotter. At the stove, Garrett stopped stirring long enough to tsk. His laugh came out as a rueful chuckle. “Guess we’re doing this the hard way,” he said, shaking his head.
“Two,” Cullen breathed, flexing his hand to the accompanying pop of two tense knuckles. His palm was itching so he could hardly stand it. “San Fran is in the ass-opposite direction. Try again.”
Stiffening, the girl hiked her chin and a snap of real fire lit the depths of her dark eyes. “I’m not lyin—”
And that was three.
He moved so fast, in the time she had to react only her eyes widened. After that, he had her, seizing her by one arm and a good handful of blanket at the scruff of her neck. He stripped it off her even as he yanked her out of her seat, leaving the blanket cast to the floor in disgrace and herself sprawled facedown across his lap.
About the Author
Fortunate enough to have married my Dominant, I am a wife, administrator at two local BDSM dungeons, resident of the wilds of freakin’ Kansas (still don’t know how I ended up here) and submissive to the love of my life. I have penned more than 120 novels, novellas and short stories, and am the author of the Masters of the Castle series, of which Kaylee’s Keeper reached #1 on all Amazon.
Visit Maren’s blog here:
Friend me on Facebook here: