A bounty hunter facing his past...
Gade Ryder returns to Eden, Texas, after twelve years to investigate a gang of rustlers on the family ranch. Had he accepted the job out of misplaced family loyalty or was it the compelling mystery of the devil’s daughter keeping him in the one place he didn’t want to be? Confronted by the memory of his mother’s suicide and the father he blames for her death, Gade finds himself seeking comfort from the one woman he couldn’t trust.
A criminal on the run...
Blaze Marie Austin, once a little girl forced to be an outlaw, finds a chance at redemption by repaying the man who’d saved her life. Only her savior’s estranged son accuses her of betrayal and ignites a passion she can’t deny.
Excerpt: Chapter One
Gade Ryder considered Eden, Texas anything but paradise. Yet, the Eve every man imagined strolled down the boardwalk as he stepped off the stagecoach.
The way she moved intrigued him. Slow, smooth, calculated steps drew his attention as the rolling wheels on a passing wagon drowned out the tinkle of her Mexican spurs and the steady clomp of dusty black boots. The building’s overhang cast the woman’s profile in shade while late afternoon sun shed the shadow of lush curves across the wood-grain floor. He couldn’t see her face yet just the red hair set ablaze, the ends curling like flaming fingers around her waist.
She lowered one hand to rest on the set of Remingtons holstered on her waist. Gade narrowed his gaze. The customized army forty-fours had both of the wooden handles removed and replaced by solid silver.
What made a woman pack a set of pistols like that?
Plopping down in a chair outside the saloon, the woman offered a coin for a boot shine to the young boy, and propped one denim clad leg on the stool. A hand clapped down on his back and drew his attention. “Welcome back, Gade. It’s good to see you again.”
Gade whipped around toward the dark-haired man in the three-piece-suit and black boots. “I didn’t even notice you there, Garret.” He dropped his single bag on the ground to give his younger sibling a hearty hug. “It’s been too long, hasn’t it?”
“Twelve years, but I’m glad you’re home.” His brother’s intense silver-grey eyes, familiar even after all the time away, crinkled under the sun’s rays. The slightest breeze trickled through the deserted main street and stirred the dust under their feet.
The telegram he’d received several weeks ago had been unexpected, and he couldn’t shake the feeling, like a noose had slipped over his neck. After twelve years, his father still tried to correct a wrong he couldn’t amend. Nothing would ever change the fact that he’d left this part of his life behind years ago. Not even the urgency in the letter could erase the memory of his mother’s suicide.
Garret retrieved a small metal case from his vest pocket. “Not everyone is going to be glad to see you.”
“Yeah, I figured as much,” Gade replied, a dull ache developed in his chest as he realized the truth of those words. Their brother never was the kind to forgive and forget.
“I’m not sure how Warren is going to take the news of your return. So, don’t expect a welcome wagon from him.” Garret spoke around the cigarette in his mouth. “This place has gone downhill since you left.” He lit it and replaced the casing in his pocket. “As if it wasn’t bad enough already.”
One hundred and twenty-five miles northwest of San Antonio, Eden had little to commend it. A town full of numerous saloons, brothels and gambling halls nestled in a valley south of Edward’s Plateau.
“Don’t worry, amigo, I don’t plan to be here long.” Gade pulled on the chain then flipped the top of his pocket watch open to look at the time. I don’t want to be here any longer than I have to be.
Garret retrieved the discarded bag and urged Gade forward. “C’mon, let’s get a drink before we head out to the ranch. You’re gonna need it.”
He shuffled up the steps and past the red head. She tugged the brim of her hat down and he couldn’t get a good look at her face. The double swinging doors swooshed to and fro behind him as he followed his brother to the bar, propping a foot on the brass rail. He squinted to adjust his vision to the dim interior. One of Eden’s finest held about a half-dozen people. Three men played an early game of faro at the rear, and another sat at the other end of the bar. The stench of stale alcohol and cigars assaulted him, and the gauzy haze of smoke burned his eyes. An inch of dirt covered the interior of the Whiskey Spades and the grating scrape of his boots echoed in the curious silence of the establishment.
So this is paradise.
© Suzie Grant