Thursday, July 9, 2009

Excerpt - The Heart Never Lies by Cindy K. Green

When ranch hand Beau Tucker announces his intent to leave the Double C for California, Kit McCauley tells herself, ‘Good riddance.’ Unfortunately her heart isn’t quite in agreement with her head. Perhaps she’ll just have one more talk with the handsome cowboy before he disappears out of her life forever.

Temperatures rise as their interlude is interrupted by an injured horse thief who shoots at Beau and kidnaps Kit. Will Beau be in time to save her or did the ruffian’s bullet ring true, bringing his young life to an end and forever keeping their revelations unsaid?


Wyoming Territory, 1871

Kit McCauley swept a guarded glance over her shoulder and through the doorway of the darkened ranch house. The gentle stillness within confirmed the remaining inhabitants still slept. She faced forward with a bracing breath and proceeded onto the front porch while a knot tightened in the pit of her stomach. Foolish, just plain foolish! Out in the shadowy yard, appearing like an ethereal being, Beau Tucker mounted his blue roan gelding. He grabbed the crown of his black, wide-brimmed hat and crushed it on his head before locking intense hazel eyes on her. His chin rose ever so firm and perfect, like granite, his eyes almost as flinty.

Kit clutched the banister of the large wrap-a-round porch as her legs weakened from Beau’s powerful gaze. So this was the end. After working as a hand on the Double C Ranch for the past two years, he was just going to skedaddle off to California without so much as a proper goodbye.

Well, good riddance. She’d be much better off without him befuddling her mind and making her turn down perfectly good marriage proposals from other willing men. A lilac scented breeze blew past Kit’s face as she released the banister. She slid her hand over the smooth wood and walked toward the steps. The sight of Beau’s handsome face bathed in the first amber colors of daybreak stirred flutters in her chest, bringing her stroll to a halt.

He turned the horse to the side and touched the brim of his hat. “Miss,” he said, as though they were merely strangers. She gripped the baluster below the hand railing so tight her knuckles turned white. His words struck her like a slap in the face. This was not the farewell she’d envisioned. She’d imagined it including his lips pressed against hers one last time.

No, it was for the best. Firming her lips together, she forced the tears away. He may have stomped on her heart like an unbroken colt, but he’d never know how his smile warmed her heart, how his touch made her tingle, how she dreamed of his kisses every night. Not when his actions proved his absolute indifference. She squared her shoulders and tilted her chin. “Bye Beau. I hope you find what you’re lookin’ for out west.” She swished her skirts and turned toward the door of the ranch house. Time to end this nonsense. Ma would be up soon, and breakfast needed attending.

“Now listen, here, Katherine McCauley…”

She twirled back to face him and almost smiled. Of course, he wouldn’t allow her the last word. Beau brought his horse alongside the porch railing while she peered up at him and settled hands on her hips. “Yes, Beau, I’m listening.”
He sat taller in the saddle, the fabric of his homespun shirt pulling against the taut muscles of his chest. His mouth twisted to the side and his left eye squinted in a glare. Kit inhaled the strengthening, crisp morning air and straightened her stance. With hands fisted at her sides, she was ready for battle.

~ * ~

Beau held onto his glare as long as he could, but staring into those stunning brown eyes had always proved a test of his character. What he wanted to do was jump down and take her in his arms, but judging from her behavior the last couple weeks, she’d rebuff his attentions.

He tipped his hat back a notch and struggled to form a coherent thought. His sarcastic wit came to his rescue just in time. “I beg your pardon, Miss McCauley. I forget my place.” His gaze drifted toward the horizon, and he stared at the tree lined mountains. “I best be going as I’m hopin’ to reach Cheyenne by afternoon.”

“Well, I sure wouldn’t want to come between a man and his big dreams. Good morning to you, Mr. Tucker.”

He clenched the leather straps of the reins until his fingers dug into his palm. Steeling his features, he tried to control his mounting agitation even if her tone had riled him all over again. How was it that she managed to make him out to be the scoundrel even though she’d clearly expressed he was the last man she wanted to marry?

“Tarnation Kit! What do you want from me?”

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