Malloy Family Book 8|
April 28, 2009
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble
All Romance eBooks (ARe)
Exile…or love. Life…or death. His demons will force him to choose.
Gunslinger Kincaid has traded his black clothes and pistols for a homespun shirt and trousers. Now he’s Cade Brody, a man with dark hair, dark eyes and an even darker past. The blood money he’s earned bought him a small piece of property in New Mexico territory, at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. But it can’t buy him peace.
Sabrina Edmonds, a tough, no-nonsense widow, runs the post office and store in the small town of Eustace. She’s made her way in life with an independent streak a mile wide. Sabrina doesn’t want to get involved with Cade, but she finds herself drawn to the dark stranger who hides in his mountain retreat.
Cade wants nothing more than to be left alone, but an elusive wild child who delights in tormenting him, and a town full of people determined to befriend him, conspire to intrude upon his self-imposed exile. Then there’s Sabrina, who should be afraid of him—but isn’t.
Not even when the deadly demons of his past catch up with him.
Read an Excerpt
It was Cade.
A whoosh of pure arousal slammed into her, turning her knees to jelly, setting her heart to racing like a horse. Holy Mary, she hadn’t expected that or him. After all, they’d barely spoken two dozen words to each other. And yet she’d had the most erotic dream of her life about him, and the same day, there he was, in the flesh.
Oh, what flesh it was. Sabrina couldn’t stop herself from drinking in every inch of the man, from his ill-fitting brown pants to his lean hips and wide chest. He was a fine specimen of a man. Very, very fine.
“Good morning, Mr. Brody.” Curses, her voice sounded high and breathy. “I didn’t expect to see you so soon.”
“I didn’t expect to be back in Eustace so soon. I, uh, need a pair of boots, good boots that’ll hold up against snow and the like.” He glanced down at the worn shoes with the big heel at the back. They looked like they belonged on a city street rather than a rough town. “These ain’t fit for a mountain winter.”
His long legs drew her gaze as did what lay between them. Before she embarrassed herself, Sabrina headed over to the shoes, hoping like hell they had a pair in his size. After a moment or two of fumbling like a blushing schoolgirl, she found several pairs of sturdy boots that might fit his large feet.
He’d come up close behind her, nearly blocking the light from the window. His presence filled the air around them, taking the breath right out of her. She looked into his dark eyes and saw more than she expected, ancient pain and a loneliness so deep it appeared bottomless.
Cade Brody certainly wasn’t a simple miner or mountain man. If she had to hazard a guess, he was a man who’d made some bad choices in his life that were currently riding his back. Sabrina blinked and forgot she was holding boots or even why she’d walked over to that side of the store.
They gazed into each other’s souls for a timeless moment, sharing themselves. For her, it was a relief for someone to see everything she hid. Most days she simply accepted that no one would ever want to know what lurked beneath the efficient shopkeeper. Today she opened herself up and allowed a perfect stranger to see her unhappiness, her discontent, her yearning.
The air between them crackled as the moment stretched on, threatening to snap. He reached up, fingers inches away from her skin. Sabrina leaned toward him, knowing how his hand would feel before flesh touched flesh.
“Sabrina?” Ellen’s voice startled her so badly, she dropped the boots.
All three pair fell towards Cade’s feet. Sabrina had counted herself as well versed in human behavior, especially being around so many people, but Mr. Brody surprised the heck out of her when he caught the boots. No, not caught, he snatched them out of the air so fast she barely saw him move until the shoes were clutched in his hands.
She stared at him in astonishment, gazing from his face to the boots. “Sweet heavens, I’ve never seen the like.” Her father’s brogue popped out of her mouth before she thought about it.
Cade looked almost as shocked as she felt. He set the boots down on the table beside them and stepped away from her. Ellen came around the corner and stopped short when she caught sight of him.
Sabrina frowned at her. “Ellen, this is Mr. Brody. Mr. Brody, this is my sister, Ellen.”
“Sister? Ah, yes I remember you mentioning her.” He cocked his head in Ellen’s direction as if he were studying her. She squirmed in place, sliding backwards even as Sabrina shook her head no. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Edmonds.”
“O’Neill.” Ellen surprised Sabrina by speaking. “It’s Miss O’Neill.”
Cade’s head whipped back and he stared hard at Sabrina. “And your name is Edmonds?”
He was asking her if she was married without actually forming the question. She ought to make him feel guilty or at least tell him it wasn’t his business, however two minutes ago she’d been about to kiss him. Sabrina was nothing if not honest with herself and that was the truth.
“Yes, Mrs. Edmonds.” She swallowed the memory of Eric that threatened to make her day dark again. “My husband died five years ago.”
Sabrina had no idea if it was relief on Cade’s face or annoyance that he didn’t know she was a widow.
“Thank you.” Clearing her throat, Sabrina looked at Ellen. “Did you need me for something?”
“Oh, I almost forgot. Mr. Oleson delivered the load from Phoenix.” Ellen kept her face averted from Cade. Sabrina wished she could convince her sister that a scar on her face didn’t matter a whit to anyone but herself. “We can close the store and inventory it as soon as you’re done with Mr. Brody.” With a quick nod, she disappeared back behind the curtain.
“Your sister doesn’t favor you.” Cade stared after Ellen.
Sabrina expected the familiar observation. “Yes, I’ve realized that,” she said dryly. “My father was a tall Irishman while my mother was small and blonde like Ellen.”
Cade’s gaze swung to hers. “Your father was blessed.”
She didn’t know how to respond to his obscure comment. Was he saying she was beautiful or that her mother was her father’s blessing? Sabrina wanted to ask but didn’t because he started examining the boots, breaking the awkward moment in two.
“You probably want to get some trousers too.” She put the table between them, able to take a deep breath for the first time since he walked in the store. As she examined the neatly stacked clothing in front of her, she heard him pull off his odd shoes and slip on the boots. He repeated it several times while she tried her damnedest to focus on picking trousers for him.
Cade was slender with long legs, obviously too long for the trousers he was wearing. After a few minutes of mad scrambling, she found one black pair and one dark blue pair. When she held them up for him to see, he’d picked the boots that fit and was simply staring at her.
“You’re nervous.” Cade sounded surprised.
Nothing like being blunt but Sabrina could be blunt too. “You’re overwhelming.”
He smiled, flashing white teeth that hit her like a blow to the stomach. The man was handsome, but smiling, he was blindingly beautiful.
“I guess we’re at odds then, aren’t we?” He pointed at the trousers. “I’ll take those and the boots.”
Sabrina felt off-kilter by Cade, and it annoyed her. She didn’t like being out of control for any reason, and his presence alone, not to mention his off-color comments, made that control slip.
“Fine. Let me tally these up so you can be on your way.”
Cade nodded and meandered toward the meager supply of books she had. Antonio bought them almost as soon as they came in, as did Melissa Fuller, the daughter of Sam the lumbermill owner. The only ones left were on horse husbandry, a seed catalog and a book of poems by Shakespeare. Even Melissa didn’t want them. Sabrina remembered a miner ordering the book for his pregnant wife, but she died before the book came in.
Perhaps it was cursed. Interestingly enough, Cade picked up the book of poems and started reading.
Damn the man, he seemed to be deliberately annoying her now. She slammed the trousers on the counter and wrapped them in brown paper so fast, she gave herself three paper cuts. Cursing under her breath, she wrapped the twine with a snap. When she looked up, he had his nose buried in the book and wasn’t even paying attention to her snit.
Sabrina needed to forget about him, so she did what she did best, focused on being a shopkeeper. She added up his purchases, a nice bit of money to add to the till.
“That’ll be six dollars and seventy-five cents, Mr. Brody.”
Silence met her request. When she glanced up, he read on, oblivious to her and everything around him.
“Should I add in the book too?”
Cade glanced up, a guarded expression on his face. “The book?” He looked down as if the book had suddenly appeared in his hands. “It’s better than talking to the trees I guess. Sure, I’ll take the book too.”
“Tell you what, that book’s been sitting there for two years. Consider it a welcome gift. Just pay me for the boots and trousers.” Sabrina just wanted him out of there, regardless of how attracted she was to him. Cade seemed to sense it because he paid her quickly and took his package.
“Much obliged, Mrs. Edmonds.”
“Good day, Mr. Brody.” Stilted conversation for an awkward moment, but Sabrina couldn’t seem to bring herself to do anything else.
With a nod, he finally left the store. She stared at the closed door and wondered what had just happened, then mentally slapped herself for hoping he’d come back soon.
…an exciting story laced with humor. I loved the dark, broody Cade.— 5 Cups, Coffe Time Romance Reviews
Once again, Ms. Williamson has penned a book I found almost impossible to put down…a magnificent work of art…— 5 Hearts, The Romance Studio
Not a typical Western tale, HELL FOR LEATHER is a story about redemption and self-forgiveness…a fascinating story.— Romance Reviews Today
No one writes western erotic romance like Beth Williamson. She combines tough and gritty heroes with strong and feisty heroines and the results are fabulous. HELL FOR LEATHER is such a novel.— Joyfully Reviewed