Malloy Family Book 2|
August 15, 2006
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble
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Jack Malloy is haunted. Haunted by memories he’s trying to escape that have stolen his sleep for six months. Unfortunately for him, helping his sister Nicky offers him no escape when confronted by a pair of beautiful gray eyes belonging to Rebecca Connor.
Unbeknownst to her, she is an unwilling participant in his nightmares every night. Rebecca Connor is also haunted. Haunted by memories that she’s trying to escape that have stolen her future. Her attraction to Jack is unsettling for a woman that has sworn off men and his behavior toward her is atrocious. But she can’t help wondering what his hands will feel like on her skin.
When they become stranded, snowbound, at a ranch in Wyoming, fate pushes them together. They fight a blizzard, frostbite, a cougar attack, outlaws, and their own attraction. The culimination of their inevitable collision is like fireworks, and as hot as the sun. Ultimately they face each other’s demons hand in hand and realize that life has handed them a second chance. Together.
Read an Excerpt
Jack heard the barn door open, but he didn’t look up from Ophelia. She was trying to die, and he was fighting for her to live. He couldn’t explain the absolute urgency of it, but he had to save this horse.
“I know it’s cold, girl, but you can do it. I put this warm blanket on you and that warm water we washed you with was nice, too. You can do it, girl. Come on,” he coaxed, tugging at her head to force her into standing, but the mare wouldn’t move. And he certainly couldn’t make a one thousand pound animal move if she didn’t want to. He was so exhausted his hands shook, and so cold he thought he’d never feel his ass again. But he huffed out a breath and bent down to try once more when he heard Becky’s voice. His gaze snapped to her so fast, he saw stars.
“John Gideon Malloy. If you don’t have the sense to come in from the cold, then in the absence of your mother and sister, the duty falls to me to make you warm up. What were you thinking staying out here so long?”
Her hands were fisted on her hips, her brows were drawn together and her lips were clamped into a thin white line. He almost expected her to tap her foot.
He stood up quickly while his knees screamed, but he ignored them in favor of his anger.
“What in the hell are you doing out here on your feet?” he yelled. “I spent the better part of a day nursing those nearly frostbitten feet and you’re walking out here in the cold that damaged them in the first place?”
If possible, her frown grew deeper.
“We’re not talking about me. We’re talking about a senseless ox of a man who has been in a barn for six hours in below freezing temperatures.”
She hobbled over to him and stuck her chin in the air. He half-expected her to smack him in the nose with it.
“You,” she poked a finger at his chest, “need a bath and some warm food.”
“I can’t do that yet. And why the hell are you out here on your feet, dammit?” he snarled.
Jesus, please us, he didn’t think he’d ever snarled in his life.
“Don’t curse at me, Mr. Malloy. I won’t have it. Noah, assist me, please.” Although she hadn’t raised her voice, he felt chastised anyway.
As he watched, she laid a folded blanket on the floor. Noah steadied her arm while she kneeled down and stroked the mare’s neck. She spoke quietly into the animal’s ear, which began to twitch. Her voice was low enough that Jack couldn’t quite make out the words, but he didn’t need to. The tone was so soothing, so empathetic, he found himself leaning toward her. Toward the comfort she was passing out. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Noah do the same.
“Sweet, sweet Ophelia,” he heard her say. “You must live. That beautiful baby wouldn’t have wanted its mother to die. Let’s get you up so the stubborn, handsome man can go inside.”
Handsome? She thought he was handsome?
Her soft urging was apparently all that was needed. Ophelia raised her head and stood up with Becky. The horse’s powerful muscles shook as she regained her feet. Then to Jack’s astonishment, she seemed to lay her great head on the petite woman’s shoulder and cry. He’d never seen a horse cry, but he’d bet every dollar he owned that Ophelia was crying. Becky’s eyes closed and a tear escaped from beneath her lid to snake its way down her perfect cheek.
He swallowed a lump in his throat. Damn, that was amazing. How the hell did she do that? Was it a female thing? He ought to be furious that after three hours of urging, the horse hadn’t budged, but after three minutes with Becky, she stood on her own. After a few more minutes of Becky’s ministrations, Ophelia lifted her head and shook her mane.
“Good girl,” Becky murmured. “Noah, escort her to her stall please. Make sure she’s warm.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Noah replied, voice none too steady. Jack glanced at the kid’s face and saw something that made him want to groan. Adoration, infatuation, puppy love. Now that was a complication he didn’t want to deal with.
Becky stood for a moment with her hands clasped and her head bent. Jack didn’t say a word, didn’t want to spoil the moment. She let out a long, shaky breath, and then turned to Jack.
“Time to go inside, Mr. Malloy.” Her voice was clipped and downright bossy.
“How did you do that? I mean, with the horse?”
“Sometimes a grieving mother needs the support of another grieving mo-woman.”
Mother? Was she going to say mother?
“I see you tried to change the subject.” The little foot started tapping again.
“I can’t leave the, um…” he jerked his head toward a blanket-wrapped bundle in the back of the barn, “…foal out here. The scent of blood will bring some coyotes or maybe a cougar.”
When her eyes fastened on the blanket, her face turned white as a sheet. But she stuck that chin up again and he could see her will exerting itself.
“Yes, of course. Let’s take care of the poor thing.”
She hobbled toward the back of the barn. Jack followed her. Angry, elated, annoyed, excited, and fascinated with this little blonde woman. Yup, his fear of her was completely gone; now he was afraid of how deeply he was falling for her.
What the Critic says
Gorgeous cowboys and nasty bad guys make Williamson’s second Malloy tale impossible to put down.— 4 1/2 Stars, Romantic Times Book Reviews
This is a story that needs to be read slowly and savored. Her characters are marvelously well written and the secondary characters give depth to the story.— 5 Hearts, Love Romances
Should I tell you now or later that I cried while reading this haunting historical? …a profound and enchanting romance..— 4 Tattoos, Erotic Escapades