Malloy Family Book 6|
December 25, 2007
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble
All Romance eBooks (ARe)
Can a man who lives in the shadows and a woman who lives in the light find a place to belong together?
Brett Malloy has always been considered a loner, a man apart from the Malloy clan. Quiet, reserved and intense, Brett hides from the world on his new ranch with only an ex-gunslinger and a runaway boy for company. When circumstances put him flat on his back, his childhood crush, Doctor Alexandra Brighton arrives to nurse him back to health.
Alex has always loved Brett despite the fact that a more difficult man couldn’t be found on the face of the earth. A woman who firmly believes everyone should live life to the fullest, Alex takes Brett’s quiet surliness as a mission. She’s going to teach him what it means to live, and how to find love and passion in the most unexpected places.
When rancher King Dawson claims Alex as his own, Brett has to choose between the darkness of his shadows and the light of Alex’s love.
Read an Excerpt
Alex Brighton was sorting the supplies that had been delivered that morning when she heard the clinic door open. They didn’t have a terribly busy physician’s practice, but they did get their fair share of patients.
After retiring a year earlier, her father didn’t spend much time in the clinic. Since their nurse only worked three mornings a week, Alex was alone and had to see to whomever came by. She set the counted bandages to one side and scribbled the amount on a scrap of paper before she went to see who had arrived. When she came around the corner, she was glad the doorjamb was in reach.
Those eyes. Those blue, blue eyes hadn’t changed at all since he was a little boy. He had to be the most beautiful man God had put on the Earth. Unfortunately, God had also made him the most taciturn, stubborn and quiet man ever created. Not to mention the biggest idiot.
Something about Brett had always rested on her heart. Alex couldn’t even begin to explain it other than to say she felt connected to him at the deepest level. Some kind of invisible bond and every time she saw him, her mouth always went cotton dry.
His appearance resonated through her like a stone in a bucket, ripples fanning everywhere. For a moment, Alex couldn’t respond. He’d broken her heart once, and she had never forgiven him for what he’d thrown away. Their future, their children, their chance. She could be polite, but that didn’t mean she had to be friendly.
“Surprised to see you here, Brett.”
He took off his hat and fiddled with it. It was one thing the Malloy boys all had—beautiful hands. Alex had spent a good deal of time remembering those hands, how they felt on her skin, how the calluses made her nipples pebble.
Dammit, woman, get your thoughts in order.
“Good afternoon, Alex.”
The clean scent of soap and his damp hair told her Brett had just bathed. More than likely down at Joe’s place. That was unusual—why hadn’t he bathed at home?
“What can I do for you?”
“Oh, yeah, I need supplies. Bandages, some betadine. Um, you know, whatever, um…”
Alex was at a total loss. The few words that came out of Brett Malloy’s mouth were usually very thought out and as precise as the edge of a knife. This stumbling, bumbling Brett was completely unexpected. She didn’t know what to make of it.
“Is anything wrong at home? Does your mother need supplies?”
“No, no, I’m starting my own place. Old Martin’s ranch is mine now. And I just, uh, want to be ready, you know, for emergencies and so on.”
“Oh, old Martin’s place. I hadn’t realized it had been sold.”
That certainly made him uncomfortable. Alex swore his cheeks turned just the slightest shade of pink. Embarrassed? That was interesting. He didn’t ever show much emotion, something that had always angered her, but this little tidbit made her want to snicker. With glee.
“Yeah, I um, I mean, I didn’t buy it. Truth is that I got it from Martin about two years ago before he passed and uh, I’m just now getting around to getting it going.”
“I’ll just go put together a box full of medical supplies for the ranch. Won’t be a couple of minutes.” Then you get your fanny out of here. The longer Brett was here, the more likely she’d haul off and smack him.
“Sit in the waiting area. You’re just looking for some betadine, bandages and such for everyday needs?”
“Yes, and if you have a needle and some of that thread you use for stitches that’d be most helpful too.” He sat in one of the straight back chairs in the waiting room.
As Alex went back into the supply room, she was dismayed to realize her hands were shaking. Dammit. Although she could’ve chosen any one of the Malloy brothers to become obsessed with, she got stuck with Brett.
Quiet Brett. Uncommunicative Brett.
After she gathered the supplies, she pushed them haphazardly into one of the boxes from the recent shipment, just to tuck everything together. Had she wanted more than a visit from a citizen to the town doctor? No, absolutely not.
Then why was she angry with him? It wasn’t as if he’d ended their relationship yesterday. It was a lifetime ago. She’d gotten over him, hadn’t she? Alex learned a valuable lesson with Brett and had yet to give her heart over to another man. Being a physician was more than enough to make her life complete.
Maybe she believed it too. Or maybe she’d wanted Brett to come back on his hands and knees and apologize. Now that was laughable. Brett wouldn’t get on his knees for anyone or anything.
After arguing with herself for several minutes, Alex decided to stop dilly-dallying and get rid of Brett. Just seeing him shouldn’t send her into such a tizzy.
As she stepped back into the waiting area, her stomach did a flip-flop when she saw Brett wasn’t alone. A dark-eyed man stood with him. A gunman if she were to guess. Anyone who wore two guns slung low on their hips was definitely a gunman in her opinion. He was tall like Brett, but thinner and lankier.
“Doctor Brighton, this is Kincaid. He’ll be helping me out at the ranch for a while. Kincaid, this is the town doctor.”
Kincaid smiled. “So this is your girl. If I had known y’all had a doctor who looked like her, I would’ve been here sooner.”
Alex frowned at Brett who appeared as surprised as she was. “I’m not Brett’s anything. Is Kincaid a first name or a last name?”
Kincaid shook his head. “It’s my only name.”
Her gaze locked with Brett’s and Alex saw something that looked like jealousy, a shimmering spark of the vicious emotion which had ruined more than one life. Unexpected for sure since he was usually so cold and logical. He certainly had nothing to be jealous about though. She wasn’t his anymore so he could just keep his opinion on that to himself.
“Should we be going?” Kincaid glanced at Brett and inclined his head to the door. “Got a few more places to visit.”
“Oh, right.” Brett reached for the box of supplies. “How much do I owe you, Alex?”
“Dollar and eighty-five cents.” Then get going.
He pulled out some wadded bills from his pocket. Alex’s gaze dropped to his trousers, a well-worn pair of denims that hugged him, reminding her he didn’t have one ounce of fat on his body. He was hard all over.
A shiver wormed its way through her. It took serious self-control not to let them see it. She thought she’d gotten over Brett, at least her head had, now if only her body would follow suit. As he handed her the money, their fingers briefly touched and a tingle raced up her arm and down her shoulder to spread through her body. Both men tipped their hats and said good day.
After Kincaid stepped outside, Alex was alone with Brett, who looked at her with a fierce frown on his face.
“Um, nothing. I just, it’s been a while since I’ve seen you, Alex. You just…it’s good to see you. I’ve missed you.”
A searing flame of anger licked her. The past hurts combined with the present annoyance and almost burned her. Brett had no right to come in here and confuse her. Regardless if she sounded like a crazy shrew, Alex wouldn’t stand for it.
“I don’t even want to hear that from you. You lost that right twelve years ago.”
His face appeared no less intense. “I’m sorry.”
“Too little and too late. The door is behind you.”
Alex took particular pleasure in noting that Brett nearly tripped on his way out the door. After the grin faded from her face, she clenched her fists in frustration. She wasn’t a young girl or an empty-headed, silly, giggling fool—she was a woman. A woman who refused to give into any longings her body might have for the man who’d shattered her heart.
She slammed the door and stood there with her pulse pounding, warning her stupid heart to slow down. Brett wasn’t worth a moment of worry. He’d come by for bandages, that’s all. Anything else wasn’t worth contemplating.
What the Critic says
Once again Beth Williamson has penned a western historical of worth. Full of love, life, and family, THE TRIBUTE was everything I wanted it to be and more.— Joyfully Reviewed
Once again Williamson has a winner with the sixth entry in the Malloy family series. She captures the true grit of the West, building characters as strong as the countryside and a compelling, captivating plot.— 4 Stars, Romantic Times Book Reviews