- Available in: Ebook, Paperback
- Published: August 8, 2013
Circle Eight Book 4
A con man. A rancher’s daughter. A wildfire out of control.
Elizabeth Graham spends her days running the business side of the Circle Eight ranch. Her knack for numbers and organization lent themselves to her position in the family. She has just turned twenty-one and doubts she will find a man to spend her life with. Elizabeth doesn’t believe in love, after all, and when she meets a charlatan named Vaughn Montgomery, her opinion doesn’t waver. At first.
Vaughn Montgomery is down to the lint in his pocket and the handsome smile he uses as a weapon. His last con went wrong and he fled west. Now he finds himself trapped in the middle of nowhere Texas. And at the mercy of a hard-nosed woman who wears shapeless dresses and whose tongue can cut blocks of wood.
Unwilling to bend and unable to forgive, Elizabeth and Vaughn get caught up in a web of lies that stretches from Houston to the heart of Texas. She finds herself falling for the man who can’t seem to tell the truth and he can’t get enough of a woman who can only speak truths. Surrounded by danger, they embark on the ultimate con to save the Circle Eight and their lives.
The last thing Elizabeth Graham expected to see when she opened the door during the worst storm of the summer was a naked man. Yet there he was, soaking wet, black hair plastered to his skull, and matching fur decorating his rather muscular chest and belly leading down to his, er, manly parts. He used both hands to cup those parts. It wasn’t as if she’d never seen a man’s parts. After all, she had four brothers, and growing up there had been many baths and jumping in the swimming hole in the summer. But given how the stranger cupped himself, she suspected his was larger than normal.
A gust of wind threw the rain against her face. She shook her head as though it was appropriate to stand there thinking about the size of a stranger’s genitals.
Lightning flashed and she saw what the darkness had hidden—blood running down the side of his face. She couldn’t leave him in such dire circumstances. At the same time, her brother Matt would yell until he was blue in the face if she let him in. The rest of the family was visiting her older sister, Olivia, and her husband, Brody, celebrating their son Stuart’s fourth birthday. Elizabeth had volunteered to stay home with Martha, her sister-in-law, Hannah’s, grandmother, who had been feeling poorly.
Now she faced a naked, bleeding stranger in the dark of the night. The loaded rifle was above her within easy reach. She wasn’t afraid but she was on edge.
“Who are you?”
“Help me.” His eyes rolled back in his head and he fell forward. She jumped out of the way as his body headed toward the floor. He landed hard, with a splat of water.
“Elizabeth, are you all right, girl?” Martha called from the back of the house. “I thought I heard a thump.”
Elizabeth frowned at the now unconscious, naked stranger. “Everything is fine, Martha,” she called out to the older woman. “Do you need anything?”
“Not unless you got twenty years in your pocket.” Martha cackled and Elizabeth shook her head. When Matt had married Hannah, Martha had moved into the Circle Eight with her. It was a rough adjustment period and now Elizabeth couldn’t remember not having them here. More than eight years had passed and Martha was like the grandmother the eight Graham siblings had never known.
She was also not one to mince her words or hold back when she had a thought in her head. There had been many times Martha had embarrassed one or more members of the family with her bald honesty. Lord only knew what she would say about the large, naked stranger at Elizabeth’s feet.
“I guess I’ll have to take care of you. Being a good person means helping those in need. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.” She frowned at the man, realizing he was just as tall as her brothers. Although not as broad as Matt or Caleb, the oldest brothers, he wasn’t a small man. First she had to close the door, which mean she had to move him out of the way.
Elizabeth was a smart woman. She managed all the business-related activities for the ranch, paying bills and taking care of the money. At twenty-one, she was a spinster, unmarried without prospects, which suited her just fine. She didn’t need or want a man, at least most days. Today was an exception because of her lack of body strength and her tall, thin frame. The contrast between hers and the stranger’s was marked. He outweighed her by at least seventy-five pounds. How was she going to lift him from the floor?
First things first. She pushed at his shoulder, surprised by how warm his bare flesh was. With a sinking dread, she put her palm on his forehead. He was burning up with fever. There was no other choice now. She had to get him into a bed. He needed nursing and she was the caregiver de facto. There was no one else. Martha could hardly get out of bed herself, although if she knew there was a naked, young man, she might stir herself.
He smelled of outdoors and the sour scent of sweat. She pushed again and he rolled onto his back, flopping like a rag doll. The wind sucked the door shut with a slam and Elizabeth jumped to her feet. His manly parts were now open for viewing and they were assuredly not small.
Her cheeks burned at the sight of the completely naked, wet stranger. She wasn’t normally flustered but this situation set her off balance. Control was meant to be held, not lost.
“All right, stranger, get ready for a rough ride.”