UPDATE: The winner of the free download is Michelle-Snarky Mom!
Today’s snippet round theme is “Hero in the Doghouse.” Well, I couldn’t think of a recent hero who was in trouble or who had made a horrible mistake for which he was being punished or punishing himself, but I did have this heroine in a heap trouble. It’s Zuri, from the first of the Triple Horn Brand Books, and you’ll see how things only manage to get worse in this scene. Enjoy!
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“With amazing suspense, and hot, dominant lovin’ this cowboy and his high school sweetheart take the reader on an amazing emotional journey… Ms. Devlin has created a beyond 5 Book worthy start of an incredible new series…” ~5/5 Books, Reviews by Molly
“Fun and fast, “Laying down the Law” is great for fans of western romances or someone looking for that great next “hot” read!” ~The Brunette Librarian
Seeking sanctuary could be the hottest mistake she ever made.
The TripleHorn Brand, Book 1
A lifetime ago, Zuri Prescott kicked the dirt off her boots and ditched her small-time small town for the glam city life—and lived to regret it. When she’s framed for a bank job, she lights out for home, seeking refuge with her old high school sweetheart while she figures out her next steps. Only she discovers that the boy she left behind is the last man she should trust.
Sheriff Colt Triplehorn knows trouble when he sees it, especially when it comes in the form of a familiar trespasser, caught naked between an angry bull and her underwear. Sure she’s up to her usual no good, he grants her sanctuary at his ranch—the better to keep an eye on her, and purge her from his system once and for all.
Reconnection is sweet and hot, but the heat can’t hide the truth. When Colt inevitably finds out what Zuri’s running from, it’s too late to put the fire out, and he’s got a career-compromising choice on his hands. Follow the letter of the law, or follow his heart.
Product Warnings: When a sheriff captures the girl who got away, expect revenge so hot it leaves brands on two lonely hearts…
Rain fell in sheets, so heavy and fast that it wasn’t long before Zuri Prescott’s hands ached from her death grip on the steering wheel. The darkness suffocated her headlights so that she couldn’t see farther than twenty yards in front of her, but the beams still glossed the highway’s surface to a bright glare, which left her wondering whether she was inside the lines or sailing down the middle.
She’d been driving for hours, numbed to the worsening conditions, her mind caught in an endless loop, reliving the horrors of the day.
Her panic hadn’t lessened for even a moment since she’d first felt a gun pressed against her temple early that morning as she’d unlocked the side door of the branch bank, and a harsh voice whispered in her ear to get the door open fast.
A heated body had moved close to her back and crisp, spicy cologne drifted over her. With her hands shaking, she’d unlocked the door, and then let him shove her through.
She’d landed on her knees, her pantyhose shredding on impact—the long, fat ladder that rippled up her thigh as strangely upsetting as the masked man behind her who grabbed her by the hair and pulled her up to face the security alarm.
She’d pressed the buttons on the key pad, disarming the premises alarm and dropped her hands. But another nudge of hard steel against her back, and his hushed, “The vault alarm too, sweetheart,” had her punching a second set of numbers before he hustled her around the corner toward the vault, out of sight of her manager who waited in the parking lot for the all-clear signal.
The vault operated on a timer. At any other time of day, she wouldn’t have been able to open it—a fact that didn’t register until later. She’d spun the two combination locks, heard the inner mechanisms clang as they released, and he’d reached around her to grab the lever and push it down. The large steel door swung open.
The thief had shoved her through the anteroom with security deposit boxes lining both walls, heading straight for the locked door at the rear. Again, he’d waited while she found the key and opened the door, then shoved the mesh interior gate inward.
Forcing her to her knees, he’d wrapped her wrists and ankles in duct tape, and pulled a hood over her head.
Then she’d been left to shiver on the floor, listening to the sounds he made as she followed him in her mind through the gate while he scooped stacks of cash into a bag. One side only. Later, the assistant manager pointed out that the thief must have been timing himself, a real pro, because he’d skipped the temptation of pausing to finish the sweep.
Less than five minutes had passed since they’d entered. Another two and the manager would call the police.
The thief had walked back to her and knelt, his knee touching hers as he leaned close.
She’d stayed silent, afraid as she’d never been before, because she knew he was going to kill her.
But the sound of keys rattling against glass had him scrambling to his feet and rushing out of the vault. A muffled shout and a single piercing shot was followed by the soft swoosh of the door closing.
For several interminable moments, she’d sat frozen, afraid he’d come back. But when he hadn’t, she’d crawled on her belly across the floor, inching her way toward the first desk in the lobby and a panic button. Sirens screamed in the distance, and she slumped on the floor, shivering and beginning to cry.
When the police arrived, her hood was pulled off, and a grim-faced police officer helped her sit while he cut the tape binding her.
Her head swiveled toward the door where the shot had rang out, and she saw another officer bent over Sam McWherter, her boss, whose rotund body lay spread-eagle on the floor, blood seeping outward to soak into the carpet.
The officer beside her moved to cut off her view. “You’re okay. Don’t look. We’ve got this place secured.”
Everyone had been solicitous. A hot cup of tea was pressed between her cold hands. She’d been herded into McWherter’s office, away from the body and the team beginning to comb the lobby and vault for evidence. They’d been kind, gently but firmly asking her to go over the chain of events that had transpired.
She’d given them a step-by-step description—of the robber’s actions and her sketchy knowledge of his height, weight and gruff voice. The second time through, she swayed in her chair from melting exhaustion.
“Ma’am, did anyone know your routine?”
That one question from the first FBI agent to arrive on scene sparked a dawning horror, and she froze, noting the glance he shared with the pair of detectives flanking her in leather upholstered chairs. Someone did know her routine—and wore a crisp cologne that smelled like cinnamon and sandalwood.
She swallowed hard, realizing in a split second that she’d been set up. That she might even be implicated because the robber wasn’t a fool. No, he’d been incredibly, devastatingly clever.
While the agent waited for her to respond to the questions, she’d shaken her head, giving him a tight smile. How could she tell them they were looking for a cop? Who would believe her side of the story? Especially after they did a little digging into her background. She’d lied about her affiliations with known felons when she’d applied for this job.
When she’d pleaded illness, they’d escorted her to her desk where she’d filled out the bank’s incident reports and made arrangements to meet later with the detectives and the FBI agent assigned the case at the station house to sign a statement, but her mind was already racing ahead.
She couldn’t go back to the apartment and risk meeting him. He’d have to finish what he’d started.
Gathering the handbag they’d already searched, she’d palmed her keys, nodded her agreement to see them later and walked sedately out the front door of the bank.
Since the moment she’d slid behind the wheel, she’d been on autopilot, navigating out of her Houston suburb and heading northwest. She’d stopped briefly, once, for gas—but had received another shock when she’d opened her glove compartment for her SpeedGas key.
Now, she drove with just one thought, just one image burned into her mind. An isolated cabin, deep in cattle country. Somewhere no one would think of looking for her. Then she could take a breath and consider what to do next.
She didn’t see the city-limit sign when she passed it, but she knew where she was when she reached the highway crossroad. She turned left away from the little town she’d once been so eager to escape and toward the Triple Horn Ranch.
Lights flared behind her as another car took the turn. For just a moment, the rain relented, and she saw the make of the vehicle. Her panic surged again.
How had he found her? She’d driven back roads in case the police were already alerted that she’d fled.
The headlights of the car behind her switched off. Not knowing how close behind her he was, she gunned the gas pedal. Her car surged forward, tires losing traction in standing water. The rear of her vehicle wagged in a wicked fishtail, but she steered through it, not easing up on the gas. If she could outrun him, make it to the cabin and hide her car beneath the lean-to…
She’d forgotten about the low-water crossing until she saw the yellow warning sign. With only a moment to make a decision, she kept her foot on the accelerator, hoping the water wasn’t too deep, that momentum would propel her through if it was, and held tight to the steering wheel.
The road dipped, her car hit the water, jerking her against her seatbelt, spray coating the windshield too thick for the wipers to clear. Then she felt the subtle shift beneath her as her car was lifted and floated sideways, off the low bridge, tilting as it slid into the swiftly moving water.
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