Laying Down the Law
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…
Note for Readers: You must be of legal age in your country of origin to read this excerpt.
Scout’s sharp bark pulled him from his thoughts. The dog ran ahead of him, his ears pricking forward, and he peeled away and headed toward the creek. Maybe Scout had found Old Mule, the ornery bull who was always one step away from being hamburger due to his contentious nature and independent streak.
Colt lifted his hand to send a signal to his brother, Gabe, and laid his reins over the neck of his horse to turn him toward the trees and the creek. He looked for a firm, gentle slope for his horse to maneuver.
From the corner of his eye, something white floating on the surface of the water caught his attention. He pulled back on the reins. A woman’s bra.
Finding odd items floating on a river after a storm wasn’t all that unusual, and the station hadn’t gotten any calls for missing persons. Still, he had to check it out.
Colt clucked at his horse, his curiosity and professional instinct kicking into gear. The creek had risen fast the previous night, but had just as quickly receded, leaving the banks muddy and soft. His horse’s hind legs slipped, but the old paint caught himself and scrambled down to the graveled bank.
Colt dismounted, dropped his reins and followed the edge of the water.
“Shoo, cow! Shoo!” came a breathy, feminine shout from just beyond the bend of the river, accompanied by Scout’s excited barks.
Rounding the bend, he spotted a twelve-hundred-pound bull, the Triple-Horn brand standing in stark relief against the animal’s dun-colored rump. Scout stood next to him, barking ferociously, but the bull’s attention seemed glued to something on the other side of him.
Colt slipped closer and a flash of pale, creamy legs was visible beneath the creature’s belly. He crept along the edge of the water, taking cover behind a tree to get a better look. His eyes widened at the sight in front of him.
A naked woman stood in the center of the creek, waving her arms at the bull.
Colt paused, taking in the long, sleek curves and pale skin. Her chin-length hair was slicked back. His cock stirred instantly. His heart hammered fast, stricken by the resemblance…but it couldn’t be…
Then Old Mule ambled toward the edge of the water, his head down, snorting. Not a good sign.
“Lady,” he said, stepping out from behind the tree. “You need to hold real still.”
The woman whipped her head toward him, her brown eyes rounding.
Her shock wasn’t any greater than his. For a long moment, they both stood stock still.
But Old Mule snorted again, pawing his hooves into a pile of folded fabric on the ground beneath him, which Scout was tugging to free.
“Scout, heel!” he shouted and waited until his dog raced to his side. “Don’t move,” he repeated softly to the woman, reluctantly pulling his gaze from her and turning to the bull.
Old Mule lowered his head, scraping a horn into the dirt at his feet. When he lifted his head, something shiny and pink came up, snagged on the tip of one horn. The bull snorted again, a moist huff, his eyes on the woman standing frozen in front of him.
The woman’s gaze darted to the right, toward a rocky ledge overhanging the water.
The bull huffed and stomped his front legs.
Cursing, Colt took off his hat and strode forward, waving the straw hat at the bull. “Get on back. Ha! Ha!”
The bull gave a plaintive moo, all his bluster gone. He headed up the creek, pink panties stuck to the tip of his horn, but taking his time to stop and pluck at grass on the creek bank.
“Get on!” Colt shouted, slapping the bull on the rear to get him moving faster, funneling him up an arroyo and toward the herd, Scout right behind him.
After the bull and the dog clambered up the side, Colt dropped his hat back on his head and turned slowly toward Zuri.
She dropped into the water, crossing her arms over her chest.
Colt stalked toward the bank, whistling softly—but finding it hard because his lips were beginning to stretch into a smile, anger and lust swirling into a heady mixture of revenge. “Well, well, well,” he said quietly. “Mind telling me what you’re doin’ skinny-dippin’ on my property?”
Zuri opened her mouth to speak, but she clamped her lips closed and lifted her chin. “I was at the cabin and decided I needed a bath. There’s no runnin’ water.”
He didn’t bother reminding her that her efforts to shield herself from his gaze were too little and too late. His blood had already surged, fueled by a spike of adrenaline and lust. “Sure there is,” he growled. “There’s a pump next to the sink.”
“It doesn’t work.”
“You have to prime it with water first.” At her blank stare, he muttered, “Never mind. I guess the better question to ask is what the hell are you doin’ back here, Zuri-girl?”