Once Upon A Legend
WILD, WILD WOMEN OF THE WEST II
Anthology by Layla Chase, Myla Jackson, Delilah Devlin
Genre: Western; Historical
Format: Trade Paperback
On Sale: April 29, 2008
These women like their horses fast and their men hard. And they always know how to get what they want…
When Prudence Vogel finally meets Jake White Eagle, she discovers he really is the tall, handsome hero of her novel. And his dark sensuality and raw masculinity make her eager to explore every intimate inch of his beautiful body…
Note for Readers: You must be of legal age in your country of origin to read this excerpt.
A quick darting glance around the edge of the window and Prudence spied her target. The gunslinger had his back to her and was talking to a large man who tucked his wrinkled shirt inside his pants and hitched up his yellow suspenders.
When they moved toward the door, she quickly drew back and straightened the hem of her neat, gray-striped jacket. She’d settled on a staid, professional outfit. No use in trying too hard to win an appreciative glance.
She’d only look desperate.
In her hand, she held a copy of her novel. Not the precious dog-eared copy that had been the first to roll off Beadle’s printing press.
This was a fresh copy. She intended to give it to him along with the warning that, however unlikely it sounded, the events within its pages were coming true.
She wouldn’t mention she was the novelist. That would be far too embarrassing. After reading it, he might guess correctly at her infatuation.
Oh, why had she extolled his beauty and gone on and on about the strength in his taut, leanly muscled body? He’d wonder how an innocent maiden lady would know about any fires that heated the loins of the heroine at just the sight of his manly physique.
Never mind he’d figure that out quickly if she couldn’t remember how to breathe. She was about to get her first clear view of that impressive body and handsome face, and her insides trembled like jelly.
The door opened and the burly man with the yellow suspenders stepped onto the planked walkway, wincing at the sunlight. “Dammit, Jake. A man could go blind this time a day.”
“Quit grousing, Caleb. Next time watch who you pick a fight with when you’re drunk.”
“Who’d a guessed that little pipsqueak had fists like a hammer.” He rubbed his swollen jaw. “Must a caught me by surprise.”
“I saw the whole thing,” Jake said flatly. “You swayed right into his fist.”
Caleb winked. “Must have felt sorry for him.”
“Whatever makes you feel better. Now get along.”
“Sure have lost your sense of humor since you pinned on that star.”
Prudence’s eyes widened, and her gaze fell to the shining silver badge on Jake’s chest. In her story, he’d been newly elected to the position.
Caleb’s glance passed over her, then paused. He grimaced as he reached to tip his nonexistent hat. “Howdy, ma’am.”
Prudence nodded absently, but kept her gaze on the hard-eyed man standing with his arms folded over his chest at the doorway. Her heart fluttered like a butterfly’s wings, and her palms grew moist. Gazing at last into his face, her breath caught.
She hadn’t begun to do the man justice. Feeling a little light-headed, and more than a little intimidated by his male perfection, she looked her fill—just so that she could recount this moment later.
But how would she ever capture his masculine, sensual essence?
Standing hatless, his eyes squinting slightly against the bright sunlight, he took her breath away. His thick hair was a dark and shiny as a crow’s feathers. Tied back, it only accented the sharp edges of his face, scraped clean of any softness by years of living in the outdoors. His cheekbones were equally sharp-edged and set high, his eyes black and brooding, his lips a firm, straight line.
While his features marked him as Indian, his skin color was tanned and olive, a testament to his mixed heritage along with his unusual height.
Gradually, she realized she’d stared too long. The remoteness of his expression chilled her. She didn’t dare drop her glance below his square jaw, although she was tempted beyond common decency to do just that. Instead, she lifted her chin and returned his hard glare.
His mouth slid into a small, mirthless smile, and his glance fell first, skimming over her frame, resting a moment on the slight curve of her breasts before quickly dropping down her length and rising again to meet her widening gaze. She hadn’t missed the insult in that slow perusal, and her back stiffened.
Determined not to be the only one discomfited, she gave him a slow, assessing look that trailed down his broad chest. However, the insult she intended to return fell away as she quickly forgot why she’d engaged in the challenge.
The black vest he wore over a pale pin-striped shirt lovingly followed his shape, emphasizing the broad chest and narrow waist and hips. Her breath grew ragged as she paused over the juncture of his thighs, noting the large bulge that started beneath the placket of his dark pants and trailed down the right leg of his trousers.
Her gaze snapped back up to his.
One dark brow arched. “Is there something I can do for you, ma’am?” he drawled.
Prudence gulped. Something he could do? Kiss her breathless? Strip her naked? His glance had already accomplished both.
Thank goodness she had some experience in the carnal delights, or she’d be entirely overwhelmed by his…maleness.
Barely suppressing the urge to fan herself, she stepped inside his office and thrust out the hand holding her novel.
His brows knit in confused irritation. “Thank you, but I’m not one to read that sort of story.” His thumbs slid into the front pockets of his dark trousers, his long fingers bracketing his impressive sex.
He was unnerving her, drawing her attention to the part of him she most wished she could explore—and the bastard knew it! Feeling flustered and angry because he’d managed to turn her curiosity against her, she huffed a breath. “You’re in it,” she blurted, holding the novel higher.
He hesitated, his frown deepening. “All right, I’ll have a look. Later.” He lifted one hand, sliding it slowly over the outside of hers before tugging the novel from her numb fingertips and dropping it on the desk behind him.
As she let her hand drop to her side, her skin still tingled from the contact. So much so, she cupped her hand against her trembling stomach. “Everything in that book is coming true,” she paused, and cleared her throat as his expression sharpened. “I know I sound a little…touched, but I felt I had to warn you.”
“I’m pleased you sought me out, whatever the reason,” he said, with that low growling rumble that passed for a voice. He stepped closer, reaching beyond her to close the door, his knees nudging hers through her skirts.
Her heart skipped a beat. Had he intended to do that?
“Is there anything else I can help you with, ma’am?” he asked silkily, not moving away, but giving her a look that melted her insides like butter on a griddle.
Although propriety demanded it, Prudence didn’t want to step back. The contact of his hard thigh, sliding along the inside of hers was too…decadent. Her knees shook, and she clamped them shut, trapping his thigh between hers. A little whimper tore from her throat as her cheeks flooded with heat.
His snort, soft and masculine, accompanied a tightening of his features. Suddenly, he seemed truly dangerous. Wholly male.
Close enough now his breath brushed her lips, a ragged sigh slipped from her. She closed her eyes. This was Jake after all.
“Damn,” he whispered, and then his lips smoothed over hers. The kiss was sweet, but not nearly enough to quench the riot of feelings swelling inside her.
She murmured and leaned closer, letting her aching breasts brush his chest.
His hands settled at her waist, then began to roam, gliding up along the sides of her breasts then downward to curve around her bottom. At her startled gasp, his tongue stroked into her mouth.
Her thin, aching moan was muffled by his deepening kiss. Then his thigh rose between hers, surging deeper between her legs, pressing higher, until it grazed the moistening juncture.
Without thinking, she loosened her grip on his leg, and settled onto it, riding the hard, muscled thigh as it pressed upward to rub against her feminine folds until they heated with the friction, and liquid arousal seeped through her pantalettes.
He murmured against her mouth and gripped her bottom harder, rocking her back and forth on his thigh.
Slowly, Prudence lifted her hands to grasp his shoulders, sinking her fingernails into the sharp corners. Her mind reeled as she tasted coffee on his tongue and breathed in the soft scent of sage mixed with the tang of fading tobacco that clung to his skin. Her body tightened while blood rushed to swell her heated sex, and her inner walls clenched.
His mouth lifted from hers, and she moaned a protest. Her eyelids fluttered open to meet his heavy-lidded gaze.
His nostrils flared. A muscle flexed along the side of his jaw, and then he blinked–and drew sharply away, his leg withdrawing. Once again, his hands gripped her waist to steady her as she swayed. “You’ve done your civic duty, ma’am. I’m much obliged.”
“Duty?” she whispered, trying to gather her scattered wits.
His words, rough as sandpaper, caused a delicious shiver. “Oh yes, my warning.” She shook herself, and added a bit of starch to her own raspy tone. “You’ll read it?”
“Every word,” he said, staring at her mouth.
“Quickly though,” she said, her breaths panting like an overheated kitten as she struggled for aplomb. “Tonight, there’ll be trouble at the saloon.”
His eyes narrowed; his head canted slightly. “Who are you?”
Her stomach lurched. She’d rutted against him like a cat in heat and they’d never really been introduced! “Prudence Vogel,” she croaked.
“Prudence?” His gaze skimmed her face. “Seems a fitting name.”
She wrinkled her nose. Meaning it’s plain, like me? Or was he mocking her after she’d all but begged him to take her—here in broad daylight in full view of anyone walking past his office. She wished again she were more like Katarina—more beautiful, more poised. Katarina wouldn’t be at a loss for words after the passion they’d shared.
His hands gripped her shoulders and turned her, and then he gave her bottom a slap.
She yelped and glared over her shoulder, the sensual haze that had held her tongue-tied lifting at her flare of anger. “What was that for?”
“So you’d know better than to stir up any trouble tonight. And stay away from the saloon.”
“I’m not going anywhere near the saloon! There’s going to be a shooting.”
One dark brow rose, his gaze hardened. “If there is, I’ll know exactly who’s responsible, won’t I?”
Prudence’s mouth gaped and heat flooded her cheeks, and she rounded on him. “You think I’m playing some sort of game?”
“I think you’re trouble. And I don’t abide anyone stirring up my town.”