UPDATE: The winner of the free download is Lynne Rivet!
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“It’s all about that badge, ’bout that badge, no trouble…” That isn’t how that song goes? And now it’s in your head…
You’re welcome! But isn’t it true? Don’t you love the thought of a man with a badge—sworn to protect—and all you want is for that man to prove he’s a hero? Well, my hero in Sweeter Than Honey is a lot like Colt Triplehorn. A man torn between duty and his heart. And since this is a romance, we know which way he’ll swing, right?
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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… Once again, thank you, Ms. Devlin, for stealing my heart with complex and witty characters, hot sex and riveting suspense!” 5/5 Books, Reviews by Molly
“Devlin has done it again! I pretty much gobble up anything she writes and “Laying Down the Law” is another hit…” 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…
Zuri looked up, her hands pulling the belt tighter around her waist, grateful that this time she was covered neck to mid-calf. Still, she was hyper-aware she was naked underneath it and only one knot away from making another big mistake.
“You find everything you needed?” he asked, his tone impersonal.
Oddly, she thought she might actually prefer that ragged edge of anger he’d blistered her with by the river. “Yes, thanks.” She dropped the ties and smoothed her hands down her sides, nervous beneath his unblinking stare. “I don’t suppose you have anything I might wear, besides this robe, that is.” She flushed at how awkward this felt, how ridiculous her situation was. A closet full of clothes hung waiting for her six hundred miles away.
“You’re pretty skinny. I might have some sweatpants and a T-shirt, but you’ll have to cinch in the pants at the waist to keep ’em from fallin’ off.”
Skinny? Once he’d likened her slender frame to a filly’s, and she’d taken it as the highest compliment. She lifted her chin. “That’d be fine.”
She jerked when he strode for her, but he edged around the bed, headed to his dresser and pulled out a pair of gray sweat pants and a navy tee. He tossed both on the bed, and then stood with his hands fisted on his hips.
Zuri bit back a complaint, wishing he’d quit hovering because he was keeping her on edge. But when he didn’t budge, she dragged her feet to the bed, scooped up the wash-softened cotton and turned toward the bathroom.
“Uh uh,” he said, tsking softly. “My house. My clothes. My rules.”
She glanced over her shoulder, not knowing if she’d heard him right, but that same hard challenge he’d issued when he’d demanded the kiss was stamped all over his granite features.
She knew she ought to ignore him and lock herself into the bathroom to dress and gather her scattered wits, but the underlying tension riding the edge of his jaw excited her.
Colt had never been this dominating…except when they had sex. She’d loved it then. Her body seemed to crave it now. Heat bloomed again, winding around her core. A delicious little thrill accelerated her heartbeats.
Without a saying a word, she walked back to the bed and tossed down the clothing. Then keeping her gaze glued to his, she slowly untied the belt and let the robe fall open. With a sexy shrug, she let it slide off her shoulders and pool behind her on the floor.
Colt blinked first. His gaze trailed downward. His throat worked around a tense swallow, and Zuri couldn’t help the smile that tugged at the corners of her mouth. He might think he was in charge, but she knew better. Colt liked what he saw.
His quickening breaths were the first clue. The curving of his fists the second. When he opened his stance, just a few inches, she nearly crowed.
Reaching for the cotton pants, she wished she had something sexier to slide inside, then wondered if she’d lost her good sense to think that way. She had enough problems on her plate. But how could she dress and prevent him seeing what this was doing to her? Bending and opening her legs to step into the sweatpants made her feel vulnerable, exposed in a way that just standing there naked hadn’t. “I don’t understand you, or why you’re doin’ this.”
“You don’t know me.”
“I guess that’s true. It’s been a long time.”
“You didn’t know me then.”
She pulled the pants upward, over the curve of her bottom, feeling a little less off-center now that her lower half was hidden from his view. The waist of the pants settled on her hips and she rolled the band to gather up the excess fabric. “Guess that’ll have to do,” she muttered.
As she dragged the T-shirt over her head, she reminded herself why she was here. Definitely not to play games with her ex-boyfriend. She needed a safe place to stay. And she needed to keep Colt clueless until she had a chance to find her car and get rid of the damning evidence before the police found it. Her story might sound a little more believable then.
When she’d pulled the fabric down, fully covering her body, only then did she raise her glance to Colt’s again.
His brows pulled together. “Gonna tell me what’s going on? Why you’re here?”
“I’m a little hungry,” she said, knowing her attempt to stall was completely transparent. “I don’t suppose I could eat first?”
Colt dropped his fists and stepped closer, forcing her chin higher to hold his steady gaze. “If you’re in trouble…”
What? He’d help? She didn’t think so. Colt appeared to be the same inflexible cowboy. He’d always judged a person’s actions as either black or white, right or wrong. No interesting muddying of the colors accepted. She’d forgotten that about him.
She pondered telling him part of the tale, but worried he’d use what he learned to play with her some more. He seemed to like that fact he held the reins.
Zuri licked her lips. “I need a place to stay. Just for a little while.”
His gray eyes, once so warm and open, narrowed. A muscle flexed alongside his jaw.
She waited him out, knowing he wasn’t satisfied with her response. The longer the moment stretched between them, the more uncomfortable she grew. Still holding his steady gaze, she shifted her bare feet, supremely conscious of the fact she wasn’t wearing a stitch of underwear and that his clothing, while freshly laundered, still carried the hint of his unique scent. She was at his mercy. Completely.
Colt inhaled deeply, and then issued a soft, masculine grunt. He reached down and closed his hand around hers, then tugged her closer to the bed. He sat on the edge, staring at their hands before he looked up. “If you stay…you’ll sleep here,” he said, his voice tense and ragged.
Zuri wet her lips with her tongue because her mouth had suddenly gone dry. What he proposed sounded both so…wrong, yet incredibly tempting. She couldn’t get words past her tightening throat. If she could have, she didn’t know whether she would have told him to go to hell or given him a breathless yes. Instead, she squeezed his fingers.
So many thoughts swirled in her mind. Their past, her impossibly complicated present. It sounded so simple. She’d sleep beside him. Make love with him. Maybe she’d even find out that her memories of their being together were painted in rosy hues because she’d been younger, and he’d been her first.
Perhaps in exchange he’d give her clothes and money so that she could make a graceful exit.
Zuri crowded closer to his knees, tilting her chin.
Colt’s lips curved slightly at the corners, and although his gaze remained narrow, he scooted back.
She climbed over his lap, facing him, her thighs sliding over the outside of his, not saying a word, following her instincts although they’d led her down treacherous paths before. She slipped her hand alongside his neck, felt the heavy thrum of his pulse and bent down, her mouth hovering above his. “Think you can keep this uncomplicated, cowboy?”
A deep, throaty groan seeped between his lips, and she leaned into him, settling over the ridge throbbing beneath the placket of his jeans. She could do this. She could take what she wanted from him without losing her heart again. It was just sex. Just an arrangement for shelter, for time.
She had no illusions that she’d be sought by the law and soon. Her job would report her missing. The police would check her apartment and her background. But Detective David Satterly might want her involvement kept under wraps until he’d gotten to her…that might work to her advantage.
As Colt’s arms closed around her back, he lowered himself to the bed and brought her with him.
Sighing, she let her worries slide away. For now, she’d enjoy this little interlude. Accept the pleasure she knew he could deliver. She was older, had learned a few things about how to keep a relationship light. It was just sex.
But then he slid his hand beneath her shirt and scraped his callused palm upward to close around her bare breast. The sandpaper rasp of his thumb across her nipple lit a spark.
Their kiss turned instantly carnal, tongues stroking deeply, lips latching desperately together. Their bodies ground together, frustrated by the clothing separating them.
A knock sounded at the door.
“Ignore it,” she whispered.
Colt sighed. “Can’t. Gabe’ll just barge in. Have to explain it to him first.”
She sat, still straddling his hips. He slid his hand slowly from under her shirt and she climbed off. She turned her back to the door as Colt’s footsteps tapped across the bare wood.
Behind her, the brothers’ voices whispered too low to make out the words, but the rapidity of their exchange, short-bulleted bursts, told her Gabe wasn’t happy with her being here.
Keeping her back to them, she glanced into the dresser mirror and ran her fingers through her damp, tousled hair. Then her gaze fell on the jumbled items resting in a wooden tray. Keys, change. Silver gleamed. She stepped closer and plucked up a metal badge, Sheriff etched on its surface.
Zuri’s hand closed around it and the sharp edges dug into her skin. The one man she’d thought she might seek refuge with was the last she could trust with her secrets.