The Long Road To You
The Brothers Agee – Nick
My two historical western releases are my homage to the western. Their inspiration came from my love of the TV western, The Big Valley. I was/am a Nick Barkley fan. For a while I monitored a fan fiction site relating to this show. Heath was the big favorite, Jarrod fans were strong, but Nick fans were loyal. That black clothing and especially the omnipresent black gloves were somehow sexy. In Nick’s case, a black Stetson didn’t make him the bad guy.
My first manuscript written was The Long Road to You, and it starred a hero named Nick. Around the same time, I was listening to an Andrea Bocelli CD, Sogno, and in particular the song, ‘O Mare e Tu. Its haunting minor chords, the Spanish/Arabic/Gypsy sounds put me in mind of the Flamenco. A young Anglo woman became my heroine, and she became the Flamenco dancer. You’d think a Mexican or Spanish woman would be the dancer, but I turned it around so the properly brought up and schooled American girl fell in love with the Flamenco, tried to break her bonds of propriety, and flee to escape the threat of an arranged marriage. This book became Jake and Ivy, the first in The Brothers Agee series.
Both heroes Jake and Nick were inspired, in part, by an incident in my husband’s youth. The brothers were raised in an orphanage. Nick left when Jake was ten years old, and they rediscovered each other in Jake and Ivy. My heart ached for the young orphan boys.
After Jake and Ivy’s happily ever after, Nick realized that he yearned to quit roaming, settle down, and find his own home. His visit to Jake’s ranch brings along the discovery of the neighboring ranch owner, Margee McPherson. Margee’s feistiness, independence, and beauty make Nick think of the life he needs now and how long the road has been to this place and time.
Nick Gabriel, orphan, outlaw, reformed man, yearns for what his brother Jake has—land, a home, and best of all, a loving wife. Nick pulls a woman off a rearing horse, slamming her sexy, lithe body against his, the impetuous action setting him up to lose his heart.
Margee McPherson’s whole world revolves around running the ranch her father left her and handling the creepy ranch foreman she also inherited. Years before, she’d made a mistake that ended tragically. Now, she won’t allow the drifter cowboy, Nick Gabriel, to get anywhere near her no matter how tall, dark, and handsome he is, and how much she longs to be in his arms.
Both have secrets in their pasts. Will Margee’s fear and guilt keep her from moving forward with her life? Nick’s fallen in love with the beautiful rancher. Can he prove to her his roaming days are over? And will they survive their past secrets, finding the love they didn’t know they craved?
God, it’s hot. Sun. Fire nearby for the branding irons. The air was heavy and hazy with dust as well as ash and smoke from the smoldering cottonwood logs. Beeves lowed as they waited and jostled each other in the holding pens, and the calves bawled earsplittingly as they were culled out for branding.
Margee’s arms and legs were strained to their utmost. Sweat dripped down her face and neck caking dust into mud streaks along the side of her nose, on her upper lip, and her chin. Branding a calf was difficult, but the cowboys made it look easy. Of course, they all had a hundred pounds or more on her. One of them could handle it alone.
Margee didn’t have to help out, but she reveled in it. After all, she’d not come home to sit in the parlor and ply a needle on stitchery. A cowboy behind her held the calf while she dug in her heels, taking its head to the ground. He forced the hindquarters down for branding. She felt the calf jerk, smelled burning hair, and heard his final complaint. She rolled off to free the calf and watched him trot away, indignantly tossing his hindquarters as if to shake off the sting.
Brushing dust and dirt from her eyes and mouth, she chuckled about what the girls at school would think to see her now. They’d probably refuse to acknowledge her. Well, they wouldn’t even recognize her in the first place. In the time since she’d been home on the ranch, she’d become a totally different person. The prim, proper, quiet young lady she’d been schooled to be at the Atkinson Private Academy for Young Ladies in Philadelphia was gone. In its place was someone more like the tomboy she’d been before she went east. She liked herself and loved her life so much more now.
Finally free. Free of convention. Free of restrictions. Free of teachers and chaperones monitoring her every move. They hadn’t been able to control her thoughts, though. Her goal had always been to come home and never be forced to leave again.
Her former classmates wouldn’t recognize her by her clothing either. She refused to wear the constricting corset with its whalebone stays that flattened her body into a stiff column. All the hard work and riding had strengthened her already firm, lean body. Her usual style of clothing consisted of a divided leather skirt for ease of riding astride and a man’s shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbow. Because she only wore a hat in the hottest sun or to protect her head in the rain, her face, arms, and hands were tanned beyond what would be proper back east. Straight auburn hair, which was only piled on top of her head while working or in the fiercest heat, usually fell free around her face and shoulders or was gathered at her nape with a ribbon.
Before she leaped to her feet, as she was fully capable of doing, a pair of large, well-worn boots appeared in front of her along with a hand. Grabbing the hand, she was yanked abruptly to her feet and stumbled heavily against what felt like a boulder. A boulder in clothes.
“Wuf!” She gripped the man’s forearms for balance. “Thank you.” Glancing up, she peered into the eyes of the very man who’d been inhabiting some very fevered dreams lately. Damn. What’s he doing here? Her good humor died. He’s too close. Her heart raced. The long face, those wide-set, dark eyes were just as she remembered. At that moment, his sculpted lips opened in a generous smile.
In the bright daylight, she noticed the wind and sun-roughened texture of his face. The same as the first time she’d seen him. Then why did it feel like a fist closed around her heart? He was such a—man. All hard and masculine. Stubble, dark and bristly, covered his strong square chin. Creases had carved deep into the sides of his mouth. She had to wrest her mind into control. She did not want that mouth on hers.
Breath stuck in her throat though. Her mind quit working as her fingers tightened on his shirt sleeves. Shadowed by his hat, his eyes held humor, probably at her expense. Oh my. Transfixed in this improbable place of heat and dust and an incredible cacophony of sounds, she looked into the depth of his eyes and knew, in her soul, she was in a lot of trouble. More than she’d been with that other man. Her first.
The Brothers Agee Series —
The Long Road To You available now at Amazon – http://amzn.com/B00SX7AR5K
Jake and Ivy available now at Amazon – http://amzn.com/B00OEFC9LK
Sensual fantasies were locked in my mind for years until a friend said, “Why don’t you write them down?” Why not, indeed? One spiral notebook, a pen and the unleashing of my imagination later, and here I am with more than a dozen books published. The craft of writing erotic romance has become my passion and my niche in life. I love every part of the creative process — developing characters, designing the plot, even drawing the layout of physical spaces from my stories. My careers have been varied — third grade school teacher, bookkeeper, secretary — none of which gave me a bit of inspiration. But now I’m lucky enough to write romance full time — the best job in the universe!
I’ll Be Your Last