Hi! Thank you, Delilah Devlin, for having me here today. This anthology, A COWBOY TO KEEP, Contemporary Western Romance Collection, has been a fun project. It is a privilege to work with this group of talented authors and I’ve enjoyed getting to know them and their work. I think readers will love this collection of contemporary western romances.
I always fall in love with my characters, even the bad guys, but my heroine, Dinah Marie Horne, has been a fun one for me. She entered the stage in the first book I wrote, CODE OF HONOR, Texas Code Series, as a supporting character for Maggie Benning. They had gone to college together and quickly became friends.
She was fun, brash, and quirky, sweet, funny, and loyal, and always threw herself into a situation one hundred percent. I went down the western historical trail for a while leaving Dinah to wait in the wings, non-too patiently I might add, for her own story.
Dinah’s story is finally here. We find her facing the consequences of her most recent attempts to walk her own path and questioning, as we all do from time to time, did she make the right decision? Did she already find her ‘happy ever after’ in Ben Hammond and lose it? Will she be able to get it back?
THE LEGEND OF BAD MOON RISING
Dinah Horne left for Dallas, Texas, to make her mark. When her money runs out, she returns to her hometown and the man she can’t forget. Sheriff Ben Hammond is finally over the woman who shattered his heart, and he plans to rebuild his life with the Hard Luck Ranch. Under a rising moon, will Ben and Dinah surrender to the passion still burning hot between them?
Dinah Horne sat in a booth, in the darkened corner of the Bigger Jigger, her butt, literally and figuratively, frozen to the worn, red vinyl, seat. In the last few days, she and Maggie had discussed the situation with Ben Hammond, ad nauseam. Should she move back to McTiernan? Would he accept her living here again? Could they even reside in the same county?
She’d known her leaving last year had hurt him badly. But she’d needed to follow her dream of owning and running her own business. Hadn’t she? Well, she’d done it, all right. She’d even gone the extra yardage by telling him she couldn’t spend her life simply being Mrs. Sheriff Hammond. She was destined for greater things.
And, how’s that working out for you, Sister Sue? Her mother’s voice reverberated inside her head. Less than a year and she was back in McTiernan, tail between her legs, imposing on the kindness of friends. Pathetic.
She watched Maggie hug Ben, give her an almost imperceptible nod, and leave.
How much longer would he wait for the new realtor to show up? Not long, she surmised, if he was still in the habit of having one beer before heading home for the day. Slowly, she exited the booth and made her way toward the bar. She approached Ben just as Harry set a Styrofoam box on the counter. Ben paid his bill, picked up the white carton, and fished his keys out of his pocket.
Without fanfare, Dinah slid her card onto the lid of his dinner box.
He picked up the Packard Realty card, read the generic front, and said, “Hey, I was about to leave. I thought you weren’t going to make our appointment.” He half-swiveled on the stool, stretching out his hand. “I’m Ben, and you are, Ms?”
The look in his eyes told her most of what she needed to know. “Hi, Ben.”
He stared at her, and looked again at the card. He flipped it over to see her name scrawled across the back. Handing it to her he said, “We’re not doing this. I’ll call Tristi tomorrow.”
“Ben, you can’t just run away from me.”
“Oh, I don’t know, I’ve heard it works for others. I think I’ll give it a try.”
“That’s not fair, Ben.”
He set the container down with enough force that his thumb pushed through the lid. He grabbed her by the upper arm and marched her back to the booth she’d vacated mere minutes before.
“Fair? You want to talk fair?” He pushed her into the booth and slid in next to her, effectively blocking her escape. “You up and leave with only a note taped to my gun safe. You were afraid of losing yourself? What the hell does that mean?”
“Ben, I should go.” While she knew in her heart, he wouldn’t hurt her, she did her best not push him too far. The floodgates were threatening to overflow, and she absolutely would not cry in front of him. “This was a mistake.”
“You have no idea how huge.” With that, he got up and walked straight out the front door without so much as a glance over his shoulder.
Ben walked into the sheriff’s office, sat in his chair, and realized, as his stomach growled, he’d left his double cheeseburger with grilled onions and fries at the Bigger Jigger. Damn. He’d been really looking forward to that most perfect combination of meat, bun, and cheese with a liberal dose of jalapeños. His mouth watered at the thought, but there was no way he was going back to pick it up. He’d starve first.
His gaze drifted over to his only other option. Unhappily, he got up and slid a dollar bill into the vending machine slot, and retrieved a bag of chips. He ate one, grimaced at the remainder of the contents, and tossed them into the trash can beside his desk.
He dropped into his chair and scrubbed his hands over his face. What was the matter with him tonight? His reaction and resulting actions toward Dinah had been, while marginally understandable, completely unacceptable. He’d convinced himself, over the past few months, he was over her, and never again would she affect him. Tonight, however, had proved how wrong he’d been. Seeing her out of the blue like that had flummoxed him almost as much as seeing her that first time in Maggie’s living room last summer. Their break-up had hit him hard, and he’d promised never again to let a woman get that close. Evidently, he hadn’t moved as far along as he’d thought.
In an effort to, finally, put his relationship with Dinah Horne to bed — an unfortunate turn of phrase indeed — he started the computer and began composing an email to Tristi Packard, owner of Packard Realty. He’d call her in the morning with his concerns, but for now . . . this was a way for him to organize his thoughts.
The front door opened and closed, breaking his concentration, and when he looked up, Dinah stood inside, with her back against the glass closure.
“Hi, Ben.” She crossed the room and set a slightly worse-for-wear white box, with a hole in the lid, onto the desk in front of him. “You forgot your dinner.”
“You didn’t have to go out of your way.”
“I was driving by anyway, and promised Harry I’d drop it off. Sorry it’s gone cold.”
“Don’t worry about it.” He managed a measure of control to avoid a repeat of his actions at the bar. He cleared his throat. “You can go now.”
She pulled up a chair and sat down. “We need to talk, Ben.”
“No, we don’t. You chose to leave, you don’t get to come back.”
“Seriously? Childish much?”
Ben stared at the blank computer screen, wishing she’d leave, yet hoping she’d stay. Quite the impossible conundrum. He waited a few beats longer until the screen went dark, and then forged ahead.
“You bleached your hair. Why?”
“There’s so much competition in Dallas real estate, that when I got my license, I thought I needed something to help me stand out in the crowd. So, I got a makeover.” She smoothed her shoulder-length hair and pressed her gloss-covered lips together into an exaggerated pout. “What do you think?”
“Doesn’t matter what I think.”
“Of course, it does, Ben. Always did.”
About the Author
Carra Copelin is an award winning and Amazon Best Selling Author in contemporary and historical romances but, unlike so many other authors, didn’t write from childhood or read long into the night beneath the covers with a flashlight. She found romance novels as an adult. After reading about a million, she discovered numerous people residing in her head, all looking for a way onto the printed page.
She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and she regularly contributes to romance blog, Smart Girls Read Romance. She is a member of The Daughters of the American Revolution and The Daughters of the Republic of Texas.
Carra and her hero live in North Central Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex where they enjoy family and their three beautiful grandchildren.