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Loretta C. Rogers: Brand New Release — 8 SECONDS TO DIE (Excerpt)
Monday, May 20th, 2024

8 Seconds to Die

When veterinarian and amateur sleuth, Dr. Tullah Holliday reluctantly agrees to help a former high school bully, now ex-con on parole, and a breeder of rodeo bulls, who is being threatened by a drug syndicate, she finds herself in a world of corruption; especially when she digs up dirt on a dishonest sheriff and his deputy.

From a rattlesnake delivered in a giftwrapped box, to a vicious bull attack, as Tullah puts together the pieces of the case, a killer is preparing to strike again, and this time, it could send this nosy veterinarian to an early grave.

Excerpt from 8 Seconds to Die

The silence that permeated the room had never sounded so loud. I finally said, “What happened then? Did you call the sheriff, or 9-1-1?”

Caleb poured another drink. It was halfway to his mouth when Caroline admonished, “That’s enough, Caleb.”

He racked a trembling hand over his face before downing the bourbon. He grimaced. “Yeah, sure, it’s just that I keep seeing Pop’s mangled body.” He heaved a deep sigh. “We rushed to the barn. Diablo had blood on both horns where he’d gored Pop. My ol’ man lay in a heap like a broken doll. I wanted to shoot the bull. I guess it was a good thing Rex and Baily stopped me. “We called Sheriff Coffey. He came with two deputies and the medical examiner, Reed Duckworth. Duckworth put Pop’s death at approximately two a.m. He said it appeared almost every bone in Pop’s body had been broken by the mauling.”

I had to ask, “Was there an investigation…did you request an autopsy?”

Both Caroline and Caleb gave me owlish looks. Caleb said, “Investigation…what was there to investigate? The bull broke out of his pen. He gored my father to death. End of story. And no, we didn’t request an autopsy. We knew how Pop had died. I don’t understand why you’re asking these questions, Tullah.”

Not satisfied with the shortened version of the answer, I persisted. “From the way you’ve reinforced the pens with metal bars, how did the bull get out? Was your father gored in the front or in the back? Wasn’t there a door or a ladder to the loft that he could’ve used to escape the attack? Was there any evidence of tampering with the latch on the gate of Diablo’s pen?”

Caroline and Caleb sat silent. Their silence cued me that there was more to the story. I waited. “Listen, you two, you’ve asked for my help. I’m getting a bit weary of the pranks and the evasiveness. What is it you’re either hiding or not telling me? Was Carl’s death an accident or murder?

“Does his death have anything to do with the threats you’ve received, and especially threats against your children? Have the perpetrators made demands for money or for something otherwise?”


8 Seconds to Die is book #5 in the Doc Holliday Mystery Series.

Books are available at:
Barnes and Noble:

About the Author

Loretta C. Rogers is a fourth generation Floridian. She has rounded up cattle and participated in a couple of twenty-five-mile endurance trials with her mustang mare. She uses her life experiences to create stories. For example, rodeo is her favorite sport. Years ago, she and hubby were at a rodeo in Kissimmee, Florida. They were camping out and had to skedaddle when someone opened the gates to the bull pens. Thankfully, only their tent suffered. On the upside, Loretta got to meet Michael Landon, who played Little Joe Cartright on Bonanza. These and other past life experiences spurred the idea for “8 Seconds to Die,” a rodeo themed contemporary mystery that includes murder, drug syndicates, rattle snakes, and laced with a thread of paranormal.

Contact Loretta at:

The End! (Of TYSON’S MISSION, that is) (Contest + Excerpt)
Wednesday, April 10th, 2024

UPDATE: The winner is…Pansy Petal!

Around all the company we had leading up to and then after the eclipse (I have the T-shirt and the poster!), I wrote the last chapter of the book coming your way on April 23rd!

It’s an exciting one, set in the Yucatan jungle. My heroine is feisty, independent, and brave, and my hero is a SEAL—nuff said about him, right?

Do you see the book’s cover?! He’s every bit, Tyson Quigley. I also found a background photo that perfectly captures the setting of the story. And that look he’s wearing? That’s when he puts his foot down.

I can’t wait for you to read the story. It’s filled with interesting tidbits about the work my heroine is involved with and characters you’ll love and hate. There are some pulse-pounding moments—sexy times and ones filled with danger. And there’s humor. You know I can’t write without a bit of that thrown in, too.

So, my question to you is, have you pre-ordered your copy? For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me whether you’ve pre-ordered or tell me what about the description below appeals to you.

Tyson’s Mission

Tyson's Mission

A former Navy SEAL is tapped to provide security for a team of archeologists working to uncover Mayan ruins deep in a Mexican jungle that a local drug cartel is targeting.

After surviving a catastrophic helicopter accident, former Navy SEAL Tyson Quigley is taking well to his new life with the Brotherhood Protectors in the Yellowstone, Montana, office. Life’s looking up. He’s working with old teammates and feeling stronger and more himself every day.

Then he gets a call from his university professor brother, who is worried about a colleague working on an archeological dig in southern Mexico. The team has had problems with thefts of equipment and supplies. Now, one of the dig team members has been kidnapped and held for ransom, but they quickly figure out the finger they were sent in the package demanding payment is from an already dead person. Now, they have no idea whether their team member is alive or dead and worry that the attacks on the site aren’t over. After a quick conference with his Brotherhood Protector teammates, Ty heads down to Mexico to pose as his brother’s friend’s boyfriend to provide her protection for the remainder of the dig.

Cara Woodward doesn’t need a babysitter. Sure, things have gotten scary since a team member was abducted, but she thinks having a bodyguard is overkill. Their sponsors are pulling the plug on the excavation due to the kidnapping, so they’re working furiously to close the site for the season. Tyson’s everywhere she is, and it’s getting on her nerves. His looming presence is distracting, to say the least. He’s too handsome, too intense.

As the dig team continues documenting their work before they pack up and leave, they suffer a series of attacks—this time, too close to Cara for Ty’s comfort. He’s locking her down, with no daylight between them for the duration.

Pre-order your copy now!
Read the opening scene now!

Here’s their first meeting…

In the distance, an engine sounded, but it was coming from the north rather than the south, where the dig team would be coming from. “What now?” she muttered and headed toward the motor pool—which was no more than the flattest, unforested spot on the edge of the camp. They’d erected a makeshift fence around the motor pool with cleaned cans from the mess tent hanging from the wire to alert the camp to anyone looking to steal parts or an entire vehicle, which had happened the previous year.

A jeep pulled up to the gate, and the driver rapped the horn once.

The jeep’s poorly painted camo pattern meant their visitor was Gino Acevedo, the local man of all trades with whom Cara met when she needed manpower or materials.

Cookie kept pace with Cara as they moved toward the gate where the jeep stopped.

Gino stepped down with a huge grin on his face. “I have a surprise for you, Señora Woodward.”

The passenger side door that faced away slammed. A tall figure appeared and circled the front of the vehicle. It was a man—a rather tall, well-built man. As he neared, Cara’s breath caught. Lord have mercy, the man was handsome.

His mouth moved into a tight line before stretching into a half-smile as he drew closer. Then, before she had a chance to wonder why he was moving in so close, he reached out, gripped her shoulders, and kissed her.


Ty barely had time to note that Cara was a very attractive woman before he made his move. She appeared to be in shock. Her eyes widened as he pressed a light kiss against her mouth. Damn Bradon. He hadn’t called to warn her.

He put his arms around her and hugged her to his chest. Then he bent toward her ear. “Play along,” he whispered.

Her head jerked back, and her eyes narrowed as she searched his face.

“I know I shouldn’t have sprung this on you,” he said louder for the benefit of anyone watching. “But I knew you’d be short-handed, and Bradon got me set up on a flight to come down and help with the tear-down.”

He moved back but kept his arm slung around her waist as he turned to greet the other female, who was tanned with spiked, platinum-blond hair. He reached out his free hand, “I’m Ty Quigley, a friend of Cara’s,” he said, giving extra emphasis to the word friend.

The woman grinned widely as she gave Ty a handshake that would’ve caused a lesser man to grimace. “Nice to meet you. Everyone calls me Cookie. Cara never mentioned she had a hunk like you at home.”

Cara wriggled inside his embrace, but he clapped his hand on her hip to keep her leaning against his body. He had to sell this with or without her cooperation. “She’s probably still a little pissed at me after the last time we spoke. I had some time off from work and thought I’d better come down here to mend some fences if you know what I mean.”

“Well, that’s some gesture,” Cookie said. “If it doesn’t work out…” She waggled her eyebrows and then gave a gust of laughter. “Any chance you have a brother…?”

The Opening of WHAT HAPPENS IN BOZEMAN (Excerpt)
Thursday, March 7th, 2024

What Happens in Bozeman

Kelly Willis was a good girl by anyone’s definition. She’d never dated around, having gone steady with her star quarterback boyfriend since her sophomore year of high school. He’d been her first kiss, her first experience with sex. Her parents had adored her boyfriend and had delightedly set about planning her future so she didn’t screw up a good thing.

To make sure she was ever-present to their goal for her, she’d headed to college with him, wearing his promise ring, and had never once looked astray for attention from other men. Further, she’d gained her degree in a perfectly respectful, acceptably feminine profession.

She’d gone to church every Sunday of her life, never once doubting that God saw that she was good and would reward her for her virtue.

So, for her to be contemplating doing what she was now would’ve shocked the panties off her dear mother, her white-haired pastor, and her high school sex-ed teacher, who’d been long on abstinence and short on understanding a younger woman’s hormones. But then again, where were they all now?

Not here, stuck outside a hotel in Bozeman, Montana, while she waited for the snowplows to clear a passage through the mountains so she could get to her destination.

She hadn’t wanted to stop, and if the roads hadn’t been blocked by traffic barricades and a police officer directing vehicles to the nearest exit, she’d have kept driving—the winter storm be damned. By now, she’d had plenty of time alone with her thoughts.

Crazy, mixed-up thoughts of revenge and retribution filled her imagination with images of the fiery pit of Hell. Not for her. No, the person who deserved to be cast down into its depths wasn’t even here to feel the anger that had her fuming hot despite the chill, near-zero temperature.

While every curse word she’d never uttered aloud flitted through her mind, she felt her ire burbling like acid in her belly until it had to find its release.

“Fuck,” she whispered, then glanced around to make sure no one else standing in the parking lot had heard her. No one was looking her way.

And once she’d said it, she felt disappointed in herself. Not because she’d uttered that coarse, forbidden word but because she’d said it so softly. Was she gutless? Hadn’t she earned the right to rebel against a lifetime’s strictures? She’d been the Queen of Pristine, or so the boys at her high school had labeled her behind her back.

He had thought that title was hilarious, given what they’d done after the Friday Night Lights dimmed. He, who shall not be named. Ever again.

She sniffed back a sob, tamping it down deep.

“That fucker,” she said a little more loudly this time.

She stood straighter. No bolt of lightning had struck her. In fact, her chest felt a little lighter now. She could finally draw a deep breath.

Again, her gaze went to the man on the edge of the group, standing outside the hotel’s diner while employees were scurrying inside to open for a bunch of stranded, hungry travelers.

He’d do. Not that he’d given her so much as a glance. It didn’t matter that she’d decided for him. He was in the right place at the right time—although “right” and what she intended had nothing to do with each other. She turned up the fur-lined collar of her puffy jacket and strode in his direction. For the moment, she was filled with confidence because she’d earned this. Years of servitude to a single, hallowed goal would have their reward.

She didn’t even care if he was handsome. Good looks hid ugly flaws, or so she’d discovered. She hoped he had a big nose and was missing a tooth—just one. She’d want to kiss him after all. She was sure he’d have calluses, given he was wearing a cowboy hat that looked like it actually served a purpose, with its faint ring around the crown. His jeans were faded by actual use, not some weird fashion statement. His boots were scuffed and a plain brown. No nonsense. A working man’s footwear, not a poser’s.

The closer she drew, the more confident she felt about this plan. First, she’d insinuate herself into sharing a table with him. She’d smile and flirt, then drop her extra key card on the table when she excused herself.

She was almost there; he was turning toward her…

No, he turned and smiled at a grinning woman who was waving her keycard in her hand and rushing to his side.

Well, shit. She only just managed to keep the words inside her mouth.

The doors to the diner swung open, and she was caught in the crowd of twenty or so individuals who flowed inside the heated space.

Tables filled quickly, and she eyed an open stool at the counter, but a man whose large bottom nearly swallowed the stool laid claim before she could.

She stood with her shoulders drooping, looking for an empty table, when she heard a throat clear to her left.

Glancing sideways, she saw a man with a lop-sided smile waving a hand to the open seat across from him. “I don’t mind sharing, ma’am.”


What Happens in Bozeman arrives on March 19th. Pre-order your copy now!

N.J. Walters: Protecting the Gray Wolf
Wednesday, February 28th, 2024

PROTECTING THE GRAY WOLF, the second book in the Lone Wolf Legacy trilogy, is finally here!

Who are the lone wolves?

Since the rise of the werewolf, there has always existed a single lone wolf—with pure white, gray, or black fur and eyes that match—who answers to no alpha, belongs to no pack. Merciless and deadly, he wanders the world, both judge and executioner of rogue wolves who senselessly kill, endangering all their kind.

When one dies, another takes its place, awakening to his purpose the first time he shifts to his wolf form. Known by the sign of the lone wolf—a sickle over the heart—the short-handled, circular blade remains as a tattoo on the man and as a mark on the wolf. A lethal combination of intelligence, brutal strength, and keen instinct, he walks a lonely path, shunned by pack, always alone.

For the first time, there are three in the world—white, gray, and black—who all bear the mark on their chests. No one knows why, least of all them…

Protecting the Gray Wolf
Lone Wolf Legacy, Book 2

I’m used to other wolves coming for me. They want their chance to try and take out the infamous Gray Wolf. And every single one of them fails—because lone wolves aren’t like the others…we’re stronger. Harder. Meaner. Immortal.

But it also means I’m alone. No pack. No alpha. Just the three of us—white, gray, and black. Two too many, if you ask me.

But with power-hungry mages gunning for us, I don’t have the luxury of reflection. They’re in New York City, and I Will. Hunt. Them. Down.

Which is when I see her, and every cell in my body is on alert, filled with the kind of primal longing I never knew I was capable of. Luna West may be human, but there’s some kind of thread connecting us. Call it destiny, fate…or voracious animal hunger.

I know she’s bait. She’s meant to tempt me, to make me weak. But even if I could resist her, I’m not sure I want to.

Because I’ve never denied my wolf anything…especially the chance to raise some serious hell.

And I’m not about to start now.

(Author Note: This book is told in third person, even though the blurb is in first person.)


The air stirred behind him. Goose bumps rose on his skin. Kade’s head snapped around, searching for what had disturbed him. The woman was almost six feet tall, even wearing flats. The dress she wore was a pale gray that matched her eyes. It was loose but gave the impression of generous curves beneath. Curly brown hair tumbled around her shoulders. Streaks of gray ran through the front part so the strands framed her face. And what a face it was. Her lips were full, her chin slightly rounded. High cheekbones brought his gaze back to her eyes, which widened beneath thick, dark lashes.

Part of him hadn’t believed the white wolf, or hadn’t wanted to, but there was no denying the vision before him. The gray streaks in her hair matched the color of his hair and her eyes were a mirror image of his. Their eyes met and she came to an abrupt stop. Every muscle in his body tensed, poised to give chase if she ran. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. It was as if a switch had been flipped inside him. Lust warred with surge of possessiveness and the unexpected urge to protect. When she licked her lips, his jeans grew tighter. He clamped down on his emotions, exerting iron control over his wayward body. Last thing he needed was a hard-on in the middle of an art opening.


Want to read more of Luna and Kade’s story? Check out the links below.

Entangled Publishing:

If you’re not familiar with the series, be sure to check out TAMING THE WHITE WOLF, book one of the series. Find out more at: Entangled Publishing:

About the Author

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, assassins, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

Visit her at:
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Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction (Contest)
Sunday, February 25th, 2024

UPDATE: The winner is…Mary McCoy!

For Black History Month, my post will focus on an amazing book I discovered while researching my October 2023 D.D. post on Hallie Q. Brown (1850-1950). Published by Ms. Brown in 1926, Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction contains sixty biographical sketches/essays written by twenty-nine contributors. Ms. Brown wrote 21 of them.

Here is the book’s dedication which includes a verse of poetry by poet Clara Ann Thompson (1869-1949):

In memory of the many mothers who were loyal in tense and trying times, this volume is affectionately dedicated to the National Association of Colored Women of America and Canada.

Through all the blight of slavery
They kept their womanhood
And now they march with heads erect,
To fight for all things good,
Nor care for scorn nor seek for praise,
Just so they please their God.

Whether well-known like Phillis Wheatley or less well-known like Martha Payne, the mother of Daniel Payne, who founded Wilberforce University, each essay shares how these women impacted society in whatever role they found themselves.  By publishing Homespun Heroines, Hallie Brown and her co-authors made sure the world learned about women worthy of remembrance regardless of their “lot” in life.

In the foreword, author and teacher Josephine Turpin Washington (1861-1949) begins:

“Interesting as are the facts recorded in this book, they do not constitute its chief value. That is found in its reflection of the wonderful spirit which moved the women who strove and achieved, despite obstacles greater than any which have stood in the way of other upward struggles.”

Then she ends with, “The result is a work which not only furnishes useful information, but—what is even more—inspires to finer character and racial development.”

My edition of Homespun Heroines is part of a collaboration between the Schomburg Library in Harlem, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, and Oxford University Press. In his Note from the Schomburg, Howard Dodson, the Schomburg’s director at the time, wrote that when titles from the 19th century were being reprinted in the 1960s, with the exception of well-known names like Phillis Wheatley, the work of women was notably absent. The Schomburg therefore created The Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women.

By sharing my African American women posts here on Delilah’s blog I think that I too am honoring the “memory of the many mothers who were loyal in tense and trying times” as Hallie Brown and her co-authors did. Their work has inspired me to begin compiling information on African American women of the modern era as well as continuing to share about those from the 19th century. I’ve already written about some of the women found in Homespun Heroine’s pages. I look forward to sharing about others I’m discovering thanks to this fantastic resource.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon Gift Card, share in the comments any thoughts you might have on this post or the name of a resource that you’ve learned Women’s History from.

One Breath Away by Michal Scott

Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more. Wealthy, freeborn-Black, Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing the mysteriously exotic woman was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex. Hope ignites along with lust until the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…


Arousal—fondly remembered and sorely missed—sizzled between Mary Hamilton’s well- rounded thighs. Moisture coated her nether lips and threatened to stoke the sizzle into a blaze. The sensation surprised her, as did the owner of the gaze that lit the flame.

Eban Thurman stood against an opposite wall of the town’s community hall. Although the room was wide as two barns and filled with revelers, neither the distance nor the presence of the crowd lessened the power of his gaze. He studied her with a curiosity that didn’t grope with disdain, but caressed with approval.

With respect.

This kind of appreciation was never given to women as dark and as large as she. Gratitude heated her face.

Gratitude and embarrassment. Her lavender toilet water couldn’t hide the fragrance of arousal. She shuddered with shame then glanced around. Had anyone else detected the odor? All the merrymakers seemed too caught up in the rhythmic fast fiddling and foot-stomping of Safe Haven’s seventh annual Juneteenth Revel to notice her discomfort.

In 1872 Texas who took note of a black woman who ain’t been asked to wed?

Yet Eban’s perusal said not only did he take note, but he liked what he saw.


Cameron Allie: What’s happening in my world… (2 FREE Reads + Excerpt!)
Friday, February 16th, 2024

Release Date Delayed

I have sad news.

I had really wanted to show up today blaring trumpets and screaming “I have a new release! I have a new release!”, but unfortunately, I can’t.

My PNR wolf shifter book that was scheduled to release today, had to be postponed. So instead, I’m here to take a brief break before I go back to frantically trying to finish it so the proofer can get through it before it’s due to Amazon in less than a month.

If you think fated mates wolf shifters are for you, you can pick up the first one in the series, Drew (for free) here, and you can preorder Callum, which will be out next month (if all goes well) here.


Bookstagram Reviewer’s Choice Award: Romance Edition

I come with some news though. I’m starting up a Bookstagram Reviewer’s Choice Award.

What is that?

Well, right now I’m recruiting active bookstagrammers who love to read and review romance books! In March, I’ll be opening up the entry form for romance authors to enter their book (so long as it’s published between May 2023-April 2024).

This is an excellent opportunity for both Bookstagrammers and romance authors to connect with each other and to reach new romance readers.

There will be prizes for the top scoring entries in each category.

Judges will be receiving the books they judge for free.

Follow me on Instagram and follow the contest at our new Instagram account.

If you’d like more information, you can read about it here.

And if you’re a Bookstagrammer and you think you’d like to be a judge, you can sign up here.

How about a quick, unedited excerpt from Callum?

A few more hours and she could supervise the cleanup. Tonight, she’d sneak away to the tree fort for some quiet reading time, and if she was lucky, she’d miss seeing her father tonight.

As she thought through her plans, she straightened a tray on the table, and that’s when it hit her.

Or—more correctly—hit her nostrils.

The spicy, sweet scent from the other night, the one she’d thought was a cologne.

It was stronger now and immediately she realized what it was. Her mate.

For a second, she closed her eyes and just breathed in the intoxicating scent.

The noise of the crowd faded to a dull buzz. Across from her, someone shifted, and she just knew.

Looking up, there he was, the blond man, Elliot’s cousin, staring at her.

Her mouth watered as his scent flooded her senses. He was beautiful. His blond hair was darker at the roots and lighter at the tips, styled with a forelock that twisted and dipped across his forehead. A slight beard scruff covered the dimple in his chin.

He was stunning, and…related to Elliot.

Her father would never approve. Fated mate or not.

If he knew.

Her mate swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing with the motion. “It’s you.”

Quickly, she glanced around before hushing him. “Don’t talk to me. Not here.”

With that, she turned on her heel and fled, her mind whirling with each step.

New plan.

Seduce her mate and convince him to imprint on her before her father found out.

Belated Valentine’s Day Gift!

Happy Valentine’s Day (Yeah, I know, it’s a couple days late)!
Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free copy of Arrested Valentine!

What do you do when you find out your ex-boyfriend was cheating? You spend Valentine’s with your bestie and a bottle of Vodka. Maybe she suggests you slash the cheater’s tires. Maybe you get arrested by the sexiest cop you’ve ever seen.

A day dedicated to love. How bad could it be?

Word Search: Random Malcolm Things & an Excerpt! (Contest)
Tuesday, February 6th, 2024

UPDATE: The winner is…Colleen C!

I’m getting close to “The End” of Malcolm! Good thing, too. It releases next Tuesday! Since the story is on my mind constantly—I kind of live it in an alternate reality in my head—today’s Word Search puzzle is filled with random elements of the story.

Enjoy the puzzle and the excerpt from the story below! And if you leave a comment, you’ll be entered to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

Excerpt from Malcolm

MalcolmMalcolm Winslow knew he stood out in this crowd. How could he not? With his longish, uncombed hair, thick beard, and the tattoos displayed by the rolled-up sleeves of his plaid shirt, not to mention the fact he was armed and wore a Kevlar vest, he drew every eye the second he entered the fancy barn that was lit up like the Fourth of July.

Those closest to the open doors were the first to fall silent. Hands touched shoulders and then pointed toward him as he resolutely made his way toward the trellis constructed between horse stalls on either side of the wide space and strung with white lights and roses, where a couple in their wedding finery stood before a preacher.

A groomsman tapped the groom on the shoulder, and he tore his gaze away from his stunning bride to glance down the aisle Malcolm strode down.

The groom’s eyes widened, and he turned to his bride, dug something from his pocket, and then said, “Candy, here are my keys—run!”

The groom slapped keys on her palm, straightened his shoulders, and stepped in Malcolm’s path.

Malcolm gave a single shake of his head, smacked away the groom’s raised fists, then bent to ram his shoulder into the other man’s chest.

The groom flew backward as Malcolm picked up his pace and ran toward the smaller back door of the barn through which the bride had just escaped.

Outside in the dusky gloom, he caught a glimpse of bright white as the bride, Candy Bodine, almost Carmichael, climbed a corral fence. He was surprised at the number of people standing on either side of the door outside this end of the barn but didn’t have time to figure out why they were there because Candy had just jumped down from the fence to the other side, snagging her long train on a nail. She ran forward, but her train held fast, springing her backward and onto her butt on the dirt.

She rolled, tangling herself in petticoats and torn train, and got to her knees. She stared back at him as he jogged toward the fence, planted a hand on the cedar fencepost, and sailed sideways over the top. Yeah, his feet skidded a bit in horse poop when his boots hit the ground, but the bride wasn’t so pristine now either, kind of like her rap sheet.

This time, she’d failed to appear before the judge for a drunk driving/failure to yield at a stop sign/fleeing the scene set of charges. And if Malcolm had anything to say about it, she was not heading to the private airport where Daddy had a plane waiting to fly her to some resort vacation in the Caribbean. As soon as Malcolm snicked the cuffs on her wrists, she’d be spending what should’ve been the first night of her honeymoon inside the detention center in Bozeman.

No amount of crocodile tears was going to dissuade him from his purpose.