And speaking of series.....book one in the Texas Passions series (Ellora's Cave) released this week. Eagle's Run by Desiree Holt sets up the tale of a young woman who realizes after the death of her father that not only does she have two illegitimate brothers but they will share ownership of the ranch she'd always believed was hers alone. Eagle's Redemption, by Cindy Spencer Pape, tells Dash's story (June 16) and Eagle's Refuge, my story, releases one week later (June 23). So mark you calendars to pick these stories up!
Book 1 in the Texas Passions series.
Her father was murdered by an unknown killer. Now Leah Morgan, the half-Comanche daughter of the owner of White Eagle Ranch, is faced with his unsolved murder, as well as two illegitimate half brothers who have each been left a share of the ranch. If not for Shane Duffy, the hot-looking, hot-blooded veterinarian, she’d be falling apart completely.
As she fights to retain control of the ranch and considers her heritage, Leah finds comfort in long nights of sweaty sex with Shane. And then there’s Grant Fallon, the geologist who wants to show Leah he can bring her more screaming orgasms than the hunky vet if she’ll just give him a chance.
But someone has an ulterior motive. Is it Shane? Grant? One of her half brothers? Leah might find the answer…if she’s not too busy chasing away the shadows in the arms of her lover.
Leah Morgan forced herself to sit still in the massive leather chair, moving only her eyes as she scanned the occupants of the law office. No one looking at her could tell her heart was racing and her blood pounding as if she’d just exploded in the throes of orgasm. For a brief moment, as the full scenario she faced hit her, she wished herself back generations. Today she wanted to be one of the fierce Comanche warriors she’d read so much about, brandishing a spear, the light reflecting off the war paint streaking her face as she attacked.
It took every bit of her self-control to tamp all of that down, put a tight lid on it and assess the situation.
She snorted. Now there was a word for you. This was far more than a situation.
She’d come here today for what she thought was a mere formality, a scan of some documents, a few signatures. She’d actually almost forgotten the appointment until Amos DeWitt, her father’s long-time attorney, had called to remind her. Shouldn’t take too long, he told her. Just the reading of the will. Then she could get back to the ranch—her ranch—White Eagle Ranch—and on with her life.
Not for the first time she cursed the poachers who somehow managed to breach their fence lines in the dark of night and shoot the white-tail deer that ran wild on their ranch. A large herd ranged over their property but White Eagle wasn’t a hunting preserve and they didn’t even allow licensed hunters. And now, she was sure, one of those scumbags had been responsible for her father’s death. The grief she’d suffered since her father’s murder simmered beneath the surface, a luxury she didn’t have time to indulge in at the moment. She couldn’t afford to. She had work to do. Responsibilities to take care of. But walking into the familiar law office had changed everything. She stopped at the sight of the two men waiting with Amos. The last thing she’d expected was to be told they were her illegitimate half brothers. She’d stumbled to the closest chair, fisting her hands to control the quaking inside her.
Illegitimate half brothers? Joe’s children?
Mac Moreno was not exactly a stranger to her. Withdrawn and often morose, he had carefully nursed his mother, a housekeeper at one of the local ranches, through a long bout of cancer. Apparently both he and the town were surprised that she’d left him a small life insurance policy, which he used to buy the local honky-tonk, renaming it Hell’s Bells. Now he scratched out a living serving as his own bartender, bouncer and manager. He lived in the apartment on the second floor and did his socializing out of the area. If he did any at all.
That was the total extent of Leah’s knowledge of him. What was he doing here?
Then Amos had introduced the other man. Dashiel Hyde—Amos told her he preferred to be called Dash—as if she cared. He sat as far away from everyone as he could get at the end of the long padded couch. The first thing Leah noticed about him was the dead look in his eyes. Then came the scars on his face and hands. And finally the hint of nerve injury in one leg as he shifted position.
Joe had apparently met Dash’s flight attendant mother on a trip to Dallas. When she told him she was pregnant she’d been paid well, Amos said, under the condition neither she nor the child ever contacted him, so she’d raised her son alone in Chicago. Dash was now a retired cop on disability.
Then came the real shock.
These two men were going to be her partners in the ranch. Her ranch. As she listened to Amos read the will and discovered Joe had left each of them an equal share, the Comanche blood in her veins began to boil again. What she wouldn’t give to have the late, great Comanche chief Quanah Parker with her right now. He’d never lost a battle to the white man.
Of course, she reminded herself, in the end he surrendered to the white man only when he saw there was no alternative. Leah was far from ready to go that route. Yet.
The remnants of a recent dream flashed across her brain. Two eagles chasing her, a vulture swooping in after all of them. Then it was gone as quickly as it came. The dream had disturbed and frightened her so much she’d pushed it from her mind, but now a shiver skated over her, as if she’d somehow missed a warning.
Tightening her hands in her lap and pinning Amos with her gaze, she blurted out the first thing that came to her mind.
“I don’t believe it. Not one word of it. This is some kind of scam. I don’t have any brothers and that ranch is mine. Just mine.” She raised her voice. “It was always understood. What’s going on here, Amos? What’s that old man trying to pull from the grave?” She banged a fist on her knee. “Grandfather warned me not to trust him and he was right. The old fart.”
“Leah!” The older man raised his eyebrows then sighed, leaning back in his desk chair, fingers precisely lining up the documents in front of him.
“Amos!” she spat back at him.
“I told your daddy this would turn out bad,” he said, shaking his head. “I warned him but he just didn’t want to listen to me. It’s a hell of a thing when a man gets a conscience that late in life. Leaves a mess for everyone else to clean up.”
“Conscience?” She let her gaze travel slowly from one person to the other. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
For one very insane moment she imagined none of this was happening. That it was still last night and she was back in her huge four poster bed lying in the very masculine embrace of Shane Duffy, sheets tangled and the air filled with the heady musk of their lovemaking.
Shane! The vet who cured her animals and kept her heart. The man who promised her the moon and delivered on a regular basis. Tall and lean, his body roped with tough muscles from the work he did. Eyes like chicory coffee and an improbable dimple at one corner of his very sensual mouth. And a body that drove her beyond any heights she’d ever dared dream about. After six months together she couldn’t even imagine not having him in her life. She’d never have made it through these last few days without him, that was for sure. Now she needed him more than ever.
God, she could hardly wait to tell him what a goat stampede this was turning out to be. He’d be just as shocked as she was.
Another sigh from Amos. “I guess I’d better start at the beginning. And y’all need to just sit here and listen to me until I’m done.” He glared at them each in turn. “Everyone got that?”
Leah could tell that neither of the men was any happier about it than she was, but she bit her lip—hard—and gave a quick nod of her head. She thought she was prepared for anything, but again she was stunned. Joe Morgan had sowed his wild oats without a care in the world, fathering two sons he’d never claimed and ignoring the women who gave birth to them.
Leah might be tough on the outside but that didn’t mean she didn’t have feelings. She wondered just how hard it had been for Mac, watching his mother die and knowing a man with all the resources at his disposal could have made her last months a lot more comfortable. When she shifted her gaze to him again, it wasn’t hard to miss the resentment simmering in his eyes.
But for whatever reason, before a poacher’s bullet had ended his life, Joe Morgan had decided to try to make things right with his two sons. Men he’d kept his own dirty little secret.
And shafting me while he did it.
Leah wondered if her own mother, Angel Nightwalker, would have been just another of Joe Morgan’s castoffs if her grandfather hadn’t shown up in full war Comanche regalia—something he seldom wore except for exhibitions—with a delegation of equally attired young men when her mother turned up pregnant.
Ken Nightwalker was an elder and recognized leader of the remnants of the Comanche tribe that lived in their own community outside Morgan’s Creek. Where his daughter was concerned he had been adamant. There would be not just a wedding, a sham ceremony to legitimize the child, but a real marriage. Angel would live on the ranch, not apart from Joe. She would be treated as his wife, and Leah would carry the Morgan name and have all the rights and benefits due to a true Morgan offspring.
And the tacit understanding between them was very clear. In the end, the ranch would belong to Leah.
The longer Amos droned on now, the harder it was for Leah to keep her anger in check. She refused to look at either of the two men whose silent presence was almost like a condemnation. She didn’t want or need them in her life, nor welcome any potential interference in White Eagle Ranch. Although she had barely finished grieving Joe’s death, she had plans to make for the future and things to do, and she had no idea how these strangers would fit into them.
Amos’ monologue was suddenly—and blessedly, Leah thought—interrupted by the intercom buzzing on his desk. At that exact moment the door to the outer office flew open and a tall, regal-looking man walked in. He made an imposing picture in jeans and leather shirt, his long graying hair tied back with a thong, not a trace of humor on his hawk-like features.
Leah had to bite back her smile. Yes, royalty clung to every line of Ken Nightwalker’s magnificent, arresting presence.
“I’m so sorry, Mr. DeWitt.” Josie Barker, Amos’ secretary scurried in behind the man. “I told him this was a closed meeting but I don’t think he heard me.”
“Oh I’m sure he did.” Amos waved a hand at her, swallowing his own grin. “No problem, Josie. The gentleman is welcome here any time. I should have invited him myself.” He rose from his chair and extended his hand. “Good to see you, Ken.”
Ken Nightwalker stopped at the front edge of the massive desk and accepted the lawyer’s outstretched hand. Then he bent to kiss Leah on the cheek.
“Granddaughter.” He looked around the room. “Have they boxed you in here?”
She just couldn’t help the tiny smile that tugged at one corner of her mouth. “You taught me never to let anyone do that to me, didn’t you? I would be a foolish granddaughter to ignore the lessons I’ve learned from you.”
Mac pushed himself away from the wall where he’d been leaning in a forced pose of nonchalance. “Riding to the rescue, Nightwalker? I’d think since your precious princess here was the only one old Joe legitimized she wouldn’t need anyone’s protection.”
Leah felt the flare of temper inside her at the “precious princess” label. Only a warning glance from Ken told her to hold her words. Her life on the ranch had been wonderful but nowhere near what those two words implied. If not for her grandfather, growing up with a burr under the saddle like Joe Morgan, especially after her mother died, could have been disastrous. So she held her tongue and waited to see what would play out next.
“So where are we here?” He addressed the question to Amos, surveying everyone else in the room as he spoke. “Ready for me to get out the tomahawks? Amos, how about a real short version of what we’re facing. What Leah’s facing.”