Author: Rosanne Bittner
Series: Outlaw Hearts, #2
Pubdate: July 7th 2015
Fate brought them together. His past may tear them apart.
Miranda Hayes’ life was changed the day she faced down infamous gunslinger Jake Harkner…and walked away with his heart. Their fates have been intertwined ever since. Hunted by the law, fleeing across a savage land, their desperate love flourished despite countless sorrows. Now, twenty-six years later, their family has finally found some measure of peace…balanced on the knife’s edge of danger.
Jake has spent his years as a U.S. Marshal atoning for sins, bringing law to the land he once terrorized. But no matter how hard he fights the demons of his brutal past, the old darkness still threatens to consume him. Only Miranda keeps the shadows at bay. But when outlaws looking for revenge strike a fatal blow, Jake risks losing the one woman who saw past his hard exterior and to the man inside.
He always knew there’d be the devil to pay. He just never realized he might not be the one to bear the ultimate price.
USA Today bestseller and award-winning novelist Rosanne Bittner is known as the “Queen of Western Historical Romance” for her thrilling love stories and historical authenticity. Her epic romances span the West—and are often based on Rosanne’s personal visits to each setting. She lives in Coloma, Michigan, with her husband and two sons.
In the next moment, Jake’s arms came around her from behind. He leaned down and kissed her neck. “God, I miss you when I’m out there. I worry about you, Randy. I don’t like not being close enough to watch out for you.”
Randy turned and wrapped her arms around his middle, relishing his strong embrace. “I hate it too, because I’m always afraid you’ll never come back.”
“Oh, I always find a way to come back and keep making life miserable for you.”
Randy looked up at him. “It would be miserable without you, and you know it.”
Jake met her mouth with a deeper kiss, pressing her tightly against him. He moved his lips to her brow. “We might have to forget about dinner. Once I’m through with you, I will be too tired to eat. Will Stephen stay at Evie’s tonight?”
Randy breathed in his masculine scent. “Of course, but they will have a time keeping Little Jake confined. He asks about you at least ten times a day when you’re gone. That boy lives to be around his ‘gampa,’ though you need to stop cussing around him, Jake. He’s picking up some of it, which upsets Evie.”
“I try, but the kid is a little hellion.”
“Like grandpa, like grandson. The boy knows no fear, and he’s going to make Evie crazy. But, yes, both boys will be with her and Brian tonight. They understand we need time alone when you get back, although it embarrasses me a little that they know why we need some time.”
Jake kept his arms around her and walked her backward out of the kitchen. “Why does it embarrass you? You’re my wife.”
Randy laughed lightly. “Because they are our daughter and son-in-law, and they probably think we’re too old for this.”
“Oh, I think they both know me better than that.” He kept urging her toward the bedroom. “I don’t even need to wash up first.”
“Oh? You do smell awfully good for a man who’s been on the trail for three weeks, Marshal Harkner. And I notice that this time you came back clean-shaven, except for what looks like a hint of a beard only a few hours old.” Randy planted her feet and grasped his arms. “Maybe you’d like to explain that.”
Jake grinned—the handsome smile that always made her want him. “Lloyd and I took turns watching the prisoners last night while we each took a bath at Dixie’s brothel in that shantytown west of the Donavan place.”
Randy stepped back and looked him over. “Is that so?”
“That’s so. The women there were more than happy to help out.”
Randy folded her arms. This was all part of their old game; Jake loved when she played the jealous wife, loved pretending to have to talk her down. “I’m sure they were. And of course you slept there.”
Jake unfolded her arms and pushed them behind her back. “Of course I did. We both caught a few hours’ sleep in real beds. It felt good. We kept the prisoners hog-tied in a barn and a Mexican who works there tended them for us.”
Randy held his gaze. “You slept there.”
Jake pressed her tight against him. “Sure did…all alone. Woman, you know better than to think I’d ever betray your trust.” He nuzzled her neck.
“What I know is that women look at you like you’re chocolate candy—even the decent ones in town. They wonder what it would be like to belong to Jake Harkner.” Jake kept her arms behind her as he continued walking her backward to the bedroom doorway. “Then I guess they’ll just have to keep wondering, won’t they?"