Have a soft spot for classic, historical westerns? Read on for an excerpt from Texas Bride by Leigh Greenwood, now available in a bookstore near you!
The woman neither smiled nor frowned, just watched him calmly out of amazing gray eyes apparently unimpressed with what she saw. She looked like a Quaker with her plain dress, hands folded in front, her coffee-brown hair captured in a bun at the back of her neck. But there was something about her that the prettier Miss Moody lacked, a kind of energy, an inner force or strength which even a stranger on first meeting couldn’t miss. It didn’t make her less plain, but somehow it made her plainness matter less. It also made her more interesting. More of a challenge to make her like him despite her obvious determination to do just the opposite.
“Wouldn’t you be more comfortable at one of the saloons?” she asked.
“No, ma’am, I wouldn’t,” Owen said, beginning to be irritated. “I want to take a bath and change my clothes. I’m not used to this infernal heat.”
“It’s been a relatively cool summer.”
“Not for anybody who wasn’t born in this hell of southern Texas,” Owen snapped.
“Miss Moody doesn’t allow cursing.”
“That wasn’t cussing. When I cuss, you’ll know.”
“Are your boots clean?” She looked him over again before reluctantly opening the door.
“They haven’t touched the ground since I stepped into the saddle this morning.”
“Follow me. Be sure to take your hat off. Miss Moody is very particular about that.”
Owen felt as if he’d stepped into a woman’s bedroom rather than the parlor. He’d never seen so much chintz or so many frills and ruffles.
“Do you mind telling me your name?”
She didn’t slow down or turn around. “Why will you be needing it?”
“I’ll have to call you something. You’ll be in and out of my room all the time.”
She stopped then, turned to face him, her frown even more pronounced. “My name is Hetta Gwynne. I’ll see you have little reason to use it.” Not even a hint of flirtatiousness. She turned and started off once again.
Owen followed her up a stairway and down a narrow hall to a room that contained an iron-frame bed, a wardrobe, and a small table with a pitcher and basin. No chair and no curtains, only shades. The bedspread was a pale blue, the design on the wallpaper faded, and the pitcher and basin plain white.
“Rather stark, isn’t it?” Owen asked.
“Most of our lodgers are men.”
As though men were unable to appreciate color and variety. “Do you serve meals?”
“They’ll be extra.”
“Many restaurants in town?”
“Good enough for a man.”
He wasn’t used to being ignored by women, especially a plain one. His ego had been bruised. He would wring a response out of Hetta Gwynne if it was the last thing he did. “Where is the bathtub?” he asked.
“Outside. You have to pump your own water.”
“You mean you expect me to take a bath in cold water?”
“The water is pumped into a cistern where it’s heated by the sun. When you finish, you have to fill it up again. Laundry is an extra fifty cents a week. Leave your clothes in the bathhouse if you want them washed.”
“Do you do the wash?”
Her gaze narrowed. “Why do you want to know?”
“Just curious. I wondered if Miss Moody did the washing.”
“Miss Moody owns this house. She doesn’t work.”
“Do you do everything? Clean the rooms, wash the clothes, cook?”
“We don’t have many guests.”
“Aren’t you afraid to be alone with strange men?”
“I keep a shotgun next to the bed. I shot a man a year ago. I haven’t been bothered since.”
Clearly a woman to avoid. “Where can I stable my horse?”
“The blacksmith has a barn. Ask him. If you need anything else, ring the bell on the table by the front door. Guests aren’t allowed anywhere on the first floor except the parlor and dining room. Miss Moody is most particular about that.”
Owen had never met two more unlikely prospects to help relieve tedium. He considered looking elsewhere for lodgings.
“I’ll try not to upset Miss Moody. I hope you won’t have any more lodgers wanting a bath. I intend to use every drop of hot water.”
“We don’t get many people coming through.”
“Of course, if you want to take a bath—”
“We change the sheets once a week,” she went on, ignoring his insinuation. “Miss Moody likes to be paid a week in advance. Which meals do you want to take?”
“Supper.” He dropped several coins into her outstretched hand. “I’ll let you know about the rest afterwards.”
Then she left him. Just closed the door and left.
Texas Bride by Leigh Greenwood
Night Riders, #2
On-Sale Date: December 5, 2017
She’s the one woman he could never have…
Handsome and devilishly charming Owen Wheeler has always had a way with women—but the war has left him a changed man, and he’s no longer interested in breaking hearts. Now on the trail of a fellow Night Rider turned traitor, he will stop at nothing to ensure that justice is done.
There’s nothing about fiercely independent—and plain—Hetta Gwynne that should make Owen long to trade his vendetta for peace, but something about her makes him feel like the man he always wanted to be. Owen can see a chance for a real future at Hetta’s side…if only he could convince her to let down her guard and trust in the passion neither of them can deny.
The war has changed them all, and each of the Night Riders must decide what is more important: love or revenge?