Read Heart of Mine (Bandit Creek) Online
Authors: Michelle Beattie
PRAISE FOR AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR MICHELLE BEATTIE
Love by Accident
(WINNER OF THE 2011 STAR CONTEST FOR BEST SELF-PUBLISHED PARANORMAL ROMANCE)
"…is a roller-coaster ride of emotions which will have you going from teary-eyed sadness to smiling with joy all within the flip of a page. The characters are real and honest in this heartfelt contemporary romance with a twist of the paranormal. At the heart of it all, is a romantic love story about overcoming the past, and fighting for a happy future. - Clare, Two Lips Reviews
(WINNER OF THE 2011 STAR CONTEST FOR BEST SELF-PUBLISHED HISTORICAL ROMANCE)
"Known for her Berkley pirate series, author Michelle Beattie proves she's equally at home among the cowboys and frontiersmen of the old west in her new novel, Another Chance. She pulls you into the world of her characters, deftly weaving in the historical feel, with heaps of sexual tension. If you like cowboys, and enjoy a good romance, you'll love, Another Chance. - Roxy Boroughs, author and playwright.
PRAISE FOR THE PIRATE SERIES
A Pirate's Possession
"Beattie has made her reputation creating fast-paced, exciting high-seas adventure romances with feisty heroines, daring heroes, rapid-fire dialogue and a heady mix of passion, pleasure, and exploits. Her third novel is a delight to read with plenty to savor for the pirate fan hidden within all of us." 4 Stars. Romantic Times
Romancing the Pirate
"Beattie's passion for the seas sparkles on every page, as does her love of adventure and or creating a sensual love story between headstrong characters." 4 Stars. Romantic Times
What A Pirate Desires
"This fun romance features a feisty heroine, a tortured hero and a sassy parrot along with strong doses of betrayal, action, and plenty of cunning." Publisher's Weekly
Other Titles by Michelle Beattie
From Berkley Sensation
What A Pirate Desires
Romancing The Pirate
A Pirate's Possession
Available as ebooks, the winners of the 2011 Star Contest for self-published books
- winner of the 2011 Star best historical romance award
Love By Accident
- winner of the 2011 Star best paranormal romance award
HEART OF MINE
A Bandit Creek Historical Western
Copyright 2012 by Michelle Beattie.
Cover art by April Martinez
All rights reserved
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to amazon.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. To obtain permission to use excerpt portions of the text, please contact the author at
All characters in this book are fiction and figments of the author's imagination.
My thanks to my beta readers, Vicki, Brenda C and Brenda S, Donna and Taryn. This novella is better for your input. Thank you. To the lovely ladies and one fine gent who make up CARWA, I'm honored to be among you.
To the pioneers who came out west with little more than a dream, thank you for your hard work and effort. Thank you for blazing the trail.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
EXCERPT FROM WITCH IN THE WIND
by Brenda Collins Deeks, the next Bandit Creek novella coming May 1
Bandit Creek, Montana 1897
Laura Gibbs had always secretly hoped to share a bed with Jake Evans, but she'd never imagined it would be like this.
She pinched her eyes closed, drew the sheet higher until it covered her chin. She didn't dare look over; it was terrifying enough to hear Jake's low, even breathing beside her. To worry about what he'd do when he awakened and saw her there. If he assumed, as her father had planned, that they'd been intimate last night, he may very well deem the damage done and want to bed her again.
With a snuffle, Jake rolled over and tossed a leg over hers, which were clamped tightly together. Laura froze. His skin was hot but a shiver shimmered over her. She loved Jake, had since her body began to change into womanhood. But she wasn't ready to give herself. Not like this.
He must have realized he wasn't alone. A deep growl rumbled from his throat. He shifted closer. His hand snuck underneath the covers. Laura's eyes flew open. Her arms covered her breasts, but she couldn't protect...everything. His hand slid over her bent arms, fingers cleverly finding any skin that wasn't covered.
Laura's heart leapt about in her chest like a trapped wild mustang trying to kick its way free. When Jake awakened and saw her there, he'd be livid, and she'd be forced to continue the deception her father had thrust her into. A deception she never would have agreed to if she'd been left any other choice. But, when Hugh Gibbs wanted something badly enough, he stopped at nothing to achieve it. A cruel truth Laura had witnessed firsthand growing up.
Clearly realizing his hands weren't going to find the glory they were after, Jake's leg resumed the conquest. Using her rigid limbs as leverage, he shifted closer to her until-
Laura jammed her fisted hands into her mouth to keep from squealing. As much as she could with Jake's leg trapping her, she shifted away from him.
"Where do you think you're going?" his gravelly voice asked as he once again moved closer until his body pressed tightly against hers. Until she felt
against her leg.
He was aroused and eager, but he didn't even know who he was in bed with.
A single tear ran down her cheek.
Jake opened his eyes. Morning light spilled from his curtain-less windows, enabling Laura to see the emotions cross his face. Confusion and disbelief reigned. His brow creased. He blinked several times as though he couldn't believe whom he was seeing. "Laura?"
She hadn't moved and remained still and stiff beside him, the blankets at her lips. She imagined her eyes were as large as his. Since words failed her, Laura simply nodded.
Jake's gaze roamed over her. Laura felt naked. Of course it didn't help that under the covers she
naked. They both were. Heat poured over her as though someone had dumped liquid fire over her head.
Jake's cheeks colored as well and he eased away. Thick blonde hair fell over his forehead. His face was a combination of angles and lines that culminated with a pair of penetrating coffee-colored eyes.
His hand reached for her. Laura's heart tripped over itself but his fingers stopped on her cheek, where he gently wiped the tear that had snaked its way to her jaw.
"Did I hurt you?"
Laura hadn't thought she could feel any lower but his words shamed her. She was knowingly deceiving him and he was worried about her. She lowered the blankets to her neck.
"No, you didn't."
Well, that's something, then." He shook his head. "I'm sorry, Laura. I don't remember last night at all. The last thing I remember is being in the Powder Horn Saloon."
"You were drunk," Laura volunteered, hoping he wouldn't remember the rest.
Jake frowned. "I've never been so drunk that I've forgotten making lo-"
Laura's face burned as Jake swallowed the rest of his sentence. She knew he was digging in his memories, trying to remember their coupling. "You weren't at the saloon last night," he stated.
Laura swallowed, licked her dry lips. "No. I saw you...later."
Jake ran a hand through his already tousled hair. "I remember tossing some coins on the table, I was getting up to leave when-" His gaze grabbed hers. "Your father was there. He offered to buy me a drink."
Laura licked her lips again. "I didn't see him." But she knew Jake didn't believe her. His jaw was ticking and his eyes were sharp.
"I know I didn't bring you here. What's really going on?"
No, of course he'd never have taken her home, because she was Laura Gibbs, poor daughter of lazy, smooth-talking, money-grubbing Hugh Gibbs. Who'd ever want her? Other than the old miner her father threatened to sell her to if this farce didn't work. The thought reinforced Laura's wavering will. She wouldn't marry a man old enough to be her father. She wouldn't give her body, her soul, to a man she didn't love.
"It's as I said. You were coming from the saloon and-"
Beyond the bedroom and down the stairs, Jake's front door crashed in.
"Jake Evans!" Hugh Gibb's voice thundered from the entryway of Jake's sprawling log house. "What have you done with my daughter?"
"Damnation," Jake cursed as instinct shot him out of bed.
She caught a glimpse of naked leg and backside and turned her head. She yanked the cover to just under her nose as her father's heavy tread thumped up the stairs. Of course he knew exactly where Jake's room was as he'd been the one to carry him there to begin with. Despite it being her father's idea, Laura nonetheless cringed when he stomped into the room. Alone with Jake she could fool herself into believing that she could be good for him, that she could make him happy. But with her father in the room, she couldn't hide the fact that, despite having no alternatives, she was as guilty in this scheme as he was.
Hugh Gibbs wasn't nearly as tall as Jake. In fact, Jake was at least half a head taller, but her father nevertheless made an impression. Dressed in his best suit--which Laura's wages had paid for--his beard neatly trimmed and his midnight hair slicked back, he seemed everything he wasn't; wealthy, successful. Concerned.
His girth expanded as he drew a righteous breath. "Jake, you filthy, no-good snake in the grass! You've ruined my daughter!"
Hugh's flinty gaze slid from Jake to Laura. Dollar signs pulsed in her father's eyes, making her stomach churn. If only it hadn't come to this. Daring to look, she slid her glance Jake's way. He'd pulled on a pair of pants and while Laura was glad he wasn't naked any longer, the sight of his well-muscled chest captivated her attention more than it should have considering the circumstances.
Jake's stare grabbed her. The cold that snapped from it made her shiver. She was a good person, struggled every day to make the folks of Bandit Creek see that she was nothing like her father. She wasn't an opportunist. She wasn't dishonest and she surely wasn't lazy. But Jake's disgusted expression had bile burning the back of her throat. Clearly he considered her no better than her four-flusher father.
Finally, he turned away from her and she was able to breathe without his contempt choking her. She wasn't sure how her father managed it, since Jake's scorn doubled when he looked at Hugh.