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Authors: Cathleen Galitz

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The Cowboy Who Broke the Mold

BOOK: The Cowboy Who Broke the Mold
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Her mother had warned her to stay away from such men.

Men whose eyes could undress you and possess you in the self-same glance. Men whose toughness in word and manner covered their feelings. Men whose rough hands conjured up unladylike images of silken bodies entwined. Men who could break your heart just as surely as they could break a wild mustang and abandon you the instant you were tamed….

But despite her mother’s warning, Carrie felt herself unable to resist the enigmatic cowboy.

Dear Reader,

What a special lineup of love stories Silhouette Romance has for you this month. Bestselling author Sandra Steffen continues her BACHELOR GULCH miniseries with
Clayton’s Made-Over Mrs.
And in
The Lawman’s Legacy,
favorite author Phyllis Halldorson introduces a special promotion called MEN! Who says good men are hard to find?! Plus, we’ve got Julianna Morris’s
Daddy Woke up Married—
our BUNDLES OF JOY selection—
Love, Marriage and Family 101
by Anne Peters,
The Scandalous Return of Jake Walker
by Myrna Mackenzie and
The Cowboy Who Broke the Mold
by Cathleen Galitz, who makes her Silhouette debut as one of our WOMEN TO WATCH.

I hope you enjoy all six of these wonderful novels. In fact, I’d love to get your thoughts on Silhouette Romance. If you’d like to share your comments about the Silhouette Romance line, please send a letter directly to my attention: Melissa Senate, Senior Editor, Silhouette Books, 300 E. 42nd St, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10017. I welcome all of your comments, and here are a few particulars I’d like to have your feedback on:

1) Why do you enjoy Silhouette Romance?

2) What types of stories would you like to see more of? Less of?

3) Do you have favorite authors?

Your thoughts about Romance are very important to me. After all, these books are for you! Again, I hope you enjoy our six novels this month—and that you’ll write me with your thoughts.

Regards,

Melissa Senate

Senior Editor

Silhouette Books

Please address questions and book requests to: Silhouette Reader Service

U.S.: 3010 Walden Ave., P.O. Box 1325, Buffalo, NY 14269

Canadian: P.O. Box 609, Fort Erie, Ont. L2A 5X3

The Cowboy Who Broke The Mold
Cathleen Galitz

To Brian—the man who,
in a world beleaguered by bottom-liners, puts us first.

CATHLEEN GALITZ,

a Wyoming native, teaches English to students in grades seven to twelve in a rural school that houses kindergartners and seniors in the same building. She lives in a small Wyoming town with her husband and two children. When she’s not busy writing, teaching or working with her Cub Scout den, she can most often be found hiking or snowmobiling in the Wind River Mountains.

Chapter One

J
udson Horn had no more difficulty in picking out the new schoolteacher as she stepped off the plane at Rock Springs than if she had been holding a gigantic placard. Ms. Carrie Raben was, after all, exactly what he had expected.

The dark-haired cowboy shook his head in disgust. “No more sense than a calf straying into a barbecue,” he muttered to himself.

Wearing a matching dark skirt and blazer, and sporting an expensive leather briefcase, Ms. Raben looked infinitely better suited to running an executive board meeting than to teaching a raggle-taggle group of schoolchildren in the middle of nowhere. Her light brown hair was cut in a chin-length bob that swung neatly with her every movement. It was precisely the no-nonsense sort of hairdo Judson had the woman figured for before he’d ever laid eyes on her.

It took less than a minute for Judson Horn to size Ms. Raben up as just another lost cause from back East.
He’d had his bellyful of ‘em—those cosmopolitan types who insisted on accompanying their husbands deep into the backwoods on the hunting expeditions he guided. Without fail they were whining, spoiled creatures who wanted to go home the day after he had set up camp. To them he was merely an anomaly of nature—a blue- eyed half-breed who piqued their cultural curiosity. De- spite their obsequious panderings to the plight of the American Indian, what most of these social matrons re- ally wanted was a savage lover to turn their blue blood to fire.

Stoically detached in the face of their not-so-subtle advances, Judson merely had to run a finger across the scar tissue along his jaw to remember an encounter with a couple of overly protective brothers who took a strong personal dislike to his relationship with their lily-white sister….

“You half-breed bastard!” they had called out as the lash of the whip sailed through the air, cut into the tender flesh across his back and curled around his jaw. “People ‘round here don’t take to Indian trash messing with their women.”

Judson swallowed hard against the rage that rose in his chest at the memory and made himself focus on the task at hand—transporting a hothouse orchid to the harsh clime of Wyoming. He gave the pretty little thing less than a month before she came to the realization that she was totally unsuited for the rigors of living in the wild Wild West.

I’ve signed a contract to teach in hell,
Carrie thought to herself, ducking to avoid hitting her head on the exit ramp door. Greeted by a blast of hot wind, she clutched the wobbly railing and took her first step in Wyoming.

Long before the eighteen-passenger airplane touched down in the middle of what appeared to be a gigantic dust bowl, it had managed to hit every air pocket in the state with an astonishing accuracy that left Carrie feel- ing sick to her stomach. From an altitude of twenty-five thousand feet, it appeared that the entire state was de- void of human life—a world of vast nothingness where colors all blurred to varying shades of brown. And now viewing her new home at eye level, Carrie had to admit that it was, indeed, as bleak as it had appeared from so high above. Truly this was the epitome of nowhere.

Where were all the mountains her favorite authors had so eloquently eulogized in their novels? she won- dered. Where was the sense of freedom she had antic- ipated feeling with the first rush of fresh air into her citified lungs? And where, for that matter, was Bill Madden with his promised open-armed Western hos- pitality?

Fighting the wind, Carrie made her way to the airport terminal. She looked around the tiny lobby in dismay, her green eyes searching the area, trying to match a face to the slightly desperate voice that had hired her sight unseen over the telephone. In her mind, she pictured an overweight, balding man wearing a suit the color of a pastel mint.

“Mommy!” squealed the precocious six-year-old whose incessant chatter had inundated the tiny aircraft for the past two and a half hours. “Mommy,” he re- peated louder, tugging at her sleeve and pointing. “Look, a real-live cowboy! I thought they were dead…like the dinosaurs—”

“Terry!” whispered his harried-looking mother through clenched teeth. “How many times do I have to tell you it’s not polite to point?”

Following the direction of Terry’s extended index fin- ger, Carrie found herself looking up into the sexiest sky- blue eyes she’d ever encountered. Her stomach lurched to her throat as if she had just hit another air pocket. Standing not two feet away was a broad-shouldered man who looked like he’d just walked off a Western movie set. She indulged herself in a long look, one that started with a black felt Stetson hat, lingered over a silver belt buckle and ended with a pair of snakeskin cowboy boots.

“Mr. M-Madden?” she stammered.

A slow smile spread across the man’s rugged features. “No, ma’am. Bill couldn’t make it so he asked me to pick you up and pack you to Harmony.”

Carrie’s temperature soared. Taking a deep breath of air, she tried to combat the sense of light-headedness that she wanted to believe was simply the aftereffect of a jarring plane ride. Never before had she seen such electric blue eyes on such a dark-complexioned man. The effect was so startling it left her positively breath- less.

Grabbing four heavy bags marked with her tags from the luggage carousel, he balanced two of them under his long arms much the way Carrie imagined one would lug bales of hay to a starving herd of cattle and started toward the doorway without another word. Picking up her lighter bags, she mutely followed the lanky cowboy out of the airport and into the bright August sunshine. The way those tight Wrangler jeans hugged his narrow hips as he swaggered across the parking lot was abso- lutely hypnotic. Her eyes would not release their hold on the rhythmic swaying of his jeans. So absorbed was she in the view that when he stopped abruptly in front of her, Carrie bumped right into him.

“Excuse me,” she mumbled, red-faced.

Though he merely nodded in reply, the man’s crooked grin left Carrie with the disquieting sense that he knew exactly what she was thinking. As she watched her “chauffeur” dump all of her bags into the back of a dilapidated pickup that had seen better days, she won- dered whether her first task at Harmony would be to clean the manure off the expensive luggage her parents had given her as a going away present.

Wiping his hands on his jeans, the man stepped back and opened the passenger side door for her.

Eager to prove capable of fending for herself in the Equality State, Carrie announced with a determined smile, “Thank you, but I can do that for myself.”

“Yes, ma’am,” the cowboy said, tilting back his hat. Seemingly looking right through her, that damnable grin affixed on his face, he stepped back and made his way around to the other side of the vehicle. Carrie could swear the air fairly vibrated with the unspoken animosity behind those amazing cerulean eyes.

Climbing into the cab of the pickup, she grappled both with her narrow skirt and the realization that she had somehow inadvertently offended the man’s Western sense of gallantry. Feeling his gaze traverse the length of her legs, Carrie primly smoothed out the skirt that had climbed high upon her thighs. Were all Wyoming men so utterly brazen? she wondered, feeling a blush stain her cheeks. That her look of practiced feminine indignation was received with a twinkle of amusement only served to emphasize the feeling that this man was secretly laughing at her.

As the vehicle lurched to life and they headed down the road, Carrie got her first up-close look at Rock Springs, Wyoming. It was as dreary and no-frills as the
olive green pickup in which she rode. Set in the middle of a sagebrush-covered desert, the town could best be described as dusty.

“This is pretty much the cultural metropolis of this part of the state,” her driver matter-of-factly informed her.

Though a variety of small shops lined the streets, Carrie was immediately struck by the fact that the pre- dominant business in town was essentially escapist. An impressive number of bars and saloons called not only to the fantasies of the tourists but to the plight of Rock Springs’s locals, as well. A police car, its lights flashing, was parked outside a tavern named Buster’s. A worn- looking blonde in a leather miniskirt slumped on a street corner bench. A drunk struggled against a red light as Carrie watched him make his way from one bar into an equally dismal one across the street. A huge tumble- weed drifted along the sidewalk in a lonesome gust of wind.

As he pointed to the town’s infamous red-light dis- trict, it occurred to Carrie that her driver had purposely gone out of his way to show her the seedy side of town. Wryly she considered telling him that he was wasting his time if he was trying to shock her. In fact, some of the things she had seen back in Chicago might just set this rough-and-tumble cowboy’s charming smile awry.

What actually did shock her was the modern high school they passed on their way out of town. Complete with a well-groomed football field, track and swimming pool, it was far superior to the facilities where she had previously taught.

“Don’t get your hopes up. Harmony ain’t this nice,” the man warned.

“Isn’t,” she automatically corrected.

Whether it was anger or mirth that activated the dim- ples at both corners of his mouth, Carrie wasn’t sure. Nonetheless, she quickly changed the subject. “Since we’re going to be traveling the next one hundred and twenty miles together, it would be nice to know your name.”

“Judson Horn at your service, ma’am,” he replied, pushing his hat back on his head. “And I can’t say as I’d blame you for wanting to teach here instead of in the middle of nowhere.”

He flashed her a smile and Carrie felt a peculiar sharp stab deep inside her. The man was entirely too sure of himself, she thought with irritation, noting that even the way he draped one arm over the steering wheel was unnervingly sexy. Judson Horn exuded an aura of self- confidence that might just border on the edge of arro- gance. Carrie mentally reviewed her etched-in-stone list of Pitfalls To Avoid In Future. And Arrogant Men was right there at the top.

“I’m sure I’ll manage, thank you very much, Mr. Horn,” she replied stiffly.

“It’s not much of a place for a woman alone, you know. And call me Jud. Unlike the big city, we don’t stand on formality around here.”

Bristling, Carrie wondered whether the only place this Western Neanderthal thought women belonged was the bedroom and the kitchen—in that order.

Judson Horn’s smirk did not diminish in the least at her obvious antipathy. If anything, he seemed to take malevolent pleasure from her disapproval. Sidling closer to the door, Carrie turned her head sharply away and looked out the window, determined to tune out the decidedly handsome stranger with whom she had no choice but to share the next hundred or so miles.

Jud passed off the new schoolteacher’s cold shoulder as typical urbane snobbery. As a rule, outsiders gener- ally considered themselves culturally superior to locals. A man of the land himself, he was certain that only twisted thinking could suppose concrete and skyscrap- ers preferable to a life in wide-open spaces. His ances- tors had been wise in their desire to protect Mother Earth from the white man’s butchery, their children from his poisoned thoughts.

It amused him to think that Little Miss Eastern Know-It-All was sorely mistaken in her assumption that he was some two-bit hired hand whom she could dis- miss however rudely she pleased. Though he briefly considered clarifying his identity, his rather bent sense of humor stopped him from doing so. It would simply be too much fun to see how sophisticated Ms. Raben would react when she discovered that a half-breed In- dian was her new boss!

True, he had fallen into the position by default. And gauging by the volume of public dismay when his ap- pointment to the Board of Trustees had been announced, it would have been wise for him to have simply de- clined the “honor.” Instead, ignoring the raised eye- brows of his neighbors, he’d dug in his heels, deter- mined to prove the patrons of School District No. 4 wrong about him once again.

As if it wasn’t enough just raising twin cyclone kids by himself and trying to keep his ranch profitable in tight times, he could do without the headaches that in- evitably went along with local politics—particularly for someone of his temperament and dubious background.

But Judson Horn wasn’t a man who took the easy way out of anything. Besides, if there was ever a way
to protect his own children from the biases that had plagued his own schooling, serving on the school board was the surest way to guarantee the education to which they were entitled. If that meant the twins had to endure some cruel teasing by their classmates, then so be it. He’d endured it. And when all was said and done, he would have to say he was a stronger person because of it.

Even if his biological father had undoubtedly played on the sympathy garnered by his terminal illness to pub- licly acknowledge the son he’d refused to claim at birth, there wasn’t a damned thing Judson could do about his father’s deathbed wish. He only knew it must have taken an Academy-Award-winning performance to con- vince Harmony’s strictly anglo Board of Education to accept a bastard half-breed in their hallowed ranks.

Judson fought the anger that rose like bile in his throat. He would have liked the opportunity to tell that sorry excuse for a man not to bother. Coming at the end of a lifetime of denial and betrayal, such a gran- diose public gesture had been vulgar at best. At worst, the final joke of a hypocrite who hadn’t bothered to claim his illegitimate son when it would have mattered to him. Arthur Christianson had only deluded himself during his last days with the thought that he could somehow buy righteousness and lay claim to his only grandchildren through a last will and testament. It mat- tered little to Judson that his inheritance was substantial. As far as he was concerned, his old man would spend eternity in hell waiting for his forgiveness.

Eternity and then some.

“What was that?” Carrie asked, interrupting the dark thoughts that cast a shadow across Judson’s handsome features.

Her eyes were like those of a child as they followed the movement of a graceful brown and white creature that darted across the road in front of them and slipped beneath the barbed-wire fence lining the highway.

BOOK: The Cowboy Who Broke the Mold
6.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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