Last call for KND free Romance excerpt:
by S. E. Smith
Allie Whitewater was used to living between two worlds. She embraced both the Native American heritage of her father and the white heritage of her mother. She was happy with both and didn’t have the identity crisis many of her friends had growing up. Growing up on a large working ranch in Montana, she loved every aspect of the life that her twin had left behind. She had no desire to live town, or worse, a large city. She plans on spending the rest of her life on the ranch her father started, running it and making it even better than ever. All of that changes when she decides to take a little vacation to help out her best friend and sister of the heart, Indiana, return to her new home.
Jacob Tucker enjoys building up the ranch he and his twin brother, Jonathan, had settled. Sure, there were dangers – rustlers, the harsh environment, Indians – but he wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. He is happy with life in the Montana territory. He never thinks there could be something or someone out there that could make him change his mind. At least, not until he travels with his brother to rescue his brother’s new bride, Indiana, when she is kidnapped. His idea of life and the world changes when he leaves his ranch in 1867 to travel to 2013. The world has changed a lot and so have the women – namely one called Allie Whitewater. She has the mouth of a cowpuncher, the body of an angel, and the temper of the Devil himself. Now all he has to do is get her back to his time and hold her so tight she won’t miss her fancy metal wagons and flying birds.
Jacob thinks his plan is foolproof. He just needs to kidnap Allie long enough to make her never want to leave him to return to her world. But things change as tension between the red-skins and the white settlers and the army escalate. History won’t stand still for two souls separated by time. How can he hope to keep Allie safe when the whites see her as a red-skin savage and the Indians don’t know what to think of her?
When the two cultures clash, it is up to Allie to show she is capable of walking in both worlds. She will prove to the whites that she is a force to be reckoned with and she will prove to her ancestors that she is a Spirit Warrior who will fight to the death to protect her hasáŋni, her mate.
Can the past handle a modern woman’s view that the two cultures are really not that different when it comes to love and family or will it destroy the very thing that makes her the perfect partner for a man of the past – her warrior spirit?
* * *
Free and Bargain Quality eBooks delivered straight to your email everyday – Subscribe now http://www.bookgorilla.com/kcc
* * *
And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free romance excerpt:
Jacob Tucker pulled back on the reins of his horse and studied the narrow cut of the pass. A shiver ran down his spine as his eyes moved up the jagged rock entrance. He had been up in these mountains, numerous times before, but had never come across this narrow pass. That really didn’t mean much. The mountains were filled with things you could walk or ride right by and never see.
Jacob looked over his shoulder and nodded silently to his twin brother, Jonathan. His brother had felt the change as well. Something was definitely unusual about the Pass they were riding through.
Jacob turned back around, lost in thought as he replayed the events leading up to the small group being here. If he thought their lives had changed since a stubborn, unusual female suddenly appeared, it was nothing compared to what it was about to. His eyes flickered to the stranger sitting slightly ahead of him and his brother.
Billy Cloudrunner, he thought as he stared at Billy’s back.
This was one Indian unlike any he had met. Hell, the man riding on Jonathan’s horse was unlike any man he’d ever seen before. He spoke, but Jacob only understood about every three words or so and it wasn’t because he was speaking Lakota. No, Billy was speaking English, but it wasn’t any English words Jacob had ever heard before. He was talking about things like night-vision goggles, trucks, and something called Monday Night Football on television.
Billy turned in his saddle where he was leading the small group and gave him a crooked grin. The crookedness might have been partially due to the swelling in his jaw where Jonathan had hit him. Still, there was a wry amusement in the man’s eye that shouldn’t have been there, as if he didn’t realize just how much danger he was in.
“It gets scarier once you go in,” Billy called out, gazing up at the narrow slit. “My old man isn’t going to believe me when I tell him I actually went all the way through the Pass to the other side and came out in one piece.”
“How far is it to the other side?” Jacob asked as Jonathan pulled Midnight, the black horse that belonged to his missing wife up beside him.
“I don’t know,” Billy replied, scratching his left arm. “About a mile or so, I’d say. I was never very good at judging distances.”
“Let’s go,” Jonathan snapped as he pulled back so he could take the back. “The longer we wait, the further the men who took Indy will get.”
Billy shook his head. “I’m really sorry about this,” he grumbled as he tapped his heels into the horse’s side and took the lead. “I like Indy. I didn’t know that she was what they were after. Indy got a really rotten deal. Everyone in town thinks her brothers are nothing but a pile of horse shit.”
Jacob could feel the tension radiating from his brother. If Billy wasn’t careful, and if he hadn’t been so needed, Jonathan would’ve put a bullet through the back of Billy’s head for admitting he had been the one to lead the other two men to Indy. He leaned forward in his saddle and patted the neck of his horse when it danced at the entrance to the Pass.
Indiana Wild had shown up at his and Jonathan’s ranch several months ago. She’d arrived in just the nick of time to save two of their men and a large herd of cattle from some cattle rustlers. Jake, one of the men that worked on the ranch, had been shot during the attack. Indy had patched up the old man and stayed on to help out. When Jonathan arrived the next day, he had hired Indy on as a cowpuncher.
Fortunately for Jonathan, Jacob hadn’t been there when she first arrived. He had to admit that it was probably a good thing. If he had been, Jonathan might’ve had a bit more of a fight on his hands other than the one he got with Indy.
From what he’d learned before he arrived, Jonathan and every other cowpuncher had thought Indy was a young boy. Hell, Jonathan had even kept Indy out on the range longer than he normally did the other men. It would appear Indy’s brisk attitude had rubbed Jonathan the wrong way. It’d been Jake’s frantic tale of discovering a ‘naked’ woman working on the roof of the old cabin down by the river that had finally revealed that the rude ‘boy’ was actually a very unusual ‘woman’.
Jacob had just returned home and had barely gotten cleaned up when Jake came bursting through the door talking crazy stuff about Indy and the ‘naked’ woman he had working on the cabin for him. He had almost broken his neck getting dressed so he could meet Jonathan downstairs. Jumping into the wagon, they had charged down to the river only to discover that the ‘naked’ woman was actually Indy wearing something called shorts and a sports bra.
By the next day, there had been a hasty, hogtied wedding and a lot of shocking revelations. Indy had stunned them with a tale of traveling from the future. Jacob remembered Jonathan telling him about some of the things Indy had brought back with her. Deep down, Jacob knew that his new sister-in-law was different and had quickly believed her story.
Hell, no one could make up the things she said or react the way she did when she found out she was in the past, Jacob thought.
Now, she was gone. This time, though, it was against her will. Billy had brought two men from the future through the pass. Those men had kidnapped Indy and taken her back through Spirit Pass to the future.
Glancing over his shoulder to make sure that Jonathan and Indy’s two dogs, Chester and Tweed, were still behind him, he bit back a dark curse. Behind them, a hazy fog had settled over the canyon blocking his view of where they had entered.
“Tell us what is on the other side,” Jacob demanded in a harsh, low voice as he turned back around.
Billy glanced over his shoulders with a confused frown. “What do you want to know?”
“What… What is it like?” Jacob asked as he watched small rocks rained down along the left side of him from the top of the canyon which was covered in a thick mist.
“It’s like everywhere else, I guess,” Billy said with a shrug of his shoulders. “Poorer on the reservation,” he added bitterly. “It’s not easy for a man to support his family when the jobs are hard to get. My Rosalie is expecting again. That’s the only reason I took this job. When Gent asked for someone to take him up to Spirit Pass, I just figured it would be a quick way to earn a few bucks. How the hell was I to know that he and that other guy were after Indy?”
“What did they tell you?” Jonathan asked in a quiet voice. “I want to know everything they said.”
“From what I can figure out, Indy’s older brother Hayden wanted her back for some reason,” Billy answered in a voice that echoed eerily in the suffocating stillness of the canyon. “I don’t know why, he just wants her, needs her. Whatever it is, it can’t be good. Gent, the guy that hired me was bad enough, but that other guy named Spencer was downright scary. I thought he was going to kill me.”
Jacob watched as a shudder ran through Billy. He turned when Jonathan pulled up closer to him. He raised an eyebrow at him.
“I’m going to kill that bastard,” Jonathan muttered in a low voice.
“Who? Gent or Spencer?” Jacob asked.
“Hayden Wild,” Jonathan bit out in a deadly tone. “Indy told me what he did. He crossed the line when he took her. She is terrified of what he wants to do with her. I plan on killing him. If he has hurt her…” Jonathan’s voice faded for a moment.
“We’ll get her back,” Jacob replied. “I just hope the hell it doesn’t take long. I’m not sure what the hell we’re going to find when we get there. Some of the stuff you showed me… Hell, Jonathan, I’m not embarrassed to tell you some of it scared the shit out of me.”
“I know,” Jonathan agreed as he pulled Midnight back as the canyon narrowed again. “I didn’t show you all of it.”
Jacob would have closed his eyes in frustration if he wasn’t so damn worried about what would happen. The fog, mist, or whatever it was called was swirling around them and the temperature had definitely dropped.
“How much further?” He called out quietly to Billy, who was starting to speed up.
Billy turned in his seat and grinned. “Not much. It’s spooky, isn’t it?” He asked as he looked around. “I nearly shit my pants the first time my father brought me up here when I was a boy…”
Jacob listened with half an ear as Billy told them about the first time he had come up here. He was supposed to get a feather and bring it back. He had, but it had been the one hidden in his shirt.
Personally, Jacob couldn’t really blame Billy. He had goose bumps all over his body and the hair on the back of his neck was standing straight up as if warning him that his life was about to change, in ways he wasn’t going to like. A man’s sixth sense could keep him alive, so it wasn’t something he ignored.
He breathed a sigh of relief as he saw the mist thinning. He heard Jonathan grunt behind him. He could feel it too.
Jacob released the breath he was holding when they finally burst through the narrow cut. Billy was in the lead still, with him in the middle, and Jonathan and the two dogs. The moment they were clear, Chester and Tweed took off to water the nearest row of trees.
Hell, right now, I could water a few of them, Jacob thought with a slight grin.
He turned to look back at Jonathan. His brother was looking at the cut into the canyon with a frown. His eyes followed to where Jonathan was staring and he scowled as well. It was almost impossible to tell it was there.
“No one would ever find it unless they had been shown,” Billy commented with a grin.
Jonathan nudged Midnight by Jacob until he was beside Billy. “Where to now?” He demanded in a frustrated voice.
Jacob shifted in his saddle and glanced around. If they were in the future, it didn’t look much different from the past, he thought in relief. Maybe, this wouldn’t be as bad as he feared.
Allie rested her head against the truck and slowly counted to one hundred. She would have killed Boseman if she had stopped at ten. Raising her head, she watched as her twin sister, Aleaha, walked toward her. A reluctant smile tugged at her mouth when she saw the firm, straight line of Aleaha’s lips and the dark scowl on her face.
She didn’t know what Boseman said, but if it was enough to piss Aleaha off, it must have been bad. She straightened and pulled open the driver’s door to her full size silver truck. She slid in and slammed the door before putting the key in the ignition and turning it on. A moment later, Aleaha climbed into the passenger side.
“I’m telling dad that we aren’t doing business with him ever again,” Allie muttered, pulling slowly away from the small group of men. “He has no idea how much this is going to cost him, yet. Once he does, he’ll be wishing he had kept his arrogant, unreliable nose out of ranching.”
“I’m proud of you,” Aleaha finally replied.
“Proud of me! What for?” Allie asked as the empty horse trailer bounced behind her as she drove over the cattle grate at the end of the road. She glanced both ways before she turned south onto the main road. “What did he say after I walked off?”
“That you needed a good spanking,” Aleaha answered in a reluctant voice.
“Really?” Allie asked in disbelief as her eyes flew to the rearview mirror to check on the trailer.
“Really,” Aleaha said, laying her head back against the headrest. “He also added he was just the man to do it.”
An explosive curse escaped Allie and her hands tightened on the steering wheel before she started to laugh. That dirty old man wouldn’t know what to do with her in the bedroom. While she was still pissed about driving almost three hours one way for nothing, the thought of Boseman even thinking he had a chance in hell of getting her anywhere near his bedroom was humorous.
“Oh yeah,” Allie grinned when her sister raised her eyebrow in question. “He has no idea of how much money he has just lost. He is dealing with eight ranches right now, including ours. By tomorrow, he’ll be lucky if he has one left.”
“Allie,” Aleaha cautioned in concern. “I don’t like him either, but… it could be dangerous to make a man like him mad at you.”
Allie glanced at her very prim and proper twin. Aleaha may be the older of the two, but she was also the more sheltered. She had focused on her schooling and kept her nose in books while Allie had lived and breathed anything to do with the ranch.
And that, Allie thought as she drove onto the entrance ramp to the Interstate, is why she is a doctor and I’m a cowpuncher.
She wouldn’t have it any other way. Allie knew she would have withered and died if she had been stuck inside, or had to live in a big city away from the ranch. Indiana Wild, her best friend and the only person Allie trusted outside of her family, was more like her twin than Aleaha. Even now, Indiana was out there in the mountains somewhere hiding from her own brothers
They had sold the ranch that Indy’s grandfather had promised to leave her, out from under her. Indy’s big brother was a first class ass. Allie had never liked Hayden or Matthew Wild, Indy’s oldest and youngest brothers. Gus, the middle brother, hadn’t been too bad. Hell, he was the only one that gave a damn about Indy and her grandpa after their parents and grandmother had been killed. Even so, he hadn’t come around much the last six years either as he was busy with his own family.
“What is it?” Aleaha asked in a quiet voice, turning her head to glance at her sister. “It is more than Boseman that has you upset.”
“You know, you always freak me out when you do that, don’t you?” Allie complained as she turned her blinker on to pass a slower moving vehicle. “How do you know it isn’t about Boseman?”
Aleaha’s soft, lilting laughter filled the interior of the extended cab of the truck. Allie couldn’t keep the grin off her face. She was still pissed, but it was hard to stay mad for long. It wasn’t like she had never encountered assholes before. She had a long list of names, both male and female, that she would never name her unborn children if she ever had any.
Not likely to happen at the rate I’m going through the alphabet, Allie thought with a sigh.
“You are missing Indy, aren’t you?” Aleaha asked in a quiet voice. “I can’t believe dad actually let her go. It is dangerous out there alone.”
“She’s not alone,” Allie said in a low voice as she stared at the mountains in the distance. “She has Midnight and Kahlua, not to mention, the dogs. They would protect her with their life. She’s smart, too. She knows how to survive. Dad did a great job showing both of us how to live off the land.”
Aleaha’s nose wrinkled in distaste. Allie knew her sister would be the first to admit that she didn’t like living off of anything that didn’t have indoor plumbing, central climate control, and nice locks on the doors. Allie had discovered that last little detail when she went to visit with Aleaha while she was living in Billings during her residency at Billings Regional Medical Center. If you asked Allie, that had been the two scariest weeks of her life. Give her a good bar fight, and she could take on anyone. Give her rush hour traffic and a Metro map and she was a quivering pile of mush.
The next two and a half hours flew by as Allie and her sister talked about everything from what a jerk Indy’s brothers were to Billy Cloudrunner’s wife, Rosalie expecting again. Most of the talk focused on the ranch, though. It was the one thing that Allie knew and loved.
She knew that Aleaha was probably bored to death listening about it, but her sister’s passenger seat manners were impeccable. Allie was impressed when Aleaha’s eyes didn’t glaze, she didn’t yawn, and she didn’t release continuous sighs as she talked about the new breeding methods they were using on the mares. In fact, Aleaha actually had a few good suggestions that Allie would have to talk over with the vet they had on staff.
“You should have become an animal doctor instead of a people doctor,” Allie complained as she waved a hand out the window as they passed a semi-truck. “It would have saved us a bundle and you would have been great at it.”
Aleaha shook her head. “Sorry, Allie. Humans are more my speed,” she chuckled over the sudden noise of the CB radio Allie used when there was no cell reception.
“That better not be dad telling me that Boseman has suddenly ‘found’ our missing mares and wants us to turn around,” Allie growled under her breath as CB radio squawked again.
Aleaha glanced up at the driver who was grinning and staring back down at her. Cole Jonesboro waved to her before nodding his head toward the driver’s side and using his thumb and pinky as a phone. She pretended she didn’t see the gesture.
“I think Cole wants you to call him,” Aleaha murmured after they passed the truck just as the passing lane ended. “Does he still have a crush on you?”
“Yeah, even after I broke his nose with a chair down at Butch’s place. It was an accident, but still, you’d think the guy would have learned by now that I’m not interested in him. He’s been married at least three times already anyway. I’m not looking to be wife number four,” Allie muttered with a roll of her eyes as she pressed the connect button on the mic. “This is Allie.”
“Hey, Allie,” the voice on the other end said in a cheerful tone. “This is Ansel. I’m out on the logging road up near Wilson’s Creek. Billy is here and he needs a ride back to town. Cole said you had the horse trailer with you and it looked empty. Can you give him and a couple of his friends a lift?” Ansel asked in a lighthearted voice. “Oh, hi, Aleaha. Cole said he saw you too.”
Aleaha chuckled. “Hi Ansel,” she called out.
“Yeah, I can pick him up,” Allie responded in exasperation. “I might as well make use of the trailer since I drove half way across the state for nothing.”
“Thanks, I’ll let Billy know,” Ansel said. “Hey, Aleaha, you want to go out tonight?”
Aleaha covered her mouth and shook her head when Allie stuck her finger in her mouth. Ansel was big, clumsy and usually covered in sawdust and sweat. He was definitely not her sister’s type of guy at all. His idea of a fine drink was a bottle of beer.
“Thank you, Ansel,” Aleaha answered in a voice that hid the grin on her face. “But, I already have plans for the evening.”
“That’s okay,” Ansel replied. “Maybe tomorrow night.”
Allie rolled her eyes again and shook her head. “Tell Billy he better have his ass down at the road and be ready or he can ride the rest of the way in. I’m tired and pissed off.”
“Since when aren’t you?” Ansel retorted good naturedly. “I’ll let Billy know.”
“’Eff’ you, Ansel,” Allie replied before she tossed the mic up onto the dash.
“You aren’t supposed to use that kind of language on the CB, are you?” Aleaha asked with a worried frown.
Allie glanced at her sister. She bit back the sarcastic retort she had been about to make. Aleaha was all about by-the-book rules.
“I said ‘Eff’ you,” she explained instead. “Not fuck you. There are a lot of words in the dictionary that start with the letter F. I know. I play Scrabble with mom and dad almost every night.”
Aleaha’s laughter rang out again. “Oh, Allie,” she replied, wiping at the corner of her eye as the truck started to slow down. “I love your wit and sense of humor.”
Allie placed her right hand briefly against her chest. “Sense of humor? Me? Perish the thought. I’m going for brazen, sarcastic bitch here. You are the brains. I’m just the brawn of the two of us. Don’t blow my image now that you are back in town, okay? I have a reputation to uphold.”
“Why?” Aleaha asked, suddenly serious. “Why do you let others think you’re nothing but a bad-ass, Allie? You’re smart, beautiful, talented, compassionate, and yet, you hide behind this wall.”
Allie slowed the truck to a halt on the side of the road and waited a moment before replying. A lot had changed since Aleaha left home to go to school. Pain swept through Allie for a brief moment as memories of the past threatened to overwhelm her. She wasn’t ready to deal with it yet. There were some things that a person held close to their heart and didn’t tell anyone, not even their twin.
“Billy should be here any moment,” Allie replied instead. She glanced in the mirror to make sure it was safe to exit the truck before she opened the door. “I need to get the back of the trailer opened for him.”
Jacob listened with frustration as Billy explained where they were heading. They needed to head south and were on the backside of a man called Sam Whitewater’s ranch. That was about all Jacob was able to pull from the words running out of Billy’s mouth. He still wasn’t clear what a ‘truck’ was or why a horse would need a trailer. He figured that might be some kind of a wagon.
Pulling back on the reins, he drew his horse to a halt beside his brother. Unease washed through him as he studied the back of Billy. What if this was a trap? What if Spirit Pass didn’t really take them to the future, just to the other side of the mountain? What if… His mind shied away from the thought of what would happen if they really had gone to the future. Would they be able to find Indy in her world?
“Did you understand half of what he just said?” He muttered under his breath.
Jonathan gave him a sharp nod and explained that Indy had shown him some images from her life here. Jacob wished she had shown him a few of them. He’d much rather know what he was facing instead of using his imagination. He had never thought of himself as being a very imaginative guy before, but right now, his mind was thinking of all kinds of horrible things.
Jacob restlessly fingered the gun at his waist. Comfort swept through him to know that they were not completely defenseless. Dropping his hand back to his thigh, he followed Billy and his brother this time. The dogs, seeming to sense they were back on familiar ground, ran back and forth along the small line of horses. The only sound was the panting of the dogs, the occasional snort of one of the horses, and the creaking of the saddles as they moved downhill.
It took about half an hour before they came to a wide road. Jacob’s eyes immediately went to the ground to search for tracks. Confusion darkened his gaze as he saw impressions unlike anything he’d ever seen before mixed with the hoof marks from several horses. Long lines as far as he could see in both directions ran in parallel lines.
“Wagons?” Jonathan asked, pulling back again now that they were on the wider road.
Jacob shrugged as he studied the indentions. “I’ve never seen anything like this. They are too wide and there are funny lines through them. If wagons created it, they are bigger than any I’ve ever seen,” he muttered.
They continued down the road in silence for almost ten minutes before Billy’s loud curse rang out as they rounded another bend in the road. Jacob sat back in his saddle and watched the man with narrowed eyes as he half slid, half fell off Jonathan’s horse. An amused smile quirked his lips when Billy rubbed his ass and walked funny as he turned in a circle.
“What’s wrong?” Jonathan asked.
“Those sons-of-bitches took my truck,” Billy groaned, running his hands over his hair and bending over with another loud curse before he straightened and looked down the road. “It had to be them. I had locked it. They must have taken the keys when I was unconscious,” he added as he started to frantically check his pockets.
Jonathan was about to reply when the ground began to vibrate and a low growling noise filled the air further down the road. Jacob and Billy’s horses danced nervously forcing Billy to grab for the reins while Midnight remained calm. The dogs stood in the middle of the road and began to bark in excitement.
“What is it?” Jonathan called out, nudging his horse over to where Billy was standing.
“Help, I hope!” Billy grinned. “My ass can’t take much more of riding a horse and Rosalie will kill me if I don’t find the truck.”
Jacob’s eyes widened and he started cursing under his breath when a huge beast, monster, something, came around the curve of the road. Smoke flared on each side like the dragons in the pictures he had seen back East at one of the museums. His hand went instinctively to the gun at his waist as it continued toward them.
He vaguely heard Jonathan’s choked curse as well and knew his brother was thinking the same thing he was… shoot at it and run like hell! A shudder ran through him when he saw the face and shoulders of a man through the beast’s clear belly. The man’s face was shadowed behind his hat and his hands were gripping something round in its stomach.
“What the fuck?!” He growled when Billy started waving his hands at the creature and yelling.
A moment later, the thing stopped in the middle of the road and a door opened. A large man, about Billy’s age, climbed out of the machine. Now that it was close enough for Jacob to see, he decided it looked more like the Steam Engine trains that came through North Platte, Nebraska, that he saw last year. Only this one didn’t use tracks and was smaller and sleeker than anything he had seen there.
“Hey Ansel,” Billy called in a relieved voice. “You got your cell phone on you? Mine’s dead.”
Jacob listened as Billy and Ansel chatted back and forth. He nudged his horse a little closer to the metal machine while Billy talked to the man. If he had any doubts about whether or not they had traveled to the future, they were gone now.
“What is it?” He asked Jonathan as his brother came to a halt beside him.
“It looks like what Indy called a truck, only bigger,” Jonathan replied with a grimace. “Hell, her telling me about it, even showing me pictures of it on her small box, didn’t prepare me for anything like this.”
Jacob glanced at his brother’s pale, tight face. A wave of sympathy swept through him as he realized that knowing, and really knowing, were two different things. He tried to picture how he would handle it if he’d been the one to find Indy and claim her. A grimace of distaste flashed through him at thinking of Indy as anything, but his new little sister. Still, he knew this had to be a huge shock to his brother.
They both turned their attention back to the man called Ansel as he opened the door and climbed back inside the truck again. This time, he left the door open. Jacob watched in fascination as Ansel picked up something and began talking into it. He was too far away to hear the response, but it sounded like a woman’s voice answered him back.
“What’s he doing now?” He asked in frustration, hating that he had to keep asking. “It sounds like there is a woman inside the beas… machine with him.”
“I’m not sure,” Jonathan admitted. “Whatever he is holding looks different from the box that Indy showed me.”
“I don’t like this,” Jacob said under his breath as Billy turned and gave him and Jonathan an uneasy grin, as if knowing they were talking about something important. “How are we going to find Indy in this world? We don’t know anything about it!”
“I’ll find her.” Jonathan turned, determination was clearly written across his face. “I’m not leaving without her, Jacob.”
Jacob shook his head at his brother. “I’m not asking you to,” he insisted, straightening when Ansel made the machine roar out again. “I just hate going into any situation not knowing what we are going to find.”
Jonathan relaxed slightly before he gave a sharp nod. “I don’t either,” he muttered before he repeated himself. “I don’t either.”
They broke off their conversation as Billy walked up to them, leading his horse. His face was creased into a grin and he was shaking his head. He waited until he was a few feet from them before he started talking.
“The good news is we have a ride into town which will save my ass in more ways than one,” Billy said as he slipped his foot into the stirrup and pulled himself into the saddle with a groan. “Right now, my ass is sore from riding. I’m looking forward to sitting it on a nice plush seat.”
“You said that was the good news. What is the bad news?” Jonathan asked with a dark scowl.
“The bad news is that Allie Whitewater is the one giving us the ride. I can just hear her now if she finds out what I’ve done. Hell, I’ll be lucky if SHE doesn’t shoot me. Indy is her best friend. Those two are always together when they come into town,” Billy explained with a wince as he sat back in the saddle. “God, I just hope Allie doesn’t make me ride in the back like she did the last time she picked me up,” he groaned, shifting as he tried to find a place that wasn’t hurting.
Billy tugged on the reins and tapped his heels into the side of his horse. Jacob followed behind his brother as they moved to the side of the road so they could skirt the huge black and silver machine as it rumbled. He touched the brim of his hat when Ansel waved his hand to him and Jonathan.
It hadn’t been as far or taken as long as he expected to get to the spot where Billy said this Allie person was supposed to meet them. One reason it hadn’t taken very long was because they were traveling on the wide road. Still, he suspected Billy wanting to get off the back of a horse was the biggest reason they completed the almost half mile trip in record time.
Jacob breathed a sigh of relief when Billy slowed down as they neared a hard covered road. Except for almost getting unseated when the loud truck that Ansel was driving spooked him and his horse as he pulled away, they hadn’t encountered anyone else. He nodded his head when Billy called for them to stop.
“Allie should be here any minute,” Billy said as he shifted again in his saddle.
Sure enough, another ‘truck’, this time smaller than Ansel’s and completely silver, came over the small rise in the road. Jacob scowled when he saw a bright, yellow light suddenly start to flash as it slowed down. It pulled off onto the gravel at the side of the road about twenty feet ahead of them and came to a halt. Behind the silver truck was another long, silver and black container with the words Whitewater Ranch painted on the side.
“I think I should go out first,” Billy said, throwing his leg over the side the horse’s hindquarter and sliding off with a groan. “I never would have made it back in my ancestor’s time. Give me a soft seat and a cold beer any day.”
“Why should we wait here?” Jacob asked Billy suspiciously when he started to turn away. “What are you going to tell this Allie?”
Billy turned back in surprise at the hostile tone he couldn’t quite hide. Jonathan watched silently from the side. He would keep an eye on whoever was in the new truck. Billy’s widened when he noticed Jacob was fingering the gun at his waist. It was obvious Billy had forgotten why they were there, but Jacob hadn’t. His first and foremost thought was to protect his brother.
“I’m just going to let them know I’m not alone, is all,” Billy muttered with a nervous glance at the truck. He could see Aleaha in the passenger seat. “You aren’t going to do anything crazy, are you? I mean, it is bad enough about what happened, but I won’t let you hurt Allie and Aleaha.”
“Will they know where Indy is?” Jonathan asked in a husky voice.
“Hell, yeah,” Billy replied with a shaky grin. “I told you, Indy and Allie are like sisters. Besides, their dad, Sam, knows everything about everything that goes on with Indy. She practically grew up at their place all during high school.”
“Then, let them know that we are here and they are to take us to Sam, nothing else about what has happened. I want to talk to this Sam first,” Jonathan ordered, glancing at Jacob who nodded in agreement.
They both watched as Billy walked stiffly out of the shadows of the trees and down the road to where the silver truck had stopped before they dismounted themselves. The door closest to them opened and a slender woman with long, black hair slid out. She called out a greeting to Billy as he walked toward her before stopping near the back of the long silver and black wagon.
Jacob frowned as another figure came around the side. He could feel his brother’s eyes burning a hole through him when he drew in a sharp breath of surprise. Blinking rapidly, he fought the urge to rub his eyes as he gazed at the figure of the woman.
She was small and had shoulder-length black hair. His eyes swept down over her. She was wearing the dark blue trousers that Indy liked so much.
That wasn’t what had him clearing his throat. It was the top she was almost not wearing that had his attention. Hell, he thought Indy had looked pretty damn good in her shorts and top, but this… this was just… A dark scowl crossed his face when she turned to Billy and he caught the look of male appreciation in the other man’s eyes.
“Hey Allie,” Billy said with a boyish grin.
“Who the hell did you get into a fight with? You look like shit,” Allie commented in return as a greeting before she opened the back of the large horse trailer.
Jacob’s scowl darkened when he saw a flash of white lace when she raised her arms to pull the locks down on the metal doors. The top she wore clung to her slim figure and left her arms and midriff bare. Her skin was the color of honey and made him wonder if it tasted as sweet. A faint flush rose in his cheeks when he saw her looking at him with a raised eyebrow before she turned away.
“Hi Billy,” the other woman said. “Oh my, what happened to your face?”
“I ran into something,” he joked, glancing over to where Jonathan and Jacob were standing.
“Let me look,” the woman demanded.
“Ah, Aleaha, it’s nothing,” Billy muttered in embarrassment. “I just ran into a wall.”
“More like a fist,” Aleaha snapped before her eyes widened in alarm and she paled. “Allie.”