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Linda Lael Miller

Caroline And The Raider

Linda Lael Miller Caroline And The Raider
$6.39 New
$2.97 Pre-owned
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Excerpt from book:

Chapter One

Bolton, Wyoming Territory

April 15, 1878

He was the most disreputable-looking man Caroline had ever seen, and everything depended upon him.

Squinting, she took a neatly pressed handkerchief from the pocket of her coat and wiped away some of the grime from the saloon window to take a closer look. If anything, Mr. Guthrie Hayes seemed even less appealing after that effort. He certainly didn't look like the war hero her student had told her about with such excitement.

A muscular man, probably only a few inches taller than Caroline herself, he sat at a corner table, engrossed in a game of cards. A mangy yellow dog lay at his side on the sawdust floor, its muzzle resting on its paws. Mr. Hayes wore rough-spun trousers, a plain shirt of undyed cotton, suspenders, and a leather hat that looked as if it had been chewed up and spit out by a large, irritable animal. His face was beard-stubbled, and he sported a rakish black patch over one eye.

Caroline couldn't see his hair, because of the hat, but she figured it was probably too long. She sighed, dampened a clean corner of the hanky with her tongue, and cleared a bigger area on the glass.

Just then one of the men at Mr. Hayes's table must have pointed Caroline out, for he raised his head and looked her directly in the eyes. An unaccountable shock jolted her system; she sensed something hidden deep in this man's mind and spirit, something beautiful and deadly.

He had the audacity to smile around the stub of a thin cigar clamped between his strong white teeth. As far as Caroline was willing to admit, those teeth were his only redeeming feature.

Mr. Hayes spoke cordially to the other men, threw in his cards, and pushed back his chair. The dog got up to follow him as he came toward the swinging doors.

Caroline stepped back, alarm and excitement colliding inside her and driving out her breath. Her fingers trembled a little as she stuffed the soiled hanky into her handbag. She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin, even though she was patently terrified.

Mr. Hayes approached her idly, the cigar stub still caught between his teeth. In the bright sunshine of an April afternoon, Caroline saw that his one visible eye was green, and she just assumed the other was, too -- provided there was another one, of course. There was a quirky slant to his mouth, and his beard, like what she could see of his hair, was light brown.

His very presence had an impact, despite his appearance.

"Ma'am," he said, touching the brim of his seedy hat, and Caroline heard just the whisper of a southern drawl in the way he uttered the word.

She drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. Lord knew, she wanted nothing to do with the likes of Guthrie Hayes, but he might well be Seaton's only chance. She was prepared to do almost anything to help the man she hoped to marry.

She put out a hand. "My name is Miss Caroline Chalmers," she said.

An impudent green eye moved over her slender figure slowly then came back to her face. The amusement Caroline saw in its depths nettled her, and she felt a peculiar sort of sweet venom spread through her.

"What can I do for you, Miss Caroline Chalmers?" Just behind him, the yellow dog whimpered forlornly and kerplopped to its belly on the dirty wooden sidewalk.
par

Caroline ran her tongue over dry lips, and even though her errand was urgent, she was compelled to hedge. "Is that animal ill?" she asked.

"Tob?" Hayes chuckled, and the sound was warm and rich. It hid itself in Caroline's middle and melted there, like beeswax left in the sun. "Not really. He's just hung over -- bad habit he picked up before he and I became partners."

Caroline took a step backwards and felt her cheeks redden. Inside the saloon, a tinny piano made a chinky-tinky sound, and wagons and buggies rattled through thHolding her lovely head high, Wyoming schoolmistress Caroline Chalmers did what no lady should: she marched right into the local saloon to see the dashing and reckless Guthrie Hayes. Worse still, she went to ask him for help. She needed the former Confederate raider to plan a jailbreak to rescue her fiancé, Seaton Flynn, from the hangman's noose. An orphan by spinster sisters, Caroline was prepared do almost anything to save her beloved Seaton.
So why did her breath suddenly become a shivery sigh when she looked into Hayes's twinkling green eyes? Too late Caroline knew how perilous her request really was, for this strong and daring ex-soldier would refuse her nothing no matter how dangerous...but first he intended to teach her everthing about the power of a man's love, beginning with a shameless odyssey to ectasy in his arms....


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