A hard weight crushed her to the floor.
In the dark, she clawed for the rifle she’d laid beside her on the floor with what limited motion she had and found nothing. Her rifle was gone. She was mixed up. Had she rolled away from it?
“Get off!” Striking at whoever had her, she got one good punch in, then found her arms pinned. She wrestled, shoved, fought, shouted. Nothing gained her any ground.
She felt a tug at her clothes. For a second she froze. Was this a nightmare? She was swept back to the war. To memories that haunted her. A nightmare that she’d barely survived. There was another tug, then another. Shaking her head she tried to force herself to wake up, hoping desperately she was dreaming.
The tugging stopped. She heard a sound, part gasp, part grunt. It was the first she’d heard from this man and it wiped away any hope she had that she was sleeping.
A hand slid down her side following her from under her arm to her waist to her hip—in then out down the hourglass curve. With a yelp, not unlike a dog with a pinched tail, the man rolled off her.
“You’re a woman!” Gage Coulter’s voice cut through the horror that had frozen her. He moved so fast you’d’ve thought he was laying on a bed of rusty nails.
Bailey scrambled for her gun.
He leapt to his feet. “You can quit looking. I’ve got it.” His arm swooped up, her rifle silhouetted in the darkness, held high over his head.
“Miss Bailey Wilde.” The disgust in his voice almost shook the cabin walls. “Now why didn’t I know you’d be a woman? I’ve seen your sister Shannon running around in britches. I’ve heard your pa go on and on about his son Jimmy—the way a man might talk if he only had one boy.”
Bailey suddenly realized she was free. She clawed at her holster.
“I got your six-shooter, too.” Gage lifted his other hand. “And don’t bother searching for the knife up your sleeve nor the ones in your boot or your belt.” He bend to the floor and scooped up every weapon she had. The tugs she’d felt. Not a man assaulting her. A man disarming her.
He tossed the knives on her kitchen table along with her guns, the clatter shook her into action. She lurched to her feet and ran for the nearest deadly object.
Coulter moved fast for a big man.
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Rita Award Finalist Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She has been a finalist for a Christy Award and Inspirational Readers Choice Awards and a two time winner of the Carol Award.
Mary has over three quarters of a million books in print. She is the author of 41 books, including Fire and Ice, book #3 of the Wild at Heart series, Kincaid Brides series, Trouble in Texas Series, also; Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie’s Daughters series and many other books. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.
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