Welcome to our final day of
HERE COME THE BRIDES
as Cheryl Pierson and Tracy Garrett share scenes of
from their novels, Fire Eyes and Touch of Texas!
Fire Eyes was my debut novel in 2009. It has since been re-edited and re-released with a new publisher, WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER. When wounded U.S. Deputy Marshal Kaed Turner is left in Jessica Monroe’s care, they both find a love they didn’t bargain for.
A gritty, sensual western novel not meant for the faint of heart…
Love’s healing power…
Wounded by sadistic renegades who rule the borderlands, U.S. Marshal Kaed Turner understands he faces certain death. Then Fate and a war party of Choctaw Indians intervene, delivering him instead to an angel with the skill to heal him.
Jessica Monroe has already lost a husband and a brother to the outlaws who tortured Marshal Turner. As
the rugged lawman lies bleeding on her bed, she faces a difficult decision. Can she afford to gamble with her heart one last time? For when Kaed recovers, he is sworn to join the battle to wipe out the renegade gang—once, and for all.
When vengeance is done, will Kaed keep riding? Or will he return to claim his future with the beautiful woman the Choctaw call Fire Eyes?
THE SET UP:
Marshal Kaed Turner has been deposited on widow Jessica Monroe’s front porch by a band of Choctaw Indians with orders from the chieftain: “Do not let him die.” He’s been severely beaten by Andrew Fallon’s band of renegades that run the borderlands between Arkansas and Indian Territory. The last man the Indians brought to her doorstep died. As the relationship between Kaed and Jessica deepens, she vows to move heaven and earth to heal him, even though it means he must leave her. There can be no future for them as long as Andrew Fallon lives.
EXCERPT FROM FIRE EYES:
Jessica Monroe was a woman he could love. A woman he did love. That realization was not easy to face. Love was for other people. Not for him. He had his job, and that was enough.
Or was it? More and more lately, thoughts of a place of his own, a family, a yearning to put down roots, had begun to plague him.
His lips twisted. It was too soon. He’d had a fever, and what he thought he’d seen in the depths of her eyes had probably been a trick of the faulty workings of his own mind. Yet, he was drawn to her, not just her outward beauty, but her determination and strength. She was like a draught of strong liquor that he couldn’t put down once he had tasted it. Fire Eyes. A question formed in his mind, even as he tried to crush it, to evade the answer that might devastate him more completely than he thought possible. But it escaped his lips before he could thrust it away.
“Do you love me, Jessi?”
She turned slowly from where she stood beside the crib to face his level look.
The firelight touched her dark hair, setting it aglow with auburn highlights, and Kaed thought she could never be more beautiful than she was at this moment. Her eyes registered disbelief at what she thought she had heard, her sensual lips parted, as if she wanted to reply, but was unsure. She stood, motionless.
He made his expression unreadable, but he couldn’t stop the ragged edge to his breathing that had suddenly developed. He forced the fingers of his left hand to unclench and relax, let the veil cover the tell-tale surge of need in his eyes as he lay looking at her. He knew not to speak again, even to say her name, until he gained control of his emotions.
She came toward him, and stood between the bed and the baby’s crib, need and want and fear all written on her beautiful features.
Kaed swallowed hard, and despite the chaotic rush of blood pounding in his ears, he made his voice even. “Do you love me?”
Jessica put her hand to her throat, tears filling her eyes. Before she could speak, he went on.
“You said the next time you married, it would be for love. I wouldn’t want you to make a mistake. But, from where I’ve been the past three days, I could swear I’ve seen love in your eyes. Like you said, though, sometimes it’s hard to recognize. So, I need to know, Jessi. Is what I see real?”
* * * * *
She knelt beside him on the floor, her breath catching in her throat. She looked into the depths of Kaed’s dark gaze. He loved her. She was right about not mistaking it again. Slowly, she nodded, unable to find her voice, afraid it would crack if she did.
Relief flooded his pain-shrouded eyes. He reached to spear his fingers through her hair, pulling her to him. Her lids drifted closed in anticipation of his kiss, but he held her a hairsbreadth from him. When he spoke, his voice was husky, as if tenderness was not a thing he was accustomed to.
“When I take you tonight, Jessica, I want you to understand something.”
His clean breath was warm on her cheek, and she opened her eyes slowly to look at him once more. “When I come into you—” He swallowed hard. “—that’s my promise to you that I take you for my wife. This isn’t something I do lightly, and it isn’t something I haven’t thought out.”
“Marriage? Kaed, you need to be sure—” She stumbled over her words like a schoolgirl, her cheeks flaming.
Kaed’s eyes crinkled, and he smiled at her incredulous tone. “It’s all I’ve thought about. That’s why it’s important that you…that you love me. That I’m what you want. So you don’t marry for the wrong reason again.”
The love was there, lighting his eyes. She didn’t doubt what she’d seen. She bit her lip, wanting him to continue. No one else had ever said such things to her.
I’m giving away a copy of FIRE EYES to one lucky commenter today. Just leave a comment and your contact information—it’s that simple! I’ll draw a name out of the hat and announce the winner.
The e-book version of FIRE EYES is available now at Amazon, Lulu, Monkeybars, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Apple, as well as many other e-book retailers. The new print version will also be available soon! (Or drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be glad to send you an autographed copy for only $10, including the shipping!)
Here are the links for Smashwords and Amazon:
Don’t forget to comment to be entered in the drawing, and thanks for coming by today!
TOUCH OF TEXAS
I’m thrilled to be wrapping up our week of Happy-Ever-After. Brides and Grooms—I just love them. All the lace and candlelight and promises of forever.
In my first book, Touch of Texas, Texas Ranger Jake McCain was convinced he would never have the kind of forever his adoptive parents had. He was a half-breed, good enough to kill outlaws, but never worthy of a seat at the dinner table of society folks. Of course, he was wrong. Rachel Hudson, school teacher, orphaned early, raising her little brother on her own, was strong, beautiful, intelligent—and the perfect match for Jake.
At this point in the story, Jake has dispatched one of the bad guys and is going to have to leave Rachel & Nathan, her eight-year-old brother, for good.
I had such fun writing the scene where Jake finally realizes he doesn’t want to go on without her in his life. So he gathers his courage, walks in to propose—and comes face to belt buckle with loaded rifle.
EXCERPT FROM TOUCH OF TEXAS
Jake sat in the dark, watching the cabin. It was where he’d been for the last hour, trying to gather the courage to go in and face Rachel. “Damn it.” He cursed the night and the lack of any proof someone had been near the cabin. Mostly he cursed himself. How did he make her see he was the wrong man for her when he no longer believed it himself?
Somewhere during the long day, he’d realized he didn’t want her to find someone else. He wanted to be the man she turned to, the one she relied upon.
“I love her,” he whispered to the stars. How the hell had that happened?
It wasn’t possible. He waited for the familiar panic, the trapped feeling he always got when he considered marriage and a family. But it never came. Instead, a warmth filled him when he pictured Rachel, heavy with his child, and guiding Nathan as he grew into a man any father would be proud of.
He must look ridiculous, sitting in the dark with a stupid grin on his face, but he didn’t care. He wanted Rachel and he would have her. What if she’d changed her mind? That gave him pause. Maybe a half-breed renegade lawman wasn’t what she wanted after all? Then he’d convince her to change her mind right back. Nothing could be as hard as facing a future without her.
He caught himself before he straightened and presented an easy target to whoever might be watching. He didn’t doubt someone was. Though he’d found no evidence, his instincts were screaming at him that Rachel was in danger. Checking the shadows, he slipped up to the house and made a complete circuit before setting foot on the porch. He came up on the far end, near the window where the candle that saved his life had burned.
“Rachel?” He kept his voice low, not wanting to wake the boys. “Honey, it’s me.” He leaned closer to the window, but he couldn’t hear anything inside. Was she asleep? Hoping he wasn’t destined to a night on the ground with no bedroll, he called out a third time. Finally, sounds of movement came from inside, then an uneven shuffle as she approached the window.
“It’s safe, pretty girl. You can open up.”
He heard her drag the bar from the door and lower it to the floor, but the door didn’t open.
“Come inside, slowly. I have a gun and I know how it works.”
Jake grinned. He couldn’t help it. Here he was, anxious to tell the woman he wanted forever with her, and she met him at the door with a loaded rifle. It was a story they could tell their grandchildren. He opened the door with his left hand, careful to stay out of her line of fire, just in case Wolf wasn’t as good a teacher as he thought.
“Rachel, honey, I’m coming in. Put the rifle down.”
“Are you alone?”
“I’m alone, pretty girl.”
“Then come on in.”
Relief was evident in her voice. He peeked around the doorframe to be sure she knew it was him before stepping into the open.
She faced the door from across the room, the rifle cradled in her arms. It wasn’t pointing at him, but she wouldn’t have to move it far to find a target.
Jake came inside and closed the door, barring it again. When he looked back, Rachel had pointed the rifle at the far wall and was struggling to uncock it.
“Let me, honey.” Taking it from her shaking hands, he eased the hammer forward and set the gun aside. When he opened his arms, she stepped into them without a word. Hugging her close, he let the last of his resistance melt away. Whatever it took, this woman was his and he wasn’t letting her go.
“I’m sorry. I needed to be sure. You were gone so long,” she admonished without looking up. “I was worried.”
“You were safe. I wasn’t far away.”
“I wasn’t worried for me, I was scared for you.”
Jake swore he heard a muttered dammit as she turned away to the stove. He snagged her hand and pulled her back against his chest. “What did you say?”
She squirmed in his arms but didn’t answer.
“I don’t think I can have any wife of mine using language like that.” He felt her stiffen and struggled against a grin. “It wouldn’t be proper.” He glanced down and felt himself drowning in twin pools of azure. God, she had the most beautiful eyes. He leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on her lips.
“Wife?” Her voice quavered on the single word.
“If you’ll have me, honey.” Jake loosened his hold and dropped to one knee in front of her. “I know I’m no prize, and you’ll probably spend the rest of your days wishing me to Hades, but I don’t think my heart will go on beating if you aren’t part of my life.” He kissed the fingers of her right hand. “Will you marry me, Rachel Hudson?”
When she tugged on his hand, he rose to his feet and waited for her answer. When a smile curved her lips, he thought his heart would stop.
“I’d be proud to be your wife, Jake McCain.”
A whoop from behind her brought them both around. Nathan raced down the stairs to throw his arms around Rachel. Calvin followed close behind. She returned her brother’s hug with tears in her eyes.
“Well,” Jake muttered, shaking his head at Nathan. “I intended to ask your permission, son, but it looks like we already have your blessing.”
This week we’ve shared Marriage of Convenience, Forced Marriages, Wedding Surprises, Funny Stuff & True Love. Tell me, readers, what’s your favorite kind of nuptial situation?
In honor of brides and weddings and happy-ever-afters, I’ll give away a copy of both TOUCH OF TEXAS and TOUCHED BY LOVE, my second release, to one reader who joins the discussion.
Please come see me on FaceBook – TracyGarrett.author – or follow me on Twitter – @TGarrett_Author.
Thanks for visiting Petticoats & Pistols this week for HERE COME THE BRIDES! We hope you had as much fun reading about all the wedding surprises, hugs, tears and laughter as we had sharing them with you.
Here’s wishing you all the happy-ever-after you could ever hope for!