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From Author Linda Broday – HEARTS AND SPURS ANTHOLOGY: THE WIDOW’S HEART
Note From Linda: When Prairie Rose Publications asked me to write a short story for them, I racked my brain for something suitable. That’s when Skye O’Rourke arrived at my door, holding a valise. She unpacked all her hopes and dreams along with an old secret love. Her husband is dead and she’s all alone out on the Texas prairie. She fears she must be going mad, driven there by the howling incessant wind. She’s at her lowest. Then Cade Coltrain emerges from the shimmering heat, awakening yearnings she thought were dead and buried.
Skye O’Rourke gazed into the startling blue eyes that once made her dream, made her yearn, and made her want to move heaven and earth to have him lying next to her.
God help her! They still had that power.
But he’d abandoned her, urged her to marry his brother. What kind of man did that? She’d not give him a chance to hurt her again. She’d learned a valuable lesson.
A sweeping glance took him in. She saw no hint of the soft gentleness in the man she’d once given her heart to beneath a full moon. A hardness as unyielding as the cold piece of iron in his holster had settled over him now, from his chiseled jaw and piercing gaze to the deep lines in his face.
Hard and frightening.
An ache spread across her chest. Cade had died as surely as her husband Matthew had. They just hadn’t buried him yet.
“It’ll only be for a few days,” he said quietly. “Then, I promise I’ll be out of your life. Just let me rest up.”
A few days could be an eternity when tempted by his nearness and her need to be held again by strong arms. Skye shoved the thought aside. It would destroy her. He’d made it clear he wasn’t going to stick around.
“Where will you go?” she whispered.
Cade shrugged and worked to get to his feet. He spoke in a flat, dead voice. “One place is as good as the next, I reckon. Learned a long ago not to get too comfortable.”
“What happened to you?” She needed to know, to understand.
“I’ve done things.” He spread his legs as though bracing himself for a blow that would knock him to his knees. “Had to become someone else. I answer to Cade Coltrain now. In certain parts of the country the name strikes fear.”
“But why? Why do you want people to be afraid of you?”
“Didn’t seek it. Never. Just happened. You ask a lot of questions, Skye,” he said softly. “Be careful. You might not want to know the answers.”
“Are you bringing trouble to my door?”
“Not yet. I’ve covered my tracks.”
A strangled sob rose up. It took everything she had, but she managed to swallow it back down. She’d not let him see her pain at what he’d become. Not if she could help it.
“Are you wanted?”
“Skye, I warned you not to ask these questions.”
“I simply want to know what to expect.”
“Nothing. Don’t expect anything from me. I’ll only disappoint you.”
“You’re so different. What happened to the Cade I knew?”
“He died. When I sold my soul to the highest bidder.”