ONE TOUGH TEXAN (Women on the run #2) will be out the week of March 10 (if not before). I was up until three this morning working on the new ebook cover. How do you like it? Need Chisholm is the man that Kate runs into when she’s on the run. Here’s my favorite opening line along with a bit more of the first scene:
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE
The last thing Need Chisholm expected to see when he looked up from his beer was a naked lady. But there she stood in the doorway of the Ace in the Hole Saloon, backlit by the afternoon sun, a glowing nimbus outlining her considerable curves and long mane of tawny hair.
He wasn’t drunk enough yet to be seeing things, so he thumbed back his hat and squinted through his good eye. She was still there, looking as jumpy as a fox cornered in a henhouse as she scanned the room.
Need would have stood and tipped his hat like the proper gentleman his mama raised, but he figured that at the first sudden move, she’d cut and run.
“Nobody here but me,” he said. “Place is closed on Wednesdays, but come on in.”
Still skittish as a saddle-shy filly, she clomped a few steps closer. That’s when he noticed that she wasn’t quite naked. She wore a skimpy little string of what he supposed was the bottom of a beige bathing suit, a very small towel clutched over her breasts, and golf shoes that were at least five sizes too big.
“I–I need some help,” she said.
“Why? Lose your putter?”
She obviously didn’t see the humor in his question. The look she shot him could have welded his zipper shut. “I need to use the telephone.”
Not taking his gaze off the expanse of lovely tan, he nodded toward the wall where the pay phone was mounted. When she turned and walked toward it, the rear view was even better. Only a thin strip of fabric, which didn’t cover a damned thing, and her hair, which reached halfway down her back, marred the line of her lovely tan.
She reached for the phone, then drew her hand away. Her shoulders slumped and her head drooped. She sighed. He took another swig of beer and waited. After a moment she turned and clomped back toward him. She was one good-looking woman. Besides a damned fine body, she had a beautiful face, with high cheekbones, big brown eyes, and a mouth that wouldn’t quit.
“Could I please borrow a couple of quarters?”
“Sure thing.” He stood and fished in the pocket of his tight jeans for coins. When he handed them to her, he noticed that her hand was scratched and trembling. A bruise colored her cheekbone. “Anything else I can do?”
“Your shirt would be nice.”
“You got it.” He ripped open the snaps and shucked the blue chambray shirt as fast as he could. “Might be a little rank. I’ve been working outside.” He offered the garment to her.
“Honest sweat doesn’t bother me. Thank you. I–” She clamped her mouth shut, turned her back, and slipped on the shirt. She tossed the towel on the table and returned to the telephone, the cleats clunking on the wooden floor as she walked.
He picked up the small hand towel and studied the fringed blue terry cloth. TEE TIME was embroidered across one end. He took another swallow of beer and watched the woman as she made her call. She kept her back to him and her voice low.
He resettled his hat over his brows and concentrated on his drinking. The whole episode was damned strange, but he’d seen stranger in his day. And he, like most folks around this part of Texas–except his old man–had a penchant for minding his own business. Probably a surviving remnant of the code of the West.
“Intensive care?” she shrieked.
Need’s head went up.
“Six -weeks! Oh, my God! No, no, no one else. I’ll call back.”
She hung up the phone but held on to the receiver for the longest time, her body sagging, her head bowed. After a few minutes she sucked in a deep breath and her backbone stiffened.
Need studied the label on his beer bottle, but he marked her position by the noise from the cleated clodhoppers on her feet. She headed back toward him. The chair across from him scraped away from the table. He glanced up as she sat down and propped her chin in her hands.
“Need to make another call?” he asked.
“There’s nobody else to call.”
“Nobody. Not a single solitary soul.” She heaved a big sigh. “This has been one hell of a day.”
He nodded. “Know the feeling. I’ve had one of those myself. I finally decided to just sit down and get drunk. Got a ways to go yet. Want to join me?”
“I’m not much of a drinker. Too much alcohol and I throw up before I get drunk. I would love something cold and wet, but all I’ve got is fifty cents.” She put his coins on the table and pushed them toward him.