Recovering from an abusive marriage, Cassie struggles to trust in love again. Dalton survived a disastrous marriage and is uncertain about falling in love again, yet they can't resist each other.
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Cassie Davis is struggling to rebuild her life after ending an abusive marriage and moving back to Grangeville, Kansas. She's emotionally healing, discovering a new career, and finding comfort in being an integral part of the small community. And she has found a stubborn, dominant rancher with a complicated life who is determined to love her. Surprisingly, she trusted him from the start, but he now wants more than she's ready to give. Will she lose him if she can't make the commitment he wants?
Dalton Reede had a disastrous first marriage, and his life is stretched thin being a rancher and a temporary sheriff. But he longs for a wife and children. When he met Cassie, he knew he had found the woman he needs. She's spirited, loving, passionate, and she accepts the dominant side of him. But she's been badly hurt by another man. Loving her is easy, except that she seems to have more time for everyone else instead of him. Can he make her realize it is time to stop being scared of the past and give them a chance?
“We talked about this before. We had made a decision.” He picked up his fork and stabbed it into the chicken Marsala.
“Actually, you made the decision. I wasn’t sold on it.” She reached for the glass of iced tea that a waitress had just refilled. Darn it all, the evening had started out so good. They’d had that hot little quickie and there’d been unspoken promise of more sex later.
“That’s not how I remember our last conversation going about you running for re-election.” He kept his tone low and he kept a semblance of a smile for anyone who looked in their direction. “I distinctly remember you promising not to do it.”
Cassie took a long swallow to avoid answering him.
The tension between them intensified. His anger was that proverbial elephant in the room: you had to pay attention to it.
Finally she set the glass down and focused on her plate, no longer hungry. The evening wasn’t going to end well for her, but it was her own fault. Dalton was right. Just last night she had told him that she wasn’t going to consider running for a second term as mayor. Why should she? His old childhood buddy—Jim McAdams—had moved back to town a few months back, settled in, and put himself in the mayoral race. She thought maybe Dalton had nudged him into doing so, which kind of rubbed her wrong, but she’d tried to let that go.
“Cassie,” he prompted her again. His tone had darkened a notch.
She fiddled with her fork and avoided looking at him. Their problem was complex. He wanted to move their semi-live-together relationship to the next step. He wanted marriage and to start a family. When they had first begun dating almost two years ago, she had still been getting over her really nasty marriage and even worse divorce. Dalton had been patient with her, eventually taking a dominant role in their relationship, one that oddly enough comforted her.
It was the dominant side of him that had appeared again. His patience was thread-bare. Still, she hesitated to respond. She didn’t like arguing with him, didn’t like hurting him.
A year ago, he’d moved in with her Monday-Friday while he worked in town. Sometimes she went with him to the ranch on the weekends. The situation was complicated, had been becoming ever more so lately. She worried that it would soon turn into an “or else” situation, that they get married or else call things off between them.
She swallowed hard, tears threatened. She didn’t want the “or else” solution.