Fleeing Boston and harboring a secret that could destroy her, Sabra Bennett meets her match and finds love with an Irish sheep rancher in Colorado Territory
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Stacey Coverstone-Western Romance
Married into Boston’s elite society, Sabra Bennett prefers horseback riding and ragtime music to sipping tea with the ladies. When a surprise discovery turns tragic, she flees to wild, untamed Colorado Territory, harboring a secret, determined to start anew.
Irishman, Noah Tucker, has spent years sailing the high seas and sampling a woman in every port. Now he’s settled in Gumption, Colorado, intent on raising sheep. The moment he meets the redheaded widow, he entertains thoughts of making her his mistress. But, her close-mouthed ways hint she’s not who she claims to be.
While Sabra becomes the object of affection for more than one man, she vows to keep her secret safe at all costs. But, when Noah takes her in his arms, she’s willing to gamble there’s more to him than his whiskey-swilling, skirt-chasing antics. He just might be the one man she can trust with everything…including her heart.
Sabra had never gone swimming naked in her life. She’d never even been swimming in a pond or river before. It was an exhilarating feeling, one that closely compared to galloping her horse through the countryside. Both gave her the sense of freedom and reckless abandonment that had been locked inside her for so long. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the grassy bank with her legs floating in front of her. The hot water literally bubbled around her, a balm for her sore muscles and frayed nerves.
She’d piled her long hair on top of her head with tortoiseshell combs and carefully spread her clothes out on the grass next to her carpetbag for them to air. It would feel so wonderful to put on a clean outfit. Unfortunately, she had no soap to wash her body with, but the hot water was good enough. She opened her eyes and splashed water under her arms and used her hands to wash off the dirt she could feel coating her face.
Birds chirped in the trees and insects buzzed all around. It was the first time since she’d left Boston that she felt completely relaxed. Regrettably, that feeling didn’t last long.
“How’s your bath, Sabra?”
Her gaze flew in the direction of the trees at hearing Tucker’s voice. Water splashed in her face as she attempted to cover herself with her hands. “What are you doing here, Noah?” Her arms crossed over her breasts protectively. She glanced down, praying he couldn’t see her body through the bubbles and steam.
“Just wanted to make sure ye hadn’t been captured by any wild Indians.”
Her lips puckered. “As you can see, I haven’t been.” She felt her cheeks heating in embarrassment.
He took a step forward. “Your face is pink from the steam.”
From the expression on his teasing mug, it was clear to him that he knew the steam wasn’t the only reason for her face being pink.
“What do you want, Noah? I thought you were helping Grey and Rusty get supper ready. Did you shoot anything like I asked?”
He edged closer. “No. Grey caught a rabbit and he’s cookin’ beans and biscuits. We’re gonna have a real feast tonight.”
“Don’t come any closer,” she warned, pressing her hands tighter to her bosom. Under the water, her body was trembling, but she hoped her vulnerability didn’t show.
He reached down and pulled off his boots and peeled away his socks. Then his fingers danced down the buttons of his shirt, and in one fluid motion, the shirt was off and tossed to the ground. “I thought I might join ye. The boys have everything under control back at camp.”
Sabra went mute as she ogled his broad shoulders, rippling abdominal muscles, and glistening, hairless chest. When he began fumbling with the buttons on his trousers, she snapped back to reality and shouted, “Stop! You can’t come in here!”
When he moved closer and slid a seductive gaze over her face, across her shoulders and down her neck to stop at the crest of her cleavage, she squeezed her legs together and gulped. Uncontrollable shivers began to rack her body. “Wh…wh…what do you think you’re doing?” she stammered. She was afraid to move, but even more afraid not to. But if she moved, he’d see everything. As she debated in her mind what to do, he strode quickly across the grass.
“I’ll scream if you touch me,” she threatened. “Grey will come running.”
He halted a few feet away, a grin tugging at his mouth. “No need for that, Sabra. I’m not gonna touch ye. I only wanted to see how far you’d let me go.”
She tilted her head and her pulse rate began to decrease. “How far? I don’t understand.”
He knelt and looked directly into her eyes. “I like a lass I can chase. I’m glad to know you’re up for the hunt. An easy woman takes all the fun out of romance.”
“Romance?” she queried. “Is that what you call scaring me half to death just now?”
His mouth formed a serious line and his brown eyes delved into hers. “No,” he admitted. “But I had to be sure of the kind of woman ye are before I let me heart get too attached.”
“Attached?” Sabra knew she was repeating everything he said, but his words baffled her. She couldn’t think straight, finding it hard to believe what she was hearing coming out of his mouth.
“I can’t properly court ye out here in the wilderness. But, once we get to Gumption, ye better be prepared to be swept off your feet.”
Now, that was romantic. Stunned into silence, her body reacted with tingles that ran from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. When she finally found her voice again, she knew she had to be the voice of reason. “My husband just died, Noah. I’m not looking to get married again so soon.”
His eyes grew large and he laughed, which surprised her. “Who said anything about a weddin’”
Now she was really perplexed. “Well, what are you talking about if not marriage?” That one word conjured up all kinds of devilish imaginings. She could envision them in their marital bed, her hands skimming over his chest, running down his muscular legs, and their lips molded together in passionate kisses.
“Someone to keep me company after a long day’s work. A pretty thing who can make me laugh. Cook a meal or two. Warm me bed at night.” Tucker winked.
In a heartbeat, it became crystal clear. He didn’t want a wife. He wanted a housemaid at day and a whore at night! Sabra lifted her hands out of the water and splashed him good. “Get away from me!” she shrieked.
He stumbled to his feet and wiped water from his face. His trousers were drenched. “What’d I do?” he asked, shrugging.
She grit her teeth. “If you don’t know, then you’re as dumb as a fence post.”
“No need for name callin’, Sabra,” he said, appearing hurt. “As me ole da used to say…”
“I don’t care what your da used to say!” she interrupted. “Now, go away and leave me alone.”