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Grace Brannigan

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Heartstealer
by Grace Brannigan   

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Books by Grace Brannigan
· Once Upon a Remembrance
· Echoes from the Past
· Wishing on a Rodeo Moon
· Once and Always
                >> View all

Category: 

Romance

Publisher:  Questor Books ISBN-10:  0980110831
Pages: 

282

Copyright:  May 2012 ISBN-13:  9780980110838

Jacie is afraid she's lost her edge. Following an aerial stunt gone wrong and then her fiancé running out on her, she's determined to restore her pride and her life.


Needing time away from well-meaning family, she accepts a skydiving job at Timber Falls. When she meets resort owner Sloan, the sparks fly. He is a man who will tempt her and possibly change her forever.

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Grace Brannigan Author
Grace Brannigan Author

Jacie Turner, a professional stuntwoman, is afraid she's lost her edge. Following an aerial stunt gone wrong and then her fiancé running out on her, she's determined to restore her pride and her life.

Needing time away from well-meaning family, she accepts a skydiving job at Timber Falls in the Catskill Mountains. When Jacie meets one of the resort owners Sloan Wright, sparks fly. He is a man who will tempt her, love her and possibly change her forever.

Sloan recognizes fun loving Jacie as the type of woman who could disrupt his well ordered life, if he allowed it. As they get to know each other, he delves into Jacie's past while she begins to peel away the layers that keep him locked behind a wall of reserve. If they can trust who they really are, then the future holds unlimited possibilities.

When accidents begin to plague the resort, they have to work quickly to solve the deepening mystery before the consequences become fatal.


Excerpt

Excerpt by Grace Brannigan
copyright 2012 by Elaine Warfield
Chapter One
Jacie’s stomach churned as she stared at the groundtwo thousand feet below. What
insanity made her put herself through this punishment -- just to prove she wasn’t washed
up as a stunt woman?
"Just do it," she muttered. "You've done it thousands of times before. Get your
foot out the door and jump."
Automatically, she ran her fingers over her knee support and then the pull ring on
her parachute harness. Lastly, she braced the toes of her boots against the door lip.
She had to jump. Skydiving was her life. It had always defined who she was; a
member of her family’s business, Aerial Antics. Herbrother Con would pull her off this
job if he thought she wasn’t ready. She couldn’t gohome with her tail between her legs.
Her family would try to put her back in cotton wool. Again.
How long did she have to pay for one dumb mistake -- two -- if she counted the one she’d
made thinking Brad loved her.
With a low growl of impatience, she stepped out andan updraft pulled her up and
away from the plane. As she plunged downward, a flashback to her parachuting accident
thirteen months ago at Angel Falls came dangerouslyclose. She could see again that
mountainous ledge of rock, nothing but water and uninhabited jungle below her, the
glorious release as she began her freefall, and then her parachute failure. . ..
Her chute opened. Years of training took over and the tightness eased inside her chest. Of
course she could do this, she’d been jumping far too long to stop now.
As the ground drew closer she pulled the shroud lines of her chute, spilling air to
control her landing.
Clustered dots took on the shapes of people. A lonefigure with a cowboy hat
stood apart from the rest. An imp of mischief surfaced in Jacie. She’d alter her landing
slightly and land near the guy with the cowboy hat.
As her feet touched solid earth a gust of wind lifted and pulled her forward, past
the camera crews, past the gathered crowd. She caught a glimpse of surprised faces and
then she came to a dead stop as her body lightly impacted with another. She had a
fleeting impression of a hat flying through the airand they both fell to the ground in a
tangle of arms, legs and billowing parachute.
Arms closed around her and held tight. She squeezedher eyes shut and pressed her
forehead into a hard chest. Spicy cologne tantalized her nostrils.
When the rest of her senses kicked in she was amazed to find she lay straddled
atop a very male body. Hard chest and long, long legs. The cowboy.
"I guess I came a tad too close to my mark," she managed, barely suppressing her
laughter. His arms were like hard bands around her back. She stayed unmoving against a
soft shirt, her nose pressed into a dusting of nose-tickling hair. Scents mingled. Horse and
leather, that subtle touch of man.
The flapping of her parachute forced her to stop thinking about the body beneath
her. She opened her eyes. Her blue and purple chuteswept upward, then gently settled to
cover them in a cocoon.
"Can I help you, ma'am?" drawled a deep, amused voice in her ear. The hard body
beneath her had a sexy-as-all-get out voice to go with it.
Her body did a head to toe shiver. "I think you’ve already helped me land." She levered
her body upward. "It seems a shame to move," she added, but peeled herself from that
broad chest partially covered by blue cotton. The impact must have torn his buttons loose,
because the shirt gaped open. She stared at his flat stomach and then down to his hair
dusted navel. They weren't buttons on his shirt, they were snaps.
Jacie studied the wide shoulders, square chin and slightly curved mouth. Lazily
she moved on to lean, tanned features. His expressi on showed tolerance, amusement,
interest . . . then a guarded look dropped as hard blue eyes stared at her. Well, it had been
interesting until he got that guarded look on his f ace.
His arms were now straight out on the ground. A soft sound escaped her lips, but
no words. Oh dear. She tried again. "S-sorry . . . " she managed faintly, trying not to
laugh again. "What an embarrassing first impressionthis is turning out to be!" He didn’t
look amused now, but kind of stiff and probably toomuch of a gentleman to tell her to
get off him. "I hope I didn’t hurt you when I caught you," she said apologetically.
"Actually, I guess you caught me." Literally. She suddenly realized her knee was in a
rather delicate area.
"It's not every day I can lay claim to stopping a runaway female," the man
professed, blue eyes framed by the blackest of lashes.
"Not exactly a runaway," she admitted, tilting her head and grinning widely.
"Though it looks like I've made a slight miscalculation in my landing."
He swept his arm up to catch the folds of the parachute and began to pull it off
them.
Jacie let her glance linger on his mouth and a barely noticeable dimple. A jolt of
sexual awareness hit her. She immediately stifled it, gulping back a groan. The man
shifted his legs and sensation rocked her. He was all hard muscles and long limbs. After
Brad, she’d vowed no men. . .no way. But for a moment as her glance lingered on a rock
hard jaw and wide shoulders, that vow felt about assubstantial as fairy dust. The hell
with Brad.
She rolled sideways and off him as he fully released them from the parachute's
silky folds.
"Aren’t you supposed to take wind shifts into consideration when doing a jump?"
he asked. He sat up and dusted off his pants. His legs were encased in snug-fitting denims
as faded as his shirt and he had well worn cowboy boots on his feet. He stood over her as
he pulled off his gloves and stuffed them in a backpocket. Jacie measured his height
against hers. Six three, maybe four to her five feet seven inches.
"Of course I take the wind into consideration." Shetold herself to focus, but it
became impossible when his gaping shirt offered tantalizing glimpses of a man in superb
physical shape. She tried to ignore the attraction nipping at her but for the moment gave it
up as a losing battle.
His look turned questioning as he proceeded to snaphis shirt. "Then you changed
your target?" he asked with a hint of impatience.
"Guilty." She lifted her shoulders, thinking he looked like a man who had no time for
nonsense. "Seemed like a good idea at the time." She didn’t tell him he’d presented a
challenge, standing off by himself like that, as ifhe wasn’t impressed with her skydiving
into the resort.
He did look pretty unimpressed. In fact, she guessed that right about now he was
wondering who the fool was that had hired her to skydive into Timber Falls. Natural
curiosity prompted her to ask, "Are you a guest at the ranch?"
"No." He looked past her toward the small crowd whohad gathered for the jump.
"Here come the others." With concern he quickly glanced up and down her scarlet
jumpsuit. "You landed pretty hard, are you okay?"
Jacie saw him zero in on the knee support and then felt his sharp glance move up
to her neck.
"You’ve hurt yourself," he added, reaching out a hand toward her.
She didn’t wait to see if he would actually touch her neck but jerked her head
back. "I'm fine," she said briskly. "The mark on myneck is old." She reached over to pick
up a black cowboy hat on the ground. The shaped brim felt smooth under her fingertips.
"Yours?"
"Yeah." He took it and held out his other hand to her. She let him pull her up and
they stared at each other, each taking the other’s measure. Jacie admitted she liked what
she saw.
She stepped back. He put his hat on, tipping the brim forward the slightest bit,
virtually hiding his eyes from her.
"Sloan." He shook her hand. "Welcome to the Catskills and Timber Falls."
"Thanks. Jacie Turner." She felt a measure of disgust when her voice came out
breathless. She pulled at her sleeves and adjusted them. Men didn’t usually make her
nervous.
"Yeah, I know," he said.
That made her pause in buttoning her sleeve. "And do I know you?"
"Nope. My brother hired you." He began to roll her chute, his movements swift
and efficient. "Come on, we might as well see if that jump will satisfy the experts."
Jacie’s leg muscles tensed. Back to business. She chewed her lip thoughtfully,
knowing the jump hadn’t been one of her better ones. "Your brother is James Wright? He
was my contact for this job. Who are the experts?" she asked curiously. "Sounds like
you’re not lumping yourself in that category."
"James is my brother. He and his advertising agency are the experts." He threw
her a serious look from under dark brows. "I didn’torder a skydiving act. I think word of
mouth is enough to put this place on the map."
She opened her eyes wide. "Whoa, okay, I get the picture that this wasn’t your
idea." She unclipped her harness and released the snap on her tight-fitting cap. "But since
your brother owns Timber Falls, he’s the one I answer to."
Sloan’s blue eyes were intense as they settled on her, yet a slight hint of
amusement lurked there. "Sorry to disappoint you, but we both own Timber Falls."
"Oh." A course of goose bumps raced along her arms under the jumpsuit. She
gave him a full smile. That meant he’d be here her entire stay. There was something
about him that rattled her just a bit. "Then you’remy employer too. You know I'm
staying here the month of August?"
"I know."
Two words with a wealth of meaning. He knew and washappy she wondered, or
he knew and didn't like it? From everything he’d not said, it might be the latter. He
watched the slowly dispersing crowd with a slight frown, as if he wished himself
elsewhere. Jacie figured he probably had better things to do than pick her up and make
sure she was okay. Well, that was okay with her. She was here to do a job, not make
friends with a guy who looked like he’d walked out of an old western. Sexy as hell, but
an old western nevertheless.
Sighing, Jacie had to wonder why her hands shook asshe slid the cap from her head.




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