COWBOY DREAMING Silhouette Desire by Shawna Delacorte reissued by Harlequin in ebook
G-EXCERPT #3 (Searching For Melanie):
Cody stood and stretched out the kinks from his body. He needed to check on things outside, but first he wanted to look in on Buck. The nurse assured him that Buck had spent a relatively comfortable day, much of it napping. Cody reached the front door just in time to see Ross bounding up the porch steps.
“Cody…Miss Winslow’s horse just came back to the corral without her.”
“What?” An adrenaline charge pumped hard through his chest and Cody came off the porch like a shot. “What happened?” He felt a cold tremor of foreboding settle in the pit of his stomach.
“I don’t know. She came to me this morning sayin’ she wanted to go riding. Told me she was a good rider and wanted a horse with some spirit, so I saddled up Proud Warrior for her. He’s a good horse, handles well and could give her a fast ride if that’s what she wanted.”
Cody’s fast-paced walk turned into a run as he headed toward the stables. “Did she say anything? Give you any clue where she intended to go?”
Ross was having a difficult time keeping up with Cody’s long legs as he hurried along beside him. “She mentioned the box canyon and asked if the trapper’s cabin was still there.”
“Damn.” Cody paused for a moment, his brow wrinkled in thought. “The four-wheel drive won’t do me any good if I have to go up into the canyon. Saddle my horse while I grab some supplies.”
Ross went one direction and Cody went another.
Cody picked up a small first-aid kit and a cellular phone from the communications office. Next he went into the supply room and packed a large high-intensity flashlight, extra batteries and a couple of rain ponchos into saddle bags. On his way out the door he pulled two heavy jackets from the rack and wrapped them in a plastic sheet, one for him and the other for Melanie.
Cody headed his horse west, straight out across the pasture toward the foothills. He kept a wary eye on the black storm clouds moving in over the hills. He judged that maybe an hour of decent daylight was left, depending on how quickly the storm closed in around him.
He kept telling himself that Melanie was all right. Something had spooked her horse, but she was resourceful and self-sufficient. Besides, she grew up on the ranch. Even though it had been a while, she would still know her way around. If she was anywhere near the old trapper’s cabin, she would be safe.
That was what he kept telling himself. He would say the words over and over again, sometimes in his mind and sometimes out loud. It was more than just Buck’s daughter who was out there somewhere; it was the woman…
Cody could not finish the thought, did not want to finish it. He was afraid to finish it. He had been able to shove it from his mind because there was always a convenient excuse close at hand for diverting his attention to other matters. Now there were no interruptions to turn his thoughts elsewhere. Melanie Winslow was the only thing on his mind.
Raindrops splattered on the brim of his hat, first gently, then with more force. Cody reached back and extracted one of the rain ponchos from the saddlebag. It was going to be a wet evening, but he was determined not to stop until he located Melanie.
He turned north along the stream, headed toward the box canyon. Two hours had passed since it started raining, even though it seemed much longer to him. In another fifteen minutes he would be at the trapper’s cabin, and if he was lucky his search would be over. He bowed his head, allowing some of the collected water to run off his hat brim. He continued along the stream bank, trying not to dwell on the other possibilities.
Cody blinked a couple of times in an attempt to clear away the rain that partially obscured his vision. Through the gloom and wet he could make out a dim light around the edges and through the cracks of the shuttered window. The wet night air carried the smell of wood burning in the fireplace. Someone was in the cabin. The excitement built inside him as he urged his horse into a faster gait.
He jumped off his horse in front of the cabin, landing in a muddy puddle. He clasped the reins in one hand and grasped the door latch with the other. It was secured from the inside. He banged with his fist. “Melanie! Are you in there? Open up. It’s Cody.” A moment later the door opened.
“This is a surprise.” It may have been an impish grin that turned the corners of her mouth, but it was not light-hearted amusement that she had initially felt when she heard someone at the door. At the sound of Cody’s voice an immediate feeling of relief settled over her. “What are you doing here, cowboy? Did you just happen to be in the neighborhood and thought you’d stop by to say hello?”
What was at one time probably an expensive Stetson was now soaking wet, with the brim hanging low over his forehead. The bright-yellow rain poncho covered him from the shoulders almost to his knees. His jeans and boots were mud-spattered from the bottom of the poncho to the ground. To Melanie’s eyes he looked gorgeous. Before she was able to move aside so that he could come in out of the rain, he impulsively grabbed her. He pulled her outside the cabin and enfolded her in his arms as if he had not heard a word she said.
The cold rain hit against her back. His wet poncho soaked through the front of her clothes. The brim of his hat hit against her forehead as he pulled her into his embrace.
“Are you all right, Mel? You’re not hurt, are you?” He tightened his hold on her, crushing her body against his.
The way he had her head buried against his shoulder prevented her from answering him right away. Despite the cold rain that pounded down on them, a warm feeling flowed through her body.
He finally released her from his embrace but continued to grip her shoulders with his hands. He held her in front of him, his eyes telling her how much he cared, even if his words had not. At least, that was what she hoped they were saying.
A bit of a calm settled over Cody. The rain did not matter; the mud did not matter. The important thing was that she had apparently escaped unharmed. He repeated his question. “Are you okay?”
“Do you mean other than the fact that I was dry and now I’m very wet?” Melanie could not stop the teasing grin that spread across her face.
COWBOY DREAMING, a Harlequin Desire by Shawna Delacorte, has been reissued in ebook available at http://ebooks.eharlequin.com (do search for author name Shawna Delacorte). Also available at Barnes and Noble in NookBooks www.bn.com and Amazon for Kindle at www.amazon.com Information is available on my website www.shawnadelacorte.com
When Melanie Winslow returned to the Colorado ranch where she was raised, she never expected to find herself stranded in a mountain cabin with Cody Chandler. The rugged ranch manager was the answer to every daydream Melanie had ever had about strong, sexy cowboys.
But this one was real, with a kiss that made Melanie’s heart beat faster, and a smile that hinted at the most intimate things. The trouble was, the last thing Melanie intended to do was fall in love with an untamed cowboy—no matter how perfect he seemed. If only her heart felt the same way….