Sex, drugs, and country music. That was the lifestyle for Emily Kendall, a Texas girl who hit it big on the country music charts—until she found herself pregnant and battling addiction. Now out of rehab and seeking a new life for herself and her unborn child, Emily returns to her hometown of McAllister. The last thing she’s looking for is trouble, no matter how good it looks in uniform…
A widower, single father, and former Army Ranger struggling with PTSD, Sheriff EJ Cowley has his own demons to battle while keeping folks safe. The last thing he needs is a troubled celebrity speeding through town in her bright red Maserati. But when someone from Emily’s past threatens her safety and the peace of McAllister, EJ has no choice but to protect her. And soon both will learn there’s more to the other than meets the eye. And that wounded hearts can love again…
Emily refolded the two pairs and headed out to the display of jeans. As she put the pants back into their slots, she glanced around to see if anyone was close enough to see her. Her heart pounded in time with the fast beat of the song playing over the sound system as she reached the cubbyholes marked maternity. With another discreet look around, she picked out three pairs in her size and headed back to the tiny dressing room.
The jeans fit perfectly, but how the hell was she going to buy them? She refolded the pants, tucked them under her arm, and went to the shoe section. While she looked for a pair of boots, she devised a plan. If she was lucky, maybe no one would notice she’d bought maternity jeans.
“I personally like Justin boots, but I work in mine.”
She sucked in a breath at the low timbre of EJ’s voice behind her. Was he everywhere in this town? Turning with a box of boots, she smiled. “It would seem that we have something in common then. I’ve always like them, too.”
He raised a brow and a side of his mouth quirked up when he noticed the boots she’d chosen. A basic pair used mostly for riding and work. “You taking up cowboying now?”
She set the clothes she’d chosen on the bench beside her and sat to try on the boots. As she slipped off her flip-flops, she dug a pair of socks out of her purse. “Not that it’s any of your business, but I need a pair of boots to ride in.” She looked up at him with a smug smile. “Now that you know why I’m here.” She looked over his uniform. Tan polyester blend shouldn’t fit a man that sinfully well. “You’re obviously working. I want to know why you’re following me.”
He rubbed a hand over his chin and averted his gaze. “I…eh… Saw you come into the store and wanted to ask if you’d join me for coffee.”
Was he asking her out on a date? Trying hard and failing to stop her heart from speeding up at the possibility, she pulled on her socks. “I don’t drink coffee.”
“Well, then I guess you’ll have to join me for lunch.”
As she tugged on one of the boots, she looked up at him. His pewter eyes held a challenge in them. She pulled on the other one and stood. Damn, they were too tight. Ignoring the pinching of the boots, she put her hands on her hips. “Tell you what. You can drink coffee and I’ll drink tea, how does that sound? I had breakfast not too long ago.”
He glanced at her feet, then knelt down in front of her.
“What are you doing?” She took a step back, but he caught her foot.
“You look like you’re trying to stuff your feet into a shoe three sizes too small.” He squeezed around her booted foot, then glanced up at her. “Boots are supposed to fit like a glove not a vise.”
Holy hell, he looked hot down there. She couldn’t get enough air in her lungs.
EJ stood and pulled the next size off the self. “Try these.”
He was close enough that every breath she took filled her senses with his clean outdoorsy scent. How could a man smell this good?
“Are you a boot salesman as well as the sheriff?” Did that husky voice belong to her?
“I know something about boots.” He grinned, showing off straight white teeth and full kissable lips.
Stepping back, she bumped into her pile of clothes on the bench, knocking them to the floor in front of him. Before she could bend to pick them up, he knelt and gathered up a pair of the jeans. When he shifted his surprised gaze to hers, she trembled as icy fear replaced the heat of attraction in her gut.
She knelt next to him and took a deep breath. In a low tone, she said, “Yes, I’m pregnant, but I’m not ready to let it be common knowledge.”
He refolded the jeans and set them on the bench. “Then your secret is safe with me. How were you planning to buy these? The clerk would see what they are.”
She set a folded pair on top of the one he’d placed on the bench and shifted to sit beside them. “I know. I was hoping I could distract her enough that she wouldn’t notice what she was ringing through.”
He leaned against the shelf of boots behind him. “Not a half-bad plan.”
Needing to do something besides stare at him, she lifted one of the boots out of the box he’d given her and pulled it on. A much better fit. She slipped into the other boot.
“You could let me buy them.”
To Purchase Heartland, go:
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heartland-sara-walter-ellwood/1122713773?ean=9781601834911
About our guest: Although Sara Walter Ellwood has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her contemporary westerns. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia. Sara Walter Ellwood is a multi-published and international Amazon bestselling author of the anthology set Cowboy Up. She also dabbles in the paranormal genre with her The Hunter’s Dagger Series, which was previously published under the pen name Cera duBois.
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