LUKE’S RUNAWAY BRIDE

Luke's Runaway BrideKidnap victim – or runaway bride? What would people think of her, Jenny Eriksen fumed. After all, she’d disappeared from her own engagement ball! And now she was trapped in a tumbleweed of a town, facing down Luke McLintock, a man with a mission, who’d stolen her away from her fiancé – body, soul… and heart!

Luke McLintock couldn’t afford to fail. Yes, he’d “kidnapped” his boyhood friend’s fiancé – but only because Jenny Eriksen was the key to a little boy’s future. But beneath the wide Western skies Jenny had bloomed beyond her high-society restraints and Luke was wondering how he would ever be able to let her go!

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“Bridges is comfortable in her western setting, and her characters’ humorous sparring make this boisterous mix of romance and skullduggery an engrossing read.” Publishers Weekly

“…one of the best writers of Americana romance today.” Interludes

“…exceptionally good dialogue.” Romance Reviews Today


Excerpt from LUKE’S RUNAWAY BRIDE

Copyright © Kate Bridges. All rights reserved.

Taken from one of their first encounters:

Wyoming Territory, 1873

Still wearing his sheepskin jacket buttoned to the top, Jenny pushed herself from the straw. Was the train slowing down? It was rocking differently beneath her. While she stretched her arms to shake off her sleep, Luke sprang to his feet in the opposite corner of the boxcar. She started. With his cowboy boots pounding on the floor planks, his spurs jangling, he banged his fists on the wall to signal his man on the other side. A thud echoed in response.

Luke returned to his magnificent blood bay. Sunlight glistened off its red flanks. “Morning,” Luke said as he saddled his mount. Was he talking to her or the stallion? She didn’t answer.

Trying to ignore his masculine presence, she ran her fingers through her twisted hair, yanking on the knots. She got it into some degree of order, then flattened it on the top. Removing several of the hairpins, she did a makeshift job of tying it into a beaver tail. It would have to do.

From beneath her lashes, she couldn’t resist stealing another glance at Luke. Still in his black denim pants, he’d changed his shirt and donned a knee-length leather coat. He looked almost respectable.

Watching him work, she noticed how skillful he was with animals. His movements emphasized his forceful shoulders, slim hips and muscular thighs. Any woman would think he and his mount were striking, standing side by side. She shouldn’t feel guilty for thinking it herself, about the power and muscle in both man and beast.

The man was a beast, she decided. He should be shackled and chained. He would be once they caught him, she realized with satisfaction.

While he adjusted his saddlebags, she watched his long fingers at work. If what he told her last night about his father were true… What kind of family did he come from? No wonder he was all scarred up. It must come from breaking the law, just like his father.

“Are we getting off here?”

“Yeah.” Dark stubble shadowed his jaw. He needed a shave. If he’d lend her a straight blade, she’d give him one he’d never forget.

“Is this the Cheyenne station?”

“No, it’s the stop before.”

She sat taller, her voice sharp. “I thought you said we’re going to Cheyenne.”

“We are. But the last thing I need is two women hollering murder in the middle of the station.” He worked quickly to buckle straps. “We’ll go the rest of the distance by horse.”

Ride a horse? By herself? She didn’t know how. She’d never tried. Her throat constricted. “Am I supposed to ride the other horse?”

Luke glanced at the sorrel. “That one’s not mine. I’m not a horse thief.”

She jumped to her feet and brushed straw off her dress. “How honorable,” she said with a shake of her head. “You steal women but not horses.” ….

*****

Taken from a passage much later in the book:

When Jenny rubbed her arms again from the chill, Luke removed his coat and pressed it around her shoulders. “Here, take this.”

She tugged the corners close and he smiled at the baggy fit.

Their eyes met. “You always wind up alone,” she said gently.

“That’s how I like it.”

“Oh,” she said humbly, stepping back, “would you prefer I left–”

“No,” he responded. He ached to reach out and touch her, but instead, slid his hands into his pockets.

When she leaned over the railing beside him, he inhaled her musky, womanly scent. How could he resist her?

“You do everything alone,” she whispered. “Even with your little boy Adam, you’re trying to tackle it by yourself.”

He didn’t answer.

Crickets chirped. The night became still. Then a breeze picked up and lifted strands of her hair. She mesmerized him. “Do you ever accept help from your friends, just because they’d like to give it?”

“I try not to.”

“Why?”

“It’s simpler that way.”

“Is simpler always better?” Her voice caught. Her eyes glistened and her mouth beckoned.

“Not always.” Unable to stop himself, he reached up with one hand and untangled her hair. He felt her tremble at his touch. His fingers grazed the soft spot at the back her neck, and at the contact, fire raced along his skin. His voice was raw and husky. “It would be simpler to walk away from you right now.”

(…continued…)

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