Excerpt

“I want the key, marshal,” her breathy little voice rasped in his ear.  “The key to the handcuffs.  Give it to me now, and you’ll be free to walk back to town.”

“And if I don’t?”

“You can give me the key now, or I can take it off your dead body.  It’s all the same to me.”

Matt sighed.  “You’re not much of a bluffer, Jessie.  If you were capable of murdering me, you’d have done it by now.”

“You don’t know that for sure.  And I wouldn’t have to kill you.  I could hurt you so badly that you’d wish you were dead.” 

“One shot would bring those vigilantes right back here.”

“Not fast enough to catch me.  Now stop dithering and give me that key!”  The Peacemaker jabbed harder against his ribs.

“You know where it is.”  Matt’s muscles tensed like coiled springs.  “If you want the key, just reach into my pocket and get it.  Go on.”

Caught off guard, she shifted against him to reach the pocket.  For the space of a heartbeat she was vulnerable.  That was all the time Matt needed.

Twisting sharply, he made his move.  His body exploded upward, hands flashing to catch her wrists.  She gave a little cry as the force of his weight struck her, flipping her sideways onto her back, with his weight above her.

She lay on her back, glaring up at him with those deep lilac eyes.  Her hat had tumbled off, revealing a spill of night black curls, but the bandanna remained in place over her nose and mouth.  “Get off me!” she sputtered.  “Let go of me now, or I’ll scream!”

“Go ahead.”  Using his weight to pin her against the slope, he locked one hand around her wrists while his other hand pried the Peacemaker from her fingers.  To control her hands, he had to straddle her impossibly tiny waist with his knees and lean forward. The body beneath him felt small but voluptuous through the baggy denim overalls.  The pressure of her jutting breasts against his belly sent waves of erotic awareness ripping down into his loins.  To his chagrin, Matt realized he was fully aroused.  He swore under his breath, hoping she wouldn’t feel him against her and get the wrong idea.  He liked his ladies in satin and perfume—more important, he liked them willing.  And right now, the only things he wanted from Jessie Hammond were her gun, her horse and her cooperation.

She had stopped struggling and gone rigid beneath him.  She knew, all right—probably wanted to kill him for what he couldn’t help.  The sooner he got off her the better.  But there was one temptation, heaven save him, that Matt was unable to resist.

He had to see that face.

Releasing the hammer on the Peacemaker, Matt thrust it into his belt.  Then, still pinioning her wrists, he used his free hand to tug away the red bandanna, revealing the lower part of her face.

He stifled a reflexive gasp.

If Frank Hammond’s sister been as plain as mud, he thought, it would have made everything easier.  But she was far from plain.  And as Matt filled his gaze with the sight of her heart-shaped face, lush lips and straight little nose, crowned by those unearthly violet eyes, he knew that he was in danger of tumbling over the edge of reason.  The heavenly powers were too prudent to have created such a face—only the devil could have done it.

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