“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
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.