The Promise of Love
Read an excerpt:
“Unlock that door, Betsy Mae. I aim to talk to you now. Open up, I said.”
Betsy Mae Twigg squinted against the painful glare of the overhead light. The foggy bathroom mirror hid the worst of the damage, but she knew her left eye—already swollen almost completely shut—would be black and blue by morning. Carefully, she wiggled her jaw back and forth.
Good. It worked. Hurt like hell but at least it wasn't broken.
“Come outta there, I said. Now.”
She ran the cold water and soaked a wash cloth under the flow. The pounding on the door made her head hurt even worse and she slanted a quick glare at the solid oak separating her from the best looking rodeo clown this side of Durango.
Too bad he was an abusive jerk.
Wringing the cold washcloth until it no longer dripped, she carefully folded it and held it to her throbbing jaw.
Relief wasn’t instant but it definitely dulled the worst of the pain.
“Betsy Mae, you open that door now or I am gone for good this time. Gone and not comin’ back. You hear me?”
Hell, she’d have to be deaf not to. She opened her mouth to tell Frank exactly what she thought of him, thought better of it, and flushed the toilet instead.
The pounding stopped. A final loud thunk rattled the door in its frame. Probably due to contact with the toe of a worn-out cowboy boot.
A loud crash outside sent a crack racing through the steamy bathroom mirror. That had to be the door to the motel room slamming shut. The deep rumble she recognized for sure—Frank's old Chevy truck revving up in the parking lot.
Tires squealed for what seemed like forever. She almost laughed at how much rubber the damned clown left as he spun out of her life—for the second time. Once again, she’d pulled a really stupid move. The fog slowly cleared from the cracked mirror. Betsy Mae stared at her battered face. “You dumb shit. Aren't you ever gonna learn?”
How the hell was she going to convince Will and Annie to let her come back home.
Mark Connor squinted against the glare of early morning sunlight careening off a high rise apartment window. He checked his watch and glanced once more at the matched set of Hartmann luggage piled at his feet.
A month’s rent for his first apartment had cost less than the carry-on bag alone. How the hell had his life come to this?
“So, you're really leaving, 'eh Mr. Connor?” The burly doorman added one last suitcase to Mark's stack. “Never thought I'd see the day you'd trade in those fancy loafers of yours.” He slapped Mark almost affectionately on the shoulder, and then took up his post in the foyer.
Mark sighed. What did it say about a man that the only person seeing him off as he made a life-altering move like this—quitting a long-time job, selling the once-coveted Manhattan apartment and giving up everything familiar—was the doorman to his apartment building?
Mark glanced down at the scuffed toes of his cowboy boots poking out beneath faded denim jeans. He’d considered showing up dressed like this for his last day as editorial director, but figured the publishing world wasn't ready for the shock. He thought of the simplistic excuse he’d given his publisher when he’d handed in his resignation...that sometimes a man just knows when it’s time for a change.
He hoped like hell he knew what he was talking about, but damn it all! He was almost forty and his life was a book filled with blank pages. There had to be more.
He let out a long gust of air then glanced east where sunlight rose through the filtered haze of another Manhattan morning. Then he turned his eyes to the west.
To possibilities. Possibilities he’d never dreamed of until a couple of years ago, when he’d spent two of the most amazing weeks of his life at the Columbine Camp dude ranch in Colorado. Nothing had been the same since. New York suddenly felt monochromatic and quiet, while his memories of Colorado were high def color and surround sound.
The place called to him as nothing had ever called before, and the time was perfect for a change. His favorite author, the one he’d started his career with, was retiring. Michelle Garrison had happily chosen motherhood and life with a cowboy—in Colorado, of all places. An omen? Maybe.
Mark slowly shook his head and flashed a grin at the doorman. “I’m not getting any younger, Lester. There’s a lot I still want to do.”
“Yeah. I know.” The big man laughed. “Places to go, people to see. I understand, Mr. Connor.” Lester shrugged one massive shoulder and grinned. “It's just not easy to picture you on a horse, if you catch my drift.”
“You might be surprised, Les.” Mark glanced up as the deliveryman from the car dealership pulled up in front of the building and carefully parked Mark’s brand new, shiny red Jeep Wrangler. Mark grabbed a couple of his suitcases while Lester helped with the rest. “Very, very surprised.”
Read Dime Store Cowboy, along with wonderful stories by Lori Foster, Sylvia Day, Erin McCarthy, Jamie Denton and Kathy Love.
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