Abilene 1873. Bounty hunter Jack Skull is on the trail of a killer working the old Abilene Trail, tracking him north from Texas to Kansas. Jack has been tracking him through the dust and the desolation of lonely miles, determined to catch the man who kills pretty, lonely women, women who fall under the spell of a man's lying promises. Jack rides into Abilene, a hard man on a cold trail, and Abilene, a town grown peaceful since the herds have moved west, just wants him gone. Jack looks like trouble, and Jack is trouble for Anne, who takes one look at him and falls hard. The trouble with Jack is, he knows he's no good for Anne. The trouble with Anne is, she wants what's no good for her. Anne is tired of living such a careful, proper life. Anne wants a taste of the kind of rugged danger that Jack represents. Jack, a drifter, wants the brand of home and family that Anne is sick to death of. They've got nothing in common, but the trouble is, they're hungry for each others' kisses. With a murderer on the loose and Jack distracted by Anne, it could be a kiss to die for. A Romance Writer's of America Rita Finalist book.
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The Texas wind was blowing hard and cold, but he didn't care. All he cared about was that little girl in his sights; she was a woman full grown, but slight, like a girl, with red hair the color of ripe pumpkins hanging down her back. The wind blew her hair hard, making strands of it whip around her head like straw in a cyclone. She kept pulling at it, tugging those wild strings of hair down with her white hands until she held them like a bouquet. Only one reason for a woman to wear her hair loose on a day of such wind; she wanted to catch a man's eye. She'd caught his. He'd seen her before. This game she was playing with him was an old one and he let her lead him around in it, knowing it built her confidence to have him chase after her. Knowing it made her sure of herself. Knowing that soon she'd do something reckless. And he'd be right there when she did. He'd give her what she was asking for. Maybe even today. He got hard thinking of it, thinking of her under his hands, soft and willing. Her mouth telling him yes when he wrapped his arms around her and asked her to marry him. That's what she was wanting from him, a proposal of marriage, and that's what he'd give her. That, and a few dozen kisses. But she'd be getting more than kisses from him. A whole lot more. He knew exactly what she wanted. Same thing they all wanted. And he was more than happy to oblige. He was nothing if not accommodating. She was a pretty little thing, her hair so bright against the milk white of her hands. She had a spray of freckles across her knuckles that about matched the color of her hair. She was smiling at him, her eyes blue and round with excitement. He'd arranged this meeting with her yesterday, as she was walking out of church with her folks. He'd whispered to her as she'd passed, her head down as she walked behind her ma, and she hadn't answered. But here she was. Her folks didn't know about him, not yet. They'd know soon enough. Once she agreed to marry him, they'd know it all. "You're a pretty little girl," he said, closing the distance between them. "I'm not a little girl," she huffed, letting loose of her hair. It rose up in the air and twisted, writhing and hot against the blue of the sky. "Is that why you came today? To prove to me you aren't so little?" "Is that why you asked me out here? To make sport of me?" She turned her back on him in a sulk that begged to be petted out of her. He accommodated her, giving her just what she wanted from him. He knew everything about this game they were playing. He stroked down the wild tangle of her hair, holding the length of it in his fist. It was cool and smooth across the back of his hand. "Your hair's like slick fire," he said, pressing up against her. "Is your mouth the same?" She turned in his arms, her hair wrapping around her throat and breasts like a red silk cord. She wanted to give in, but couldn't. He was moving too fast. "You gonna make me beg for it?" he said on a whisper. "Would you?" she asked back, raising her eyes to his. "Nah"—he grinned, lifting up her face—"I'm gonna make you beg. More fun that way." He kissed her then, liking the smallness of her pressed against him. Her mouth was like fire, after he had tutored her some. It was her first kiss. She acted as if she liked it fine. She was pressed up against him, her breasts small and hard and high, and her arms wrapped around him. She was holding nothing back, which was just how he liked it. "You beggin' yet?" he breathed against her throat. That red hair of hers was still wrapped around her, so hot against the white of her throat. "No, you'd better," she breathed roughly, "you'd better—" He cut off her air with a kiss that had her hanging on to his belt for...