Dalton's Undoing by RaeAnne Thayne - Romance>Contemporary
He was known as a major player who'd left a swath of broken hearts across the Teton Valley. Yet when single mother Jenny Boyer saw the tenderness in Seth Dalton's eyes when he looked at her children -- not to mention her -- it was impossible for her to believe it was all a game.
She was new to this small town, a school principal who needed to be respected. The last man she should be getting involved with was the Hunk of Cold Creek! But every time Seth came near, Jenny could feel herself falling...like all of the women who'd come before her. So why did she hope that her story would have a different ending -- as in, happily ever after?
Some little punk was stealing his car.
Seth Dalton stood on the sidewalk in front of his mother's house, the puppy leashes in his hand forgotten, and watched three years of sweat, passion and hard work take off down the road with a flash of tail lights and the squeal of rubber.
Son of a bitch.
He stood looking after it for maybe fifteen seconds, trying to comprehend how anybody in Podunk Pine Gulch would have the stones to steal his 1969 Matador red GTO convertible.
Who in town could possibly be stupid enough to dream he could get more than a block or two without somebody sitting up and taking notice that Seth wasn't the one behind the wheel and raising the alarm?
Just how far did the bastard think he would get? Not very, if Seth had anything to say about it. He'd worked too hard on his baby to let some sleazebag drive her away.
"Come on, kids. Fun's over." He jerked the leashes, grateful the dogs weren't in midpee, and dragged the two brindle Australian herder pups up the sidewalk and back into the house.
Inside, the members of his family were crowded around his mother's dining-room table playing one of their cutthroat games of Risk.
Looked like Jake and Maggie were kicking butt. No surprise there, with his middle brother's conniving brain and his wife's military experience. The Dalton clan was in its usual teams, Jake and Maggie against his mother and stepfather, with his oldest brother, Wade, and wife, Caroline, making up the third team.
That was the very reason he'd volunteered to take the puppies out for their business in the first place. It was a little lonely being the solitary player on his side of the table. Usually he teamed up with Natalie -- but it was a little disheartening to find his nine-year-old niece made a more cutthroat general than he. She was in the family room watching a video with her brothers, anyway.
The only one who looked up from strategizing was his mother.
"Back so soon? That was fast!" Marjorie crooned the words, not to him but to the puppies -- or her half of the dynamic duo anyway. She picked up the birthday gift he'd given her and nuzzled the little male pup.
"You're so good. Aren't you so good? Yes, you are. Come give Mommy a birthday kiss."
"Don't have time, sorry," Seth said drily.
He ignored the face she made at him and reached for the keys to Wade's pickup from the breakfast bar. "I'm taking your truck," he called on his way out the door.
Wade looked up, a frown of concentration on his tough features. "You're what?"
He paused at the door. "Don't have time to explain, but I need your truck. I'll be back. Mom, keep an eye on Lucy for me."
"I just washed that truck," his brother growled.
"Don't bring it back all muddy and skanky."
He wasn't even going to dignify that with a response, he decided, as he headed down the stairs. He didn't have the time, even if he could have come up with a sharp response.
Wade's truck rumbled to life, smooth and well-tuned like everything in Seth's oldest brother's life. He threw it in gear and roared off in the direction the punk had taken his car.
If he were stealing a car, which road would he take? Pine Gulch didn't offer a lot of escape routes. Turning south would lead him through the houses and small business district of Pine Gulch. To the east was the rugged western slope of the Teton Mountains, which left him north and west.
He took a chance and opted to head north, where the quiet road stretched past ranches and farms with little traffic to notice someone in a red muscle car.
He ought to just call the...