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The last person Abby Crawford wants to face down is country music superstar Seth Kendall. Last time she did, she flat-out lied so he’d go to Nashville without her. She’s never understood why their mutual best friend proposed, but she went with it so her baby wouldn’t be fatherless. Now she’s a divorced mother of a teenager, and secretly Seth’s biggest fan.
Seth is home in McAllister, Texas for his father’s funeral…and a chance to meet the daughter he’s never known. He’s willing to face the music of his own making and admit he’s known about his little girl all along. For fifteen years he’s kept his distance because Abby told him to follow his dreams without her, insisting she didn’t love him. But now he won’t leave until he knows his daughter and she knows him, even if it means facing the woman who broke his heart for good.
Confessing she’s lied about her daughter’s paternity all these years won’t be easy for Abby, especially with her ex blackmailing her to keep the secret. And Seth doesn’t know the hardest truth of all: Every love song he plays on his guitar still plucks her heartstrings.
Seth’s soulful voice spoke of love and loss, and she got lost in the words. He seduced the entire room with his whiskey-smooth voice, and he pulled at the part of her soul that had always belonged to him. He couldn’t be more than a memory, but she sniffed at the burn in her sinuses as she wished Seth Kendall could be more.
Only a Memory wound down to the mournful accompaniment of the steel guitar, and he captured her gaze over the distance, singing only to her.
He’d written that song about her! Being thrown at full gallop couldn’t have jolted her harder. She gasped and leaned back in her chair.
Still dazed by the revelation, she couldn’t concentrate on the final four songs he performed. How many of his other songs were about her? The thought rattled her. She ordered another beer, and still her throat burned. Her mouth was dry.
Why hadn’t she figured it out sooner? Only a Memory was one of her favorite songs.
Probably because it resonated with her about him too.
The set finished, and he thanked the band for their backup. He walked off the stage to another standing ovation, rowdy applause, whistles and catcalls. Seth regained his chair beside her and took a long draw on a glass of water a waitress had brought him.
Mischief glimmered in his green eyes as he grinned. “So you just now figured it out?”
“I never realized that song was about me.”
He sipped his water and watched her. “A few of my songs are about you.”
She didn’t want to consider the possibility she’d inspired any of his songs. Most of his love songs were about lost or unrequited love. What did he really want from her?
She had to get away from him. Had to escape or she’d do something stupid and destroy her family. There was no doubt she wanted him, missed him, was lonely, and she was drunk. An extremely dangerous combination.
“I need to go home.” She wobbled to her feet and took off through the crowd toward the exit.
She didn’t stop, but rushed out the swinging doors.
At the door of her Silverado, he caught up and took her arm. “You aren’t in any condition to drive. Where’s your friend?”
She shook her head. “She’s going home with–with her boyfriend.” He was right; she was too drunk to drive home. Tears threatened to fall, and she swallowed her pride as she fell into his arms. “Please, take me home.”
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Gabriel McKenna is living the dream. A rising country music star he’s no stranger to fame, money, or beautiful women. Despite his bad boy image, he’s also got a heart of gold, and when his ten-year-old brother is orphaned, he wants to take him under his wing. But the judge on the case is less than impressed by Gabe’s reputation and awards custody to the grandfather Gabe knows first hand is abusive.
Michaela Finn is no stranger to heartache. Years ago she was engaged to Gabe McKenna, but two days before their wedding he ran off to Nashville with a female talent scout. Now Gabe is back in her life with an insane plan. Marry him, so he can get custody of his younger brother. Michaela can’t bear to think of any child being hurt, but she’s just not sure her heart can carry a happy tune when Gabe is playing lead…
“Okay.” Michaela breathed the word.
“You’ll marry me?” Gabe didn’t bother hiding his surprise.
She drained her glass with a wince. “Damn, I’ve never liked champagne.” Michaela headed for the fridge. “Do you have any beer in here?”
He was more uncertain now than he’d been before he started thinking about this crazy idea. “Yeah. Lone Star. Get me one, too.” When she turned with the longneck bottles in hand, he chuckled. “A two hundred dollar bottle of fine French bubbly, but we’d rather drink Texas beer.”
“I’m a country girl, Gabe. You’ve always known that.” She handed him one of the
bottles. “I’ve actually been thinking the same thing–that if I were married the judge would’ve given me Jesse. But the only man I can think of is Cash Nelson.” She twisted the top off the beer and took a long draw. “But he would read too much into the agreement. I never considered you. Hell, the whole town knows I can’t even stand you. How is this gonna work?”
Gabe didn’t like the way his heart pinched at her words. He tossed the cap from his beer beside hers on the island top and took a drink. “We’ll have to convince them otherwise. We have a history and we’ve been working together”–he grinned as he remembered the custody hearing– “or against each other for weeks now. Everyone knows there’s a fine line between love and hate.”
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Sex, drugs, and country music. That was the lifestyle for Emily Kendall, a Texas girl who hit it big on the country music charts—until she found herself pregnant and battling addiction. Now out of rehab and seeking a new life for herself and her unborn child, Emily returns to her hometown of McAllister. The last thing she’s looking for is trouble, no matter how good it looks in uniform…
A widower, single father, and former Army Ranger struggling with PTSD, Sheriff EJ Cowley has his own demons to battle while keeping folks safe. The last thing he needs is a troubled celebrity speeding through town in her bright red Maserati. But when someone from Emily’s past threatens her safety and the peace of McAllister, EJ has no choice but to protect her. And soon both will learn there’s more to the other than meets the eye. And that wounded hearts can love again…
Was he asking her out on a date? Trying hard and failing to stop her heart from speeding up at the possibility, she pulled on her socks. “I don’t drink coffee.”
“Well, then I guess you’ll have to join me for lunch.”
As she tugged on one of the boots, she looked up at him. His pewter eyes held a challenge in them. She pulled on the other one and stood. Damn, they were too tight. Ignoring the pinching of the boots, she put her hands on her hips. “Tell you what. You can drink coffee and I’ll drink tea, how does that sound? I had breakfast not too long ago.”
He glanced at her feet, then knelt down in front of her.
“What are you doing?” She took a step back, but he caught her foot.
“You look like you’re trying to stuff your feet into a shoe three sizes too small.” He squeezed around her booted foot, then glanced up at her. “Boots are supposed to fit like a glove not a vise.”
Holy hell, he looked hot down there. She couldn’t get enough air in her lungs.
EJ stood and pulled the next size off the self. “Try these.”
He was close enough that every breath she took filled her senses with his clean outdoorsy scent. How could a man smell this good?
“Are you a boot salesman as well as the sheriff?” Did that husky voice belong to her?
“I know something about boots.” He grinned, showing off straight white teeth and full kissable lips.
Stepping back, she bumped into her pile of clothes on the bench, knocking them to the floor in front of him. Before she could bend to pick them up, he knelt and gathered up a pair of the jeans. When he shifted his surprised gaze to hers, she trembled as icy fear replaced the heat of attraction in her gut.
She knelt next to him and took a deep breath. In a low tone, she said, “Yes, I’m pregnant, but I’m not ready to let it be common knowledge.”
He refolded the jeans and set them on the bench. “Then your secret is safe with me. How were you planning to buy these? The clerk would see what they are.”
She set a folded pair on top of the one he’d placed on the bench and shifted to sit beside them. “I know. I was hoping I could distract her enough that she wouldn’t notice what she was ringing through.”
He leaned against the shelf of boots behind him. “Not a half-bad plan.”
Needing to do something besides stare at him, she lifted one of the boots out of the box he’d given her and pulled it on. A much better fit. She slipped into the other boot.
“You could let me buy them.”
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Although Sara Walter Ellwood has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her contemporary westerns. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia. Sara Walter Ellwood is a multi-published and international Amazon bestselling author of the anthology set Cowboy Up. She also dabbles in the paranormal genre with her The Hunter’s Dagger Series, which was previously published under the pen name Cera duBois.