CHAPTER ONE



Brandy’s trigger finger twitched. A bead of sweat tickled its way down her backbone. She was inexperienced, off duty, and miles from her truck, which sat near a trailhead in the mountainous wilderness of northern Idaho, and the intruder she held at gunpoint probably had seventy muscled pounds on her.

She studied the cowboy’s sweet-as-honey, wicked-as-sin smile through the sights of her department-issued Remington semiautomatic rifle. From his pose on the rickety porch of the old log cabin, he assessed her right back. His full lips tugged across Crest-white teeth, exposing a small but sexy gap between his central incisors.

He tipped his head toward the jimmied-open window. “I know this looks bad, Ma’am, but I can explain,” he drawled out “Ma’am” again.

“Deputy Sheriff Brandy Wilcox. Keep your hands where I can see them.”

“Brandy?” Impervious to the deputy sheriff title, he straightened and angled his dusty black Stetson over his forehead so the brim shadowed his cool-water eyes. “Name like that could make a man real thirsty.”

Brandy had heard just about every come-on in the book, but never from a trespasser on the business end of her rifle. She calculated his over-confident grin, the twinkle in his eyes, the tilt of his head—blond curly hair no less. A sensual package that promised a ride on the wild side—if one was so inclined. Which she was not.

Yet something primal tugged deep in her stomach.

Bracing the Remington more firmly against her shoulder, she steadied her aim and revved up her grit. This guy was banking on his wild smile a little too heavily. What he needed was some taming.

“Okay, drop ‘em.”

When he lowered his arms, she said, “Not your hands, your pants.”

For several beats, he stared at her like he hadn’t heard.

“Lose your Levis,” she urged again. She had no desire to shoot him, but she didn’t have handcuffs on her and she wasn’t about to chance his getting away. If it came to a footrace, his long muscular legs could outrun her in a heartbeat. But he couldn’t get far stomping barefoot in his skivvies through the mountainous shale-scabbed terrain. Not that making a break for it was something she intended to let him try.

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