Excerpt from The Lawman of Silver Creek
Fall 1891 Fir Mountain, Oregon
Energy crackled in the air. Wind howled, and thunder roared, loud and intense. Clouds obscured the sky, darkening the midday hour, as rain streamed from the heavens.
“You shouldn't be here.”
Claire McConkey smiled in response to his gruff, inhospitable greeting and moved closer. “Why?”
Lightening streaked across the dull greyness above, illuminating her finely boned, heart shaped face. Dark brown hair blackened by water clung in tangles. The sight tugged at his deep need to protect her, but he fought it off with cold, hard reason. Another man might think the petite woman who stood only chest high before him, slender to the point that a stiff wind might blow her away, needed coddled. Her delicate appearance misled many. Sheriff Matthew Marston knew better.
Matt stepped out on the covered porch of his family’s log cabin. She didn’t yield ground. Their bodies brushed, and awareness flared. He closed the door behind him to keep her out of his refuge, sidestepping to put some space between them.
“Go home,” he ordered bluntly, his tone firm.
As always, eyes the same rich color as her hair mesmerized him. Claire never veiled emotion. When laughter sparkled in the depths of her eyes, her delight was infectious. If angered, one look would scorch whoever had earned her ill humor. He’d never had to guess what she was feeling, until now. His weight shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other. Her gaze shone with an intensity that unsettled him.
“But I’m soaked, chilled through. Won’t you ask me in?”
“No,” He was certain she was up to something, playing with him. Her soft request only hardened his resolve.
An eyebrow arched at his swift denial. “You’d let me catch my death walking in the storm?”
His eyes narrowed. Matt studied Claire for a long moment, jaw clenched, suspicion high. Mere weeks had passed since the woman who’d held his heart from the time she’d worn ponytails and he chased frogs had rejected him. She’d inflicted a wound that festered, refusing to heal. The memory haunted his quiet moments. He couldn’t understand how she could kiss him with soul searing passion one minute and then with her next breath calmly tell him that their wedding was off.