Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: October 13, 2017
Crow Reservation, Montana
Brandon Winchester, aka Bronco, rapped at the door of the address his boss, Bert Blackfeather, had texted him that morning with instructions to get there pronto. Pushing the big bike as hard as he dared, it had taken him most of the day to get from Colorado to the Crow Reservation in Montana. Once there, he had to navigate his way through the maze of streets, pick-up trucks, SUVs, horseback riders, kids kicking a soccer ball, clusters of adults, and a yappy little dog determined to pursue him for the last mile. Saddle sore, tired, and hungry, he thought about his breakfast back in Denver, and his stomach growled.
Much earlier that day, he’d been sitting in a restaurant, the kind he preferred with three glass sides and the kitchen at his back. On a much needed break between cases, Bronco had been inhaling a mountain of sausages and pancakes dripping with syrup, occasionally slipping a link to his whining friend in his mesh-topped leather backpack. When his phone buzzed and Bert’s number popped up, he knew it was urgent. Sticky fingers smearing prints on the screen, he had finally gotten the phone up to his ear.
Bert’s voice boomed. “We’ve got a situation, and you’re the closest guy I’ve got in the region.”
“What’s the assignment?”
His boss barked, “When you get there you’ll find out.”
Bert never snapped at his agents. Calm and cool under pressure, the big man’s voice held a note of panic.
Something was wrong. Dreadfully wrong.
“Hey, man.” Bronco waved at the server for the check. “I’m not trying to give you a hard time. Just trying to figure out what you need me to take care of.”
“I’m texting you the address. Drop whatever you’re doing and get out there. Call me on my secure line when you arrive.”
Bronco licked his fingers and sighed. He’d been hoping to break the long dry spell created by his last two assignments. So much for asking that cute little blonde in the next booth who’d been flirting with him for the last thirty minutes if she wanted to go for a ride.
“Okay, boss, I’m on it.”
“Good. And by the way, don’t take no for an answer.”
He stared at the silent phone. Don’t take no for an answer? What was that supposed to mean? Mounting his bike and kicking it into high gear, he guessed he’d find out soon enough.
Bronco now stood squinting in the late afternoon sun, knocking at a door with no bell, and waiting for a response. Dogs barked and a window curtain twitched. Good. Someone was home. He adjusted his pack, leaned his head back, closed his eyes, and said, “Any time now.” As the words slid out of his mouth, he heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun being pumped.
He raised his hands. “Don’t shoot. I’m unarmed.” Turning slowly to face his fate, his jaw fell open, and his heart rate kicked up a notch from being on the wrong end of a shotgun or from the weapon holder’s looks, he wasn’t sure. A raven haired Amazon in a tank top, jeans, and metal tipped cowboy boots held the Mossberg 500 in a perfect military stance. Long strands of hair blew across her face in the hot breeze. A large purple bruise bloomed on her left cheek. She squinted her dark brown eyes and gave him a laser-beam once over from his dusty black boots to his sweat soaked do- rag.
“Who are you, and what do you want?”
If he hadn’t been so intent on not getting killed, he would have spent more time staring at those full, luscious, kissable lips and thinking about how she would taste. As it was, he guessed he had less than a minute to respond before getting blasted into the next county.
“Bronco Winchester. Bert Blackfeather sent me.”
Shaking her head, she lowered her weapon, a grimace pulling those pretty lips downward. “Tell him I said no.”
“We have a problem. My boss specifically ordered me not to take no for an answer.”
She scowled, and he could have sworn sparks flew from her eyes. “Asshat.”
She pointed at the door. “Go ahead. It’s not locked. I don’t need a security system.”
Bronco stepped aside. “Ladies first.” Just as the woman passed him to enter the house, his backpack shifted and wiggled. Not a good time. The weight bounced up and down and paws thumped his back in response.
She stood in the doorway and waved him inside. Three large, mixed-breed dogs greeted them with howls and wagging tails.
He chuckled. “These are your watch dogs?” His laugh caught in his throat when she gestured and the pack stood and began to growl and raise their hackles. “Just kidding. Good doggies.”
Another hand signal and the snarling Cujo wannabes sat and wagged their tails. He could have sworn they were smirking at him. “I stand corrected.”
“Yes, you do. And yes, you will be.” After retrieving the chambered shells, she placed the weapon in a rack at the side of the door. “We’re going to call my darling brother and get this little misunderstanding straightened out.”
Bronco’s tongue untangled, “Your what?”
She snorted, “Let me guess. He didn’t tell you I’m his sister.”
He shook his head, and the backpack quaked and emitted a low growl.
The dogs took note, three heads swiveling in a choreographed move that would have broken the Internet, had he gotten it on video. The largest dog, a German shepherd mix, stood on his hind legs like a human and stared at the now dancing rucksack.
“Whatever you’ve got in your pack, you’d better let it out before my dogs knock you down.”
“Probably not a great idea.” The beast on his back yowled. Bad timing, my friend.
Hand on her hip, Amazon woman stared at him and waited in silence.
Bronco sighed. “Okay. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You can come out now, Gaucho.” He set the pack on a chair and unzipped the mesh top. An enormous harness-wearing spotted cat with long tufts at the tips of his black ears launched himself out of the bag, landed on his shoulder, teetered for a nanosecond, and then wrapped himself around Bronco’s neck. The end of a long leash rested in Bronco’s hand. Loud purring commenced—and the dogs erupted in howling.
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