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Monday Puzzler > Monday Puzzler - 17 August, 2015

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message 1: by Kritika (new)

Kritika | 40 comments Around midnight, she gave up trying to quilt. While she dressed for bed, thin bricks heated by the fire. In her gown, Heroine carefully wrapped each brick and stuffed it beneath the covers near the bottom of her bed. Then she jumped in bed, laughing at her own attempts to keep warm.
The wind rattled the windows along the back of the apartment even more than usual, with a promise of snow.
Heroine poked her head out from beneath the quilts. She listened. The alley behind her shop sometimes sounded like a wind tunnel, dragging a howling winter into the shadows. The wooden frame of the shop below groaned. Somewhere boards popped as they shifted.
She slipped back under the blankets, hoping her breath would warm the space between the sheets.
Just as her icy toes thawed, thanks to the hot bricks, the back door rattled. The sound was muffled by a towel she'd placed to keep out the draft, but she thought she heard the creak of the door handle.
Heroine hesitated, weighing fear against being cold. The Colt rested on the dresser not three feet away, but the journey would cost her the little body heat she'd managed to trap beneath the covers.
She told herself no one would try to break in tonight. It was too cold. In the years she'd lived alone above the shop, no one had ever tried to break in. Once a drunk fell into the front windows downstairs, but he hadn't intended to enter. This was a quiet little town most of the time where folks felt safe. Crime rarely paid a call.
But what better time than tonight, with the wind blowing and no one brave enough to investigate a scream?
At the third rattle of the door, Heroine jumped from the bed and ran for the Colt. As her hand touched the handle of the gun, a cold wind barrelled through her apartment. The back door swung wide open, clamouring against the wall.
Heroine held the weapon in both hands and faced the wind. She might freeze, but she'd protect to the death what was hers.
A tall figure in a dark wool coat stood before her wearing a hat low, blocking his face from view. He filled the opening. The short cape of his coat flapped in the wind like a flag.
She raised the gun and tightened her finger around the trigger.
The stranger stomped into her kitchen as if he had a right to be there. Swearing at the storm, he raised a gloved hand to shove the door closed. The dove-coloured gauntlet shone pale in the moonlight.
Levelling the gun to his chest, she stepped forward. Only the yellow braiding of his hat cords kept her from firing.
"Cavalry," she whispered, remembering that only army cavalry wore yellow on their uniforms. "Infantry wear blue, artillery wear scarlet," she repeated her facts as if writing an article and not facing an intruder.
The trespasser glanced up. Icy blue eyes stared from beneath the shade of his wide-brimmed hat.
"Hero!" She almost didn't recognize him. His chin was covered by a short, black beard, but even in the shadow of his hat, she would never forget those eyes. Cold, heartless eyes, that asked nothing and gave even less.
He jerked his hat off and tossed it on the kitchen table. "Shoot me, Heroine, if that's what you plan to do, or put that old cannon away. I'm in no mood to waste time being threatened by my own wife."
Heroine blinked as if he might disappear.
Hero unbuttoned his coat and hung it on a peg behind the door as though he knew it would be there waiting for him.
He was slightly thicker, she thought. Ten pounds, maybe twenty. His hair was longer, curling over the stiff collar of his uniform jacket. But he was no less handsome, no less frightening.
"What are you doing here?" she asked without lowering the gun.
He glanced at the Colt, then faced her directly. "Let's get something straight right now, dear wife. I have no desire to be in this town. In fact, if I had my way, I'd never step foot within a hundred miles of Cedar Point."
He pulled off his gloves and tossed them atop his hat. "But it seems Sheriff Riley knows someone who is acquainted with my superior officer. He sent a letter two weeks ago demanding I come home to protect my wife from a man she has apparently confessed to killing once."
Heroine wasn't sure if she were more upset that he came home unwillingly to protect her, or that Sheriff Riley had interfered. At this point, if she had only one bullet, it would be a toss-up which one to shoot. "I didn't ask him to have you come. I can take care of myself."
Hero looked at the gun. "I can see that."
She lowered the Colt. "You've no need to stay. You can return to your post, wherever that is. I'll be fine."
The deep frown didn't lift. "Would that I could," he answered as if arguing with her. "But it seems I've been given thirty days' leave and was forced to take it."
"Thirty days," Heroine echoed. Thirty days with Hero would be an eternity. The few minutes she'd spent with him two years ago had taken her months to recover from. He hurt her. He humiliated her. And worst of all, he'd done exactly what she'd asked of him. He'd made her his wife in more than name.
"Don't look so terrified. I spent three days getting here, and it will take me the same amount of hard riding to return, so you've only twenty-four days of the hell of my company."
"You can't stay here!" Heroine looked around her little apartment crowded with her things. With her life.
"I can't stay anywhere else." His gaze followed hers. He didn't look any happier to be here than she was to have him. "What kind of guard would be posted outside the perimeter? Plus, if I remember this town, within hours everyone will know I've arrived, and it would look strange for a husband to stay at the boardinghouse when his wife sleeps alone."
The little warmth in her body turned to ice. "You're not sleeping with me!"
For the first time, his frown spread into a smile. "I don't remember your being of such a mind the last time we were together. If memory serves, you were the one who insisted on sharing my quarters."
"The only time we were together," Heroine corrected. 'The only time we will ever be together. You don't want a wife, remember?"
"I remember." He watched her carefully.
"Maybe we are divorced," she added. "Maybe I've told everyone you died."
"You haven't," he answered too matter-of-factly to be guessing. "And stop shivering with fright. I'm not here to attack you, Heroine. I'm here to protect you."

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Don't like the sound of the hero much. But perversely I do want to know what happens.

message 3: by Kritika (new)

Kritika | 40 comments This is from the beginning of the book. The hero is a jerk in the beginning but he redeems himself later on. And so the book is one of my favourites. Don't you just love Hero's who are unlikable in the beginning and then they fall for the heroine and redeem themselves in a sweet and romantic way and become totally likeable. :)

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh yes that's what makes a good romance story, as long as he is not too nasty and domineering.

message 5: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2065 comments Mod
By any chance did his father arrange the marriage?

Stacey is Sassy (staceyissassy) | 1229 comments Thanks for sharing, this one sounds interesting. Can't wait for the reveal :-) ♥

message 7: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1886 comments Mod
No idea!

message 8: by Janga (new)

Janga | 1070 comments Mod
Great choice! I love this author's books--whatever subgenre she writes. The first novel in her new Western series releases soon.

message 9: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2065 comments Mod
If it's the one I think it is, the hero was not as much of a jerk as he seems at first--there are things the heroine doesn't know that he s been doing for her all along.

message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan (susaninaz) | 992 comments No ideas. I guess I missed this one.

message 11: by Kritika (new)

Kritika | 40 comments Dls, you're right. His father did arrange and marry the Heroine by proxy.

message 12: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2065 comments Mod
Ok Kritika--time for the big reveal.

message 13: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Hill | 487 comments Yeah I'm super excited to read this!!!

message 14: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1886 comments Mod
Kritika, paging Kritika!

message 15: by Kritika (new)

Kritika | 40 comments Sorry, I'm a bit late.
But its better late then never :P
The answer is A Texan's Luck A Texan's Luck (Wife Lottery, #3) by Jodi Thomas

message 16: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2065 comments Mod
Yep I thought so!

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Unfortunately Amazon don't have this for kindle. Shame, it sounds good.

message 18: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2065 comments Mod
It's available from Barnes and Noble--I read a lot of nook books on the free phone Nook app. Or you can download a computer app free

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