Excerpt from Chapter Two
New Mexico Territory ~ 1880
Standing outside, Tuck heard the bedroom door slam shut.
These Daines kids were a menace to society, and obviously hell bent on busting his head open! After being laughed out of Big Jack's, he was in no mood to dodge frying pans. He didn't find one damn bit of humor in the news of his bride's assault against him, but the whole town of Black Dog sure did.
He waited a moment then carefully peeked into the cabin. The strong scent of soap hung in the air as Tuck scanned the perimeter for danger of flying kitchenware. Seeing that all was clear, he stepped inside.
"Is an iron skillet your weapon of choice?” he called toward the bedroom as he picked up the skillet and dropped it onto the table. He didn't have a hangover, he had a concussion.
"You could have knocked first," Skylar called from behind the bedroom door.
"It's my cabin!” Although, it sure as hell didn't look like it. She'd taken over the place. Damp clothes hung from a rope she'd secured across the corner where the stove stood. More were draped over the two chairs she'd placed in front of the stove. She'd also been cooking. He didn't see any trace of bread or biscuits, but he detected the faint scent of baked goods amidst the scent of soap. Some fresh biscuits or maybe a couple flapjacks could certainly help to ease his headache.
"Did you take care of the marriage?” she asked from the bedroom.
"Not exactly," Tucker bit out. He picked up a rag from the table and dropped it on a puddle of water beside the small water-filled washtub. His gaze followed Skylar's wet footprints across the dingy wood floor to the door of his bedroom.
This woman is trouble. The sooner he unloaded her, the better. He turned his attention back toward the stove.
"Seems we'll have to ride up into Santa Fe to have it annulled," he said, scouting around for possible leftover baked goods. "Being a railroad town, they have a telegraph office. You can contact a family member from there. Since you're a friend of my brother's, I'd be happy to pay for your fare to wherever you need to go."
The bedroom door banged open as Skylar's sharp tone shot through the cabin, echoing in Tucker's throbbing skull. "So you can conveniently steal our land?"
Tuck spun around. "Your land?” he countered, just before his eyes made contact with a sight that nearly brought him to his knees in a hard rush of unexpected desire.
The woman was half naked! Standing there in nothing but one of his blue button-up shirts. Dear God--she had legs for a mile.
His eyes slowly worked back up those long, ivory limbs, then stopped on the hard piece of metal aimed at his chest. Where the hell did she get a revolver? Her thumb slipped over the hammer and pulled it back. Her steady hand and hard gaze told him she might know how to use the blasted thing.
"The only place we need to go is Wyoming, Mr. Morgan. Now, I suggest you wait outside until my clothes have dried. We can discuss our business arrangement then.”
The Daines family certainly had a fetish for firearms and frying pans. But then, he had been gaping at her. What the hell did she expect with what she had on? "Don't worry, Miss Daines, I am a gentleman."
Her slender arching eyebrows called him a liar, and Tucker felt downright insulted. "As soon as your clothes are dry, we'll ride into Santa Fe and get that annulment."
"No?” Tuck repeated, certain she hadn't comprehended his meaning.
Skylar drew a deep, calming breath as she felt the tables beginning to tip in her favor. Her weak-minded mistake suddenly began to glow with appeal. Morgan couldn’t cast her and Garret aside while she was married to him. "No. I won't consent to an annulment,” she said, the cold grip of fear easing as she watched his face contort with surprise. “I believe I'm starting to like the sound of Skylar Morgan."
"Lady, what are you trying to pull? You don't want to be married any more than I do!"
True. But she knew leverage when she was married to it. "You can have your annulment the moment my feet are on my Wyoming soil."
"Damn it, woman! You don't seem to understand the situation. Chance only has one partner, and you're lookin' at him. The only reason your father had that deed is because he asked for it. He gave my brother some cockamamy story about needing proof that we intended to buy his horses and Chance trusted him enough to hold onto our deed.”
He was lying! He had to be lying. Her father had plainly stated he and Chance were partners.
“It's going to take us weeks to get to Wyoming,” said Tucker. “And besides the dangers from the land itself, there's plenty of bushwhackers and hostile territory between here and there. We'll have our hands full enough with my horses, without having to worry about a woman and a kid."
"My name is Skylar," she said, taking a step toward him, keeping her revolver aimed at his chest and damn near mad enough to shoot him. What kind of a fool did he take her for?
Tucker’s eyes drew wide as he stepped back.
"You’re the one who doesn't understand," she continued, struggling to keep a steady tone. "I know more about long drives and horses than you could ever hope to. I don't need to be looked out for by you or any other man. Garret is my responsibility. I look out for him, which means no green-eyed, gambling drunk is going to swindle us out of a partnership. Good day, Mr. Morgan.”
Until the door slammed in his face, Tuck hadn't realized she'd chased him outside.
* * *
From the book MUSTANG WILD by Stacey Kayne
Imprint and Series: Harlequin Historical, ISBN: 0373294411
Copyright ©2006 by Stacey Kayne
® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher. The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
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