Texas Deputy Bo Kildare is looking for a special kind of lady, one that is willing to meet his special requirements. No sweet little virgin will do, he wants a woman who knows how to please a man, perhaps two.
Recently widowed, Sarah Elizabeth Foster-LaFever has lived in the public eye for the last few years and wants out. Her reputation as Micah LaFever’s wife has left her penniless and without many viable options until Bo comes calling.
Now, she believes she found the perfect man until her past rears its ugly head. Can murder and corrupt dealings keep these two lovers from making it to the alter?
“Why, Bo Kildare? You’re just the man I’ve been looking for.”
The frigid wind and the seductive words sent a shiver down Bo’s spine. His foot faltered on the wooden planks of the sidewalk. For months now, he’d dodged every married woman in the territory. All of them had joined forces and decided he needed a wife. More mothers than he could name had introduced him to their daughters. Some even offered dowries for a quick marriage proposal. He’d manage to avoid the snare of a virginal bride, but it had been a narrow escape a time or two.
As the deputy of Walker County, he had to be nice to the general population, but his patience was fried. After his long trip from Austin, and with another three or four hour ride before he’d reach his ranch, he didn’t need a prolonged discussion with an eager mother hen.
Forcing a smile on his face, he turned.
Madeline Cowden. She was his only friend against the crowd of women who insisted on finding him an innocent wife. With a knowing grin, she stepped forward and wrapped her arm through his. “I believe I have the answer to that little problem you’re having.”
He grinned, delighted with the news that she might have found him a suitable lady to meet the requirements of his unique situation. “Good. Why don’t we step out of this bitter breeze and discuss the matter?”
Directing her into the only cafe in town, Bo nodded at the hostess, tossed his hat onto the rack near the door, and led Madeline to his favorite table. Once seated, he waited until the waitress took their orders for hot coffee, before he scanned the empty tables adjacent to theirs and cut to business. “So tell me her name and how soon I can meet her.”
Madeline smiled and removed her gloves. A cold January northern rattled the glass panes of the windows. She ran her hands over the arms of her jacket and shivered. “Luckily, she arrived today so you won’t have long to wait. Though, I must warn you she’s a little skittish at the thought of becoming involved with a Texas deputy. Her deceased husband had several run-ins with the law.”
Bo frowned and recalled his criteria for a potential wife. She had to be sexually adventurous and happy living in a remote location. The small town of Naked Bluff wasn’t a hot spot of fun.
She patted his hand. “Now, now, no need to worry. Sarah merely wants to talk to you before she commits herself to anything. Which when you think on it, is a good thing.”
“Sarah?” He shuffled through the list of women he knew in the area. Not able to recall one by that name, he pressed for more information. “Where is she from?”
“Up near Dallas, her dead husband was…” She glanced cautiously around and whispered, “Micah LaFever.”
“Holy shit,” he gasped, instantly remembering the man’s notorious reputation. Micah had associated with every politician in the state as well as with a variety of criminals. He’d hosted wild parties at his estate, which included drinking, prostitutes, and gambling as a standard occurrence. Several times, fights had broken out and law officials were summoned to restore peace.
The man died a little over a year ago, after he suffered a head injury when thrown by his prize stallion. His wife, Sarah Elizabeth Foster had the status of…
Bo struggled to recall what chatter, he’d heard in relation to the woman. Her name was of course associated with Micah’s, but Bo couldn’t remember reading anything in reference to her. “I’d have thought by now, one of her husband’s friends would have married her.”
“She’s hoping to escape from that group of people and live a quiet life. Sarah never particularly cared for the spotlight.” Madeline paused.
The waitress set a cup and saucer in front of each of them, and poured the steaming hot coffee.
Impatient to learn more, Bo studied Madeline’s weathered face, noted the slight sagging of her cheeks that created jowls, the intense fire of her gaze, and her thin lips. Her thick gray hair lay stacked on her head like a queen wearing a crown.
A contact of his father, he’d considered her a friend for most of his life. She ran the local general store with her husband. She had connections all over the state. They were either customers, friends, or part of her large extended family. That was the reason behind him soliciting her help. She knew people, he didn’t.
After the waitress had served him and walked away, he resumed their conversation. “How do you know her?”
“Friend of a friend. First, she wanted me to tell you that if you’re looking to have children she’s not the girl for you.”
“Can’t have any?”
“Yes. Now would you like to meet her? She’s staying over at the hotel in the…” Again, she peered at the other customers in the diner and lowered her voice.
“Private cabin at the back of the property.”
He lifted an eyebrow, recognizing the fact the woman was paying through the nose for the special accommodations.
“She doesn’t want anyone to know she’s in town. She’d rather avoid having to answer any unsolicited questions from the press,” Madeline added.
“And have you told her about me?” Bo debated the likelihood of her passing his requirements for a wife.
“Yes, and she’s eager to visit your spread.”
The mention of his ranch reminded Bo of another problem. What would his brother say at the possibility of Bo bringing a woman home? Chase didn’t care for people. Women, he claimed, were nothing but trouble. Instead, horses were more his specialty, and because of him, their ranch was thriving.
Shoving aside his concerns regarding his sibling, Bo left his coffee untouched and stood. He tossed a few coins on the table. “I guess then I better head that way.”
“God, when is he going to get here?” Sarah paced across the room, looked out the window at the darkening sky, and turned. Walking back by the bed, she glanced in the other direction at the fireplace that had two wooden chairs and a couch in front of it. She stopped by the door, and her gaze landed on the water pitcher on the dresser. Restless, she considered indulging in a stiff drink to calm her nerves.
Rejecting the idea, she strolled to the freestanding, oval mirror in the corner.
With a critical eye, she examined her silk dressing gown’s high collar. Unable to breathe with every button of her garment secured, she’d only connected a few at her waist. The dark red robe highlighted her creamy complexion and light blonde hair. Through the opening at the top, she viewed the curve of her breasts and the tight fit of her corset. The cream color, almost matched her skin, creating the illusion she was nude underneath.
Tugging aside her wide skirt, she examined the long line of her legs. She’d opted to omit her bloomers. One, because with the fire raging in the fireplace, she was hot. Two, because she thought Mr. Kildare should catch a glimpse of what he’d receive, before he decided to make her his wife.
Granted from what Madeline had told Sarah, the man aspired for more than a dutiful lover. He sounded more reminiscent of her deceased husband. Micah enjoyed playing extreme bedroom games.
She frowned, thinking how much she’d missed sex in the last year. The opportunity had arisen, but she’d not indulge for fear of falling victim to the same power hungry crowd in which Micah had belonged. She’d done enough for those bastards and had no intentions of doing…
Knuckles hammered against her door.
Brushing a nervous hand over her hair, she offered up a silent prayer that everything would work out before she rushed back to the doorway. After a quick breath, she asked, “Who is it?”
“Bo Kildare, I was sent by Madeline Cowden.” A masculine tone rang from the other side.
His voice alone excited her and shivers fluttered over her skin. She flipped back the lock and inched open the door. “Yes, she said you might be stopping by.”
A stiff wind rushed inside, darting under her skirt, and stroked her thighs. Chilled by the unexpected breeze, she stepped aside, using the barrier of the door as a buffer against the brisk current while still allowing him enough room to squeeze into the cabin.
“Come in, come in,” she waited until he cleared the threshold, before she quickly shut the door behind him. After sliding home the lock, she turned.
With his broad back facing her, he removed his hat and tossed it on the dresser. Dark curly hair tempted her with their wild display of silky locks. He turned with a smile. “Howdy.”
A light sparked in the depths of his deep-brown eyes, showing his immediate interest. He tilted his head slightly and studied her, but he didn’t step forward or try to crowd closer.
After a moment, he grinned. “My, but you are a pretty thing. I’m Bo Kildare by the way.
As far as eloquent introductions, she’d heard better, but his relaxed manner immediately eased her fears of him being a cattle baron. “Yes, Madeline mentioned you wished to meet me. My name is Sarah Elizabeth.”
She deleted her surname, deciding that Madeline had probably already informed him as to her deceased husband’s identity.
He nodded and unbuttoned his coat. “You don’t mind if I take this off, do you? It’s rather toasty in here.”
“Not at all. I figured you wanted to ask me a few questions. And well, find out more…” She stopped abruptly as his tan duster slid off his arms.
The sight of his wide muscular chest covered with a white, cotton shirt shouldn’t have made her mouth water. No. That alone wouldn’t have done it, but add in thick biceps and a trim waistline. Plus… her gaze dropped below his belt. She noted the swollen length resting there and continued her trail along his solid thighs to finally rest on his scuffed boots.
Breathless by the heart-stopping vision, she wobbled on her feet and leaned back against the door to keep from sinking onto the floor by his snakeskin covered toes. She pressed her hands against the wood partition to resist the temptation to reach for him.
He caught his coat in one hand and tossed it over the bed’s end post. “I’m not sure what Madeline has told you.”
“Only that you’re looking for a wife. One, who is…” Uncertain how brass to be, she searched for the correct words to express herself. “Shall we say is experienced with pleasing a gentleman with disconcerting taste. You’ve probably heard part of my story, or at least the part the papers have reported.”
“Not exactly, I’ve read more about your husband than you. He had the reputation of being a fellow who, uh, enjoyed indulging in a variety of pleasures.” Bo stepped closer and his gaze narrowed onto the upper split of her dressing gown.
Heat slammed through her body, her nipples peaking. She gnawed on her lip and forced herself to concentrate on their conversation. “He liked being in the public eye. Luckily, he didn’t require the same of me. Though that didn’t mean, he didn’t insist I join in the fun.”
Bo lifted an eyebrow. “Such as?”
Uncertain exactly how much to divulge, Sarah curved her lips into an unnatural smile and stepped to the dresser. “Can I get you a drink? I have plenty of water, or if you want something stronger a bottle of whiskey.”
She lifted the pitcher, filled a glass, and then glanced over her shoulder. “So what will it be?”
“As good as a drink might taste at the moment. I’m more interested in learning more about you.” He strolled to one of the chairs by the fireplace and shifted it around with its back to the fire. He sank into it. “Water will be fine for me.”
With her fingers position securely on the glass, she carried him his drink. “Here, you go.”
“Thanks. So is whiskey your drink of choice?” He sipped his water and regarded her over the rim.
“If and when I indulge.”
“And how often is that?”
She read a whole litany of questions in his gaze. He required in-depth details, but for the moment was letting her provide them in her own time. Needing to put some distance between them, she walked to the bed and turned. Should she give the man a sample of what Micah liked her to do?
“Not very often anymore, now that Micah is gone. I was never a big drinker, but it can enhance an evening if used in the right set of circumstance.” She rested her hips on the edge of the mattress and widened her stance.
“Should I guess what type of things he had you do? Or will you tell me?” He lowered his drink and stared at the opening between her legs.
She shook her head, unwilling to admit how her husband had used her to gain favors with influential people. One man in particular jumped to the forefront of her mind. She shoved the thought of the arrogant bastard aside. She’d never accept his hideous proposal, so she’d do best to forget him.
If things worked out with Bo, she’d soon be married. “I don’t think it really matters. What’s more important is what you want.”
His gaze lifted to her face. The strong line of his jaw tightened as if deciding whether to demand she answer his questions or to let it go.
Pleased by his indecision, she toyed with the button at her waist. “After all, you’re the one I’ll be marrying.”
He blinked. The word marriage grabbed his attention, the same way it did most single men. “I have a ranch in a remote area. There won’t be any wild parties. I travel and will be gone for days at a time. You’ll be expected to keep house and cook for me and my brother.”
Finally, she was getting a few answers as to what he really expected from her.