Excerpt from Tame A Wild Heart

I’m about 2 weeks away from publishing TAME A WILD BRIDE. So While we wait I thought I give you a bit of the book that started it all, TAME A WILD HEART. Two lucky commenters will receive copies of the paperback as prizes.


As they pulled into the ranch yard several hours later, Catherine’s father, James, slammed out of the house followed by a very pregnant, young blond woman and a little boy.

“Did you find him?” James called as the buckboard pulled to a halt. “Did you find Zeke?”

“We found him. He’s got a broken leg but he’ll be good as new in a few weeks,” Catherine said as she jumped to the ground. “He’s going to need some tender lovin’ care, Sarah.”

Sarah ran to the end of the wagon and clamored up despite her bulk. “Zeke, honey, are you okay?” She knelt beside him, grazed his cheek with her knuckle, while tears rolled in streams down her cheeks.

Tenderly, Zeke wiped the tears from her face. “Here now, we’ll have none of that. I’m going to be fine.”

“Papa! Up!” demanded Jacob.

Duncan set the brake and went around to the back to help lift Zeke from the wagon bed. Instead a curly haired blond boy confronted him, pulling on his pant leg.

“Up Mister. Pease.” Jacob held his arms up for Duncan to lift him.

Duncan didn’t want to lift the sweet child. He didn’t want to hold this tiny body in his arms for even a moment, but it looked like he had no choice. Catherine, the only one near enough to do it, just stood there with her hands on her hips, and a grin on her face, waiting.

This small child was not going to defeat him. He’d faced desperate men, men willing to kill to save themselves from Duncan McKenzie, bounty hunter. None of them frightened him as much as this one little boy, who couldn’t be more than two or three. All Duncan had to do was bend down and lift the child, but his knees shook and he could feel himself quiver inside.

“Oh for goodness sake, Duncan, just lift him up so he can see his Papa is all right.” Catherine knew. He didn’t know how she knew, but she did. His only real weakness…children.

Getting a grip on himself, he bent and hoisted the anxious little boy up and over the wagon’s gate. He was light as a feather, so tiny…so innocent.

Catherine was beside him. “That wasn’t so hard now, was it?”

He didn’t miss the laughter in her sparkling silver gaze or the smile formed by her perfect rosebud lips. Without answering he stalked toward the house and the front door.

Duncan closed the door behind him and took a deep breath. He could still smell the fresh bread that Alice baked that morning. He glanced around the foyer, glad to see it hadn’t changed. Directly in front of him stairs led to the second floor and the bedrooms. Down the hall to the right of the stairway were James’ study and a storeroom. The formal parlor, which still looked like it hadn’t been used, was to his left. The Queen Anne chairs and overstuffed divan looked as new as when he’d helped James haul them in.

Beyond the parlor was the formal dining room. A massive oak table and chairs dominated it, in stark contrast to the lace curtains covering the windows. They hadn’t used when he’d lived there, preferring instead the comfort of the kitchen.

Duncan shook the memories from his head, turned and started for the storeroom where he heard James muttering expletives.

“Dagnabit,” James said, “I’ve got a canvas stretcher here I got for just such an emergency, if I could just get it out from behind these steamer trunks.”

“Here, let me help.” Duncan quickly moved the trunks and freed the stretcher.

“Good to see you, Son. You’ve come at the perfect time.”

“To help with this maybe,” he said, lifting the stretcher and following James out. “But not soon enough to keep this incident from happening or keep your daughter from jumping down my back for being late.”

“Things happen for a reason, Son. You’ve got to find the reason.”

“From what Zeke said, the reason is named Roy Walker.”

“He’s only part of it.” James walked out the front doors and over to the wagon. “Sarah, let’s get you down so we can get your husband out of there.” James lifted the pregnant woman easily. He looked good to Duncan. He was still as tall as Duncan’s own six feet four inches and had remained fit and strong despite his advancing age and the graying of his brown hair and mustache.

“Catherine, you and Sarah take Jacob here and make sure the way into the house is clear.”

James ruffled the lad’s hair then lifted him from the wagon. “You go help your Ma and make sure to pick up all your toys, okay?”

“Yup, Big Jim. I pick up toys.” The youngster ran off as fast as his chubby legs would carry him toward the small house across the yard. Catherine followed with Sarah, who still weeped and moved much slower now she knew her husband was all right.

He watched Catherine settled her arm around Sarah’s shoulders and calm her. “Come on now. If you don’t settle down, Doc’s going to have to deliver that baby instead of check on Zeke’s leg.”

Sarah laughed and wiped her tears away. “You’re right and Doc would not be a happy man. I’m not due for another couple of weeks.”

When they lifted Zeke onto the stretcher and off the wagon, he let out a groan. Duncan knew he tried to keep it in, but a broken leg is a painful thing. “Catherine, do you have any laudanum? Zeke could use some until the doc gets here.”

“Sure thing. Be right back.”

Before they entered Zeke’s house, James said to him, “Don’t worry about a thing. We take care of our own here on the JC. You and Sarah have a home here as long as you want it.”

“Thanks, Mr. Evans. I really appreciate knowing that. I didn’t know how I’d provide for them while I’m laid up.” Zeke raised his head from the stretcher. “I’m really sorry about this, Mr. Evans.”

“Pshaw. Think nothing of it. None of this was your fault. I’m just glad you weren’t hurt worse.”
Zeke nodded and laid his head back down. They got him settled him on the bed and walked out of the house, leaving him to Sarah’s tender ministrations.

At the front door James turned to Duncan. “I’ve sent for the doctor and after you get cleaned up I’d like for you to come to my study. We’ve got some talking to do.”

That sounded ominous to Duncan, but he nodded. “Where do I clean up?”

“In your room. I’ve had it cleaned for you.”

“I can stay in the bunkhouse with the rest of the men?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. You’re family. You’ll have your old room.” James stopped, his hand hovered above the doorknob. “This is your home, Duncan. Always has been and always will be.”

Something in the dark recesses of Duncan’s heart was moved by James’ declaration. Home. How long since he’d been any place he could call home? Ten years. There had never been anywhere else for him but here. “Thanks, I appreciate it.”

Duncan drove the wagon the short distance to the barn where he unhitched Jake and untied Wildfire, fed and watered them. He flung his saddlebags over his shoulder and headed to the house. When he finally opened the door to his room, he stared in wonder. Nothing had changed. Everything was exactly as he had left it ten years ago.

The massive bed that James had ordered special so he could stretch out his six foot four inch frame without hanging off the ends still had the same quilt on it. James’ wife Elizabeth had made that quilt for Duncan when he’d first come to live with them twenty years ago. He’d been thirteen, orphaned and big for his age. None of that mattered to Elizabeth who saw only a boy who had saved her husband’s life and now needed a home and family. He ran his hand over the quilt enjoying its comforting softness.

The bedside night table and washstand were both made of dark walnut that matched the bed, as did the wardrobe and chest of drawers. They had marble tops, a luxury Elizabeth had insisted on saying they would last forever. It appeared she was right. On the washstand were a porcelain pitcher and basin, his favorite sandalwood soap, two washcloths and a hand towel. The nightstand held a small pitcher of water, a glass, a kerosene lamp and an ashtray for his cheroots. At this point Duncan wouldn’t have been a bit surprised to find the wardrobe full of his clothes. He was almost afraid to look, but it turned out to be empty. Empty and stale, just like his life had been for the last ten years.

Putting aside his nostalgia, he quickly emptied his saddlebags, washed his hands and face, and donned a clean shirt before walking downstairs to see James.

Catherine met him in the hall. “Dad always said you’d be back. He made sure your room was ready for you.”

“And you? Did you know I’d be back?” he asked softly.

“No. I didn’t care one way or the other.” She turned on her heel and opened the door to her room. “But I hoped,” he heard her say under her breath as the door shut.

Duncan smiled.

Tame A Wild Heart on Amazon http://amzn.to/vu62X7

Tame A Wild Heart on Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/tiwlR1

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