This is week 5 of a 7-Week visit with Cal Delaney and Rachel Girard, the bounty hunter hero and cattle princess heroine from Broken Vows, a marriage of convenience tale set in 1878 Fort Worth.
Poor Cal. He and Rachel have been married for less than a week, and—without a little bed-warming at night to smooth out the day’s rough spots—the road of holy matrimony is proving to be very bumpy indeed.
He’s trying to get settled in working the family ranch, but Rachel has been baiting him for days. He can’t so much as turn around without her being there, her sharp eyes following his every move, just waiting for him to make a mistake. She’s not shy about pointing them out, either— right in front of every ranch hand within earshot…
She stood on the other side of the fence. He couldn’t see her, but he could hear her, and he could feel her eyes boring holes into the space between his shoulder blades. “You’re not planning on selling that bull in the holding pen to Charlie Canfield this afternoon, are you?”
Cal stopped coiling some rope and turned. She wore a white linen blouse tucked into a light tan skirt. The collar was open-necked, and he could see a fine sheen of perspiration coating the exposed skin of her slender throat. It was all the more frustrating that, even though he felt like he could wring that lovely neck, the sight of her sweating in the hot sun was singularly arousing. “Do you see a problem with that?” he asked.
Paco and the other ranch hands stopped what they were doing and looked up. They had been observing the sparring newlyweds for two days now.
Rachel sucked in a deep breath before her eyes locked once again with her husband’s. “Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.”
Silence descended like a death shroud over the rapt group. Cal set his jaw. He didn’t say anything for a long time. Finally, he tossed his lariat to Paco. “I’ll be back in a minute.” He crossed to the fence and scaled it. If she wanted a showdown, she’d get a showdown. Cal was being paid to act the part of her husband, not her lackey.
Upon seeing the silent fury on his face, Rachel’s eyes widened. She recovered quickly, though, and donned that go-ahead-and-try-it expression Cal was becoming all too familiar with. He snagged her arm in passing, swinging her around in a semicircle and forcing her to stumble along after him toward the stable. “We have to talk, Rachel my sweet.”
Next week… So, what’s love got to do with it?
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