Forever His Texas Bride (Bachelors of Battle Creek #3)

By: Linda Broday

Acknowledgments


Home and family mean as much to me as they do to my three brothers and their ladies in this series. We all have a fierce need to belong to someone, people who give us our identities and who will be there during the good times and bad. When we don’t have that family unit, we often create our own, which is what Cooper, Rand, and Brett do. Often the bond is deepest when you’re not blood kin.

I’m so fortunate to have family. I dedicate this book to my children Kevin, Melinda, and Lori; brother Irvin; sisters Jean, Irene, and Jan; cousin Sarah; and stepdaughters Monica, Kim, and Laura. While I won’t name the rest of my clan, I haven’t forgotten you. You guys always have my back. You fill my life with immense joy and have helped fill the gaping hole that Clint’s and Mom’s passing left. You’re amazing, and I love you all!

I also wish to thank David Rabson, my masseuse and friend, who straightens the kinks out of my back, enabling me to sit at my computer, writing these stories for you.

I hope you enjoy this final book in the Bachelors of Battle Creek series. I think you’ll agree I’ve saved the best for last. I look forward to sharing a new, exciting series soon.





One


North Central Texas

Spring 1879

A plan? Definitely not dying. Beyond that, he didn’t have one.

High on a hill, Brett Liberty lay in the short, bloodstained grass, watching the farm below. With each breath, pain shot through him like the jagged edge of a hot knife. The bullet had slammed into his back, near the shoulder blade from the feel of it.

If a plan was coming, it had better hurry. The Texas springtime morning was heating up, and the men chasing him drew ever closer. Every second spent in indecision could cost him. He had two choices: try to seek help from the family in the little valley, or run as though chased by a devil dog.

The blood loss had weakened him though. He wouldn’t get far on foot. About a half mile back, Brett’s pursuers had shot his horse, a faithful mustang he’d loved more than his own life. Rage rippled through his chest and throbbed in his head. They could hurt him all they wanted, but messing with his beloved horses would buy them a spot in hell.

He forced his thoughts back to his current predicament.

Through a narrowed gaze, Brett surveyed the scene below. It seemed odd that no horses stood in the corral. The farmer who was chopping wood had a rifle within easy reach. The man’s wife hung freshly washed clothes up on a line to dry under the golden sunshine, while a couple of small children played at her feet. It was a tranquil day as far as appearances went.

Appearances deceived.

Help was so near yet so far away.

Brett couldn’t seek their aid. The farmer would have that rifle in his hands before Brett made it halfway down the hill. The fact that Indian blood flowed through Brett’s veins and colored his features definitely complicated things. With the Indian uprisings a few years ago fresh in everyone’s minds, approaching the stranger could mean certain death.

No, he couldn’t go forward. Neither could he go back.

They’d trapped him.

Why a posse dogged his trail, Brett couldn’t say. He’d done nothing except take a remuda of the horses he raised to Fort Concho to sell. He could probably clear things up in two minutes if they’d just give him the opportunity. Yet the group, led by a man wearing a sheriff’s star, seemed to adhere to the motto: shoot first and ask questions of the corpse.

He was in a hell of a mess and wished he had his brothers, Cooper Thorne and Rand Sinclair, to stand with him.

Inside his head, he heard the ticking of a clock. Whatever he did, he’d better get to it.

The family below was his only chance. Brett straightened his bloodstained shirt as best he could and removed the long feather from his black hat. Except for his knee-high moccasins, the rest of his clothing was what any man on the frontier would wear.

At last he gathered his strength and struggled to his feet. He removed a bandanna, a red one, from around his neck. On wobbly legs, he picked his way down the hill.

When the farmer saw him and started for his rifle, Brett waved the bandanna over his head. “Help! I need help. Please don’t shoot. I’m unarmed.”

With the rifle firmly in hand, the farmer ordered his wife and children into the house, then cautiously advanced. Brett dropped to his knees in an effort to show he posed no threat. Or maybe it was that his legs simply gave out. Either way, it must’ve worked—he didn’t hear the sound of a bullet exploding from the weapon.

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