Ochessa is heartbroken when she finds her brother fatally wounded. His dying words are about a childhood puzzle box, missing legal documents, and a drifter named Nicodemus Breedlove. Ochessa vows to find Will’s murderer—and the man Will described.
No stranger to trouble, Nic’s only concerns are his Stetson, his mule Sadie, and a long-awaited chance at retribution. After gaining Ochessa’s trust, and taking the job she offers, life gets more complicated.
Weathering a stampede, a gully washer, and a pack of outlaws, they locate the killer. As Nic’s quest for justice, and Ochessa’s vendetta for Will play out, bullets fly…
Not everybody’s gonna make it out alive.
She wanted so badly to be loved and needed. And she wanted Nic to be the man to fulfill those emotions. What made him special she couldn’t—maybe shouldn’t—define. But like a half-remembered dream, an ethereal connection existed between the two of them and right now that seemed all that mattered.
When he halted to stand before her, his gaze turned hungry, and he eased the hat from her head and lowered his mouth to hers. Accepting the full depth of his kiss, she braced her hands against his chest, gripping his shirt with both fists—she never wanted him to leave.
He pulled away first. “Ochessa,” he whispered, in a husky voice. “I can’t go on wanting you without knowing if you feel the same.”
“I want you too. You know I do. But I’m scared, and I don’t even know what it is I’m scared of.”
“How about change. Or the future or the raw need I feel in you. Sometimes I’m scared too—and lonely.”
At his declaration, part of her fears melted.
“You don’t trust my intentions.” He spoke the words that always sat like a dark harbinger in the recesses of her mind.
“No, I do trust you. Really I do.” She was amazed at her own admission, but the decision felt right. “I just need time to sort out my life.”
“Well, time is about all I got. And I can bear the wait as long as I know what it is I’m waiting for.”
If joy could be counted as a tangible commodity, she suddenly felt rich beyond compare.
Their gazes met and held until it seemed the writing on their souls told the same story, and what bound them emotionally could no longer be separated by Man or Destiny, but only by their failure to take a chance.
Gini Rifkin’s characters are courageous and passionate, and when they meet sparks fly, while danger often threatens. Her settings include the American West, Medieval and Victorian England, and contemporary fantasy. When not writing, she has the privilege of caring for her rescue animals including ducks, geese, goats, rabbits, donkeys, and cats.