A Fortune for the Outlaw's Daughter

By: Lauri Robinson

More precious than gold…

Cole “Lucky” DuMont is off to forge his future in the Alaskan hills. Standing in his way? A dark-haired beauty in need of rescue.

Maddie Stockwell’s life has always been ruled by men. And now, to ensure her freedom, she strikes a deal with her gorgeous savior: she’ll help Lucky in his quest, and find her own fortune along the way! Except when Maddie has to pose as Lucky’s wife, she feels a thrill she could never have anticipated. And suddenly there’s something even more tempting than gold on her mind…

His lips left hers but only to return again, like a flat rock thrown just right, so it would gently skim over the top of a pond.

She’d always been amazed by that, and this was just as incredible. When Lucky’s lips settled upon hers for an extended length of time, her knees threatened to give way all over again.

As gentle and perfect as the kiss had started—she was sure this time that it was a kiss—it ended, and Lucky once again folded his arms around her and held her tight. She didn’t know when her arms had wrapped around his waist, but they had, and she kept them there, hugging him in return.

They parted by some mutual, silent understanding a short time later. Maddie wasn’t sure what to do, how to react, and wondered if she should be embarrassed, letting him kiss her like that, but couldn’t come up with a reason why. Not when deep inside she was longing to be as close to him as possible. It was strong, similar to how badly she wanted gold.

But that couldn’t be. She didn’t want anything as badly as she wanted gold.

Chapter One

Life had never been easy for Maddie Stockwell. Being the daughter of the outlaw Bass Mason, a man who’d changed his name more often than he’d changed his socks, had forced her to look out for herself at an early age. She was quick on her feet, too. Quicker than the man with the hands that had just seized her could possibly know.

The fingers digging into her waist sent curse words—things she’d never say aloud but had heard numerous times—running through her mind. They muffled the piano music and shouts of people filling the saloons on both sides of the alleyway. Furthermore, the hand over her mouth stank of fish, and the pressure of that hand pressed grit into her lips and cheeks, igniting her fury.

Whoever he was—this man who’d grabbed her as she left the community well—was big. Strong, too, given the way he hoisted her off the ground, dragging her backward.

Claws of fear dug into her throat, but it was the anger surging inside she focused on. Not again. Did every man think all they had to do was hover in the night darkness and snatch her up as if they were picking peaches or something?

They might be able to do that to other women, but not her.

With movements she’d acquired while fighting off those who had ridden with her father, Maddie kicked one heel backward into the man’s knee as she shot an elbow straight back, catching his ribs. She also flung her head back, connecting with what she assumed was his nose by the way he screeched.

She didn’t stop there, though. The frustration inside her hadn’t played out. As the arms around her went slack, she spun and brought the now half-full water bucket around at full speed. It met the side of his head with a solid thud, and her well-aimed kick targeted right below the belt buckle sent him the rest of the way to the ground.

He was no longer a threat, rolling on the ground as he was, but the names he was shouting, the things he was calling her—as if any of this was her fault—had her temper flaring.

Maddie swung the bucket again, cracking him upside the head. The last bits of water flew in all directions while the bucket splintered into pieces. She froze for a moment when the man went quiet. As swiftly as his hands had grabbed her moments ago, something she couldn’t describe gripped her from the inside.

Her entire being shook as if she stood in the center of a Rocky Mountain snowstorm instead of a warm, dark California night. Mad Dog had found her again. This wasn’t him, but it was one of his men.

Shouts, muffled by the throbbing in her ears, had her spinning about. Two men, as big as the one on the ground, barreled down the alley.

Instinct said run, but where?

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