The Rancher's Return

By: Karen Whiddon




In the small town of Anniversary, Texas, pure evil will find you…

The night rancher Reed Westbrook makes love to Kaitlyn Nuhn, his life ends. While in the throes of passion, his brother is murdered…and Reed becomes the prime suspect. When Kaitlyn, his solid alibi, vanishes, Reed goes straight to prison and becomes a scourge of the town.

Finally released, Reed lives under the radar, until Kaitlyn reappears claiming she was held prisoner by the real murderer, a man so powerful he’s virtually untouchable. This killer will stop at nothing to eliminate Kaitlyn, and only Reed can protect her. The electrifying attraction that drove him to near-madness is still as powerful as ever. And the walls he’s built around his heart are in danger of crumbling.





“Why are you really here, Reed?”

“I wanted to make sure you were all right. I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I… Oh, hell.”

His mouth covered her, his kiss hungry and hot as he pulled her up against him. Then, just as abruptly as the kiss had begun, it ended. His expression fierce, he looked away. “No. That’s not why I came here. Actually, I came to apologize to you.”

“Apologize for what?”

“For that. For what happened before.”

Ah, now she understood. “You don’t have to—”

“I do. You deserve better. Kaitlyn, all your life, men have manipulated you. They wanted to own you. I will not do that to you.”

“I think I understand. You want to make sure I don’t get the wrong impression just because we…”

“Exactly.” He sounded so relieved she nearly smiled.

“No worries, then. We’re two adults. Our coming together was completely consensual.”

“You came to me for help. Instead, I took advantage of you. And God help me, I still want you.”

***



Dear Reader,

I know the people in my latest book, The Rancher’s Return. I suspect you do, too, or someone like them. Kaitlyn Nuhn is beautiful and sexy. On the outside, she appears to have it all. Except her looks have only been a curse to her. She has recently escaped a rich and powerful man who was holding her prisoner. The experience has scarred her on the inside, and she doesn’t know if she will ever be able to love again.

The hero, Reed Westbrook, is also scarred. He was sent to prison for three years for killing his own brother, a crime he did not commit. When he finally gets out on appeal, he tries to build a new life, haunted by the knowledge that his brother’s real murderer might never be caught.

And then Kaitlyn shows up on his doorstep telling him she knows who the killer is.

The Rancher’s Return is a roller-coaster book of emotion and danger. I enjoyed giving two wounded people their own happily-ever-after. I hope you enjoy reading their story!

Karen Whiddon








Chapter 1

Reed Westbrook knew all too well that there were many kinds of torment. Some were subtle, like the way most townsfolk crossed to the other side of the street to avoid having to speak to him, or when salesclerks in the local stores averted their eyes as they reluctantly waited on him.

Reed was pretty damn tired of it.

Judging from the repetitive knocking on Reed’s front door—right in the final forty-five seconds of the play-off football game—Deputy Sheriff George Putchinski was at it again.

Reed debated ignoring it, pretending he wasn’t home. But since his presence was obvious—with his pickup parked in his driveway and the TV turned up pretty loud—he hefted himself out of his chair and headed toward the door.

The first few times this had happened, when he’d opened the door to see a uniformed Anniversary deputy standing on his step, he’d been flabbergasted. Ten or fifteen instances later, he’d gotten his response down pat.

Swinging open the door, he started his spiel. “I didn’t do it. Whatever it was. Now go—”

He stopped. Stared. Not George. No, not even close. The gorgeous woman with the amazing blue eyes definitely wasn’t Reed’s nemesis. And yet she was.

He knew her instantly. Kaitlyn Nuhn had once been the girlfriend of his brother, Tim. In addition to that, she’d been the only person who’d known the truth, and who could have kept Reed from going to prison for his brother’s murder. The fact that she hadn’t, and disappeared instead, brought the anger back, full force. He nearly shut the door in her face.

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