Welcome to Pistol Rock, Texas where everyone knows secrets last about as long as the sporadic west Texas rain showers.
Laney Briggs has long been considered reckless, but she’s turned herself around—she’s respectably engaged and she’s become a Pistol Rock deputy sheriff. Everything’s fine until a dead body turns up and her ex, Texas Ranger Gunner Wilson, decides to stick his boots into the town’s first murder case.
Laney will be damned if she lets Gunner trample all over her turf and her chance at a quiet, contented life. His seemingly endless ability to undermine her resolve and her libido was only outdone by her constant urge to butt heads with him. But when the bodies start to pile up, Laney has to ask the lethal bad boy for a hand—and a truce in exchange for his help.
Having an ex-boyfriend as an ally might not be the best idea, but Laney has always been pretty reckless…
“Elroy, I need back up.”
“Having trouble corralling the bastards?” he asked, munching on what sounded like a mouthful of chips.
“No, dumb ass. I just found a dead body.”
“Well shit…” his voice faded.
“Elroy,” I shouted, squeezing the radio mic’s hard plastic in my hand.
“Yeah…yeah, Laney,” he responded, “I’ll be right there.”
The line went dead. I shook off the thought that I’d heard someone other than Dobbs in the background and made the burning run back to the guys. Luke had parked himself on the crunchy grass. I plunked down next to him. Stickers poked through the worn seat of my jeans, biting me on my biscuits. His blue eyes immediately drifted toward my chest.
“A little winded, Laney?”
I sent an elbow to his ribs. “Don’t look at me that way.”
“Darling, you used to enjoy it.”
He sent me a look and tossed his arm across my shoulders. There was no use trying to defend myself, so I whipped my head back and waited. The blistering sun pounded my face. I’d given into the idea of a long wait when a black Yukon came billowing across the land. It stopped two feet in front us, screeching tires grinding down the caked dirt. Dobbs jumped out of the passenger side, with Elroy tagging his behind. I would like to say it didn’t get to me, but hell, it pissed me off when I caught sight of that Route 44 soda in Elroy’s hand.
“Come on, you stopped for a coke and didn’t bring me one,” I shouted.
Elroy took a long slurp. “You weren’t at the office.”
I was still glaring coldly at him when the driver’s door popped open. No, it couldn’t be… that son of a bitch. I wiped the bubbles of sweat from my nose and shot to my feet. Then I marched up to him. He’d cocked his black cowboy hat to the side and stuffed his hands into the back pockets of tight Wranglers, stretching the black T-shirt around his big biceps. That damn black rattlesnake tattoo rippled along the hard muscles of his right forearm as he walked to the front of the Yukon. With my stomach climbing up my throat, a spark that definitely didn’t belong there fired in my chest as I watched him kick some dirt then step out in front of me.
“Well,” Gunner Wilson drawled, “if it isn’t Laney Briggs.” He threw a dirty wink at me.
I ignored him, still trying to figure out what the hell my personal Texas Ranger nightmare was doing riding shotgun with Elroy and Sheriff Dobbs. “What are you…?”
“Still tongue tied at the sight of me?”
My blood was blazing as I glared at him. I thought when I’d sent a load of rock salt into my ornery ex-boyfriend’s ass over things I preferred not to think about, he’d never show his face in Pistol Rock again. I’d thought wrong, because holding me prisoner with those deep, assessing brown eyes was the only man who could light my panties on fire in eight seconds flat. We’d duked it out before, and I reckoned this time would be no different. The problem was I had a damn job to do, and folks were watching my every move, making damn sure to jot down each misstep I made. Taking a good step back from the panty-stroking cowboy’s pulse-charging, leathery-vanilla aftershave, I swallowed hard and pulled up my big girl panties to play the part of the deputy I knew I was capable of being. “Why the hell are you here? I thought you were in Houston.”
His grin widened. “I’ll tell you later, sweetheart.”
Dobbs sidled up between us, placing a hand on my shoulder. “Let’s not jump to conclusions, Laney”—he continued the heavy petting of my shoulder—“I invited Gunner to come along on the morning joyride after he wandered into the station looking for you.” He looked at Gunner, smiling. “Don’t you remember me filling you and Elroy in on the Rangers investigating a case out here in Pistol Rock?”
That memo must’ve slipped through the cracks. I nodded anyway, allowing my gaze to linger on Gunner’s sinfully good-looking, rugged cowboy face. He hadn’t missed a beat since I’d seen him last. I, on the other hand, could’ve slapped on an extra layer of foundation and ditched the sheriff’s department issued uniform shirt with “Pistol Rock Sheriff Station” embroidered across my upper left breast.
“Yeah, I remember.” I kept nodding mindlessly as I watched Gunner’s smile grow. This was so not good. I always turned to putty in that Texas Ranger’s hands. He’d been my first lover and, for a while, I was sure he’d be my last, too. That had changed, but Gunner’s effect on me hadn’t. I steeled myself and looked him directly in the eyes. “It’s just that I didn’t figure the Rangers would let him,” I jutted my chin at Gunner, “anywhere near this jurisdiction after last time.”
Dobbs only grunted at that, but Gunner’s deep, throaty ‘I’d do your body good’ laugh threw me off my high horse. I grabbed him by the elbow. Bad move. Just the feel of him underneath my fingers made my heart skip a beat. I steeled myself not to look at the third finger of my left hand where the diamond Nathan had given me seven months ago seemed to stare at me. “Dobbs, will you excuse us?”
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Jodi Linton grew up across the street from a cow pasture, where she was more likely to been seen selling Kool-Aid in a Dixie cup at ten cents a pop, or inviting neighbors over to watch one of her plays staged on her father’s Bass boat. Even though she never owned one of the bovines, she’ll admit that the smell of cow manure had a lasting effect, making it easy to spot a cow a mile away.
In 2001, she traded in the rednecks, cowboys, and mesquite trees of her hometown to chase destiny out west. After a few years of mucking it around with the roughnecks, dust storms, and droughts, she decided to dust off her boots and head home. With a History degree in one hand and a marriage license in the other, she followed her husband in 2006 to the Texas heartland, fabulous Austin.
Somewhere down the line, she started writing. Maybe it was the boring job search, or maybe it was the crazy characters dancing inside her head that help put pen to paper. Whatever the case, writing sure beat the heck out of working for a temp agency. The first story was about a boy lookalike Indian Jones who chased after vampires in small town Texas. The second story was a YA contemporary about the Grim Reaper, and well half-way through she decided to shuck them both, partly due to the birth of her son, and mostly because she wasn’t awe struck with the premises.
Taking a break from writing to raise her son, she filled the time by reading, and insistently fell in love with mysteries, especially ones with witty, spunky heroines. Four months later, she had a manuscript about a smart-mouthed deputy and her rotten ex-boyfriend dueling it out in small town Texas.
After settling into the Texas Hill Country with her husband and two kids, she joined the Austin Romance Writers of America, and signed with The Belcastro Agency. Today she can be found cozied up to the computer escaping into a quirky world of tall tales, sexy, tight jean wearing cowboys, and a protagonist with a sharp-tongue quick enough to hang any man out to dry.
There’s a good chance she’s brushed paths with a few of her characters, but she’ll never tell, those lips are sealed.
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