Cowboy Cravings

Craving a cowboy? Here are four stories that are sure to turn up the heat! If you love tall, dark, and handsome cowboys with a touch of danger thrown in, and the ladies that show them they’ve met their match, COWBOY CRAVINGS is a must have! Fast guns, smooth action, and hot love sizzle in one delicious recipe for these spicy stories! The summer has never been hotter in the old west than it is when you have to satisfy those COWBOY CRAVINGS!

“Hearts and Diamonds” by Cheryl Pierson
Revenge sets Nick Diamond after a bride, and nothing will stand in his way. But when that bride happens to be outspoken firebrand Liberty Blankenship, all bets are off. Anything can happen when Hearts and Diamonds collide!

“Starr Bright” by Celia Yeary
A stubborn rancher, a Spanish beauty…and the Texas summer heats up.

“Lily and Mesquite Joe” by Kristy McCaffrey
Lily Kingston has long loved Mesquite Joe Riordan. Facing the truth of his past will test her resolve, but only her stubbornness can win his heart.

“Making Peace” by Kathleen Rice Adams
A Confederate soldier. A Jayhawker’s widow. An accidental passion that could mend the wounds of war.


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A Confederate soldier. A Jayhawker’s widow. An accidental passion that could mend the wounds of war.

“Making Peace”

July 1865, the Texas Crescent

Keeping to the shadows on the porch, Maggie Fannin peeled back the shotgun’s twin hammers and hauled the weapon to her shoulder. She didn’t need to aim. Simply pointing two barrels in the general direction of the Johnny Reb slumped astride a gaunt blood-bay would blast him clean out of the saddle if she pulled the triggers.

And she would do it, if he came any closer. “Hold up right there, mister. What business you got here?”

Head hanging, the horse let loose a long blow saturated with fatigue. Maggie couldn’t see much of the rider’s face with his stained slouch hat pulled low like it was, but the dust coating both him and the gelding said neither had seen rest—or a bath—in a long while.

“Expecting trouble?” The grate that trailed from beneath the hat’s brim bore equal measures of Southern grace and exhaustion.

She adjusted her grip on the gun. “It don’t hurt to be careful.”

The Reb must’ve been some kind of officer, judging by the shabby braid encircling his hat and crawling up the cuffs of his tattered shell jacket. A sheathed saber at his side rattled when he freed his boots from the stirrups with a halfhearted kick and slid from the McClellan saddle. He dropped the reins over the horse’s head, and then clutched a fistful of mane to steady himself.

Muscles aching under the shotgun’s weight, Maggie reoriented her aim. Except for the saber and a knife peeking from one knee-high boot, the stranger wore no weapons. Saddle holsters held a carbine and a pistol. He didn’t seem inclined to reach for either, but she mustn’t drop her guard. Too many dispossessed graybacks, poor as dirt and looking for trouble, had drifted through in the months since the Confederacy surrendered. A woman alone on a rundown homestead made easy prey.

The dilapidated cabin might crumble around her ears, but never again would someone chase her from her home. “I don’t remember invitin’ you to step foot on my property.”

Your property?” The Reb shoved away from the horse. A boot met the lowest porch step with a thud. Slinging a gauntleted grip around the handrail for support, he pulled off his hat and ran a faded sleeve across his brow. Ragged brown hair, graying at the temples, spilled across sallow skin and hung limp beside hollow cheeks glistening with sweat.

His gaze traveled the length of the shotgun’s barrels until the most startling blue eyes she’d ever seen fixed her with an unsteady stare. “You out here all by yourself?”

Maggie fought her trembling arms to keep the gun level. “That ain’t none of your business.”

The Reb cast a glance over the cabin and the surrounding brush. Tall grass, already seared brown at the tips by the summer sun’s relentless glare, waved in the slight breeze. The man swayed, as though the wind blew him, too. “You’re on Collier land. How long have you been here?”

“Long enough.”

“How long?” The growl behind the words set her pulse bounding even as the Reb’s face contorted, and a sharp hiss snaked between teeth set on edge. His battered hat tumbled to the ground when his hand rose to grip his temples between thumb and fingertips.

My God. He’s sick, and no tellin’ with what. The gunstock slipped, dropping the barrels an inch. “You need to leave, mister. Right now. Or I will shoot you.”

The shaggy head rose and a fever-bright gaze captured her with a plea wrapped in a challenge. “Then pull the triggers.”

Union-blue eyes—so wrong in a secesh’s face. Before she could escape their hold, the Reb mounted the remaining steps in a single stride and yanked the shotgun from her grasp. After lowering the hammers, he tossed the weapon over the porch railing. The movement unbalanced him. He staggered into an upright beam supporting the sagging roof. Three frayed stars clung to the stand-up collar of his jacket as he ran a hand inside and gripped the back of his neck.

Maggie inched backward across creaky boards, wiping damp palms on the waist of her dress. If she could get inside the house…

The Reb stalked her all the way to the wall. Throat closing around half-drawn breaths, she tipped back her head and sidled toward the door a mere two feet away. The Reb kept pace. His bloodshot eyes blinked too often.

The door handle jabbed her in the back. Easing a hand behind her, she clicked open the latch. When the Reb jammed the heel of his hand against his temple and scrunched his eyes shut on a groan, she darted inside.

A scuffed boot blocked her attempt to slam the door.

Maggie scrambled across the single room to the worktable beside the hearth. Her fingers closed around a boning knife and she whirled, brandishing the weapon.

Chest heaving beneath the sodden shirt showing through the open front of his coat, the Reb slumped against the doorframe. He peered at the knife from behind heavy eyelids. “If I meant to hurt you, I’d have done it by now.”

“Get out.”

“I’ve every right to be here.” He slid into the room and braced his shoulders on the wall, resting the back of his head on the bare wood. “You’re the one who’s squatting.”

“I don’t know who you are, mister, but this is my home fair and proper.”

“I’m Bennett Collier.” He began a slow slide down the wall.  “Unless you’ve got a deed—”

The intruder went limp and crumpled to the floor.