by Charlene Raddon
THE WRONG MAN
Deserted by her father at the tender age of seven, Jenna Leigh-Whittington had taught herself to ride, shoot, brawl…and steer clear of the opposite sex. But now, in a lonely Utah canyon, the Pinkerton agent has drawn her gun on a rugged stranger—only to discover that, far from the dangerous outlaw she’d been tracking, he is Branch McCauley, hired gun…and the most irresistible rascal ever to tempt and torment a woman!
THE RIGHT WOMAN
If there’s one thing McCauley trusts less than a female, it’s a female who packs a six-gun. But what a woman! Vowing to bring the sensuous hellcat to heel, McCauley has no inkling that their passionate battle of wills has just begun. Taming Jenna will be the most seductive—and satisfying—job he’s ever taken on.
Something touched her face, something as light as a mist or a lover's kiss. She put her hands to her cheeks and felt the moisture. Mist. Her fingers found grit the fine spray couldn't wash off. She took a step, then another. Water pounded her feet, her calves. She reached out, only to have her hands smacked away by the force of the waterfall. She longed to stand under it, to strip off her torn, dirty clothes and wash away the grime and the soreness and the fear of trying to find her way through that pitch black mine tunnel.
How she longed to see the falls. She lifted her face toward the source and perceived moving shades of grayness among the black. There had to be a hole up there, yet she could not see it. Had night fallen outside?
Somehow the movement of the falls, the fresh scent, the liquid gurgle, made her feel less alone. She had a strong feeling some other live being occupied the dark, musty catacombs besides herself. Something besides rats and nasty dwarfs.
Her spirits climbed. No question now as to where she was—the old Murphey mine. She would follow the water's flow, and she would get out.
Above the muted roar of the small waterfall came another sound, sharp and loud like the crack of thunder on a stormy night, followed by rolling reverberations. Angry. Ominous. Her mouth quirked at the thought: Rainstorms deep inside the bowels of the earth. Obviously, her grip on sanity was still tenuous.
She did an about-face and splashed her way down the drift. The voice of the falls followed, like a jealous lover. She attempted to laugh. At herself. At her fears. Hysteria tainted the sound.
Water swirled about her ankles and rose higher. She kept walking. Her heart caught the urgency of the torrent and thudded tumultuously inside her breast. She trembled in the wet chill of the clammy garments plastered to her body. Her hair had come loose and tumbled about her shoulders in a wild array. She pushed a wet strand out of her eyes and thought of Maura's Irish stew. Her stomach growled.
As the stream swirled and raged about her knees, threatening to suck her into its depths, terror seized her. Two men had drowned in this mine, she remembered. Rembrandt had told her. A storm had caused a flashflood, and the men had been caught in it.
Rainstorms underground no longer seemed laughable.
She bolted blindly forward, groping at the walls with her hands to keep from falling, letting the current of the water guide her. Perspiration dripped into her eyes, in spite of the freezing temperature.
She lived now in a world without sight, without color, a world where perception came only through the senses, magnified by terror and desperation: The coarse, granular hardness of granite walls; spongy moss on splintered wood. Wetness. The smell of water, sweat, and fear. The ragged gasp of her own breath. And the roar—always the deafening roar—of the raging torrent that seemed bent on expelling her from this underground sepulcher of hell.
As the water rose to her hips, she had to move slower and more carefully. She took the Starr from its holster and tucked it inside her waistband to keep it dry. Her feet stumbled. She caught herself, stumbled again. The roar had become so much a part of her that she barely noticed the difference when the volume suddenly increased.
Her awareness of impending doom was strictly intuitive. She could see no danger approaching. But her imagination was excellent. Rising water and an indefinable change in the sound created visions in her mind that closed off her throat and sent her heart tumbling like boulders down an unstable incline.
A new sound came to her ears—her own choked whimper.
Tension mounted, keeping pace with the water's depth and the thunderous din. A scream ripped upward from her diaphragm to lodge in her throat as she plowed clumsily forward, waiting with increasing dread for a disaster she could not see, only sense.
A sudden deluge poured over her, whipping her hair into her face, stealing her breath, snatching her feet out from under her. Her arms flailed as she sought to regain her balance. She went down. Water rushed over her and into her open mouth, her hands scraped against the floor, and silence replaced the angry thunder in her ears.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Charlene Raddon began her fiction career in the third grade when she announced in Show & Tell that a baby sister she never had was killed by a black widow spider. She often penned stories featuring mistreated young girls whose mother accused of crimes her sister had actually committed. Her first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when she woke up from a vivid dream that compelled her to drag out a portable typewriter and begin writing. She’s been at it ever since. An early love for romance novels and the Wild West led her to choose the historical romance genre but she also writes contemporary romance. At present, she has five books published in paperback by Kensington Books (one under the pseudonym Rachel Summers), and four eBooks published by Tirgearr Publishing.
Charlene’s awards include: RWA Golden Heart Finalist, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award Nomination, Affair de Coeur Magazine Reader/Writer Poll for Best Historical of the Year. Her books have won or place in several contests.
Currently, Charlene is working on her next release.
Charlene will be awarding an e-copy of one of her books from her backlist at each stop to a randomly drawn commenter, and a Grand Prize of a $30 gift card will be awarded to a randomly drawn commenter at the end of the tour.
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