Lucas set the coffeepot over the coals then glanced up at the sky. Missy had been gone for a while, dashing to the lake as soon as she’d set up camp. Not that he blamed her. After they finished their meal, he planned on soaking in the water, too.
He searched the trees beyond the horses for any signs of her. She should have been back by now. She wasn’t safe on her own. Any number of hazards could befall her: wild animals, wilder men.
He checked his gun and went in search of her. Following a trail she’d taken, he pushed past a few bushes and tall trees. Stepping into the clearing, the lake stretched before him.
He looked to the right and didn’t see her. Looking in the opposite direction, the breath rushed out of his lungs as his body pitched forward. Missy stood beside a large boulder, her back to him, wet hair tossed over the front of her shoulder and moisture glistening off her bare skin.
A fat tear of water dripped from her hair onto her nape. The droplet slithered down her spine and plopped into the dirt.
His heart hammered in his chest. His gut coiled tight and sweat beaded his brow as he watched another drop follow the same path.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew he had no business spying on her. He should leave, but his feet wouldn’t move. Neither would his gaze. And the immoral thoughts swarming around inside his head―tasting the water beading her skin, drying her with his hands, helping her step into her clothes―guaranteed him a place in hell.
Even that wasn’t enough to shake him from his reverie. It wasn’t until he stood behind her, holding his shirt open like a towel, did coherent thought finally poke through his mire. By then it was too late. Instinct and desire shoved aside all proprietary and urged him to drape his shirt around her.
“Oh!” She jumped, twisting her neck to see behind her. “Lucas, you scared me half to death.”
“You don’t have a towel,” he murmured.
“The sun can dry―”
“Not as well as my shirt can.” He hunkered down on his knee and gently rubbed her calf with the worn material.
“Lucas, ah, that feels wonderful.” She closed her eyes as his strong hands glided up and down her legs, soothing the soreness from days spent in the saddle. He dried her lower back, moved his hands around her hips and over her abdomen. His fingers dipped low to massage her, and she froze.
The last time a man had touched her there fat fingers had rubbed so hard they’d left bruises. Jagged fingernails had scratched and cut her flesh. But this hand was gentle, almost loving with its strokes. Instead of a dry, coarse feeling, hot moisture pooled between her thighs and made her throb.
Fear shot down her spine at this new feeling. Another method of torture she was sure. “Lucas.” She trembled and sniffed back the wetness stinging her eyes.
“You are beautiful,” he whispered. “Soft and sweet.”
Words of praise, though nice, offered little comfort. Her knees nearly buckled. Somehow, she held herself upright, but she couldn’t control the pulse – pounding between her ears. Warm air breathing on her neck, large hands covering her breasts; she had trouble separating reality from memories.
He turned her to face him. His hands fastened gently around her neck. Slowly, he pulled her mouth toward him and touched his lips to hers.
“Ah, Missy.” He slid his tongue past her lips to tangle with hers. His hand slipped around her waist and drew her closer to him. His other hand moved to her hair, caressing it with the sure, soft strokes she knew well. Calloused, strong yet gentle, she’d favored that hand at the cabin and many nights on the trail.
Warmth stole down her back. Confidant Lucas held her and not Harley, she kissed him back, savoring the taste of coffee and tobacco on his lips; her fingertips tingling as she traced the vein along his arm.
“I want you, Missy. I’ve got to have you.” His raspy voice filled her ear, and her blood ran cold.
I want you, Lady Luck. I will have you.
Lady Luck is available for purchase here: www.amazon.com/dp/B0063WCXO0
Julie was born and raised in upstate New York. She married her high school sweetheart and accompanied him on his twenty-year career with the United States Air Force. Presently, she resides in the Pikes Peak region, where she’s a stay-at-home mom enjoying a career writing western historical romance.
Throughout her school years, Julie enjoyed reading and writing. A friend introduced her to the romance genre in the late 80’s and she was instantly hooked, crediting Judith McNaught and Johanna Lindsey as her inspirations to pen her own novels. As she puts it, Ms. McNaught’s voice is flawless and Ms. Lindsey’s Malory family is endearing and addictive. Combining her fondness for horses, John Wayne and the television series, Dallas, Julie settled into writing about cowboys, outlaws and the ‘old west’ early in her career.
Julie self-publishes her work at Amazon.com. She also designs her covers. When she’s away from her computer, she enjoys taking care of her family and home, exploring the Rocky Mountains and meeting fans of the romance genre.