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MILLS & BOON
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Table of Contents
Justine Davis lives on Puget Sound in Washington. Her interests outside of writing are sailing, doing needlework, horseback riding and driving her restored 1967 Corvette roadster—top down, of course.
Justine says that years ago, during her career in law enforcement, a young man she worked with encouraged her to try for a promotion to a position that was at the time occupied only by men. “I succeeded, became wrapped up in my new job, and that man moved away—never, I thought, to be heard from again. Ten years later he appeared out of the woods of Washington state, saying he’d never forgotten me and would I please marry him. With that history, how could I write anything but romance?”
Cops, federal agents and the people who wrote glamorous stories about them, were all crazy. There was freaking nothing glamorous about undercover work, Ryder Colton mused as he stubbed out his last cigar.
In fact, he thought wryly, the only difference between his life right now and his life seven months ago was that now he was sitting in the dark in a stand of scrub brush, unable to leave, instead of in a cell at the Lone Star Correctional Facility, unable to leave.
Well, that and the cigar, he amended silently. He’d missed the taste of the Texas-born Little Travis cigars he’d gotten attached to when he’d started running with the older and greatly admired Bart Claymore at fifteen, and bummed them from him.
Bart was one of the men who’d left him holding the bag the night that had started him on the road to prison—an irony that wasn’t lost on him. Then there was the irony of his entire situation: that he, the bad boy of the Texas Coltons, was here pretending to be one of the good guys. Near the end—or so he hoped—of his search. A search that had brought him back to, of all places, the Bar None ranch. Now that was irony.
And irony was a word he’d never used in his life before now. He only vaguely remembered a discussion of it in some class in school, before he’d landed himself in juvie detention the first time. He must have paid more attention than he’d thought, because now, all of a sudden, it made perfect sense.
You’re smarter than you want to believe.
Boots’s words echoed in Ryder’s head. The first time he’d said them, Ryder had laughed in his face; he never would have pegged the leathery, prison-toughened convict as a do-gooder. But Boots Johnson hadn’t been the first one to tell Ryder he was smarter than he was acting. He’d heard the litany countless times before, from teachers, counselors, and family—especially Clay.
Ryder winced inwardly at the memory of his straight-arrow, stiff-spined brother. Clay had done his best when their mother had died, leaving the eighteen-year-old with a fourteen-year-old sister and a sixteen-year-old brother he had tried to take care of. Georgie had turned out okay, her only mistake was falling for that city slicker. But that had given her little Emmie, the pride and joy of her life.
He remembered the moment when he’d told Boots about her.
So, you’re an uncle, the old man had