Heart Of The Eagle. Lindsay McKenna
Jim Tremain watched the magnificent bird soar through the air and land on Dahlia Kincaid’s gloved arm. The eagle was, stunning, but Dahlia was the most breathtaking woman he’d ever seen. Would this beautiful ornithologist allow him to headquarter his search for an international poaching ring on her Colorado ranch?
Jim reminded Dahlia of Nar, her golden eagle: he was dangerous, powerful, gloriously masculine. But Jim Tremain wasn’t the predator he’d first seemed. His eyes contained kindness and understanding. Could she risk her heart—with everything to lose, but so much to gain?
Heart of the Eagle
MILLS & BOON
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To my mother, Ruth May Gent, who took four turkeys and taught them how to be eagles….
Table of Contents
What the hell! He didn’t have time to think, only react. There, coming down the muddied ranch road, was a fully grown golden eagle. The raptor’s wings were outstretched, talons bared as he skimmed the earth toward his prey, a zigzagging jackrabbit. Simultaneously, Jim slammed on the brakes of his Blazer and hit the horn. The eagle was so intent on capturing its prey that it had not seen his truck come up and over the crest of the same road.
The Blazer slewed sideways. The eagle screamed indignantly, its amber eyes glaring as it barely missed the truck and sailed skyward. Jim eased the Blazer to the side of the road, drew in a deep breath and loosened his grip on the steering wheel. He watched the bird for a few moments, puzzled by its actions. Then, grabbing the pair of binoculars he always carried with him, he eased out of the truck. His scuffed cowboy boots sank into the mud and snow on the road. He glanced at the watch on his wrist; he had a few minutes before he had to make the appointment.
Crossing the deeply rutted gravel road, Jim walked to the grassy ledge on the opposite side. He followed the movements of the magnificent golden eagle as it spiraled lazily below the gray clouds that hung like a blanket above the valley. The late April weather was sharp and Jim pulled his sheepskin coat tighter as he halted at the edge of the drop-off that slid into a shallow slope of the valley. Lifting his binoculars, he trained them on the raptor. His mouth pulled into a pursed line as he followed the eagle as it stooped into a deep dive and plummeted into attack position.
Expecting that the eagle had found another quarry, Jim followed the dive. Instead, at the last moment, the eagle exploded into a flurry of braking movements with its seven-foot wing spread, beating countermotions as it slowed down its approach to the outstretched arm of a woman.
What the hell! Twice in the span of five minutes he’d been taken by surprise. The eagle had no jesses or leather straps dangling from its yellow legs to evidence that it was domesticated for falconry. Without realizing it, Jim was holding his breath. As the eagle landed, he saw the woman bend her knees to take the bird’s weight and velocity. She wore a soft leather gauntlet type of glove that extended from her left hand up to her elbow to protect her from the razor-sharp talons of the raptor as it settled on her arm. Jim watched as her entire body absorbed the tremendous impact of the eagle’s landing, the woman nearly dropping to a kneeling position so that she didn’t lose her precarious balance.
Jim felt his heart rate accelerate. Beautiful! My God, they’re beautiful together. Part of it was from the primal beauty of the wild eagle. Part was the thrill of watching the slender woman, who reminded him more of a graceful deer, as she slowly stood to her full height. Even the heavy sheepskin coat couldn’t hide the grace of her carriage. A deer and an eagle. Natural enemies. Now natural partners. The morning…no, the day, was turning out to be one of incredible surprise, and the rare, intrinsic beauty of the moment simply tore the breath from his tense body.
Jim moved his binoculars from the woman and her eagle. There was a black horse standing nearby, ground tied at the far end of the large meadow. Beyond rose the Rocky Mountains, still clothed in snow at the higher elevations. He returned his attention to the woman, hoping that she had turned around by now. His black brows knit as he concentrated on her face. Was it? No, it couldn’t be. Dr. Dahlia Gordon was a staunch opponent of falconry. It couldn’t be her. And yet, Jim could vividly recall that one moment they had met in the past. Dal Gordon had a haunting, expressive face that was imprinted in his mind. Yes, it was her…
A slow smile edged his mouth as he watched her walk with the eagle resting imperiously on her arm. My God, the raptor was huge! A weak streamer of sunlight chose that moment to slice through the leaden clouds and strike the meadow. The eagle’s dark brown body blazed to life in a molten bronze color. Jim watched in appreciation as the sun struck Dal Gordon’s shoulder-length spice-colored hair, bringing more of a flush to her pale features. How long was it? he mused. He had heard Dr. Gordon speak three years before in Washington, D.C. on saving the predatory birds that were being callously slaughtered in the Rockies. Despite the ravages of her recent divorce, she was still one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen.
Jim lowered the binoculars, a deprecating smile pulling at one corner of his mouth. His light brown eyes narrowed as he watched the woman and eagle. It was a thrill to be undetected and witness the harmony between her and the magnificent predatory bird. Was it her eagle? How had she gotten it? Jim glanced at his watch. It was time to go. Reluctantly, taking one last look at them, he turned and crossed the road to the Blazer. Some of his happiness backwashed. In half an hour he would be facing her