The Cowboy's Hidden Agenda. Kathleen Creighton

The Cowboy's Hidden Agenda - Kathleen Creighton

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      “You weren’t in any danger.”

      It was a bald-faced lie and Johnny knew it. Nevertheless, he felt entirely justified in adding bitterly, “I’d think you could trust me just a little.”

      Laurie’s bark of laughter made him wince. “Trust you? This from the man who kidnapped me?”

      He swung around to face her, blocking her way. “I’m also the man who saved your life,” he retorted. “Don’t forget that.”

      All he could do was stare back at her, with his heart thumping and his breath like fire in his lungs. Suddenly he absolutely knew what was going to happen—what had to happen—if he didn’t find some way to stop himself from kissing her.

      Stop himself? It would have been easier to stop his own beating heart.

      Dear Reader,

      Once again Intimate Moments is offering you six exciting and romantic reading choices, starting with Rogue’s Reform by perennial reader favorite Marilyn Pappano. This latest title in her popular HEARTBREAK CANYON miniseries features a hero who’d spent his life courting trouble—until he found himself courting the lovely woman carrying his child after one night of unforgettable passion.

      Award-winner Kathleen Creighton goes back INTO THE HEARTLAND with The Cowboy’s Hidden Agenda, a compelling tale of secret identity and kidnapping—and an irresistible hero by the name of Johnny Bronco. Carla Cassidy’s In a Heartbeat will have you smiling through tears. In other words, it provides a perfect emotional experience. In Anything for Her Marriage, Karen Templeton proves why readers look forward to her books, telling a tale of a pregnant bride, a marriage of convenience and love that knows no limits. With Every Little Thing Linda Winstead Jones makes a return to the line, offering a romantic and suspenseful pairing of opposites. Finally, welcome Linda Castillo, who debuts with Remember the Night. You’ll certainly remember her and be looking forward to her return.

      Enjoy—and come back next month for still more of the best and most exciting romantic reading around, available every month only in Silhouette Intimate Moments.



      Leslie J. Wainger

      Executive Senior Editor

      The Cowboy’s Hidden Agenda

      Kathleen Creighton


      has roots deep in the California soil, but has relocated to South Carolina. As a child, she enjoyed listening to old timers’ tales, and her fascination with the past only deepened as she grew older. Today, she says she is interested in everything—art, music, gardening, zoology, anthropology and history—but people are at the top of her list. She also has a lifelong passion for writing, and now combines her two loves in romance novels.


      Chapter 1

      Chapter 2

      Chapter 3

      Chapter 4

      Chapter 5

      Chapter 6

      Chapter 7

      Chapter 8

      Chapter 9

      Chapter 10

      Chapter 11

      Chapter 12

      Chapter 13

      Chapter 14

      Chapter 1

      It was a coyote’s wail that broke the fragile bonds of sleep. Lauren opened her eyes to find a thin silvery light streaming through the window bars above her cot—whether from the moon or approaching dawn she had no way of knowing. They’d taken away her watch, along with her shoes.

      But they hadn’t bound or gagged her. Thank heaven for small favors. She’d actually enjoyed, if that was the word, a fairly comfortable night on the narrow metal-frame bed, soothed to sleep by the familiar lullabies of lowing cattle and whickering horses. In the old saddle house they’d chosen for her temporary prison, the comforting smells of leather and wool and horse sweat and liniment had taken her back to places of her childhood, to those rare and wonderful long-ago summers of freedom on the Tipsy Pee Ranch.

      For that small kindness she supposed she had her jailer to thank—though her stomach clenched and her heart bumped in frustrated anger at the idea of being in the smallest way beholden to him. Him. The Indian. The one they called Bronco.

      If only… The words hurled themselves like trapped sparrows against the barriers of her mind. If only…

      But what could she have done differently? How might she have steered her course away from this disaster?

      You know the answer to that, her mind replied. You should have stayed home in Des Moines, taken the firm’s job offer, married Benjamin and never come to Texas at all.

      No! Her heart rejected that with a silent cry that was also a plea for understanding. I had to do it. If I’d stayed, part of me—maybe the best part—would surely have died.

      So if she truly did believe that coming back to West Texas, to the Tipsy Pee Ranch, had been the right thing to do, where had things gone so wrong? How had she come to be locked up in a makeshift prison somewhere in Arizona with an Apache cowboy named Bronco for her jailer?

      As if the very intensity of her thoughts had conjured him up, there was a loud creak and a whisper of cool air, fragrant with mesquite and juniper, and a man’s shape was silhouetted against the window bars. A voice spoke softly, raising the fine hairs on her skin.

      “Rise and shine, Laurie Brown. You decent? If you are, I’ll turn on some light.”

      Grudgingly she sat up, and even though she was fully clothed, pulled the rough woolen blanket around her. One hand went automatically to her hair, fingers raking through it to comb it away from her face. The aroma of coffee taunted her.

      “I’m decent.” She bit the words off like a miser handing out tips, resenting every one. “How about you?” His chuckle was barely a ripple in the darkness.

      Light stabbed at her eyes, and she turned her head away from its source, away from him, not wanting to look at him, remember his face or the things she’d thought and felt when she’d first laid eyes on him. Embarrassing, foolish things…

      “Next up, comin’ outta chute number three—Johnny Bronco, up on Ol’ Number Seven. This is a local boy, ladies and gentlemen—”

      As if too volatile to be contained a moment longer, horse and rider erupted from the gate, interrupting the announcer’s drone like a shout. All around the dusty arena the spectators seemed to draw and hold their collective breath.

      Almost against her will, Lauren moved closer to the steel pole-and-bar fence; in spite of her lifelong love affair with horses—or perhaps because of it—she’d never cared much for rodeos. But as she braced a hand on the crossbar and ducked her head to get a clearer view, her pulse began to pound in almost perfect sync with the thud of the bronc’s hooves on the baked earth. She’d never seen a man ride an exploding bomb before.

      As always, it was the horse that drew her attention first—though he was no great beauty, a rusty black with the scruffy jug-headed look of a wild mustang; the mean eyes, laid-back ears and bared teeth of a born outlaw. He didn’t just buck with the rhythmic crow-hopping motion of the average bronc, either. This one was a real high roller, employing the wickedly erratic corkscrew action of a Brahma bull.


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