I’m pleased as punch to announce Devils on Horseback: Zeke is now available in print! Wahoo!
Zeke is the third book in the series and he was by far the hardest devil to tackle. I think it’s because he’s the most self-controlled, the cool-eyed blond with a spine of steel who never lets himself lose control… or does he? *evil grin* Part of the fun in writing such an alpha hero is the satisfaction of making him lose control.
He’s stubborn, bossy and suffering. I had to find a tough heroine, one who had been through her own private hell, to be Zeke’s mate. Naomi is a woman who’d survived by her wit and instincts. She knows there’s something different about the new sheriff of Tanger but she won’t simply give in because he pushes her. Oh, no, she makes him work for it y’all.
I am including an excerpt below, this is the first time Zeke allows Naomi to see beneath his shell. It’s sweet, sexy and tender. Enjoy!
A cool man, a fiery woman, a love destined to ignite.
Book 3 of the Devils on Horseback series
Intense, reserved and known for his strategic thinking, Zeke Blackwood has struggled to find his place in the post-war world. After the violent death of the first woman to capture his heart, Zeke retreats into a whisky bottle—until he’s handed the position of town sheriff.
Zeke sobers up and tries his damnedest to be the best lawman he can be. He hadn’t counted on the tempting new saloon girl to jeopardize his cold, unhappy existence.
Naomi Tucker is a survivor, a woman who made it through the war on her own wit and strength. She hoped moving to Tanger, Texas would bring her the peace and stability she yearns to find. Instead she runs head-on into a cool-eyed sheriff who welcomes her to his bed, only to push her away.
The wildness of the West is far from tamed. It threatens the town’s efforts to rebuild, Zeke’s bond with the Devils—and his fragile relationship with Naomi. As Zeke’s hold on sobriety slips, he and Naomi must choose between settling for half a life apart, or embracing all they could be. Together.
Zeke sat on the edge of the bed and held his face in his hands. A dull throb in his head was joined by an ache in his ribs. Those boys had lit into him good. Normally he’d be able to hold his own against two men, but with the small space in the cell, he’d had no room to maneuver. Bastards.
He was more angry than anything and fully intended on charging them with assault. A judge came into town every month, should be easy enough to request he come sooner.
He stretched, wincing as a sharp pain gripped his back. With a groan, he lay on the bed and closed his eyes. Doc Barham had given him a little bottle of laudanum, but Zeke hated to take it since it made him lose control. With his behavior of late, losing control had become a problem. It certainly got him in trouble with the two drunks.
When a small knock sounded at the door, Zeke clenched his jaw.
“What?” he snapped, unwilling to talk to Lee about what happened.
Naomi’s quiet voice made him sit up too fast. He gasped against the rush of blood through his head. She must’ve heard him because she opened the door and peeked in.
“Yeah, I’m here.” Zeke didn’t want to admit to himself how glad he was to see her. The petite woman had gotten under his skin in the last two weeks, to the point her very presence actually made him feel better. Damn, he was supposed to be avoiding saloon women, not consorting with them every chance he got.
“Can I come in?”
She shouldn’t be alone with him in his bedroom though, no matter if she worked at the saloon or not. He was the sheriff and no doubt the old cronies on the town council would fire him if they knew. Zeke was well aware of all of it, yet it didn’t stop him from inviting her in.
Not only had he thrown caution under her little feet, but he’d said “please” too. Zeke knew then his plan to keep his distance from Naomi had failed miserably, and he started to shake. The urge to sling back a shot of whiskey roared through him.
“I met Gideon and he told me what happened. I was, well, I was worried.” Her confession dropped into the silence of the room.
Zeke, for the first time in his life, was overwhelmed by a woman. The sincerity of her tone and the fact she’d been worried about him made his throat close. Soft comfort and words from women hadn’t been prevalent in his life. His mother had been weak and dependent on his father, then him, for everything. Naomi had taken a lifetime’s worth of experience and reduced it to dust.
She stepped into the room and closed the door, her rose scent washing over him. He clenched his teeth and swallowed, trying to dislodge the words stuck there.
“Are you okay?”
He sucked in a shaky breath and swung his legs around the side of the bed, then patted the spot next to him. His thirst, pain, embarrassment and discomfort forgotten, he could only see her. In the moonlight, she looked ethereal, like an angel come to visit him. It seemed the preacher had been right in his description of her.
Naomi sat down gently, almost as if she was afraid, and peered at him in the dim light. “Zeke, I—”
He put his hand against her lips, their softness making his fingers tremble. “You shouldn’t be here alone with me.”
She smiled beneath his hand. “I want to be.”
Zeke cupped her face and tried to read what lurked in the hazel depths of her eyes. All he saw were shadows and uncertainties, a common theme in his life the last five years. He knew he shouldn’t be with her, but for once he was going to do what his heart told him.
God help him. He was listening to his heart.
“You didn’t get hurt in the brawl, did you?” He tried to find a topic to keep his mind, and his body, from focusing on kissing her.
“No, we hid behind the bar.” She smiled. “Thank you for coming to stop it again. You seem to be quite good at being a sheriff, for a new one, I mean.”
He chuckled at her teasing. “I suppose. It ain’t hard, well I guess it is sometimes.” He pressed a hand to his aching ribs.
“Are you all right? Gideon told me you were hurt.” She covered his hand with hers.
“I’ll live.” He pulled her hand up and kissed the palm. Zeke felt a shiver snake through her at the touch of his lips.
“I’m not sure what’s happening, Zeke.” She gazed at the palm of her hand. “Why did I come here?” she sounded as confused as he was.
“Probably for the same reason I came to your bed.” Zeke’s body began to react to being closer to hers. It wasn’t just a sexual reaction, it was something else too. That something else was unidentifiable, and it scared him.
Yet he didn’t ask her to leave.
She nodded, her blonde hair sliding over the dress with a soft sound. “I’ve been fighting for survival for three years, and now it seems I have to fight for something else.”
She met his gaze. “My heart. You knocked me sideways, Sheriff, and I find myself liking it.”
Zeke knew exactly what she meant. “I don’t want to be responsible for your heart, for anyone’s heart. The last year has brought me nothing but misery, and I can’t seem to get myself out of the hole I dug for myself. I don’t want to subject you to the same hell.” His voice had descended into a hoarse whisper full of emotion.
She took his hand, her little fingers wrapping around his in comfort, bringing a lump to his throat.
“I understand. Lucy told me about Allison. I’m so sorry.”
The mention of Allison made his stomach clench. Once upon a time, she might have been his wife. Now she was just another ghost in his heart.
“She’s gone, and I’m still here. Now you’re here too.” He squeezed her hand. “I just want to be sure you understand I ain’t looking for anything from you.”
Zeke sensed she didn’t believe a word he said, yet she remained silent. He hadn’t wanted a woman getting under his skin, but it was too late for that.
“Kiss me.” Her husky command sent a shiver down his skin.
“Are you sure?” He knew she should leave, get away before their sexual relationship continued, but he couldn’t seem to let go of her hand.
“Kiss me.” This time her voice was firmer, and he obeyed.
He lowered his head and kissed her, capturing her breath into his mouth, inhaling her essence. It began slowly, but the heat between them flared to life.
Their previous encounters had been fierce matings, full of passion and animal instinct. This time it was gentle—for the first time they were making love.