Jake divided his efforts between the ranches and whenever his schedule allowed, he sought Kat out. Cattle became their main point of discussion and he promised to teach her more about the upcoming round up. This satisfied her for a while, but Kat wasn’t one to sit idle, and since Jake didn’t have time to order supplies and meet the monthly payroll, she insisted on assuming those responsibilities.
The thought of Angela’s pregnancy was always on her mind. Surely the woman was showing some signs by now, it had been three weeks since the dance. She’d told Rodriguez she’d consider the sale, but there was still the terms of Chance’s will.
Abby snuggled close to Jake and wrapped her arms around his neck, squeezing him with all her might. He kissed her nose, grinning at her expression when she rubbed her eyes. “I think this sleepy head needs to go to bed.”
Kat smiled at Abby. “Rachel, would you mind taking her to her room?”
Rachel laid her needlepoint aside and rose from the chair. “It’s my pleasure.” She held her arms out to take the child.
"Kat, let’s take a walk. We won’t go far.”
The unexpected invitation was the first time he’d offered to take her anywhere alone.
“I’d enjoy the fresh air.” She reached for her cloak.
“Let me.” His fingers brushed against hers.
Her resolve weakened, and she wondered if he knew—he had the power to break her heart once more. Giddy as a girl on her a date, Kat waited for him to place the wrap around her shoulders. As soon as he locked his arm through hers, they strolled towards the corral, content to share each other’s company.
“Something has been ??????????????????????
The moonlight cast a dim shadow in the dark corral. Joe spent several days doctoring the injured leg of the white mustang and soon, they’d release the horse to join the herd again. The mustang tossed its flowing mane from side to side, its breath like white smoke in the wintry night air.
“Isn’t she incredible?”
“Yes, she is,” said Jake, leaning closer to Kat.
Kat didn’t breathe, willing him to kiss her.
He straightened his shoulders. “xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx”
Kat tried to concentrate, but this close to him, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.
Jake didn’t miss the xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, groaned and took her in his arms. Their lips met—warm and soft. Kat inhaled the light scent of pine kindling on his jacket.
A bullet ripped into the fence post next to them.
Jake crushed her hand in his. “Kat, barn. Run!”
Even in her heavy skirt, she burst into a gutsy sprint, matching his pace. Another shot echoed through the night air, pinging against the wood on the barn. He shoved her through the doorway. Kat fell, taking him down with her.
Jake recovered first. He rolled her over. Relieved not to see any blood, he slid his hands over her arms feeling for broken bones. “Are you all right?”
“Yes. Are you?” Trembling she clenched his hand.
“Fine,” he said, sucking in air.
“Who is shooting at us?”
He stuck his finger through a hole...