Samantha Hughes has one day to escape from her wicked uncle, and a sign in the post office is her answer. She’ll cut her hair to pose as a man and become Sam Hughes, a Pony Express rider.
Valerian Fitzpatrick doesn’t want the weight of responsibility that his brothers have in the family business. Fortunately, the Pony Express offers a chance to make his own way in the world.
He assumes his new buddy, Sam, is on the run from the law, until she’s hit by a stray gunshot and he has to undress her to staunch the wound. Friendship quickly turns to attraction—and more—but when Sam’s uncle tracks her down, she is forced to run yet again.
Val’s determined to find her, but will a future with Sam mean giving up the freedom he’s always craved?
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Samantha breathed a sigh of relief as the Seneca station came into view. Two days in the saddle made her one tired woman. But now she had to act as if it was nothing, as if long days in the saddle were something she was used to—and she had to convince the man in charge that she was a fellow. She pulled her hat low over her eyes as she prepared to dismount and meet the gentleman who emerged from the station.
“About time you got here. These the Lafontaine horses?”
“Yep.” Sam kept her voice low and curt.
“Well, put them in the barn and see to them. Then come inside for supper, and we’ll talk.”
Samantha hurried to do the man’s bidding, after sending a cursory glance to the station, which was actually a hotel. It was a stagecoach stop as well as the first home station for the men who would gallop across the country as Pony Express riders. The Smith Hotel was a busy place, much more so than Samantha cared for. Uncle Jack could emerge from a stagecoach and find her within a few days if he figured out in what direction she’d gone. Maybe she’d move on. Surely if she went farther west, she’d find an outpost where only riders would come through.
She led the horses into the barn, put them into stalls, fed them some good grain, and filled their troughs with water. As she rubbed them both down and brushed the trail dust from their hides, she thought about her options.
She found her way to the dining room of the big hotel and met up with the station manager, a grizzly-looking man with a twinkle in his eye. He grabbed hold of Samantha’s hand and shook it, hard. Samantha blinked to keep the sudden tears from falling as she winced in pain.
“Glad to meet you. Name’s Gus, and this here’s my wife, Emma. She’s the one responsible for all the good grub. Now, sit and talk to me.”
Emma served them and returned to the kitchen. It was late afternoon, and thankfully, they were alone in the large dining hall. Samantha breathed a small sigh of relief. She reached for a warm roll, inhaling the yeasty scent. After two days in the saddle with only jerky and apples to eat, the food before her was a slice of heaven. She loaded up her plate before she opened the conversation. “My name’s Sam Hughes, and I’m from over St. Joe way. What do you want to know?”
Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it on a covered wagon headed west or in present day small town America. Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Historic and Contemporary RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at email@example.com. Visit her website at www.beckylowerauthor.com