Author: Emma Lang
Series: #3 in the Circle Eight series
A Texas Ranger, a lady blacksmith, a fierce passion, a dangerous game.
Caleb Graham has spent the last four years in too many dangerous situations to count. As a Texas Ranger, he knows no fear, or at least he never shows it. When he’s sent to force a blacksmith off government seized property, he runs face to face into the woman who will change his life.
Aurora Foster grew up on the very land the obnoxious Ranger is trying to throw her off of. Her parents and her husband died for it and there is no chance she would leave without a fight. A lady blacksmith might be an anomaly but she has the strength of the steel she forges and the courage to fight for what she believes is right.
When Aurora is inadvertently injured by Caleb, he seeks medical help from a neighboring ranch. The sprawling hacienda is full of the finer things in life and the one person Caleb never expected to see again… his youngest brother Benjamin. Forced to flee from a man who has kept the boy captive, the trio become traveling companions in a deadly game where no one wins.
Life turns upside down and sideways for Caleb and Aurora, caught in a game neither of them expected while they desperately try to save the boy who was lost to his family. Pursued and hunted, the three of them ride for the Circle Eight ranch. The unlikely pair of rescuers fight their attraction and for their lives.
Caleb was pleasantly full of meatloaf and green beans, and even a piece of peach pie. The restaurant in the tiny town of Marks Creek was a treasure. He hadn’t had such a wonderful meal outside of the Circle Eight. He was in a good mood, surprisingly good.
Not only had he located Rory Foster but he had directions to the smithy. The mission was by far the easiest he’d ever been sent on. Now he had to convince Foster to leave the property. Texas had plans for that particular parcel of land and they had let him squat there long enough. Caleb didn’t know the particulars, and he didn’t want to know. All he had to do was carry out his orders and then ride back to headquarters for his next assignment.
It should be easy as the ride out to Foster’s smithy. Regardless of what a good mood he was in, Caleb made sure his pistol and rifle were both loaded. He was about to evict a man of what was perceived as “his” property. There would be resistance, but if Caleb was smart, he would control the situation from the moment he stepped foot on the property.
The area was beautiful with rolling hills, a plump creek running freely and the kind of thick grass cattle could get fat on. It was clear why the smithy stayed when the Republic of Texas told him to leave. Caleb might have stayed too if he’d been smack dab in the middle of such rich land.
He followed the smell of smoke and rode up to a square building with a sign that read “Foster’s Smithy” in faded red letters. It was a typical blacksmith’s shop, with large windows controlled by hinged wood panels. The smoke and heat could get fierce inside the building. There was an enormous stone forge inside and a large number of tools scattered around, not to mention an anvil that probably weighed more than a team of horses. It was a solid shop and Caleb felt a pinch of guilt for arriving to take it all away from Foster.
He dismounted and finally noticed the tiny shack in the shadows behind the smithy. It wasn’t quite a house, but it did have a door, one tiny window and a smoke stack, which meant there was a heat source inside, likely a stove of some sort. It must be where the blacksmith lived, modest as it was. There was great care taken in the actual smithy which told Caleb the man might be more difficult to remove than he expected.
“Foster?” Caleb walked into the larger building. The forge wasn’t fired up, the embers glowed orange. “Is anybody here?”
He hoped like hell nobody told the man there was a marshal on the way. If so, his job got even harder. Caleb kept his hand on his pistol as he walked around the building. Whoever the blacksmith was, he had skills. The iron work was top notch, even in the pieces that weren’t finished yet.
“Who are you?” A woman’s voice startled him from his perusal.
He turned to find a man wearing a leather apron and cap, and trousers that had seen better days. Caleb shook his head and frowned at him.
“Ranger Caleb Graham. Who are you?” He couldn’t equate the husky woman’s voice with the blacksmith. Was he hiding her in the apron?
The voice came from the man’s mouth. The ground shifted beneath his feet as realization hit him. Sweet heaven above. Rory Foster. Aurora Foster. Holy hell. The blacksmith he was there to evict was a woman? When he got back to headquarters, he’d give his commander a piece of his mind about this particular assignment.
“You’re a woman.”
“I can see why you’re a crack man of the law, ranger.” She raised one brow. “You’re trespassing.”
He swallowed his response to her sarcasm. She definitely wasn’t a wilting flower but the leather apron should have told him that. “You have that backwards, Mrs. Foster. You are the one trespassing. This property belongs to the Republic of Texas.”
Her mouth twisted. “That’s ridiculous. My parents settled this land twenty years ago. The republic can go find someone else to harass.” A very large, lethal looking sickle appeared in her hand from beneath the apron. “Now leave.”
Caleb took a few moments to study her. Taller than the average woman, she also had muscles most women didn’t. Honed, lean arms and long hands, a heart-shaped face with an upturned nose. The one thing that set her apart were the amber eyes currently staring holes in him. They were an unusual shade, like the colors of the embers in the forge behind him.
“I can’t do that.”
“Then I will make you.” She pulled a huge cleaver out with her other hand. The woman was a lethal weapon with all the blades she made.
Caleb decided to appeal to the woman’s logical side, if she had one. Truth was, he was distracted by the way she looked and spoke. He’d had plenty of experience with females, but no one like Aurora Foster. “You’re the blacksmith Rory Foster. Is that correct?”
“Only my friends call me Rory. You can call me Mrs. Foster as you ride off my land.” She ran the sickle down the edge of the cleaver. It made a screeching sound that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Was she going to chop him into pieces?
“It’s not your land.”
“That’s a pile of horse shit. This land belonged to my father and now it belongs to me.” Her tone and her expression told him he had a hell of a fight on his hands.
“Females can’t own property in Texas, Mrs. Foster. I’m guessing no one ever told you that. It’s understandable that you think this is yours—”
“I don’t think anything. I know.” She stepped closer, her hands tightening on the weapons. “Now get out before I make you leave.”
Caleb sighed. “I can’t leave.” He didn’t want to pull his pistol on the woman. Hell, even the most aggravating female deserved respect. “Ma’am, this is my job. I have an assignment to remove an illegal squatter off land owned by the Republic of Texas. I can’t leave until it’s done.”
She bared her teeth. “Get out of my smithy.”
About the Author:
Beth Williamson, who also writes as Emma Lang, is an award-winning, bestselling author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her books range from sensual to scorching hot. She is a Career Achievement Award Nominee in Erotic Romance by Romantic Times Magazine, in both 2009 and 2010.
Beth has always been a dreamer, never able to escape her imagination. It led her to the craft of writing romance novels. She’s passionate about purple, books, and her family. She has a weakness for shoes and purses, as well as bookstores. Her path in life has taken several right turns, but she’s been with the man of her dreams for more than 20 years.
Beth works full-time and writes romance novels evening, weekends, early mornings and whenever there is a break in the madness. She is compassionate, funny, a bit reserved at times, tenacious and a little quirky. Her cowboys and western romances speak of a bygone era, bringing her readers to an age where men were honest, hard and packing heat. For a change of pace, she also dives into some smokin’ hot contemporaries, bringing you heat, romance and snappy dialogue.
Life might be chaotic, as life usually is, but Beth always keeps a smile on her face, a song in her heart, and a cowboy on her mind. ;)
It wouldn’t be a book launch without a giveaway ;) Beth has graciously offered a giveaway of an ebook copy of Caleb – so comment here to win! The contest will close on the 27th of February (last day of the blog tour) and winner will be drawn from random.