K. J. Dahlen
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1
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When Colten rescues an accident victim he finds out she has no memory of the accident or what happened just before the accident. The police claim she’s wanted for murder, but she can’t remember what her own name is. When she begins to remember the night of the murder, it wasn’t her that pulled the trigger but a man in a blue uniform. Bethany has to remember what really happened the night someone shot her brother and why before whoever is after her finds her with Colten because she has a feeling what she witnessed might get her killed.
Colton glanced out from under the rim of his Stetson hat as his horse picked his way through the snow storm. His slicker kept him relatively dry, but the air was saturated with dampness. Colton gazed at the darkened sky frown wrinkles creasing his forehead. After such a dry summer and fall all this snow wasn’t doing anyone any good. The ground wasn’t frozen enough to allow the snow to stay. A couple of days and the snow would melt and leave behind a mess of mud and mire unless the temperatures dropped drastically.
Colton had been working this morning checking line fences. His ranch was home to about one hundred fifty cattle. He was out checking his fences to make sure his cattle stayed within the boundaries of his property. There was a chill in the air. Glancing at the skies he knew the storm wasn’t over yet. Winter could be harsh in Minnesota but it wasn’t here yet. This, he knew, was only the beginning; even though it was December he knew January and February could be worse.
He nudged his horse to the edge of the creek watching the waters as they swirled and rushed past him. He saw ice crusting around the edges, but with the depth of the creek and the fast paced current, the creek wouldn’t freeze until much later in the season. Because of the dry summer and fall the water level was down and Colton was worried. This stream weaved its way all over the property. His cattle needed the water it provided to survive. From the corner of his eye he caught the sight of something that didn’t belong in the water. It was a small shoe. Colton frowned and slid off his horse. Reaching into the water he grabbed the shoe and hauled it out of the river. Looking at it, he found it was a woman’s tennis shoe. Colton glanced around but didn’t find anything else in or around the water that didn’t belong there. Grabbing the reins of his horse he began walking upstream. Around the bend of the stream he found the wreckage of a car that had come off the road above the creek. The car had come to a sudden stop against a tree beside the water. The car was a small dark blue sedan and the driver’s side bumper was crumpled as it rested against the clump of trees. Colton could also see some damage to the back passenger side panels. He wasn’t sure what caused the damage in the back but could hazard a guess. He quickly glanced up the embankment and found a slight indent of the path down the hill the car took. Snow had covered some of the indent and that told him the accident happened sometime during the night. One of the doors was open and there was a young woman slumped in the front seat.
Colton made his way over to the car and checked the woman’s condition. She had a nasty cut on her forehead and when he touched her neck for a pulse, she frowned and tried to stir but couldn’t. Her skin was pale except for the cut on her forehead. He glanced at the windshield and found a spot where her head met the windshield. The oval impact area was marked by a spider web effect in the safety glass. Her skin was cold and damp and Colton knew he couldn’t leave her here. Another couple of hours and she could freeze to death. She was dressed in black jeans and a blue sweater but she wasn’t wearing a jacket. He glanced down at her feet and found she was only wearing one shoe. How she lost the other shoe in the creek was anybody’s guess. All he knew was her body temperature was dangerously low and she needed his help.
He gathered her into his arms and carried her over to his horse. She wasn’t very big and she didn’t weigh more than a hay bale. He lifted her easily. Knowing he had to get her warm in a hurry, he draped her in front of the saddle then mounted his horse and adjusted her body to fit the curve of his own. When he thought she was secure, he gathered the reins and turned his horse toward home.