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Cowboy, Take Me Away

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Cowboy, Take Me Away
Kathleen Eagle

The camera doesn’t lie… When photographer Skyler first fixed her lens on gorgeous cowboy Trace, she liked what she saw but didn’t give it much thought. Until everywhere she went, there he was, and the heat between them was building to boiling point. As a widow struggling with debts and loyalties from a former life, Skyler needed to stay focused, especially if she wanted to achieve her dream of becoming a mother.Was Trace a dangerous distraction, a mere summer fling? Or did this younger man – so deep, so passionate – hold the key to a future that would make all her dreams come true?

“What’s happening tomorrow?”

His fingers skimmed her palm. “Our first kiss.”


“Yeah. First thing.” He winked at her. “So tell me when it’s midnight.”

“I’m nobody’s timekeeper, Trace.”

“Look at me.” He waited for Skyler’s full attention, which she granted. “Right here, right now, you and me. One kiss to start the day. It’s my birthday.” He glanced at her watch. “It’s midnight.”

“Happy birthday.” She tipped her head and leaned close to bestow a friendly kiss.

He slid his arm around her and met her halfway, raising the ante on her gift by making it interactive, taking her breath away. She felt trembly inside when he lifted his head and looked at her with a twinkle in his eyes that said got’cha.

Dear Reader,

“Cowboy, Take Me Away” is an incredibly romantic song recorded by the Dixie Chicks. The title itself conjures an image silhouetted against a painted Western sky—two lovers on one magnificent horse taking the long way home.

Trace and Skyler are about as different as two people can be, but they have at least one thing in common: each lives in a house that doesn’t feel like home. They meet in the heat of summer, when excitement runs higher, hearts beat faster, and risks are easier to take because it’s rodeo season. Can a cautious woman like Skyler allow herself to be taken away from a world that holds no promise for her by a man who makes his living “going down the road”?

Well, maybe for a day or two.

Happy reading!

Kathleen Eagle

About the Author

KATHLEEN EAGLE published her first book, a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award winner, in 1984. Since then she has published more than forty books, including historical and contemporary, series and single titles, earning her nearly every award in the industry. Her books have consistently appeared on regional and national bestseller lists, including the USA TODAY list and the New York Times extended bestseller list.

Kathleen lives in Minnesota with her husband, who is Lakota Sioux. They have three grown children and three lively grandchildren.

Cowboy, Take Me Away

Kathleen Eagle

www.millsandboon.co.uk (http://www.millsandboon.co.uk)

For my wonderful editors, Leslie Wainger

and Charles Griemsman.

Chapter One

Skyler Quinn’s viewfinder served as both protection and pretext for her hungry eye. Naked, her eye was never more than mildly interested. Behind the camera, it was appreciative of all things bright and beautiful. The viewfinder found and framed views she had schooled herself to ignore, like the rear view of five fine-looking cowboys hooked over a fence. She would call the shot Five Perfect Pairs of Jeans.

And then there were four.

Skyler lowered the camera. The best pair of jeans was getting away. Up one side of the fence and down the other, the cowboy on the far left had spoiled the symmetry of her shot. She climbed a set of wooden steps and took a position on the first landing of the outdoor grandstand, where an audience would later gather to watch professional rodeo cowboys ride, rope and race for cash prizes. For now, the place belonged to cowboys, critters and one unobtrusive camera.

Skyler watched the runaway piece of her picture stride purposefully across the dusty arena toward one of several ropers who were warming up to compete in the afternoon “slack” for overflow timed-event contestants. The roper responded to a quick gesture as though he’d been summoned by the coach.

Skyler zoomed in as the two men changed places. She knew horses, and the blazed-face sorrel hadn’t been working for his rider, but the animal collected himself immediately with a new man in the saddle. The camera committed the subtleties of change to its memory card. Eyes, ears, carriage, gait—the animal transformed from ordinary to outstanding before Skyler’s hidden eye.

Now, that’s what I’m talking about.

Or would talk about when she got around to putting a story together. The centaur lived, she would claim. He was no freak of nature, anything but barbaric, and beyond comparison with a mere horse master. He was a partner. He shared his brainpower with the horse and the horse gave him legs. It was a pleasing blend of assets, particularly when both partners were beautifully supplied. Not only would her pictures tell the story, but they could sell the story. Most horse magazines were bought and read by women, and here was a man who would stop any girl’s thumb-through dead in its tracks. Long, lean, lithe and leggy, he was made to ride. The square chin and chiseled jaw were promising, but she wished he would push his hat back a little so she could see more of his face.

Skyler kept her distance as she followed the cowboy through his ride. She supposed he was giving a demonstration—teaching, selling, maybe considering a purchase. A cowboy with a good roping horse often “mounted” other ropers for a share of their winnings, but the sorrel didn’t fit the bill. She wondered what the cowboy said to the original rider after his smooth dismount. Deal, no deal, or a word of advice? She’d be interested in the man’s advice. Lately she’d been learning the difference between horse master—that would be Skyler—and master trainer, which she was not. Yet.

At the moment she was interested in taking pictures. She clambered down the grandstand steps and strolled toward the exit, eyeing a long shot down an alley where two palominos were visiting across a portable panel fence. The rodeo wasn’t Skyler’s favorite venue, but horses and horsemen were among her favorite subjects for her second-favorite hobby. And it was high time she turned at least one of her hobbies into an income-earning proposition.

“Business or pleasure?”

Skyler turned to the sound of a deep, smooth voice and looked directly into engaging gold-brown eyes. Unexpected, unshielded, up close and personal. Thereyou are, said her heart. “I beg your pardon?” said her mouth.

“You were taking pictures of me.” His eyes hinted at some amusement, but no uncertainty. “Are you a professional or a fan?”

Skyler’s brain cartwheeled over her other body parts and took charge.

“I don’t know you, but I know horse sense when I see it, and I like to take pictures.” She smiled. His face complemented his body—long, slender, neatly groomed, ready for a close-up. “I wouldn’t mind getting paid to do it, but at the moment, it’s merely my pleasure.”

“Taking pictures of … horse sense.”

She turned the camera on, pressed a button and turned the display his way. “Would you like to see?”

He clicked through her pictures. “You’ve got a powerful zoom there. Look at that.” He stepped closer and shared a peek. “You can see where I nicked myself shaving this morning.”

“I don’t see anything.”

“Luckily, it’s just my face. No harm done to the horse sense.”

“It’s a valuable asset.” She nodded toward the picture on the camera display. Commanding Cowboy on a Collected Mount. “Do you have an interest in this horse?”

“I might buy him.” He studied the picture, considering. “If the price is right. This guy’s trying to take him in the wrong direction. He’s not a roping horse. He’s small and he’s quick.” Their fingers touched as he handed the camera back. She bit back an apology and a cliché about cold hands. His warmth reached his eyes. “Make a nice cuttin’ horse.”

“You’re a trainer?” Obviously.

“I’m a bronc rider. Got no sense at all.” He tucked his thumbs into the front pockets of his jeans. “You coming to the show tonight? “

“I haven’t decided.” She was committed to watching the ropers in the afternoon slack, which moments ago had seemed like enough rodeo for one day.

“You’d get some good pictures.”
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