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A Touch of the Beast

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A Touch of the Beast
Linda Winstead Jones

Hawk Donovan was seeking the truth about his mysterious past. And when his search led him to a former fertility clinic, for once the avowed loner had no choice but to ask for help from beautiful Sheryl Eldanis.The desirable vet didn't want the handsome rancher poking around her new office, but Hawk desperately needed access to the old clinic files–and her. Her strength enticed him; her wit seduced him. Hawk knew they could never have a future–unless he could find what he was looking for in the sinister records. But he soon feared it was too late to protect Sheryl. From a broken heart…and from the danger he'd brought to her door.

Hawk had been beautiful.

The way he walked, the way he and the mare moved together…it was like poetry in motion.

Now Sheryl looked at his face, lit by the glow of the dashboard. It was a hard face—unforgiving, but also honest. One more step toward him and she knew she’d be in too deep. This man oozed animal magnetism. What drew her to him? Chemical attraction? Biological need?

Whatever it was, she didn’t need it, a voice warned inside her head.

But like it or not, she wasn’t ready to turn her back on Hawk Donovan and his mysteries. Yet as she looked at his profile and tried to make sense out of everything she’d seen of this man, she got the distinct feeling that she didn’t want to know all his secrets….

A Touch of the Beast

Linda Winstead Jones

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

For Kathleen Stone. It’s readers like you

who make telling stories such a joy.


would rather write than do anything else. Since she cannot cook, gave up ironing many years ago, and finds cleaning the house a complete waste of time, she has plenty of time to devote to her obsession for writing. Occasionally she’s tried to expand her horizons by taking classes. In the past she’s taken instruction on yoga, French (a dismal failure), Chinese cooking, cake decorating (food-related classes are always a good choice, even for someone who can’t cook), belly dancing (trust me, this was a long time ago) and, of course, creative writing.

She lives in Huntsville, Alabama, with her husband of more years than she’s willing to admit and the youngest of their three sons.

She can be reached via www.eHarlequin.com or her own Web site www.lindawinsteadjones.com.


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 1

Hawk studied the boxes and bottles of remedies that were neatly arranged on the shelf. Greenlaurel’s sole pharmacy, Chapman Drugs, usually had everything a man might possibly need. But since the doctors were stumped about the cause of Cassie’s sudden onset of seizures, Hawk had no idea what to buy to make his sister feel better.

What he really wanted to do was hunt down one Dr. Shane Farhold and break the man’s scrawny neck. Farhold had always seemed like a decent enough guy, not the kind of man who would knock up a woman and then disappear. Hawk knew he’d be angry even if Cassie hadn’t been having strange spells.

He grabbed a couple of medications off the shelf. Something for nausea, something else for headaches. At the last minute he snagged a bottle of pink stuff. His mother had always given them that for every little illness. He didn’t really think it would do any good, but he had to try something. On the way out of town he’d stop at the grocery store for ginger ale and soda crackers. They were as likely as anything else to work.

Deep down he knew the medicines that might help Cassie with her normal pregnancy ailments would do nothing at all for the mild but disturbing seizures no one could explain. And he didn’t dare ask anyone about a treatment for the odd flashes of precognition that followed the episodes.

“You won’t find what you’re looking for here,” a smoky voice whispered.

Hawk turned sharply to find an older woman, one he did not recognize, standing just a few feet away. He hadn’t even known she was present until she’d spoken. In ordinary circumstances he knew very well what was going on around him; his worry for Cassie had clouded his senses.

The woman who looked up at him with fearless green eyes was not a resident of Greenlaurel, Texas, or the surrounding county. Hawk had grown up on a ranch outside this small town, and with the exception of his four years in the military, he’d spent his entire life here. Besides, except for Harmony Eastwood, a middle-aged, self-professed, die-hard hippie who had been emulating Stevie Nicks for more than twenty years, the ladies of Greenlaurel didn’t dress this way. The woman’s silver-streaked dark hair fell well past her shoulders, and the long, loose-fitting black dress she wore could have come straight out of the seventies.

“How do you know what I’m looking for?” Hawk asked sharply.

The woman leaned in slightly closer. “Your sister is ill, and you want only to take care of her. What she needs, for herself and for the baby, you won’t find in any pharmacy.”

Great. Apparently word was already out that Cassie was pregnant and sick. Not that Hawk cared, or ever had, what people thought about him or his family. But Cassie deserved better.

“Whatever you’re selling, I’m not buying.” He headed for the cash register at the front of the store.

“I’m not selling anything, Hawk.”

He wasn’t surprised that she knew his name, either. In a small town, information was easy enough to come by. Hawk glanced through the glass front door of the pharmacy and smiled at Baby. The big yellow dog—a mixed breed with a healthy dose of golden retriever—sat right where Hawk had told her to stay, watching for him through the glass and waiting patiently.

Hawk placed his purchases on the counter, and Ike Chapman began to ring them up. Slowly. “I heard that Cassie wasn’t feeling well,” Ike said with a nod of his balding head. “I hope she gets to feeling better real soon.”

“Thanks,” Hawk said succinctly.

The strange old woman circled around him, as if she were headed for the front door. Ike watched her as closely as Hawk did. After all, she was a stranger, and strangers in Greenlaurel were always suspect. The woman moved gracefully, but before she passed by, she swept in with a swish of her skirts to grab Hawk’s hand. She pressed a piece of paper into his palm and folded his fingers over the note. “What you need can be found here. Look to the past for your answers, Hawk.”
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