Read the 1st Chapter of Her Long Hot Surrender Free

23 May

Her Long Hot SurrenderHER LONG HOT SURRENDER

Raw Texas Heat  #3

KAYLA KNIGHT

Copyright © 2011

Prologue

Madison nervously glanced at her watch. She figured she had exactly eight minutes to enter Carson’s study and access his computer. Her husband was so predictable. Every morning, he’d rise at six thirty, take a shower, and breakfast by seven. Today was no exception.

Standing outside his study, her whole body trembled. She was frightened, but there was no going back. There was a very secretive part of his life that he kept hidden from her. After years of speculation, she’d finally decided to find out for herself. She just had to know what made Carson tick.

No one was allowed to enter his study, apart from him. He’d set up an alarm and pass code to protect the information inside from prying eyes—including hers. The brief period after he’d booted up his computer was her only chance of entering unseen. Once he’d switched it on, he’d always go and make himself a strong black coffee, and retrieve the newspapers and mail from the hallstand. For a few short minutes, the alarm would be switched off, leaving just the pass code to stop anyone from entering.

Thankfully, she had an excellent memory. On the few occasions she’d been around when he’d entered his study, she’d glimpsed several of the numbers he’d punched in the keypad. A nine, a three, a five, what else was there? Yes a six, a four, and a seven. She desperately hoped she knew all the numbers, and in the right order, too.

Knowing what was at stake, her hand shook as she entered the digits on the shiny chrome pad. The resounding click as it unlocked was immensely satisfying. She let out a long sigh of relief. Breathe, Madison, breathe. She pushed open the door. Her relief felt short lived as she closed it behind her. Time was of the essence now.

Six minutes.

If Carson found her in here, she had no doubt she would suffer the same ill fate that had befallen many of his enemies. People who upset her husband just seemed to disappear. What happened to them she hadn’t a clue, but maybe, somewhere on his computer would be the answer?

Five minutes.

Keeping a close watch on the door, she went over to the computer. It had already booted up and sat patiently awaiting a password, the screen blank. Her heart beat frantically in her chest. If she couldn’t guess it, then all would be lost. Her breathing had become shallow and ragged, and small beads of perspiration collected on her brow. Working on instinct she typed his last name, Delaware—nothing. Fuck.

Four minutes.

“Think woman, think. For God’s sake, think.” Madison wracked her brain. What did Carson always say? He’d once boasted that he must be the only person in the whole of the United States who knew how to spell the name of his hometown—Kosciusko. He would always get so angry when the newspapers got it wrong.

Three minutes.

With shaking hands she typed the word—Kosciusko.

“Thank God, thank God,” she whispered as the computer immediately came to life. With trembling fingers she slotted her USB stick into the port and began combing through his files, sending everything she could to the portable device. Her mouth felt bone dry.

She glanced at her watch again. If she didn’t get what she needed now, there wouldn’t be a second chance. Two minutes from now he’d be entering the study. Hurry, Madison, hurry.

With the final document downloading, she breathed a sigh of relief, then pulled the storage device from the computer, and logged out. There was no time to waste. She ran to the door and anxiously peered outside. Thank God there was no one there. She’d only just disappeared into the dining room when she heard his voice in the hallway. Carson was speaking on his cell phone. She knew she’d come within seconds of being discovered. Her stomach churned, and she dashed to the bathroom, dropping to her knees before retching uncontrollably into the toilet bowl.

After a couple of minutes she stood, and moved on wobbly, adrenaline-charged legs to the washbasin. She looked at herself in the mirror. Her eyes were wide and frightened. Christ, she’d been scared, but now she felt euphoric.

Carson had taught her well. Knowledge was power.

Chapter One

Tyler Hayes looked at his older brother, and then shook his head. “Gabe, that’s the third time I’ve caught you looking in the direction of the Allen place. We’ll never get this water course finished if you don’t pull your weight around here.”

“Sorry, Ty, but it sure is hot today.” His brother wiped the back of his hand across his forehead and then used his shovel with gusto, breaking the parched earth and lifting it in large clods. “I guess I’m a little distracted, too.”

“No guessing required. I know exactly what you’re thinking about, or should I say who you’re thinking about.”

Gabe shrugged, and continued digging.

Tyler burst out laughing. “Who’d have thought Madison Allen would return to Buffalo Springs after all these years. Too bad she’s outta your league.”

“Screw you, Ty. You’re still pissed because she turned down your invitation to the senior prom.”

Tyler felt his muscles tense as he remembered the way she’d humiliated him in front of her classmates. Their girlish giggles seemed to go on forever.

“That was more than ten years ago, asshole.”

Madison was beautiful and looked every inch the prom queen back then. He figured she’d be twenty-eight now, the same age as himself, and still as hot as ever. “Listen, Gabe, the only reason she’s come back to Buffalo Springs is to nurse her sick mother. As soon as she passes on, she’ll sell up and go back to her city life in Washington.”

His brother didn’t take any notice because he said, “Reckon I might ride over there later on.”

“You just want to see what ten years and a high-profile divorce has done to her.” Married to a Senator, the divorce had made front-page news in the Buffalo Springs Gazette. There was not one person in the small town who didn’t have an opinion on the matter. Most of it had been derisory, blaming her selfishness and headstrong ways on the breakup of the marriage.

“Tyler, I’m just being neighborly, which is more than I can say for you.”

Feeling defensive Tyler countered, “Madison always thought we were a pair of backward cowboys. In fact, that’s exactly what she said when I invited her to the senior prom.” It still annoyed him to this day. “Madison thought she was better than anyone else. She always acted like she had a stick up her ass, even as a kid.”

His brother continued, “If I recall rightly, she had the cutest, most fuckable ass in high school. All us young bucks wanted to get into her panties.”

Tyler burst out laughing again. “Yeah, you may have done well with the local girls, Gabe, but Madison was, and still is, out of your league.” His brother had always been a bit of a womanizer, always seeking the next conquest.

“Maybe, Ty, but there’s no harm paying her a neighborly visit for old times’ sake.”

* * * *

Madison put the finishing touches to the flower arrangement and then took it into her mother’s room. Annie Allen now lived downstairs in what used to be the dining room. Diagnosed with liver cancer, the doctors had given her six months to live. Madison figured the end would come much quicker.

She put the flowers on a table within sight of her mother. “Aren’t they pretty? I picked them from the garden this morning. They smell beautiful.” Madison gently touched the soft petals of the pink roses and day lilies. “I hope they don’t wilt too much in this heat.”

“You’re so good to me, Madison. I don’t know what I’d do without you. They remind me of when your father and I were teenagers. He used to bring me a bunch of flowers every time he took me out on a date.”

Madison sat on the edge of the bed and squeezed her mother’s frail hand. She hated seeing her like this. In her day, Annie Allen had been a formidable woman. Not the wizened old lady with white hair and a dreadful pallor to her skin, who now lay almost motionless. All that was left of her now was skin and bone. The once vibrant and attractive woman had long gone. “Mother, would you like me to read to you?”

“You’re a good girl, Madison. It’s a pity your marriage to Carson didn’t last.”

Madison sighed loudly. Her mother just wouldn’t let it go, and had spoken of little else in the week since she’d returned to Buffalo Springs. If her mother knew what Carson was really like, she wouldn’t talk about him with such fondness. Taking the book off the bedside cabinet, she opened it up at the bookmark. “Chapter nine.”

“So you’re not going to tell me why you divorced.”

“No, Mother.” Madison stared blankly at the page. She wouldn’t be drawn into revealing all just yet.

“Now that’s where you’re just like your father. Stubborn through and through. I won’t be around much longer. Surely you can confide in me.”

Madison grimaced and patted her mother’s hand. “Another time, perhaps. It’s all still very raw. I promise you, once the dust has settled, I’ll tell you exactly what happened.”

“Make sure you do. I want to know what that man did to make my baby girl so unhappy.”

Madison blinked back the tears that threatened to spill. It was very unusual for her mother to call her baby girl. Annie Allen was a pragmatic woman who rarely spoke with loving words. Her mother had always been emotionally cold toward her. Never once telling her she loved her, insisting instead that her only child marry a wealthy man. Perhaps love would come later, or perhaps not. Financial security and status was the be-all and end-all for Annie Allen.

The sound of pounding hooves drifted through the open window, and she went over to investigate. She peered through the soft white material fluttering in the hot breeze. She’d recognize a Hayes man anywhere.

“Who is it?” her mother asked.

“Gabe Hayes.”

Her mother sighed. “I wondered when he or his brother would come sniffing around here.”

“Mother, really!”

“It’s true. Those Hayes boys have always lusted after you. But you’re far too good for them, always have been. I suppose they’ve heard you’re a single woman again, and back on the market.”

“Mother, what’s got into you today?”

Madison went over to the bed and tucked in the sheets. Her mother answered wistfully, “When there’s not much time left, you say it how it is.”

“Well, I’m not looking for a relationship of any sort.”

“Then why revert to your maiden name?”

Madison shrugged. She wouldn’t be drawn into this. Her mother was far too clever for her own good. “I just didn’t want his name anymore, that’s all.”

“He must have done something bad.”

Carson had broken her trust in human nature. The man she’d once loved had hidden his true self from her. Now, she would never trust a man again for as long as she lived. He’d ruined her belief in the happy ever after. Glad for the diversion, she began walking toward the door. “I’ll just say hello and send him on his way.”

Her mother tut-tutted. “Don’t invite him in. He’s common. He drinks too much, and hangs around with loose women. Everyone knows that in Buffalo Springs.”

“You’re right, Mother, but I make my own decisions. I’ll see what he wants.”

Gabe steadied the black stallion as she stepped onto the porch. Standing outside the heat seemed even more oppressive. She stared down the track. There was no sign of his brother Tyler. She briefly wondered what he looked like now. The last time they’d met she’d been just eighteen. She supposed she loved her mother, but she found it almost impossible to have an emotional bond with her. She was an unapologetic snob who could sometimes be exceptionally cruel in the way she treated other people, especially those she thought of as socially inferior. Her mother had delighted in the way she’d deflated Tyler Hayes when he’d asked her to the senior prom. She could still hear her mother’s words ringing in her ears. “You’ve done the right thing, Madison. That boy will never amount to anything.”

Gabe lifted his hat momentarily, revealing his glossy black hair. “Good to see you again, Madi.”

“You, too, Gabe. It’s been a long time.”

Ten years had made a man of him. His shoulders pressed against his denim shirt. His long legs, encased in hip hugging jeans, gripped tightly around the saddle. A set of brown leather cowboy boots firmly hooked through the stirrups. His amber gaze held hers. She couldn’t believe this was the same Gabe Hayes she’d last seen a decade ago. The skinny youth that she’d constantly put down with her poisonous barbs had become a man, and a beautiful man at that. Not wanting to harbor any fanciful thoughts she found herself saying, “What can I do for you, Gabe?”

* * * *

“That’s not being very neighborly, Madi.”

“I don’t ever recall the need to be neighborly with you.”

Gabe chuckled to himself. Still the same old Madi, straight and to the point. Although he reckoned she looked even sexier with a little more flesh on her bones. She was just a young girl of eighteen the last time he’d seen her. Now she was all woman. Her long blonde hair flowed over her shoulders, and she tossed it back with a shake of her head, just like she’d done at senior high.

Prickteaser.

There’d been photographs of her in the local press, so he knew what to expect, but to actually see her in the flesh was a revelation. Even without the expensive designer clothes and shoes he’d seen her wearing so many times in the celebrity magazines, she still looked stunningly beautiful. Her slim figure oozed sex appeal. She wore a low-cut black T-shirt and bootleg jeans. He could just make out the womanly curve of her butt encased in the tight denim material. She still had the cutest ass in the whole of Texas, of that he felt sure. He was glad he sat on his horse, because his hard-on would have become evident should he dismount.

Gabe lifted his hat momentarily again, and then pulled on the reins to keep his horse steady. “I’m real sorry to hear about your ma.”

She folded her arms defensively across her chest. “Thanks. There’s no hope for her. The end is inevitable. All I can do is make her as comfortable as possible, until her time comes. It won’t be long now,” she said matter-of-factly.

“If there’s anything we can do, Tyler and I would be more than willing to help out.”

“Thanks, but I’ll manage.”

“You sure, Madi?” He somehow didn’t think she could. He and Tyler had nursed their own father to the bitter end, and it certainly hadn’t been easy.

“Gabe, don’t call me Madi.”

“Why not? It suits you.”

“Let’s get one thing straight. The name’s Madison to you. It always has been. Don’t try and get too familiar with me, cowboy. I’m out of your league.” She sure did bristle.

It looked like he wasn’t going to get an invite any day soon. Madi was unapologetic and abrupt with him, just as she’d been when they were kids. He’d overlook her bad manners for now, and put it down to her mother being on the way out.

“Well, like I say, Madi—”

“Madison.”

“Well like I say, Madi, we’re just across the way, if you need some help.”

“I’m a self-sufficient woman. I don’t need a man’s help, Gabe. They always let you down in the end.” She turned on her heels. “Best check on Mother. See if she needs anything.”

“Hold on there, Madi.” Gabe jumped from his horse and walked up the short flight of steps to the porch. Her green eyes connected with his as he stood right in front of her. He stared down into her perfect heart-shaped face. Those beautiful rosebud lips and the slight smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose just made him want to possess her. Fuck her senseless, just like he’d wanted to do the last time he’d seen her.

A hot, scorching breeze whipped across his face, drawing every last bit of moisture from his skin. Madi fanned herself with her hand, obviously finding the heat oppressive. By all accounts this heat wave seemed set to stay awhile longer, and he wondered how she’d cope. He pointed across to his ranch. “We’re just five minutes away. If you need any help, call us.” He knew from personal experience of losing a parent that she had a tough time ahead.

He couldn’t resist breathing in her womanly scent. “Madi, I—”

“I’m going back to Washington when this is all over.”

“If you say so, Madi.”

“I’m Madison, cowboy. Always will be.” Holding her head high, she spun quickly on her heels and went inside the house.

Her Long Hot Surrender is available at Bookstrand HERE

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