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Authors: Laura Browning

Erin's Way

BOOK: Erin's Way
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Welcome to Mountain Meadow, Virginia, where love is worth waiting for…


The town bad girl is back, and this time, Erin Richardson is in need of protection. Years ago, her youthful crush on handsome older man Sam Barnes nearly led to scandal. Now she’s on the run from an entirely different kind of trouble: a criminal intent on eliminating his witnesses—including Erin. As the local sheriff, Sam’s duty-bound to provide a safe haven. Though tongues will surely wag once Erin is sharing a house with the sexy lawman….


Erin is still too young, too vulnerable, and too irresistibly beautiful. But when Sam lays eyes on her again, all he wants to do is shelter her in his arms. It won’t be easy keeping her out of harm’s way. But it’ll be even harder keeping the woman he never forgot out of his bed—and his heart…



Visit us at





Books by Laura Browning


Winning Heart


Mountain Meadow Homecomings

Special Delivery

Lost & Found Love

Erin’s Way


The Barlow-Barretts: An American Dynasty


Balancing Act

Remember Me

Broken Heart



Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation




Erin’s Way

A Mountain Meadow Homecomings Novel


Laura Browning



Kensington Publishing Corp.






Lyrical Press books are published by

Kensington Publishing Corp. 119 West 40th Street New York, NY 10018


Copyright © 2016 by Laura Browning


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.


All Kensington titles, imprints, and distributed lines are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotion, premiums, fund- raising, and educational or institutional use.


To the extent that the image or images on the cover of this book depict a person or persons, such person or persons are merely models, and are not intended to portray any character or characters featured in the book.


Special book excerpts or customized printings can also be created to fit specific needs. For details, write or phone the office of the Kensington Special Sales Manager:

Kensington Publishing Corp.

119 West 40th Street

New York, NY 10018

Attn. Special Sales Department. Phone: 1-800-221-2647.


Kensington and the K logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

LYRICAL PRESS Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

Lyrical Press and the L logo are trademarks of Kensington Publishing Corp.


First Electronic Edition: August 2018

eISBN-13: 978-1-60183-573-4

eISBN-10: 1-60183-573-6


First Print Edition: August 2016

ISBN-13: 978-1-60183-575-8

ISBN-10: 1-60183-575-2


Printed in the United States of America




This book is dedicated to all the students it has been my pleasure to teach over the last decade. Many of you have struggled to improve reading skills that were holding you back. You inspire me with your determination and hard work, and I am grateful every time one of you succeeds that I could help. The hugs are nice too.



Author’s Foreword


Author’s Note


According to the International Dyslexia Association, 15-20% of the population has a language-based learning disability like dyslexia. Reading delays are among the most common issues for students receiving special education services. Dyslexia knows no sex, racial or socio-economic bounds. Causes of dyslexia are both neurological and genetic. There is no cure. It’s not a disease, and early intervention is a key.


Children who are identified by kindergarten and first grade and receive help become much more successful at reading on grade level than students not identified until later. However, even older children and adults can still benefit from a multi-sensory approach to understanding language.


As a reading specialist and the parent of a child with learning disabilities, I urge parents not to wait if they or their child’s teacher notice reading difficulties. Dyslexia, or any reading difficulty for that matter, does not mean stupid. Many dyslexics are of average or above average intelligence. Learning ways to cope with the difference in the way their brain functions opens the door to a successful future.


For more information about dyslexia, you can visit:


Chapter 1


Erin Richardson handed over some of her precious stash of cash and signed by the X for her rental car. Leaving a paper trail made her nervous, but reaching her destination quickly took precedence. Home sweet home. The black sheep of the family was returning to the fold.

Hating the heavy jacket she’d donned to keep out the last blast of winter cold, she tossed it in the back seat of the little sedan. The car would warm up soon enough. The bulky coat was a further reminder that she’d been forced to leave behind the warmth and her friends for the cold and uncertainty of the Blue Ridge…also known as home. Right. The place where she was headed had rarely felt like home, at least not as she had wanted it to be.

An image of a frowning face with snapping, dark eyes flashed in front of her. Sam. He was older now, but so was she. Not that it would make a difference. He was one more face lined up in judgment of her.

She slid behind the wheel and checked her reflection in the rearview mirror. A little different look than last fall when she’d dropped in on the ’rents so unexpectedly. Erin had kept the extra body jewelry but ditched the Goth-looking makeup and dyed her hair back to its natural color. This time when she returned home she wasn’t aiming to shock as she had been at Tabitha’s art showing. Erin was trying hard to fit the image of the senator’s daughter. That would be a first. But now totally necessary.

After what had happened right before she left the Virgin Islands, it was important to lay low and fit in. Maybe she should get rid of the ring in her eyebrow. No. She’d keep it for now. That was one too many changes for her to cope with at the moment. If she suddenly turned up in plaid and pearls, she’d make her family more suspicious than they would be simply by her turning up at all.

One thing hadn’t changed. Erin carried a bag of some high-grade pot, a few hits of ecstasy, and even a couple of Quaaludes she’d traded for with a guy from South Africa. She laughed humorlessly as she pulled out of Dulles and headed southwest in the rental. There was only so much goodness she could stand, and she certainly wasn’t ready to give up her escapes from reality. It might at least brighten the dullness of where she’d grown up. Mountain Meadow. She shivered. Her last memories of her hometown were some of the most humiliating of her life. She was far from happy to be back, but life had a way of throwing curve balls. She wished it wouldn’t throw so many.

With a long drive still ahead of her, she stopped at a Starbucks and wired up on a triple shot of espresso. As the miles slid by, her nerves tightened. She would so much rather still be on board the
, but Andre Delacroix had certainly screwed that. Staying there after what she’d overheard? No way. She might be stupid, but she wasn’t suicidal.

Just thinking of Andre made her stomach tighten. She was afraid Rick, the
captain, and the rest of his crew were underestimating how dangerous Andre could be. Rick was forever writing Andre off as nothing more than a spoiled, rich kid, much as he’d originally thought her. While his opinion of her had certainly undergone a radical change, his opinion of Andre hadn’t, and Erin was afraid they were all making a big mistake.

Her hands clenched on the steering wheel, her left leg adding a rapid tattoo. She still had part of a joint already rolled. Maybe a few tokes would calm her nerves, take her stress level down a notch. After all, if Stoner and Catherine were as uptight as ever, she’d need all the help she could get once she arrived in the middle of nowhere. A little brain fog might help blunt how underwhelmed her parents would be to see her. Maybe she could even pretend they would welcome her home. Erin laughed. Like that would happen.

Suddenly, surprising them didn’t seem like such a great idea. In the back of her mind, fear niggled that her parents would have asked her not to come if they had known of her plans ahead of time. How mortifying was that? She snorted. No more humiliating than being carried out of a party last fall tucked under Sam Barnes’s arm like a little kid in the midst of a temper tantrum. That had accomplished essentially the same thing that evening. Erin had taken the hint and cleared out before they could actually kick her out.

She had never been able to do anything right in her parents’ eyes. So now she was going
? Really. She needed her head examined. What was the definition of insanity? Oh right. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Erin yawned. God, she had forgotten how truly boring this area was. No people, almost no traffic and certainly no lights. Nothing, as a matter of fact, to help her stay awake. Even worse, she’d already hit several icy spots where she felt the car’s traction turn loose for an instant. After years of rarely driving at all and only in warm, sunny climates, the ice had certainly jolted her back awake. Erin shook her head and blinked her gritty eyes several times.

Shit, she was so tired she’d started to see things. Was that a deer in the road? Was it a pot-induced hallucination? That most recent bag had been a doozy. At the last minute, she stared into a white face and wide, startled, brown eyes and yanked the wheel hard to the left. The car plunged off the shoulder of the road and through a dark board fence. The air bag exploded back at her, smacking her forehead and making it burn. Finally, the car landed at an odd angle, one wheel hanging over the bank of a creek. The only thing breaking the silence were the moos of panicked cows roaming in the darkness.
Wow, this was some fucking trip
. She slumped forward.

She wasn’t sure how much time had passed when she groaned and touched her head. It was wet and sticky. She shivered. Her heavy coat was somewhere in the backseat. Why did it have to be so god-awful cold? She yearned for blue skies, even bluer water and hot, steamy nights. She could use a drink. Something alcoholic and on the rocks would be perfect. She hurt. Where the hell was she anyway?

It was dark, but this didn’t look or feel like St. Thomas. She fumbled with her seatbelt, and it finally popped open. Her legs refused to obey as she opened the door, so she stumbled and half fell out onto the frozen ground. God, it was slippery out here and so freaking cold! She rubbed her arms, her coat forgotten. Her teeth chattered, and that only made her head hurt worse.

Erin turned around and looked at the car.
Holy shit!
She was in the middle of a cow pasture, and her rental car was a mess. God, how stupid. As she surveyed the damage to the vehicle, she decided it would be a whole lot easier to handle with a little buzz going. Life in general was a lot easier to face when she was a little bit high. She’d discovered that early in high school. She went back to the car, pulled out her purse, fumbled around until she found another joint, and lit it. Breathe deep, hold, exhale. It was a routine. A couple of tokes and she felt her calm return.

She turned to look at the fence behind her.
It looked even worse than the car, though God knew it was hard enough to see anything out here. Had she taken that much of it out? Erin giggled as she imagined a cartoon vision of fence pieces flying through the air like matchsticks. The image was like one of those old Road Runner cartoons where Wile E. Coyote keeps screwing everything up. Yep! That was her all right. Wile E. Coyote, the original screw up. Maybe she should check to see if the car she’d leased came from Acme rentals.

BOOK: Erin's Way
11.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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