Authors: Helen Conrad
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations is entirely coincidental. All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Copyright © 2014 Helen Conrad
Cover Copyright © 2014 DoorKnock Publishing
Cover images from Shutterstock.com
First Edition August, 2014 published by DoorKnock Publishing
Luck Be A Lady
Destiny Bay Romances~The Ranchers, Book 5
Thank you for downloading this e-book. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please take a moment to leave a review. Thank you!
If you would like news on new releases and the occasional contest, my mailing list is here:
Table of Contents
Cody Marin felt the sting of a fist as it grazed the side
of his jaw. There were three of them, three thick-
skulled goons bent on teaching him a lesson, and he didn’t have a chance. The best thing he could do was
relax, he told himself with a grim touch of sardonic
humor, and hope for the best.
They’d caught him in the alley, a dark place he
never would have been in under any of the usual circumstances. The moment he’d seen them, he’d turned
toward daylight, but they’d cornered him against the fence surrounding the back doors of the Las Vegas casino. He
felt the fence now, felt the cold, rough network of chain link digging into his back.
A car horn blared. The busy street was only steps
away, and yet here he was being worked over in an alley behind the Marquis Casino. There wasn’t a chance
that he’d be rescued. His attackers held all the cards
Something hard and painful hit Cody in the ribs and
he heard his own groan as though it were coming from
Think about the suit
,” he told himself with
silent determination. He’d think about anything so
that he wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of
what was being done to him.
He filled his mind with thoughts of his suit, forcing
himself to worry about the condition it would be in
when this beating was over. It was his best suit and he hated to think he might have to
replace it. You couldn’t get this
fabric any longer, and that little tailor who’d cut out
the pattern so exactly had left Vegas a few months be
fore and moved to Chicago.
“You got the picture, Marin?” The growl was ugly,
slurred. The hand that was jammed against Cody’s
throat was missing a couple of fingers. “You get what’ll happen to you if you talk?”
“Sure do, Stumpy,” Cody gasped, improvising the
name, refusing to lose his cool even if it meant losing much more in the process. “You boys have made it
“Naw,” the large one chimed in helpfully from be
hind. “He don’t get it yet. We’re gonna have to give him
some souvenirs to remind him
to keep his mouth shut.”
Cody knew it would be the better part of valor to take his punishment in silence, but he’d never been careful. Why start now? Forcing a pleasant smile, he
nodded at his assailants. “Good of you to think of me this way.” Talking hurt. He winced, but smothered it.
“How about something simple, like a string around
the finger?” he murmured past his swollen lip. “That is, if any of you ever learned how to tie a knot.”
“Shut up, fathead,” the large one spat out.
Cody managed a wavering grin. “You’re just mad
because I got you with one good right hook before you
got me pinned. Listen, try an ice pack on that eye. I
know that’s what I plan to do.”
Infuriated, the huge thug growled and balled his
ham-size fist for another blow.
Cody closed his eyes with a sigh, bracing himself for more pain. But just before the huge fist connected with
his face, another voice rang down the alley.
“Okay, you goons. Fun’s over. Get outta’ here.”
The voice was feminine, and for one elongated sec
ond, Cody wondered if he were dreaming. There was a stunned pause as the behemoths turned to see who
had the audacity to order them around, and Cody took
the opportunity to open one eye tentatively and peer
beyond the shadows.
A woman stood there, her golden hair highlighted by a shaft of sunlight. Dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt, she stood with her legs apart, and in her hands she threateningly brandished a Little-League-size baseball bat.
Cody had a quick impression of terrier-like bravery and righteous indignation. Joan of Arc
carrying a sword before her or a Cub Scout den
mother sensing danger to her flock. Only she was too pretty to put herself in the front lines this way. Didn’t she know that these guys were paid to hurt people?
Cody swore under his breath as the thugs started to grin. Was she crazy? “Run for it, sweetheart,” he
muttered, but no one was listening.
“You get away from him,” she was saying warningly, and to his horror she started to advance toward
where they had him pinned, waving the bat in the
The large one started to laugh. Cody began to pull
away from the fence, reaching for the creep, but
Stumpy stopped him with a swift right to his midsection that doubled him over. The ground spun away for
a moment before Cody regained equilibrium. It took
all his will to right himself again, but now he had a
reason. He had to keep the lady out of it.
The only thing left was to try going into a Super
man act and take them all on. Scowling, he clenched his fists.
, he decided,
and then, if he was
still alive, the big guy.
“Leave him alone, you scum,” the lady ordered
again, pausing just a few feet away, her eyes nar
rowed coldly. “I’ll make you pay for every mark you
put on him.”
At face value her threat was ridiculous, but there was something steely and sure in her tone that so
bered them all for a moment. The grins dropped from
their faces and they moved uncertainly, as though they
expected a backup force they couldn’t quite see yet.
Cody watched, fascinated. The lady was no slouch at
“I’ve already called the police,” she announced, her
tone that of a marine drill sergeant, “so get ready to
hear your rights.” And even as she said the words, the wail of a siren came slicing through the alleyway.
Everybody froze, listening to the piercing sound. The police car was still a few blocks away, but the
goons exchanged glances, swearing obscenely. Cody’s
body sagged as Stumpy let him go. He watched in
amazement as they started to run down the alley.
done it on her own. With a little help from a police si
ren, to be sure. But he never would have believed
they’d scatter so easily.
“Hey, Marin,” Stumpy called back just before he
turned the corner into the parking lot. “You remember our little talk, okay? You remember to keep your fat mouth shut, or we’ll have another go. You got
Cody didn’t answer. He was busy pulling himself
away from the fence as carefully as possible, moving
gingerly, checking to make sure every limb still worked
the way it should, checking over his suit and at the
same time, stealing a glance at the woman who’d come
to his rescue. She walked up slowly. He turned and
looked fully at her.
Mid-twenties, he guessed. Young enough to look
appealingly vulnerable. Old enough to know how to
cloak steel in velvet. She was slighter than she’d
seemed at first; her eyes came about level with his mouth.
The baseball bat dangling from her hands suddenly looked out
of place. That was some act she’d put on. He’d almost believed it himself.
“Did you really call the cops?” was the first thing
he wanted to know. He winced at the pain around his
rib area as he took a step. “Because if that’s them—“ he nodded toward the sound of the siren that was
coming closer all the time “—I’m going to have to beat it along with my buddies
The woman hesitated, her green eyes wide as she looked him over. Women usually liked what they saw
when they looked at Cody, but she didn’t seem to be too
Maybe it was the bruises and blood
thought with a twinge of regret. He certainly wasn’t at
his best at the moment.
“No,” she said at last, shaking her head so that her golden curls spilled about her shoulders. “No, that siren’s just a godsend. I didn’t have time to call any
Even as she said the words, the police car with the
siren flew by, going on for a few blocks before the sound faded. Cody straightened his suit and reached into his pocket for a handkerchief to wipe the blood
away from his mouth. All in all, he’d gotten away
lucky. The thugs had been out to warn him, not to kill,
and they hadn’t done too much damage. Aside from
a few bruised ribs and a split lip, he was all in one piece, still mobile and s
till had his teeth.
It was a shame about the suit,
though. He frowned mournfully at a rip he’d found in the sleeve. Too bad hit squads didn’t warn you when they were coming so you could wear your old clothes
for the occasion.
He glanced back at the woman, noting the stub
born set of her delicate jaw. What she’d just done for
him was only a little short of miraculous. For some
reason, he couldn’t think of a proper way to show his gratitude.
“Thanks,” he said a bit lamely as he pulled
at the knot in his tie, forcing it back into perfect position. “You’ve probably saved me one horrendous
She gazed around the dirty alley as though she still
wasn’t exactly sure what she’d done. With a glance
over his shoulder toward where the toughs had disappeared, he took her elbow and began to lead her back
to the street.
“That was totally insane, you know,” he said casually, eyeing her with a bit of a frown. “They had
She glared at him, and for the first time he noticed
her turned-up nose was covered with freckles. “Well,
what did you expect me to do, walk off and let them
kill you?” she demanded. “Once I looked down
here and saw you in trouble like that, I couldn’t just
He shrugged, running a hand through his jet-black hair. “They weren’t going to kill me. Just hurt me a
Perception flashed in her green eyes and she stopped
in her tracks. “You knew them, didn’t you?”
He nodded. “Sure,” he said smoothly, gently forc
ing her to move again. It would be a shame to be
waiting here if the enforcement squad decided to come
back and check on the cop situation. “We’re old pals.
We get together now and then for a friendly chat.” A
sudden grin flashed across his dark face. “Only
sometimes the boys play a little too rough, that’s all.”
Her eyes, wide and curious, met his. But she looked
away without smiling back.
“Speaking of guns,” he said as they neared the end
of the long building. “Wouldn’t a nice little pearl-
handled revolver work better for you than a baseball
bat? It fits so much better in a pocket or a purse.” His
hand tightened on her elbow. “I knew Las Vegas was
considered a dangerous place by some, but I didn’t realize the local ladies had taken to toting bats when they came downtown. Have you had much occasion to use