Authors: Cathleen Galitz
He had to be at least six feet two inches tall, and his broad shoulders filled his Western-cut shirt as completely as his very presence filled the room. His face was angular, and his skin was the color of burnished copper. A military-style haircut didn't hide his heritage any more than his store-bought jeans and shirt concealed his rock-hard physique. Absently, Annie wondered what this man would look like with his thick black hair grown out and braided in the traditional Native American manner.
Most unnerving of all was the predatory glint in those unfathomable black eyes of his. It made Annie hesitate to offer him her hand. She had the unnerving feeling that he might bite it off.
Lonebear? she thought. Lone
would suit you better.
Spring into the new season with six fresh passionate, powerful and provocative love stories from Silhouette Desire.
Experience first love with a young nurse and the arrogant surgeon who stole her innocence, in
bestselling author Elizabeth Bevarly's
Taming the Beastly MD
(#1501), the latest title in the riveting DYNASTIES: THE BARONES continuity series. Another
bestselling author, Cait London, offers a second title in her HEARTBREAKERS miniseriesâ
(#1502) is the story of a vulnerable heiress who finds love in the arms of an autocratic tycoon.
And don't miss RITA
Award winner Marie Ferrarella's
A Bachelor and a Baby
(#1503), the second book of Silhouette's crossline series THE MOM SQUAD, featuring single mothers who find true love. In
Tycoon for Auction
(#1504) by Katherine Garbera, a lady executive wins the services of a commitment-shy bachelor. A playboy falls in love with his secretary in
(#1505) by Meagan McKinney, the latest MATCHED IN MONTANA title. And a Native American hero's fling with a summer-school teacher produces unexpected complications in
Warrior in Her Bed
(#1506) by Cathleen Galitz.
This April, shower yourself with all six of these moving and sensual new love stories from Silhouette Desire.
Joan Marlow Golan
Senior Editor, Silhouette Desire
The Cowboy Takes a Bride
Her Boss's Baby
Tall, Darkâ¦and Framed?
Warrior in Her Bed
The Cowboy Who Broke the Mold
100% Pure Cowboy
Wyoming Born & Bred
a Wyoming native, teaches English to students in grades six through twelve in a rural school that houses kindergarteners and seniors in the same building. She feels blessed to have married a man who is both supportive and patient. When she's not busy writing, teaching or chauffeuring her sons to and from various activities, she can most likely be found indulging in her favorite pastimeâreading.
For my aunt Cleo who, when I least expect to hear her voice, reminds me to laugh and to celebrate the joy of life most precious.
he was much prettier than Johnny Lonebear had expected. Not that it took much to beat the pair of horns and tail he had envisioned as part of the personage of the infamous Ms. Anne Wainwright. To be sure, it had been his own past experience, rather than anything his niece said about her new teacher, that had led him to picture a woman with a pitchfork for a pointer: the kind his own second-grade teacher used to whack him with across the knuckles whenever he acted up in class, which he had to admit was more often than not. Indeed, on the surface, the lovely Ms. Wainwright was nothing at all like that old warhorse Miss Applebee.
But Johnny wasn't as easily deceived by this young woman's ready smile and considerable talent as was his impressionable niece when it came to judging outsiders. Crimson Dawn's mother believed
that beneath the surface, they were all devils. And according to her, the do-gooders were the worst of all. Johnny's suspicions were more tempered than those of his older sister. His wariness had been bought and paid for on the field of battle, where all too often the enemy that he had faced was attempting to prove with bullets the superiority of a particular culture, religion or skin tone. That so many radicals believed genocide a viable option made Johnny proud to have served as a U.S. Marine dedicated to the concept of upholding freedom for all. As far as he could tell, the only thing keeping the next madman from rising to power in any number of hot spots all over the world was that good men were willing to give their lives for one another without regard to the color of the man fighting next to them.
It was Johnny's belief that mercenaries were much easier to defeat than zealots. And he feared a zealot in the classroom was potentially far more dangerous than one in a designated war zone. If Ms. Wainwright proved herself to be the misguided extremist that his sister, Ester, believed her to be, she could well be as formidable an enemy as any he had ever faced before. At least, that was the way Ester put it to him. After thoroughly chastising him for even letting the woman into his school at all, she had expressly sent him into the classroom to check out that “she-devil” himself.
“I don't hire 'em, sis,” he had told her. “I just do my best to keep the place up and running.”
Studying one fair-haired head surrounded by so many dark ones gathered around her, Johnny had to admit that the newest member of his staff didn't look particularly diabolical this morning. In fact, it took a
concerted effort on his part to pull his thoughts away from the intriguing way the light was toying with her hair and remind himself just why he was here.
As if somehow sensing the liberties that his thoughts were taking, the lady in question looked up from a piece of blood-red glass that she was cutting to look directly at him.
“Would you care to join us?” she asked.
Her voice was not overtly hostile. In fact, Johnny was surprised at its gentle quality and lack of discernable Midwestern accent. That utterly feminine sound wrapped itself around his senses and reminded him, in the most visceral way, that he could not help but respond to her invitation as anything but an interested male. In stark contrast to that mellifluous voice, her eyes openly challenged him.
There was nothing subtle about those blue lasers that she leveled at him from across the room. Johnny was certain they could slice through a man's heart as easily as the glass cutter she held in her hand. Suddenly feeling like he was back in grade school all over again, he reverted to the kind of insolence that had so often led him to the principal's office. Deliberately, he let his own dark eyes traverse this young woman's body from head to toeâand back up again. The smile playing with the corners of his lips left little doubt that he liked what he saw.
“No, thanks,” he said, leaning against the doorjamb with his arms folded insolently across his chest. “I can see everything I want to see just fine from right here.”
“Suit yourself,” she replied, slipping on a pair of safety goggles and proceeding with her presentation.
Had it not been for the telltale flush in her cheeks,
Johnny might have believed that his presence had absolutely no effect upon the lady. She was one cool customer. He had to admire the way she sidestepped his intended power play by simply continuing on with her demonstration as if he were not in the room at all. The difficult curve of her intended pattern snapped the thick glass neatly in two separate pieces, causing her pupils to let out an appreciative “ohhh!” at what was apparently a remarkable feat.
Calling to mind his sister's directiveâto keep the teacher from disrupting her relationship with her daughter, Johnny provided a sarcastic second syllable to the class's admiring outburst.
“Ahhh,” he murmured just loudly enough for everyone to hear.
Crimson Dawn shot him a dirty look and muttered a one-word warning under her breath. “Uncleâ¦”
Glancing in the general vicinity of where the heckler was standing, her teacher pushed the goggles to the top of her head. “It's not all that exciting, but I'm glad you approve nonetheless. You'll have to come back tomorrow when we'll begin the thrilling process of grinding off the rough edges.”
Johnny noticed that her smile did not reach her eyes, which were presently shooting off more sparks than an arc welder. If he hadn't been spoiling for a fight, he would have been tempted to put on a pair of protective goggles himself. He wondered if her seemingly benign remark was actually pointed at him on a personal level. The hint of a smile flitted across his face. Every woman with whom he'd been involved before had inevitably come to discover that his edges were far too rough to be smoothed away.
“That's all for today, class. Time to put up your materials.”
As her students scurried to do her bidding, Ms. Wainwright proceeded to divest herself of her goggles altogether. Johnny found himself wishing that she would free her hair from its restraint, as well. The no-nonsense ponytail pulling her hair so austerely away from her face didn't do her justice. He imagined what she would look like with that lustrous mane loose about her face. He suspected it would make her look olderâperhaps all of twenty-seven or twenty-eight. When she put a hand to the middle of her back and stretched her taut muscles, something dangerous tightened in Johnny's loins. Feeling like a voyeur, he was unable to pull his gaze away.
“Why don't you introduce me to your uncle?” he heard her ask Crimson Dawn.
The girl blew her bangs out of her eyes with an exasperated burst of air directed heavenward. Johnny grinned unabashedly. It wasn't the first or the last time he would be destined to embarrass his headstrong niece, the one most like him of all his kin. Reluctantly she obliged, leading her teacher across the spacious art room to where he struck a leisurely pose. With his back against the doorway, he gave every impression that he had all the time in the world. One knee was bent to allow a booted foot to rest against the door frame. His arms remained stubbornly crossed over his chest, calling into question whether he would actually extend a hand by way of a customary polite introduction.
“This is my uncle Johnnyâ”
“John,” he corrected his niece. “John Lonebear.”
suits you better, Annie thought to herself.
At six foot two inches, John Lonebear was a big man, whose broad shoulders filled his Western-cut shirt as completely as his very presence filled the airy room in which they stood. His face was angular, and his skin was the color of warm, burnished copper. A military-style haircut didn't hide his heritage any more than a pair of store-bought jeans and shirt could conceal his rock-hard physique. Absently Annie wondered what this man would look like with his thick black hair grown out and braided in the usual manner that Hollywood liked to portray Native American men. Such a fierce-looking warrior would undoubtedly be the bane of traditional leading men by stealing any scene in which he appeared. The predatory glint in those unfathomable black eyes of his made Annie hesitate to offer him her hand.
She had the unnerving feeling that he might well bite it off.
“Pleased to meet you,” she said nevertheless, holding her breath and sticking her hand out bravely.
He took a long time uncrossing his arms before finally taking her hand inside both of his. The jolt that surged through Annie at his touch was nothing short of primordial, causing such a pure animal-like reaction in her that she actually felt the fine hair on her arms responding. Though her own knowledge of Native American culture was shaky at best, she found herself wondering if this mysterious fellow was part shaman or medicine man.
What kind of magical powers did John Lonebear have that evoked images of a magnificent beast, part man and part wolf dominating not only the rugged
landscape but also the pack that relied upon his cunning? Such a creature was certain to savagely protect what he considered to be his territory.
Annie withdrew both her hand and her hesitant smile. Hoping that he hadn't noticed that she was actually shaking slightly from the encounter, she refrained from rubbing away the goose bumps on her arms and drawing even more attention to her involuntary reaction.
“What exactly can I do for you, Mr. Lonebear?” she asked directly.
You can remove yourself from my niece's life and my school and run away from here as fast as the wind will carry you, Johnny was tempted to tell her straight-out. You can pack up your big-city ideas and that enticing perfume you're wearing and hitch a ride off the reservation before you get gobbled up by some big bad wolf who finds you too tempting a morsel to pass over. And, since you're asking, what I really want you to do is to kiss me like you've never kissed anybody before.
Where that thought came from, Johnny couldn't say. He knew only that the visible shiver running through this woman's body was transferred to his by way of some unseen conduit. His fingertips tingled as if he had foolishly wet them before sticking them into an open socket. His body hummed with an awareness that made him want to divest himself of his skin altogether and to discount the gut feeling that was pulling him toward an uncertain and dangerous destiny. The old ones would say this was undoubtedly a sign that should be heeded.
A portent not to be ignored.
More likely a warning from above, Johnny thought
wryly. An omen that this woman harbored the kind of prejudice that had shaped him into the man he was. The smile he had considered bestowing upon her a mere moment ago turned into a sneer. Pushing himself out of the doorway, he leaned right into her personal space.
“What you can do for me, Ms. Wainwright,” he said drawing the “Ms.” into an intentional hiss, “is stick to teaching stained glass and stop putting that pretty little nose of yours into your students' personal lives.”
She couldn't have looked more stunned had he hauled off and slapped her right across the face.
“Please call me Annie,” she suggested, hastening to set the conversation on a more personal level before attempting to isolate the source of this man's annoyance.
“Around here, we like to maintain the formality of addressing our teachers by their last names out of respect for the dignity of the profession,” he informed her coolly.
If this woman thought she could gentle him like some newborn foal with that soft, coaxing voice of hers, she was sorely mistaken. Just because her name was as simple and welcoming as the very sound of it rolling off her tongue didn't mean he was about to succumb to her surprisingly down-to-earth charm.
Apparently deciding that it was time to step in, Crimson Dawn found her voice at last. “Stop hassling her, Uncle!” she admonished, spearing him with a look intended to convey the message that she fully intended to kill him later. Turning her attention to her newly found mentor, she attempted to underplay her uncle's gruffness.
“Don't pay any attention to him, Miss Wainwright. I'm sure my mother is the one who put him up to this.”
Annie didn't look particularly reassured by this bit of information.
“Speaking of your mother, she's waiting in the truck for you,” Johnny told his niece without so much as breaking eye contact with her teacher.
Sensing the girl's reluctance to leave her alone with hostile forces, Annie urged her to, “Go on. I'll be just fine. See you in class tomorrow.”
The determined set of Crimson Dawn's shoulders as she marched through the open door gave every indication that a major confrontation between mother and daughter was imminent. One could almost feel the storm clouds gathering about the girl as she stomped down the hallway and prepared herself to do battle on her teacher's behalf. A veteran of similar wars, Annie wished there was some way she could intervene but knew any such attempt on her part would be a waste of time. Attempting to stop a teenage girl on a mission was akin to stopping a tornado with nothing more than a book on etiquette and good intentions.
“Okay. What is this all about?” Annie asked the intimidating man towering over her. “I honestly have no idea what you are so upset about, and I've never been much of a mind reader.”
Johnny paused to consider this woman's eyes. They were, he decided, more wary than cold as he had first been inclined to describe them. Something vulnerable flickering in those blue depths unsettled him and knocked him off balance. Something about the way she boldly stood up to him with her arms
tellingly wrapped around her body made him suddenly feel like protecting her.
From himself no less.
“Said Custer to his troops,” he quipped, trying to make the raw feeling in his heart go away by employing a favorite weapon in his arsenal of defense: humor.
“If I may borrow the historical reference,” Annie said, tightening her smile, “if I'm about to be scalped, you might at least do me the honor of letting me know why.”
Johnny bit the inside of his lip to keep from smiling. The lady had spunk. He had to give her that. Taking this game to the edge by indulging his curiosity, he risked reaching out to touch a lock of her hair. Neither true blond nor brunette, it was more the color of honey with cinnamon highlights swirled throughout. Between the rough pad of his thumb and fingertips it felt silky soft.