“I thought it might be you. Out on a night like this.” Lenora felt herself flush. It was almost as if she had conjured Clay from the very darkness of her overactive imagination. Careful with those fantasies, she cautioned herself.
“Yes, well. It seemed as if the air had lost some of the winter feel. And I couldn’t sleep,” she said. She purposefully kept her tone light.
Lenora laced her fingers through Major’s mane and looked at the shadow that was Clay.
“Can you ride him bareback?” Clay asked.
“Yes, of course,” Lenora replied.
“Wanna go up into the hills? Just a little?” His voice was definitely intimate as he stepped towards her.
“Yes.” She had not thought about her answer before the quick reply left her lips.
It was so true though, she wanted nothing more than to just ride into the secret, starry night with this man. He gentled one of the mares turned out in Major’s pasture and slipped a halter over her head. He came over to Lenora who led her own horse to the corral gate and used it to mount. She saw a flash of white teeth in the dark and then watched him vault onto his mare’s back. He landed so gently upon the horse she barely flicked an ear. Then he opened the gate from horseback and they were loose in the night.
“Show off,” Lenora said. She heard him laugh and saw a flash of teeth again.
The sky was a blanket of thick darkness, rich in its depth and heavy with stars so bright they lit the earth below. Lenora breathed in mountain air and felt a deep-seated knot between her shoulder blades release. She really had no idea she had even been carrying tension. Her life— her past life in Chicago— was slipping away one knot at a time.
After the death of her mother and end to her troubled marriage, Lenora Ranvier is feeling more alone than ever before. She takes her aunt and uncle up on their offer to come and live on their failing cattle ranch in the Montana Mountains.
Lenora hopes to grieve and start over but has no plans to fall in love again. All that changes the moment she meets Clay Darkhorse, Lakota cowboy and foreman of Bear Dance Ranch.
Clay knows Lenora is the woman for him as soon as he sees her climb out of her pickup truck, exhausted and beautiful. He slowly wins over Lenora by taking her on long night horseback rides into the starry mountains but both Lenora and Clay have past traumas to heal before they can freely love again.
Joining forces they convert the ranch from a struggling cattle operation into a swanky guest resort. But Lenora and Clay must learn to trust each other if they are to share a love as true and strong as the mountains in which they live.
Christina Rhoads resides on an Arabian horse farm where she divides her time (when she isn’t fixing fence or stacking hay) between writing novels, painting and training equines. While studying creative writing, as she earned a BA in English from Indiana University, she fell madly in love with the act of creating characters and then sharing them with the world.
She often describes her ideal afternoon as one spent riding her horse, Major Temptation, and then curling up with a good book and cup of peppermint tea.
For more on Christina’s books check out her website or connect with her on social media.