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     ROPING THE COWBOY EXCERPT -                  
                The Shadows in Our Past
                       by Denyse Bridger

 
 
 


 
The Shadows in Our Past

“I wanted a father, and I got Jonas Wilkes. I needed to trust him, and he made me feel...” She shuddered, visibly changed her train of thought. “Then I met you; Gold Ridge’s most respected citizen. I’d never met anyone quite like you, David Logan. You were handsome, sophisticated, powerful... What was it Margaret called you? A charming outlaw.” She smiled. “She was right, that’s exactly what you are. But you took my breath away the moment I saw you. I will never forget that day, or turning around to see you on the stairs of the Nugget, all elegance and danger. You terrified me, and you excited me. I felt things in those first seconds that I have never felt before. My God, David, I think I fell in love with you before you even spoke to me.”

“You do know how to flatter me, Hannah,” he whispered.

“But it’s not flattery, David. Every time you walk into a room, you make my heart feel like it’s going to burst with the love that fills me. I can’t believe you’re my husband. That you chose to give me that much of your life.”

She smiled, tilted her head to one side, whimsical yet more serious than he’d ever seen her.

“Finish, Hannah,” he requested. “I want to know what you’re feeling.”

“Do you remember the first time you kissed me?”

He nodded.

“I would have behaved like a common whore for you that day, and it frightened me to death, David. I was with a fine, Southern gentleman. A man well-bred, respected, all the things that a lady wants. And instead of being a lady, I was ready toÄ”

His laughter stopped her abruptly.

“You do yourself a great disservice, Mrs. Logan,” he teased tenderly. “Any gentleman is still susceptible to the charms of a lovely woman. And you do take away my sense of propriety, Hannah.”

“The first time you made love to me, I was certain that God had put me on this earth to belong to you, David. You gave me everything that my heart had ever wanted, even the things I didn’t let myself hope for. I felt safe, and whole, at peace. Every time you touch me, I feel that way. Beautiful... complete...”

“Then why are you so afraid, Hannah?”

“I don’t want to be,” she said fiercely. “I hate it, David! I despise myself for feeling like this. ButÄ”

“But?” he coaxed gently.

“Elizabeth was right,” she put her fingers to his mouth when he would have objected instantly. “She was right about some things, David. I’ll never know you the way Ellen did. I’m not from the same world. Your Southern honor is one of the things I love most about you, but it’s a mystery to me, too. You were married and fighting in a war when I was little more than a baby at my mother’s breast. Your soul was scarred in ways that I can only imagine.” Tears flooded her eyes as she stared up at him. “David, the sun in my world rises and sets in your eyes.” She gulped in a sharp breath. “I’ve never needed anyone that much, and it frightens me.”

David nodded, lifted her hands to his lips again as he kissed the fingers that shook within his light grasp; then he looked intently at her.

“Will you listen to me now?”

“Of course,” she replied, voice thick with emotion. She watched as he rose, took the other chair on the balcony, and set it directly in front of her. Then he sat and took her hands again.