Wolfe knows trouble when he sees it. The moment he rescues Wendy, he knows he should walk away. But she's a sexy spitfire, and since her car and money are gone, he lets her stay with himtemporarily. Her sweet body and fast talk can only mean trouble. He's always been a lonerexcept having Wendy in his bed every night isn't such a bad perk!
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Tall, Dark And Texan
By Jane Sullivan
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWendy Jamison crept her 1992 Buick along the dark, deserted street, the February sleet storm pummeling her car and freezing wind whistling through the torn weather stripping around the passenger window. She hadn't planned on taking a midnight tour of the seedy part of downtown Dallas, but she'd lost track of the turns she'd made since exiting the freeway in search of a gas station and now she was hopelessly lost.
On either side of her, warehouses loomed several stories into the night sky, the majority of them boarded up. Most of the storefronts looked abandoned, topped by apartments that showed only an occasional dim light in a window. The sleet had stuck trash to the sidewalk in big, soggy piles that would probably still be there after the spring thaw. If it had been a hot summer night, the place would undoubtedly be crawling with the shadier side of society, but now, when she desperately needed to ask somebody how to get back to the freeway, there wasn't a pimp, a crack whore or a drug dealer in sight.
The problem was the trailer she was pulling. Filled with everything she owned, it had played hell with her mileage, running the little arrow on her gas gauge right into the red before she realized it. When that same little arrow had stopped floating and she still hadn't found an open station, she'd gotten a little uptight.
Now, ten minutes later, she was wiping her sweaty palms on her jeans, trying to get a grip, telling herself that this was just one of those worst-case-scenario situations, which there had to be a solution to. Wendy knew how to stay alive during an avalanche, how to escape a sinking car and how to survive if her parachute failed to open in the event that she lost her mind and went skydiving. Unfortunately, she'd never read about how to get out of a sleazy, unfamiliar, convoluted downtown neighborhood during a winter storm in a car that was choking along on its last gas fumes.
Find a way. You'll never get to L.A. if you can't get through Dallas first.
She pulled up to the next intersection, which looked every bit as squalid as the last one. Putting her car in Park, she fumbled through the stuff on her passenger seat, looking for the Texas map she'd picked up at the border. She doubted it would include a map specific enough to get her back to the freeway, but right now it was her only shot.
Then she noticed movement outside her driver's window. Whipping around, she was shocked to see a man standing beside her car. A big, ugly, hairy man.
A big, ugly, hairy man holding a baseball bat.
In the next instant, her car window exploded. She shied away, throwing up her arms against the sudden blast of broken glass. In the time it took her to realize that he'd whacked the baseball bat right through her window, he'd reached in, pulled up the door lock and yanked her door open. The moment he grabbed her arm, though, self-preservation kicked in. She remembered the mantra she'd learned during the two-hour crash course on self-defense she'd taken at a New York YMCA: Get mad, get loud, get violent.
Letting out a nerve-shattering scream, she swung her foot out of the car and gave her attacker a boot right in the knee. He drew back, retaliating with an arm-wrenching yank that pulled her halfway out of the car. When she reached for the steering wheel and held on tightly, he leaned into the car to pry her fingers loose.
Everything's a weapon, her German Amazon-woman instructor had said. Use whatever you've got.
With a fury that would have made Greta proud, Wendy bit her attacker's hand. He recoiled, howling with pain, but before she could turn and get in another well-placed kick, he gave her arm a brutal jerk that dislodged her grip from the steering wheel. The next thing she knew, she was face-down on the slush-covered pavement.
She pushed herself back up and flipped over, rocking to a squatting position, but he'd already slid into the front seat. Her car wasn't much, and neither were her possessions, but the five thousand dollars in her glove compartment was something she had no intention of giving up.
With a desperate lunge, she grabbed the foot he hadn't yet tucked inside the car. The second she clamped down on it, he shook it wildly, but she clung to it like a bulldog.
"Damn it, lady!" he shouted. "Will you cut that out?"
"No! You're not taking my car!"
"Oh, yeah? Is that right?"
He reached beneath his coat, hauled out a gun and leveled it three inches from her nose.
She stopped pulling on his leg and stared down the barrel of the gun, breathing hard, wondering why her life wasn't flashing before her eyes.
"Let go!" he shouted.
As she leaned away, her heel slipped from beneath her and her butt landed on the slushy pavement. Her friendly neighborhood carjacker slammed the door, jammed the car into gear, gunned the engine and took off down the street.
Wendy scrambled to her feet, watching her car vanish into the night, willing it to use up its last trickle of gasoline and come to a choking halt.
She stood there dumbly for a moment, staring at her red taillights twinkling through the falling ice. She couldn't believe she'd been in town only twenty minutes, and already she was a crime statistic. She couldn't believe everything she owned in the entire world had just disappeared. She couldn't believe she was standing in the disgusting part of downtown Dallas at midnight with no coat and it was thirty degrees and sleeting like crazy and her car had just been stolen!
Along with her five thousand dollars.
A sick feeling rose in her stomach. It was gone. And she wasn't naive enough to think she'd ever see it again. She knew the time would come when she'd probably sob uncontrollably about that, but right now she had a much bigger problem.
Anger had kept her momentarily oblivious to the cold, but now reality set in. She hugged herself, her teeth chattering so hard it had to be knocking her fillings loose. The frigid wind seemed to blow right through her, echoing through the empty streets like the mournful howl of a coyote, and she wondered how long she could last out here before hypothermia set in.
She started to walk, chastising herself with every step. If only she hadn't gotten impatient, she could have waited out the winter storm of the decade and stayed on course through Oklahoma City instead of swinging south through Dallas. If only she hadn't messed around finding a gas station, she'd be in a cheap but warm hotel room right now. If only the windows of her old Buick were as strong as the Popemobile's - Stop with the ifs. Things happen. This is just one of them. A speed bump on the road of life.
Actually, it was more like a speed mountain, one she'd have preferred to hit while driving through Miami. She made a mental note that the next time she decided to move across the country and start a new life, she'd wait until July.
She trudged down the sidewalk, every muscle trembling in the cold, her boots slinging slush. Putting a hand to her head, she realized that her hair was turning into icicles. The longer she walked, the more uptight she became. This street seemed to be going nowhere. For all she knew, she could be walking straight into hell.
Then again, at least hell would be warm.
Then she heard it. The sound of an engine. It was soft at first, building in intensity as it drew closer, echoing off the walls of the abandoned buildings. She turned around to see a man on a motorcycle swing around and come to a halt in the street ten feet away, planting his booted feet firmly on the pavement. The moment she laid eyes on him, her breath caught in her throat.
He wore a fleece-lined black leather jacket, jeans, black gloves, black boots. Even sitting on the motorcycle, she could tell he had to be at least six foot five, with thighs the size of tree trunks and shoulders so broad she wondered if he could clear the average doorway. A jagged scar ran from his cheekbone to his chin, the kind men generally picked up in street fights or in prison, but his dark, short-cropped hair and surprisingly clean-shaven face made him seem almost handsome in spite of it.
Excerpted from Tall, Dark And Texan by Jane Sullivan Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wendy Jamison is driving from her hometown in Iowa to Hollywood with dreams of making the big time. In Dallas, she exits the highway only to become lost in a bad neighborhood. Before long, she loses her vehicle with all her worldly possessions except for what she is wearing, and much of her cash. Freezing, as she is not dressed for the cold weather that grips the area, Wendy must do something before it can get any worse........................... Worse arrives when a tall knight on a motorcycle arrives and offers her a ride to temporary safety. Feeling no other option is available, she reluctantly accepts his offer though her savior looks more like her worst nightmare. Bounty hunter Michael Wolfe will keep Wendy safe though she treats him like a serial rapist rather than the stud who took her out of the cold. As she helps him capture a bail jumper, Wendy and Michael fall in love, 'but she is gonna be an actress and he is gonna' fly after jumpers................................ Names aside (perhaps the male darling should have been Peter or John) and why Wendy withdrew her life savings in an age of electronic banking, readers will enjoy the meeting of the wholesome Midwesterner and the bad dude. The story line is fast-paced with plenty of action, but it is the repartee between the lead twosome that make this a joy ride as Wendy knows deep inside that her fearsome hero would not harm her. TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN is a fine suspense laden tale for those who appreciate a good girl with the mislabeled bad guy.......................... Harriet Klausner
This book was SO great, I read it one sitting! Jane outdoes herself with this latest Temptation! I particularly LOVED her hero in this book. He's not your typical hero, but you can't help but fall in love with him. Her witty dialogue and loveable characters make this yet another book for the keeper shelf! I'm sure this book will be up for many awards, it was THAT good!!!