Dangerous

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Annabelle McKenzie strode down the wooden sidewalk on her way to the bank.

Slap her silly, but she was done! Done with raising chickens, feeding cows and goats, and shoveling manure. She wanted to go with her sisters to hunt for bad men. She wanted to be a bounty hunter.

Deep in thought about how she would explain to her sisters how she craved adventure and longed for excitement, she rounded the corner to enter the bank and slammed into the hard chest muscles of a large dark-haired man. The scent of soap and campfire smoke spiraled  straight to her center. This was a manly man and Lord knew, they were scarce in Zenith, Texas. Where had this specimen come from?

His hat was pulled low over his face, and he grabbed her by the arms, halting her progress. Her head fit just below his chin. She looked up at his strong, rugged jaw, and serious face.

Long black lashes blinked over emerald eyes as he gripped her arms. “Slow down,” he said in a deep husky drawl. He kept his head down, barely looking at her. “There’s still plenty of cash left in the bank.”

What a condescending, egotistical, handsome renegade. Not an “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me”, but rather a crass remark about the money in the bank. “Maybe you should watch where you’re going.”

She tilted her head and stared into those dark forest eyes. There was something about him that seemed familiar, yet she couldn’t place him. Somewhere she’d seen his face. She stared up at him. “You’re tall enough you should be able to see a woman coming.”

He nodded, and she gawked at the way his shirt fit his strong shoulders and muscled arms. And his lips were full and tempting, made for kissing.

“You’re right, ma’am. I should see a small package like you, barreling around a blind corner. Maybe I need to replace my spectacles with a pair that can see through walls,” he said, releasing her arms.

“Maybe you do,” she said, knowing the oversized giant was smarting off to her. He wasn’t wearing spectacles. Where had she seen him before? “What’s your name?”

A sly smile turned up the corners of his full, luscious lips. “Why? You plan on having me arrested for running into you?”

The man had an ornery mouth, and she was just the woman to give it right back.

“Maybe,” she said. “I know the sheriff well. It would serve you right for being belligerent and disrespectful.”

He smiled a wickedly sly grin that sent tingles through her. “You have a really nice day.”

His voice was dripping with sweet sarcasm that made her feel like she’d eaten too many cookies. Tipping his black hat at her, he sauntered out the door.

Like a kick from a bull, it hit her.

His face was on one of the wanted posters she had out in her saddle bags.

For a moment, she stood there stunned, wanting to grab him by the arm and haul him down to the sheriff’s office. He was getting away, and yet, part of her wasn’t certain he really was a criminal. What if her imagination was stampeding with ideas, trying to get her out of this one horse town?

But what if this was her chance. Her opportunity to show her sisters she could do more than just watch the cows munch grass. She had bounty hunter blood flowing in her veins. She could catch criminals just as well as they could.

Two hundred dollars lay in her satchel that she’d been going to deposit into their account. One more payment toward paying off the bank note. They only needed a little more, and then the old place would be theirs.

But she didn’t have time to make a deposit. She had a criminal to catch.

This morning, she’d stopped at the sheriff’s office and picked up the latest wanted posters. Tonight, when she got home, she intended to make her sisters understand she needed to get away from the braying of cattle and the collecting of eggs.

She made a hasty retreat out the door and watched as the man walked down the street toward the mercantile. She hurried to her horse that she’d left tied up on Main Street. Opening the leather bags, she thumbed through the papers. The third one she came to had a picture of her man. Beau Samuel – Wanted for Bank Robbery. Five Hundred Dollar Reward.

Tingles of alarm galloped along her spine. Oh, my God, she’d just run into him at the bank. He was planning on robbing the Zenith Savings & Loan.