Five years ago, Jen woke up with a ring on her finger and her fiancé nowhere to be found. She swore she’d gotten over the betrayal, but when Clay unexpectedly hires on with the rodeo for a week, she finds herself torn between passion and regret.
Clay left intending never to see Jen again. He’s been running from his troubled past for far too long, and it’s not a life he wants for her. But it’s hard to run from the past when the past is your own family, and Clay finds himself thrown back into the chaos he thought he’d finally left behind.
Will the truth drive Jen away, or is there a second chance at happily ever after for this runaway cowboy?
By: T.J. Kline
Releasing February 3rd, 2015
“I was hoping to find you out here.”
Jennifer stared at him, silently, not sure whether she wanted to move toward him or run away. It didn’t really matter, since she couldn’t seem to get her feet moving anyway. His eyes seemed to glow from within, but she didn’t want to name the emotion she could easily read on his face. Her brain finally connected the synapses to get her legs to react, and she took a step backward.
Where are you going?
She didn’t know and she didn’t care. Right now, all she wanted was to not be caught by the longing in his eyes that warned her he was about to kiss her again.
“Jen, don’t. Don’t run away from me.” She heard the pleading note in his voice, but instead of feeling sympathetic, something in her snapped.
“I’m not the one who runs, Clay. That’s you.”
She was grateful for the horse tied in the aisle and ducked behind the mare, putting more distance between them. She set the bucket on the ground and reached for a curry comb, rubbing the animal down. “I don’t have anything to run from. You’re the one with one woman waiting in the house for you while you chase me down in the barn.” She hoped he could see the fury in her eyes, the pent-up anger at his betrayal that was flooding her body.
He moved around the back of the horse, as quick as a rattlesnake strike, and grabbed her hand, turning her to face him. “I left because I had to. I wasn’t running.”
She didn’t want to hear his excuses or his lies. The venom that had been festering in her for the last five years poured into her blood, seeping from the wound that had never healed in her heart. She threw the comb into the bucket and shoved him away from her. The movement did little to give her the space she needed to move away, and Clay grasped her other wrist, holding her immobile. She thrashed against him, her hands slipping away from his, fists pounding against his chest and shoulders until he wound his fingers through hers, holding her hands trapped behind her. Clay pulled her against the wall of his chest. Her breath came in short pants. Tears she hadn’t realized were falling wet her lips as he held her hostage. She gritted her teeth together, trying not to notice the heat emanating from his body, scorching hers. Regret for the past replaced the anger; need made way for a new kind of agony. She didn’t want to feel his thumbs loosen their hold and begin tracing circles against her palms, which were still held behind her back. She didn’t want to see the way his eyes had turned dark and hot, pained, and tortured—the same way she felt inside.
T. J. Kline was raised competing in rodeos and Rodeo Queen competitions since the age of 14 and has thorough knowledge of the sport as well as the culture involved. She has written several articles about rodeo for small periodicals, as well as a more recent how-to article for RevWriter, and has published a nonfiction health book and two inspirational fiction titles under the name Tina Klinesmith. She is also an avid reader and book reviewer for both Tyndale and Multnomah. In her spare time, she can be found laughing hysterically with her husband, children, and their menagerie of pets in Northern California.