Drumfire

Drumfire

Linda Hines

The Metairie Cattle Company

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Long ago Galen Metairie had chosen devotion over desire. He knew what he could have … and accepted what he could not. He was as tightly bound by honor to his brother, as he was by his heart to his brother’s wife. But could a powerful soldier’s presence at Alteza threaten the relationship the three of them have always shared?

The Metairie Cattle Company continues in Book Two of the series, as “Drumfire” steps back in time to explain the tumultuous events which led up to the brothers’ reconciliation in “Alteza.”

 
PUBLISHED BY: Linda Hines
ISBN: 978-0-6151-5677-4
PUBLICATION DATE: 2009
WORD COUNT: 39106
SEXUAL CONTENT RATING: 2 2
EBOOK READER RATING:
CATEGORIES: Historical, Western/Cowboys, Romantic Fiction
KEYWORDS: historical romance, western romance, cowboys, horses, cattle ranch, antique books, Romanticism
 

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EXCERPT
COPYRIGHT Linda Hines/2009
At night, she wanted to feel him near. So closely they slept: she, in the crook of his body; or, he, in the crook of hers. And often, she would awaken to feel the soft touch of his lips on the nape of her neck; or feel his great hand caressing the soft skin of her hip. Or his wandering hand might find other ways to please.

This night she felt his desire. His hunger.

She turned to him -- with a desire, a hunger of her own.

Still, after all their years together, each thrilled at the audacity of the other’s touch. With their words of passion … of devotion … whispered in the mystery of the darkness. And each lingering kiss. When, finally, he possessed her, their journey was such a sharing ... of their love ... their strength ... all they were.

And even at their journey's end, Ruark did not withdraw; but held her against his heart.

Thus, in the life of a couple, events occur which mark them secretly and become landmarks in their lives; and place a special seal upon their love.

Galen could not ride with her this morning, for Ruark needed him somewhere else. “So it's just you and me, chum,” she announced to Greyling entering the big stud's stall. Recognizing her voice, he nickered impatiently and eagerly turned. Quickly, he approached, halting only when she felt his silken hide against her own. He lowered his exquisite head, encouraging her caress; his movement accentuating the arch of his long, powerful neck. Smiling softly, Mariah laid her cheek against his silky jaw, her stroke gentle as she whispered his name.

Moments passed; but time had no meaning when she was with him. Again he lowered his head, and she slipped his halter on. He followed her out into the hallway, to his cross-ties. Smiling still, speaking to him often, she set about his grooming. But spurs jingling, the footsteps approaching were loud and bold; and Mariah turned.

“Ruark!”

His tone was amused. “What? Surprised because I want to see my wife?”

Her expression was enigmatic. “She’s a very demanding mistress, sir, this Empire of yours -- for she shares you so seldom.” Again, she turned her attention to the stallion, brushing briskly his broad back and muscular hindquarters.

Her voice was soft, almost a whisper. “You have every portion of your long day so neatly arranged, my husband. And it rarely includes me.”

“Mariah!” Approaching, he touched her shoulder. “I longed to see you. Is that so extraordinary?” he challenged gently. “I needed to see you.”

His presence filled the hall; she could feel him behind her and felt his strong arms’ embrace. Slowly, gently, he brought his cheek down to meet hers.

She reached up to stroke his dear face; and turned into his arms, gazing intently into the eyes of this remarkable individual. It was to him that everyone turned … for he was a man of ideas and innovations … of boundless dreams … with the intellect and energy to make them so.

“May I ride with you?”

“Yes, please.”

Ruark pulled her gently to him; caressing her hair, he released her slowly -- and proceeded to tack up her mount.

“Ready?”

When she nodded and walked toward him, he suddenly clasped her arm.

She sensed his excitement. “What is it, Ruark?” Her voice was soft; almost uncertain. She could not recall the last time he had ridden with her.

Her husband was so physically striking; and he resembled his brother: the same bold, hawk-like aristocratic features, the same warm, expressive brown eyes. She loved him so much. But even after all these years, she could not claim to always understand him. He was so intense. So driven. She turned, suddenly confused; troubled. ‘Why is he here? Where is Galen?’

And why was she even questioning her husband's presence at all? Their nights together were filled with such passion!’

But then the sudden revelation seared her; and not only made her uncomfortable, but truly frightened her as well. ‘I feel as though my nights belong to Ruark … but my days to Galen. So who am I betraying now?’

“Mariah.” His voice was soft as he gently drew her slim body against his own. “Why are you cross with me? Especially after what we shared last night.”

She gazed up at him; intently studying the man who studied her. He had not a clue of what was troubling her. Ruark's only purpose in coming here was to please her; as she had pleased him for all the years before. Throughout their time together, she had reveled in his innate kindness -- and admired his strength. Yet to her he admitted weakness. “I fear I love you too much.”

She remembered when she was a girl, during their first years together: How overawed she sometimes felt -- by his handsome features, his cutting sharpness of wit, his easy domination over others; yet, always, she sensed, ‘Here is a man who accepts no boundaries.’

In truth, he was not a man whom it was easy to know; for he was guarded, and very protective of his dreams. And yet … he shared his dreams with her. “You inspire me,” he would say, holding her close; “With you, I feel audacious.”

Ferociously, she clasped Ruark Metairie to her; and her words were enigmatic. “My thoughts are wild, my love.” And, suddenly, she felt afraid; for she loved him too much … this man apart … who presented himself so boldly to those who might envy or wish his destruction. “Will you ride with me this morning, Mr. Metairie?”

Slowly, he smiled. Together, they walked the stallion out the barn.

 
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