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Authors: BJ Daniels

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Justice at Cardwell Ranch

BOOK: Justice at Cardwell Ranch
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CARDWELL CHARM WAS ALL HE’D EVER NEEDED…UNTIL NOW

Six years ago, Dana Cardwell found her mother’s will in a cookbook and became sole owner of the Cardwell Ranch in Big Sky, Montana. Now happily married, Dana is surprised when her siblings, Stacy and Jordan, show up on the ranch…and trouble isn’t too far behind.

As danger draws closer to the ranch, deputy marshal Liza Turner quickly realizes that Jordan Cardwell isn’t the man the town made him out to be.

Jordan moved quickly through the gravestones until he found the one stone that was newer than the others, only six years in the ground.

The name on the tombstone read Mary Justice Cardwell.

“Hello, Mother,” he said, removing his hat as he felt all the conflicting emotions he’d had when she was alive. All the arguments came rushing back, making him sick at the memory. He hadn’t been able to change her mind, and now she was gone, leaving them all behind to struggle as a family without her.

He could almost hear their last argument whispered on the wind. “There is nothing keeping you here, let alone me,” he’d argued. “Why are you fighting so hard to keep this place going? Can’t you see that ranching is going to kill you?”

He recalled her smile, that gentle gleam in her eyes that infuriated him. “This land is what makes me happy, son. Someday you will realize that ranching is in our blood. You can fight it, but this isn’t just your home, a part of your heart is here as well.”

“Like hell,” he’d said. “Sell the ranch, Mother, before it’s too late. If not for yourself and the rest of us, then for Dana. She’s too much like you. She will spend her life fighting to keep this place. Don’t do that to her.”

“She’ll keep this ranch for the day when you come back to help her run it.”

“That’s never going to happen, Mother.”

Mary Justice Cardwell had smiled that knowing smile of hers. “Only time will tell, won’t it?”

Dear Reader,

It was so much fun for me to return to Cardwell Ranch.
Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch
has been read by more than two million readers, so it was a treat to go back and find out what happened to the Justice and Cardwell families in the sequel.
Justice at Cardwell Ranch
is a story I’ve wanted to write for a long time.

When I was a girl, we had a cabin just down the road from where these books take place. I have such wonderful memories of the Gallatin Canyon. My brother and I had a fort out in the woods and spent hours exploring in what is now a wilderness area. I skied at Big Sky many times, and have hiked with a friend to Ousel Waterfalls, where part of this story takes place.

I hope you enjoy this return trip to the “canyon.”

B.J. Daniels

www.bjdaniels.com

USA TODAY
Bestselling Author

B.J. Daniels

Justice at
Cardwell Ranch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

USA TODAY
bestselling author B.J. Daniels wrote her first book after a career as an award-winning newspaper journalist and author of thirty-seven published short stories. That first book,
Odd Man Out,
received a four-and-a-half-star review from
RT Book Reviews
and went on to be nominated for Best Intrigue that year. Since then, she has won numerous awards, including a career achievement award for romantic suspense and many nominations and awards for best book.

Daniels lives in Montana with her husband, Parker, and two springer spaniels, Spot and Jem. When she isn’t writing, she snowboards, camps, boats and plays tennis. Daniels is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Kiss of Death and Romance Writers of America.

To contact her, write to B.J. Daniels, P.O. Box 1173, Malta, MT 59538, or email her at
[email protected]
. Check out her website,
www.bjdaniels.com.

Books by B.J. Daniels

HARLEQUIN INTRIGUE

  897—CRIME SCENE AT CARDWELL RANCH
  996—SECRET OF DEADMAN’S COULEE*
1002—THE NEW DEPUTY IN TOWN*
1024—THE MYSTERY MAN OF WHITEHORSE*
1030—CLASSIFIED CHRISTMAS*
1053—MATCHMAKING WITH A MISSION*
1059—SECOND CHANCE COWBOY*
1083—MONTANA ROYALTY*
1125—SHOTGUN BRIDE‡
1131—HUNTING DOWN THE HORSEMAN‡
1137—BIG SKY DYNASTY‡
1155—SMOKIN’ SIX-SHOOTER‡
1161—ONE HOT FORTY-FIVE‡
1198—GUN-SHY BRIDE**
1204—HITCHED!**
1210—TWELVE-GAUGE GUARDIAN**
1234—BOOTS AND BULLETS‡‡
1240—HIGH-CALIBER CHRISTMAS‡‡
1246—WINCHESTER CHRISTMAS WEDDING‡‡
1276—BRANDED†
1282—LASSOED†
1288—RUSTLED†
1294—STAMPEDED†
1335—CORRALLED†
1353—WRANGLED†
1377—JUSTICE AT CARDWELL RANCH

*Whitehorse, Montana
‡Whitehorse, Montana: The Corbetts
**Whitehorse, Montana: Winchester Ranch
‡‡Whitehorse, Montana: Winchester Ranch Reloaded
†Whitehorse, Montana: Chisholm Cattle Company

Other titles by this author available in ebook format.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Jordan Cardwell—
The former cowboy bad boy is back in the canyon chasing a secret that would shock the Big Sky community.

Liza Turner—
The deputy marshal knows Jordan is dangerous. But she’s hoping he isn’t a murderer.

Dana Cardwell Savage—
Pregnant with twins and on doctor prescribed bed rest, all she needs is trouble from her estranged siblings.

Hud Savage—
The marshal has his hands full with a pregnant wife and two young children. He doesn’t need a murder or two—and a possible kidnapping.

Stacy Cardwell—
She left the canyon six years ago, but now she is back with a surprise package and trouble at her heels.

Clay Cardwell—
He has his reasons for disappearing six months ago.

Tanner Cole—
He learned the hard way about a woman scorned.

Shelby Durran-Iverson—
She has a way of getting what she wants. But if her secret comes out, no one will be able to help her, not even her closest friends.

Alex Winslow—
He thinks he’s found a way to even a few scores and make his bad life better.

Tessa Ryerson Spring—
She has a lot of reasons to be resentful of her best friend.

Contents

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Epilogue

Excerpt

Prologue

Nothing moved in the darkness. At the corner of the house she stopped to catch her breath. She could hear music playing somewhere down the street. Closer, a dog barked.

As she waited in the deep shadow at the edge of the house, she measured the distance and the light she would have to pass through to reach the second window.

When she’d sneaked into the house earlier, she’d left the window unlocked. But she had no way of knowing if someone had discovered it. If so, they might not have merely relocked it—they could be waiting for her.

Fear had her heart pounding and her breath coming out in painful bursts. If she got caught— She couldn’t let herself think about that.

The dog stopped barking for a moment. All she could hear was the faint music drifting on the night breeze. She fought to keep her breathing in check as she inched along the side of the house to the first window.

A light burned inside, but the drapes were closed. Still, she waited to make sure she couldn’t hear anyone on the other side of the glass before she moved.

Ducking, she slipped quickly through a shaft of illumination from a streetlamp and stopped at the second bedroom window.

There, she waited for a few moments. No light burned inside the room. Still she listened before she pulled the screwdriver from her jacket pocket and began to pry up the window.

At first the old casement window didn’t move and she feared she’d been right about someone discovering what she’d done and locking the window again.

When it finally gave, it did so with a pop that sounded like an explosion to her ears. She froze. No sound came from within the room. Her hands shook as she pried the window up enough that she could get her fingers under it.

Feeling as if there was no turning back now, she lifted the window enough to climb in. Heart in her throat, she drew back the curtain. She’d half expected to find someone standing on the other side lying in wait for her.

The room, painted pink, was empty except for a few pieces of mismatched furniture: a dresser, a rocking chair, a changing table and a crib.

She looked to the crib, fearing that she’d come this far only to fail. But from the faint light coming from the streetlamp, she could see the small lump beneath the tiny quilt.

Her heart beat faster at the thought that in a few minutes she would have the baby in her arms.

She heard the car coming down the street just seconds before the headlights washed over her. Halfway in the window, there was nothing she could do but hurry. She wasn’t leaving here without the baby.

Chapter One

BOOK: Justice at Cardwell Ranch
8.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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