Authors: Delores Fossen
Delores Fossen kicks off her new series, Sweetwater Ranch, with a Texas lawman, a beautiful district attorney…and the child they’ll risk everything to protect
Saving a little boy’s life reopens painful wounds for Texas sheriff Cooper McKinnon. This could be his son, whose loss has haunted him for two years. But Cooper has a formidable adversary in Jessa Wells. She’s the adoptive mother—and she’ll do anything to hold on to Liam.
It’s cruel justice that the man who shares Liam’s rare blood type has an unsolved murder in his own family. And the danger’s far from over. Fighting her desire for Cooper, Jessa has no choice but to join forces with the maverick cowboy. Jessa knows working together is their best shot at keeping the child safe. But it’s the possibility of a future alone that breaks Jessa’s heart.
Cooper nodded, and he reached out. Took her by the arm and pulled her to him.
Almost immediately, she felt him stiffen, and he no doubt would have stepped away from her if Jessa hadn’t caught on to him. Why, she didn’t know.
Okay, she did.
It was because that brief moment in his arms had felt darn good. Reassuring. And safe. She hadn’t felt safe in days, but it was a mistake to look for that safety in Cooper’s arms. And the sound that rumbled in his throat let her know that he agreed.
But he didn’t move.
Neither did she.
Jessa just stood there with one of his arms hooked around her. Their gazes met. Held. And she felt that tug again. The one deep in her belly that she didn’t want to feel.
“This is not going to happen between us,” she reminded him, and herself. “It can’t.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Imagine a family tree that includes Texas cowboys, Choctaw and Cherokee Indians, a Louisiana pirate and a Scottish rebel who battled side by side with William Wallace. With ancestors like that, it’s easy to understand why
bestselling author and former air force captain Delores Fossen feels as if she were genetically predisposed to writing romances. Along the way to fulfilling her DNA destiny, Delores married an air force top gun who just happens to be of Viking descent. With all those romantic bases covered, she doesn’t have to look too far for inspiration.
Books by Delores Fossen
1026—THE CHRISTMAS CLUE*
1050—THE HORSEMAN’S SON*
1075—QUESTIONING THE HEIRESS
1110—BRANDED BY THE SHERIFFΏ
1205—THE BABY’S GUARDIANΔ
1217—THE MOMMY MYSTERYΔ
1242—SAVIOR IN THE SADDLE‡‡
1252—THE TEXAS LAWMAN’S LAST STAND‡‡
1389—CHRISTMAS RESCUE AT MUSTANG RIDGE
1395—STANDOFF AT MUSTANG RIDGE
1419—THE MARSHAL’S HOSTAGE§§
1425—ONE NIGHT STANDOFF§§
1461—JUSTICE IS COMING§§
ΏTexas Paternity: Boots and Booties
ΔTexas Maternity: Hostages
‡‡Texas Maternity: Labor and Delivery
††The Lawmen of Silver Creek Ranch
§§The Marshals of Maverick County
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Sheriff Cooper McKinnon—
This cowboy lawman learns that his missing son could not only be alive but also illegally adopted by the district attorney who’s just charged his mother with murder.
All she’s ever wanted to be is a mom, and now her precious son is at risk. To keep him safe, she must trust Cooper, the very man who could take him from her.
Jessas two-year-old adopted son.
The attorney who handled Liam’s adoption. He could be trying to cover his tracks, or someone could be setting him up.
A baby broker who claims to match adoptive parents with babies, but she might have participated in some illegal adoptions.
This cattle baron and Cooper are longtime enemies, but how far would he go to right what he believes to be an old wrong?
The moment Sheriff Cooper McKinnon stepped through the hospital’s emergency room doors, he spotted the woman running toward him. Not hurrying.
He’d only known the running woman, Jessa Wells, for a few months now. Since she’d moved to Sweetwater Springs to take the job as the town’s assistant district attorney. A move that continued to be a thorn in Cooper’s professional and personal sides.
Like the woman herself.
But that wasn’t a thorny look she was giving Cooper now. She was a mess.
Her light brown hair was tangled on her shoulders, and there were small nicks and cuts on her face. White powder from a car’s deployed air bag was clinging like dust to her already pale gray skirt and top. Everything about her expression was an emotion he knew all too well.
Remembering that fear, and the panic, it felt as if someone had just punched him in the gut.
Despite his feelings about Jessa, Cooper prayed her situation turned out better than his.
One lost child was enough.
“Hurry,” Jessa insisted, catching his arm and practically dragging him out of the E.R. waiting room and into a side corridor. “Dr. Howland’s ready to draw your blood.”
She was ashy pale—the only spots of color were those wide blue eyes. Desperate eyes.
Yet something else Cooper understood.
“It’s my son,” she said, though he didn’t know how she managed to speak with her breath gusting like that. She was dragging in air through her mouth at a much too fast rate.
“Yeah. When the doctor called me, he said your boy, Liam, was two years old and that he’d been hurt.”
Jessa managed a shaky nod. “We were in a car accident. Someone sideswiped me.” She gave a hoarse groan. “And his spleen ruptured. I didn’t even know that could happen to a toddler.”
Lots of bad things could happen to babies and toddlers, and Cooper wished he didn’t know that firsthand.
She threw open the door to an examining room. Not an empty one, but there was no sign of her son inside. Just Dr. Howland, his nurse Tammy Karnes and a table set up for Cooper to give blood.
Other than the panicked mother and the feeling of urgency, this was familiar ground for Cooper, since Dr. Howland often called him to donate blood. This was a first, however—a child who might literally die without it.
“Thanks for coming so fast,” Dr. Howland greeted.
The doc looked every day of his sixty-plus years this morning. Heaven knew how many life-and-death situations like this he’d faced over his long career as a small-town doctor. How many babies he’d delivered.
Heck, he’d delivered Cooper and his two brothers and had saved them a time or two over their years as law enforcement officers. He hoped the doc could do the same for Jessa’s little boy.
Cooper took off his Stetson and got on the table, his belt holster and gun clattering against the metal side. The nurse didn’t waste any time swabbing his finger. All routine. She jabbed it to get the drops of blood that she needed for a quick test to make sure he wasn’t too anemic to donate. While she scurried away to do that, the doctor rubbed his arm with antiseptic and inserted the needle.
The wait began.
It wouldn’t be long, but it would no doubt seem like a lifetime to Jessa. She stood at the end of the table, her gaze firing all around, mumbling a prayer under her breath.
The door flew open and the nurse hurried back in. “We’re good to go.”
That was the only green light the doctor needed, because he turned on the machine and got Cooper’s blood flowing into the collection bag. It seemed the doctor was collecting a lot for a toddler, but maybe it was necessary if Jessa’s son had lost a lot of blood.
“I was so thankful when Dr. Howland told me you were a match for Liam,” Jessa said.
Or rather that was what she tried to say. Her voice cracked, and that too-fast breath caught up with her. Obviously it’d made her light-headed, and she wobbled enough for the doctor to reach out and take hold of her. Dr. Howland tried to move her to the chair in the corner of the room, but Jessa frantically shook her head and stayed put.
“We’re lucky,” the doctor added. “AB negative is the rarest blood type.”
What the doctor didn’t say was what he’d told Cooper when he called him. That if Cooper hadn’t been nearby, just up the street at the sheriff’s office, then Jessa’s son would have had a much slimmer chance of pulling through this injury.
“I know you hate me,” Jessa mumbled. She blinked, but there were no tears. They would no doubt come once the shock wore off. “But thank you for doing this.
Cooper didn’t disagree with the hate part, though he probably should have tried to play nice. But he couldn’t. Jessa was in shock and panicky now, but the bottom line was that she was trying to destroy his family. And him specifically.
Too bad she was doing it legally.
“I heard your mother’s coming back to town,” Dr. Howland tossed out there, casting an uneasy glance first at Jessa. Then at Cooper. The nurse, Tammy Karnes, made some uneasy glances of her own.
Because this was a powder keg of a subject. One that Cooper couldn’t dodge since he was confined to the table with a captive audience. However, he didn’t have to blab his head off about the details, either.
“Yeah, she’s coming back,” Cooper confirmed. Jewell McKinnon was indeed returning to Sweetwater Springs after being gone for twenty-three years.
be a happy homecoming, and that was a massive understatement.
“Well, I’ll try to get you out of here as fast as I can,” the doctor assured him. “So you can be home when she arrives.”