Shoulda Been A Cowboy

By: Lorelei James

Dedication

To all the men and women in uniform, we owe you for your dedication and sacrifice. And to all the families of military personnel, who hold it all together at home…this book is for you too…


Prologue

Crash.

Bang.

Thump thump thump.

Silence.

Another loud thud followed the distinctive sound of breaking glass.

Not good.

When the whole building seemed to shake with the next crash-bang-thump combo, Domini Katzinski panicked.

Call the police, dummy.

Good plan.

She scrambled for her cell phone on the nightstand. She dialed and hunkered underneath the covers, counting the rings.

Pick up. Please pick up.

“Domini?” Cam McKay said with a surprised tone. “What’s goin’ on?”

The deep timbre of his voice allowed her to focus on something besides her fear. “I think someone is breaking into the restaurant. There’s loud noises and breaking glass—”

“Are you locked in your apartment?”

“Yes. Should I—”

“No. Don’t move. Stay right there, do you hear me?”

Domini started to answer but he beat her to the punch.

“I mean it,” Cam said sharply. “Stay put and stay quiet until you hear from me. Keep your phone close to you and on vibrate. Promise me.”

“I promise.”

“Good. I’m on my way.” Click.

For the next thirty minutes, Domini cowered in her bed, hating that the incident had transported her back to the sleepless nights of her childhood. Hearing the violence in the streets below. Sirens in the distance.

As terror beat in her chest like a living thing, trying to claw its way out, she realized she hadn’t exorcised that scared little girl at all. No place on earth was far enough away from those horrid memories because she carried them inside her.

Domini’s phone buzzed in her hand and she nearly screamed. The caller ID read: Cam. Thank God. “Hello?”

“I’m outside your apartment. Let me in.”

She tossed back the quilt and raced to the living room. After releasing the deadbolts, she opened the door. The gigantic silhouette slunk into the room and she instinctively backed up, because the guy took up a serious amount of space.

Cam McKay was imposing, even in near darkness. The dominant male animal. The ultimate guardian. A pillar of strength. A bona fide warrior.

His deep frown and shrewd gaze read all business. “You okay?”

I am now. “I guess.”

He kept looking at her as if he expected her to get hysterical. “Domini—”

“I’m fine. Really. Just shaky. I’ll umm…make tea.”

Tea? How lame. But she was so flustered from being scared, and from Cam being right there, she wasn’t thinking straight.

“Maybe you need a shot of whiskey,” he muttered as he followed her into the kitchen.

Maybe I need a shot of you to settle me down.

Domini filled the kettle and fired up the stove. Her hand shook like crazy when she put a jasmine teabag in each mug before she faced him, knowing she looked calmer than she felt. “I didn’t hear sirens. Does that mean there wasn’t a break in?”

Cam watched her carefully and shook his head.

Her relief warred with frustration. “I didn’t imagine those noises. I’m not the type of woman who just—” she gestured distractedly, searching for the right phrase, “—who just calls the law on a whim.”

But Domini hadn’t called 911…she’d called Deputy McKay. At home. Did Cam think she’d tricked him to get him to show up alone at her apartment at midnight? On a night she knew he hadn’t been on duty? Her chin fell to her chest.

“Hey.” Cam shuffled closer. His warm fingers tipped her face up. “Don’t you think I know you’d never cry wolf? Don’t you think I know what type of woman you are, Domini?”

No. I don’t think you have a clue.

“You didn’t imagine anything. You heard somebody throwing stuff in the Dumpster. Inside the container were a bunch of broken glass and rotten wood from old window frames. Either the Dumpster rolled away as they were loading the bigger stuff into it, or they used it as bumper car, because it’s crossways in the alley.”

“Really?”

“Yep. There are a couple of big chunks out of the sandstone where the Dumpster smacked into it.”

She blinked at him. “But that was it?”

“For the most part.”

“You probably think I’m just another paranoid woman who overreacted.”

“Not even close. I heard the fear in your voice when you called me. That’s what got me over here so damn fast.”

And despite her resolve not to act wimpy, Domini launched herself at him. She circled her arms around his neck, pressing her face into his sturdy chest as she shuddered with relief.

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