As you have probably gathered from the title, today’s snippet is all about emotion. Enough to make you cry. It was a tough decision — whether to include a scene from Deliberate Deceptions (lots of angst in that story too) or the one I finally settled on from Tangled Past. When her father discovered Sarah in the barn with Jackson and Nate, he assumed the two men were in the middle of seducing Sarah, not each other. So Jackson found himself standing at the altar beside Sarah with a pair of shotguns at his back. Jackson’s done his best to do right by her, and has sworn off his relationship with ranch owner and former lover Nate. But now Nate’s hurt, and he’s faced with losing the man he’s loved almost his whole adult life in a more permanent way…

Tangled Past

Copyright © 2011 by Leah Braemel

“I’m right here, Nate.” Jackson slid his hand into Nate’s limp one and squeezed.


The pain and weakness in Nate’s voice shattered Jackson’s composure. “I know, but it means you’re alive.” Thank God. “Doc Shaw wants us to keep you awake for a while before we give you any laudanum.”

Nate grimaced, though whether from pain or at having to stay awake unmedicated, Jackson wasn’t sure.

“What happened, Nate? Belle lose her footing?”

“Cougar. Spooked her. She okay?”

Jackson shook his head. “She broke her leg real bad.” He’d hated racking that bullet into his gun. The mare had been a good little filly, real responsive. Until she’d damned near killed her owner fighting to get up despite the fracture. A cougar would explain her panic. Still, he couldn’t have saved her, not with the way the bone had shattered.

“Hard to breathe.”

He debated minimizing the damage, but realized Nate already knew from the pain he was in how bad it was. “Doc Shaw figures you busted at least six ribs.” And bruised at least that number front and back. “Bet you got a whopper of a headache too. You’ve got the biggest damned goose egg I’ve ever seen.” With a possible busted skull, for all they knew.

“Leg…how bad?”

“You busted your thigh bone pretty damned good. Came out clear through your skin. Both the bones in your lower leg too.”

The sound and feeling of bone grating on bone when he’d reset it would stay in his memories for the rest of his life. Though the doc had said he’d done a good job setting it, they both knew the break hadn’t been clean, and Nate’s ability to walk without a limp was still questionable.

Jackson struggled to draw a breath against the lump growing in his throat. “We cleaned it as best we could before we moved you, and Sarah and Miss Martha cleaned it again once we got you back home.”

The Romance ReviewNate made a half-hearted effort at a grimace. “If it festers…” He dragged in a breath then groaned as his ribs reminded him of the impossibility of that feat. “Remember…your promise.”

He tightened his grip on Nate’s hand. “I remember.”

If it came to that, would he be able to follow through on handing Nate a pistol with a bullet in the chamber? Or have the strength to hold it against Nate’s temple and help him fire, if it got to that point? Promises made at age twelve were different when faced with the reality of doing the deed.

Nate’s whole body relaxed at Jackson’s response. His glance flitted to the doorway, and his lips lifted in the weakest excuse for a smile Jackson had ever seen, though he knew it had probably taken almost all of Nate’s energy to manage. He didn’t have to look over his shoulder to know who had just walked into the room. Nate never smiled like that at Martha. Or any other woman.

Jackson stared at their still-joined hands. Sarah knew about them already so there was no need to let go. “Look who woke up, Sarah.”

“I see.” She glided into the room and rested her hand on Jackson’s shoulder, her thumb stroking over his shoulder blade. For such a simple gesture, it damned near undid Jackson almost as much as Nate’s smile had. Not many people in his life had had his back. Except maybe Martha. And Nate.

And now Sarah.

Cover Art Copyright© 2011 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. © and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

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