Description : Cold Night, Warm Stranger
On that savage January night when snow engulfed the Rockies in a raging blur of glittering white, when the wild creatures hid and shivered, and no one stirred in the tiny, dirty town of Knotsville, Montana, Maura Jane Reed had no inkling that her life was about to change forever. She drank her tea and shivered in her thick blue robe, struggling with the bone-numbing loneliness she had known all her life. She had no inkling that miles away, a gunfighter on a horse named Thunder was fighting his lone way through the blizzard, across Looper's Pass, barreling toward Knotsville and into her life.
Neither did she know that thirty miles north, in the town of Hatchett where a high-stakes poker tournament had drawn gamblers, adventurers, and fools from all over the territory, a fortune in diamonds had been stolen that same night, a killer gunned down in the street, a woman murdered.
Or that any of it would ever touch her. Maura only knew that she had to get out of Knotsville, away from the Duncan Hotel and the vicious bullying of her adoptive brothers, and build a decent life for herself. She was twenty-four years old and had never gone to a dance, owned a new dress, spoken aloud without giving careful thought to each word, or kissed a man.
Come spring, she thought, hugging her arms around herself, trying to ward off the chill that threatened to permeate her bones, I'll find a way to get out of here—I'll go someplace where Judd and Homer can never find me. Never hurt me—or anyone else I know or care about.
Shivering, she peered again through the window of the hotel kitchen,...