Excerpt – Lori Wilde

Montana Blaze

Cowboy Country: Book 1

Annabelle Leahey was hankering to be a badass. Not sneak-a-cigarette-behind-the-garage, skinny-dip-in-Old-Man-Philsner’s-pond naughty, but an all-out, turn heads and raise eyebrows, bad-ass.

In a town like River Falls, Montana—whose population barely tipped 1,012 if you included Gilda, the sheriff’s bloodhound—that wouldn’t be easy. Good grief, the local boutique didn’t even sell thong undies. How could a girl go from sweet to sinful without scanty panties?

Ann had to do something to change her life. At twenty-three, she was the youngest member of the quilting bee, the best apple pie baker at the county fair three years running, and the ringer in the weekly bridge club. Her job at the local bookstore did nothing to ease her prim image. Add to it, her father had been the town’s preacher until his death last year, and you had all the ingredients for a very boring good girl.

Except she wasn’t a girl anymore, was she?

“Please don’t end up like me, Ann,” her boss and good friend, Edith Dooley, warned before she left for Italy the previous week, “and let sixty years pass by before you take a risk. You’re not going to live a life of regrets if I can help it.”

“Honestly, Edith,” Ann had said. “I’m happy.”

Edith rolled her eyes and snorted. “How about this? If you get off your namby-pamby butt and started living the life you deserve, I’ll turn the bookstore over to you.”

“You mean make me manager?”

“I mean I’ll gift the store to you.”

“Seriously?” Ann’s heart galloped. Owning the bookstore would be a dream come true. “But why?”

“One, because you’re like a granddaughter to me and two, you need help.”

Um-oh. That sounded ominous. “Help?”

“Face facts sweetheart, you’re afraid of truly living.”

“I’m not,” she said. But she was.

“Furthermore, if you choose not to take me up on my offer and shake yourself out of your comfort zone, I’ll sell the building to the developer itching to bring a Mega-Mart to River Falls.”

“Edith no! That conglomerate will throw our town into an economic tailspin! They’ll drain all the business from our Mom and Pop stores.”

“It’s not up to me, sweetie pie. It’s all on you. Change is coming into your life one way or the other so you might as well choose adventure.” 

Edith looked so determined, Ann feared calling her bluff.  “Th-that’s blackmail!”

        “Maybe.” Edith patted Ann’s cheek. “But there you are.”

       Ann felt her jaw drop, dumbstruck. “You truly mean it.”      

“I do.” The older woman took a sheaf of papers from her purse and laid them on the checkout counter. “The contract is just waiting for my signature. I don’t need the money, but I’ll take it if you don’t rechart the course of your life.”

“This is for real?” Ann fretted, fingering the contract.

“Yep.” Edith looked resolute. “Oh and by the way, you have two weeks to start making progress or I sign on the dotted line.”

And that was how Ann had ended up here… Standing outside the Rusty Rail Saloon, staring into the open door of the place her father had dubbed Sin Central.