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Westbound Awakening -- Hildie McQueen

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Westbound Awakening

Captain John McClain finds himself on the wrong end of a shotgun when attempting to find his child. Heading west to find the mother of his son, John is forced to escort an enticing woman whose lifestyle goes against every one of his moral standards, yet she calls to every part of him.

Traveling west to meet the dying father she never knew, and possibly starting a new life, Mae Hawkins didn’t expect the added complication of traveling with the one man she always loved.

When they're joined along the road by a minister and his wife, things get beyond complicated for John and Mae who awaken to the lesson that sometimes differences are more imagined than real.

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"Why, Captain McClain, it's nice of you to join us tonight. To what do I owe the rare honor of your presence?" Mae Hawkins' husky voice fell over him like a much-needed cool breeze. He looked up to meet the young madam's bright green eyes and lost his ability to speak.

 A more beautiful woman did not exist -- he would bet his life on it. The woman was like a goddess who deemed to walk amongst mere mortals. The blond brothel owner cocked an eyebrow at his lack of response.

"Good evening, Mae. You look well rested." He almost smiled at the slight frown, her perfectly-shaped eyebrows lowering; she was probably used to more elaborate flattery from men. He continued unabated, "I am here to keep an eye on my men. Last time I allowed them to visit your establishment without supervision, I had to fetch them the next day."

Shoulders back, she fanned her face and eyed him from beneath long lashes, her comely mouth pursed. With hair up in a complicated manner that allowed for some of the long blond curls to escape and touch her shoulders, she was captivating. Enticing.

"Yes, I remember." Mae lowered herself to the chair across from him and allowed her gaze to sweep over the room, always vigilant.

He followed her line of sight to two of his men engrossed with a curvy brunette who threw her head back in laughter, seeming to enjoy the game of baiting them against each other.

Not able to tear his gaze from Mae for long, he studied her again, admiring the graceful curve of her neck, the soft jawline, and the slight pout of pink lips.

She turned back and smiled, her eyes connecting with his. "They're good boys, most of them. Some nights they just drink too much and can't make it out the door, much less mount their horses. I won't stand for them to leave in that condition. It's dangerous out there if they get lost. I'd rather their stern commander come for them than find out they've met with harm."

Stern? John didn't reply. Instead he took another drink from his now-warming beer and gave her a non-committal shrug. Feigning disinterest, he studied her attire; although the deep green dress was off her shoulders, very little of her cleavage was exposed. Unlike the other women in the brothel, he'd never seen her wear anything indecent. The few times he'd spotted her out in town, she always dressed within the bounds of modesty. Even so, she commanded attention, a beautiful woman without ties living without many of the restraints of society.

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