Five facts about Colorado Springs, CO:
The area was first discovered in 1806 by European settlers. Zebulon Montgomery Pike named the 14,000ft. mountain Pike’s Peak. Hundreds of tourists visit each year to either drive or climb to the top of Pike’s Peak.
The city itself was founded in 1871 by General William Jackson Palmer.
Several different Native American tribes traversed and lived in the area, to include the Ute, Arapaho, and Cheyenne.
Colorado Springs is home to five military bases; Peterson AFB, Schriever AFB, Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, United States Air Force Academy, Ft. Carson Army Base.
The eastern plains are home to herds of Antelope while deer, bears, and mountain lions wander west of the city along the foothills.
For Jess Jansen, grief and guilt are as much a part of him as riding herd. Twenty-two years he’s longed for the woman who ran out on him, and now his luck is about to change. Needing a place to hole up during a thunderstorm, the Lazy K looks to be a safe haven. There’s a barn―and a body with soft curves and sapphire eyes he’d know anywhere.
Rachael Weston is a bundle of nerves when Jess suddenly appears at her door. He shunned her once and will again if she foolishly welcomes him back into her life. But when Jess proves innocent of wrongdoing, Rachael fears revealing to him the one truth that just might cause him to turn his back on her―for good.
“I severed our relationship!” Jess kicked aside the quilts and lunged to his feet. “You ran out on me.”
Anger sprang into her eyes. “I did not. You shunned me on the boardwalk and then you ceased all contact with me.”
“The hell I did.”
“Oh?” She fisted her hands on her hips. “You didn’t shun me?”
Heat crept up his neck, spread to his cheeks. “That I did do, because I didn’t have a choice. Carl was with me. You and I had agreed to not give our families reason to suspect we favored each other until we were ready to tell them.”
“I would’ve accepted your explanation, except…” Her brow furrowed. “What are you doing on your feet? Lie back down before you do more damage to your back.”
“My back’s fine.”
Her gaze rapidly filled with damnation. “You lied about your health?”
“How the hell else was I going to convince you to let me stay?” he groused. “And don’t change the subject. Finish what you were going to say.”
“You know the rest.” She pivoted on her heel and strode toward the kitchen.
“You’re not getting away this time.” He went after her, gently grasped her arm and turned her to face him. “I’ve waited twenty-two years to hear your side of the matter. I’m not waiting any longer. Spill it.”
“My, my, what a tyrant you’ve become.”
Jess rolled his eyes. “I’ve been called worse. Now talk.”
“I’m sure you have.” She wrinkled her nose in distaste before pulling free from his grasp. “I saw Alexandra and Cynthia at the dress shop before I saw you and Carl. Alexandra told Cynthia you didn’t favor relations of any kind. I didn’t believe her, but then, you shunned me and stopped meeting me.” She squared her shoulders. “I waited for you, but you never came.”
“I came,” he spat. “You were nowhere to be found.”
“You’re a liar! I was at your pa’s lineshack every day for a week.” Her gaze narrowed. “Where were you?”
“For a week? What the hell for? Everyone knew Carl and I were in the calaboose.”
“You were not. I would’ve known if Sheriff Crumb had locked you in his jail cell. The gossips’ would’ve talked about nothing else the whole time you were there.”
“I wasn’t in the Coyote jail. I was in the Pueblo jail.”
At the stunned expression on her face, his blood turned cold. Brawling with his brother. Shattered glass. Ten days of miserable hell. He’d always assumed she’d known. Pa had said everyone knew. But she hadn’t, and he swallowed hard, felt the regret for what should have been burn his gut. “I didn’t abandon you,” he said quietly before taking her hand and leading her to the table. “Sit. Let me explain.”