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Authors: Leigh Greenwood

The Mavericks

CRITICS ARE RAVING ABOUT

LEIGH GREENWOOD!

“Leigh Greenwood continues to be a shining star of the genre!”

—The Literary Times

“Leigh Greenwood NEVER disappoints. The characters are finely drawn . . . always, always, a guaranteed good read!”

—Heartland Critiques

“Leigh Greenwood remains one of the forces to be reckoned with in the Americana romance sub-genre.”

—Affaire de Coeur

“Greenwood's books are bound to become classics.”

—Rendezvous

THE RELUCTANT BRIDE

“Leigh Greenwood always provides one of the year's best western romances, but his latest tale may be the best in an illustrious career. . . . Once again Mr. Greenwood will have one of the sub-genre top guns of 2005.”

—Harriet Klausner

THE INDEPENDENT BRIDE

“Leigh Greenwood unfolds his Westerns like an artist. . . . Like his other books,
The Independent Bride
should be placed among the western classics.”

—Rendezvous

BORN TO LOVE

“The characters are complex and add a rich element to this western romance.”

—Romantic Times

TEXAS HOMECOMING

“Leigh Greenwood raises the heat and tension with
Texas Homecoming
. Few authors provide a vivid descriptive Americana romance filled with realistic angst-laden protagonists as this author can.”

—The Midwest Book Review

HIGH PRAISE FOR
THE COWBOYS SERIES!

JAKE

“Only a master craftsman can create so many strong characters and keep them completely individualized.”

—Rendezvous

WARD

“Few authors write with the fervor of Leigh Greenwood. Once again [Greenwood] has created a tale well worth opening again and again!”

—Heartland Critiques

BUCK


Buck
is a wonderful Americana Romance!”

—Affaire de Coeur

CHET


Chet
has it all! Romance and rustlers, gunfighters and greed . . . romance doesn't get any better than this!”

—The Literary Times

SEAN

“This book rivals the best this author has written so far, and readers will want to make space on their keeper shelves for
Sean
. Western romance at its finest!”

—The Literary Times

PETE


Pete
is another stroke on Leigh Greenwood's colorful canvas of the Old West. The plotting is brilliant and the conflict strong.”

—Rendezvous

DREW

“Sexual tension and endless conflict make for a fast-paced adventure readers will long remember.”

—Rendezvous

LUKE

“Another winner by Leigh Greenwood!”

—Romantic Times

FLOOD OF PASSION

Kissing Hawk was like being caught up in a flash flood, unexpected and overpowering.

She was ecstatic. Jubilant. Exultant. Hawk wanted her as much as she wanted him. She had to calm down before she did something to drive him away. “I came here tonight hoping you liked me well enough to let me stay. I never dreamed you liked me that much.” She was petrified she wouldn't be able to control her feelings for him but was determined she wouldn't let this opportunity to experience something close to love slip from her grasp.

“I never dreamed you'd want to stay with me,” Hawk said.

“I can't imagine why any woman wouldn't want to spend the night in your arms.”

“I've never wanted just any woman.”

But he wanted her. She could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. She could practically feel his heat despite the cooling of the night air around her. The scent of the river and sagebrush weren't nearly as strong as the scent of a man burning up with his need for a woman.

Other books by Leigh Greenwood:

THE RELUCTANT BRIDE
THE INDEPENDENT BRIDE
SEDUCTIVE WAGER
SWEET TEMPTATION
WICKED WYOMING NIGHTS
WYOMING WILDFIRE
SCARLET SUNSET, SILVER NIGHTS
THE CAPTAIN'S CARESS
ARIZONA EMBRACE

The
Night Riders
series:

TEXAS HOMECOMING
TEXAS BRIDE
BORN TO LOVE

The Cowboys
series:

JAKE
WARD
BUCK
DREW
SEAN
CHET
MATT
PETE
LUKE

The
Seven Brides
series:

ROSE
FERN
IRIS
LAUREL
DAISY
VIOLET
LILY

The
Mavericks

LEIGH GREENWOOD

 

 

DORCHESTER PUBLISHING

Published by

Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc.
200 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Copyright © 2005 by Leigh Greenwood

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Trade ISBN: 978-1-4285-1701-1
E-book ISBN: 978-1-4285-1702-8

First Dorchester Publishing, Co., Inc. edition: December 2005

The “DP” logo is the property of Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc.

Printed in the United States of America.

Visit us online at
www.dorchesterpub.com
.

CONTENTS

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

The Family of Jake Maxwell and Isabelle Davenport
(m. 1866)

Eden Maxwell b. 1868
Ward Dillon m. Marina Scott 1861

Tanner b. 1862
Mason b. 1869
Lee b. 1872
Conway b. 1874
Webb b. 1875

Buck Hobson (Maxwell) m. Hannah Grossek 1872

Wesley b. 1874

Elsa b. 1877

Drew Townsend m. Cole Benton 1874

Celeste b. 1879
Christine b. 1881
Clair b. 1884

Sean O'Ryan m. Pearl Belladonna (Agnes Satterwaite) 1876

Elise b. 1866 (Pearl's daughter by previous marriage)
Kevin b. 1877
Flint b. 1878
Jason b. 1880

Chet Attmore (Maxwell) m. Melody Jordan 1880

Jake Maxwell II (Max) b. 1882
Nick b. 1884

Matt Haskins m. Ellen Donovan 1883

Toby b. 1868 (adopted)
Hank Hollender b. 1870 (adopted)
Orin b. 1872 (adopted)
Noah b. 1878 (adopted)
Tess b. 1881 (adopted)

Pete Jernigan m. Anne Thompson 1886

Luke Attmore m. Valeria Badenburg 1887

Hawk Maxwell m. Suzette Chatingy 1888

Zeke Maxwell m. Josie Morgan 1888

Bret Nolan

Will Haskins

Chapter One

Arizona Territory, 1888

The small but powerfully built bay mare walked with surefooted confidence along the rock-strewn trail, her head swaying from side to side with each stride, her gaze sweeping the ground ahead for obstacles to be avoided by her unshod hooves. Her bulging sides bore evidence that it would soon be time to drop her foal. Without warning, she stopped, threw her head up, and whinnied softly.

“What's wrong, girl?” Hawk Maxwell's hand drifted to his rifle stock as his gaze swept the rocky hills in the distance. “You looking for a place to have your baby?”

The mare whinnied again, shook her head vigorously. Behind her, eight mares halted, their tails busy driving away flies, their heads hanging low as they patiently waited for their leader.

“You talk to that mare like she was your woman,” Zeke Maxwell shouted from his position at the rear of the small band of horses.

“She's more faithful than any woman I ever had,” Hawk said.

“She's certainly prettier than the last one.” Zeke would like to see what had upset Dusky Lady, but they were following a narrow game trail along the San Pedro River through a thicket of willow and cottonwood saplings. Pulling out to look ahead was virtually impossible.

“Well, you're too old to have a kid,” Zeke said. “Even a four-legged one.”

“I'm only thirty-six,” Hawk said, “two years younger than you.”

“We're both too old for kids or wives. I guess that limits us to a shady lady now and then.”

“I'm sticking with Dusky Lady. She hasn't deserted me yet.”

With her Morgan blood, the mare was the most costly horse they'd ever bought. They hoped she'd be the linchpin of their plan to breed quality stock. They already had twenty-one horses, mares, new foals, and yearlings, at a run-down ranch they'd bought about twenty miles from Tombstone. Now they were trying to get this last and most expensive group of mares to the ranch as quickly and safely as possible.

“Wait until she gets a look at that stud horse Hen Randolph sold us. You won't even be a distant memory.”

The mare started forward, but this time she kept her head high and sniffed the wind. The horses negotiated the rocky ground closest to the riverbed cautiously, taking
care not to set their feet down on a stone that could strain a ligament or bow a tendon. As the trail turned away from the river and the land rose, rocks gave way to sandy soil, making the footing easier, but the navigation more difficult. The horses were forced to push their way through banks covered with tamarisk thickets interspersed with mesquite, ironwood, and several kinds of cactus. The bright yellow flowers of the senna plant helped compensate for the unpleasant odor of the creosote bush, which had been intensified by recent rains.

“What do you think she scented?” Zeke called to Hawk.

“I'll ride ahead and have a look.” Hawk spurred his horse forward. “The old girl is better than a watchdog, but scent can't tell her whether what's up ahead is friendly or not.”

Over the years, Hawk and Zeke had roamed most of the West together, gradually drifting into a relationship that was closer than most married couples. They practically operated from the same mind. It was an advantage on the trail, but a real handicap when it came to women.

While Hawk rode ahead, Zeke scanned the countryside for clues as to what might have startled the mare. They had passed through the rough landscape of the Salt River—an easy place for rustlers to waylay them—into the relatively open and flat desert. Due to unusually heavy and lingering winter rains, a trickle of water meandered along the often dry bed of the upper San Pedro River. Despite the danger of exposure to attack, they had decided to follow the river because it offered water and forage for the horses.

The horses were too calm for there to be a dangerous
wild animal in the vicinity. But then, the most dangerous animal in the West was man. Zeke and Hawk had survived without serious injury because they were always ready to back each other up, whether fighting with fists or guns. They'd established a reputation as a tough combination, one most men were reluctant to tackle, but there was always someone who didn't know anything about them or was young and foolish enough to want to build a reputation by taking on somebody other men stayed away from. As Zeke often said, he hadn't reached the age of thirty-eight by relaxing his guard.

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