When Claire O’Gill agreed to be legal guardian for her niece should disaster strike, she never expected to fill that title. But now, she not only is she guardian, she must flee the clutches of the wealthy, cold-hearted grandparents who intend to snatch her niece away. Her determination to protect little Tori has them zigzagging and backtracking from Philadelphia to Wyoming to hide.
Sheriff Zach Ballard isn’t in the market for a wife. Once burned by a money-hungry woman was more than enough. But he becomes enchanted by the adorable Tori, and her mama seems to want to avoid him. His suspicions as to why grow stronger, heightening his intrigue—and his heart yearns to trust again.
All the while, Tori is busy talking to Mr. Cupid. She wants a daddy, and she knows exactly who can fill that spot for her new mama. Can two adults fight a little girl’s wish and the forces of Cupid?
When the bell over the main door jingled, Claire nonchalantly glanced to her right as she placed the refolded man’s shirt neatly on top of the stack. Spying the tall, muscular sheriff, prickles danced up her spine and her hands shook. Crap! Ever since their first introduction after arriving in Clyde, she had purposely avoided the man. It seemed her luck had run out.
Reminding herself to remain calm, that she most likely had nothing to fear, she took a slow, even breath and an easy step back so the rack of ready-made dresses would hide her presence. With any good fortune, he would keep his attention focused on the front counter where Tom sat tallying the week’s accounts. As he ambled straight towards her employer, she breathed a sigh of relief. But could she scurry to the back door and escape to her upstairs apartment without him noticing her? And Tori was due any minute from school. Dang it.
Had her life ever been simple? It seemed too long ago to remember. Working for Tom Opel in his general store, The Catch All, at least gave her some balance to her bizarre life, not to mention money to earn a living for her and Tori. Yet, they had to look over their shoulders every stinking minute of every blasted day. Their lives weren’t theirs anymore. If she lived to be ninety, she most likely would still totter on edge, peering to her left and right with ingrained fright, ready to run.
And poor little Tori, she thought as she smiled just thinking about the sweet child. She was truly a joy. No, she was indeed a blessing. She loved her niece as much as if she were her very own. If only they could breathe easier, for a short while. They would…
“Well hello, Zach, how ya doin’? Tom greeted the lawman. She dared not to peek passed the dress rack.
“Afternoon Tom, you should be outside enjoying the nice weather after that last storm.”
The rich deep-timbre of his voice matched his masculine charisma. She recalled how his easy smile made his dark brown eyes twinkle. Hard to believe he had not been gobbled up by one of the single ladies. Any man with his appeal and good character should’ve been spoken for by now. But whether or not he might be the epitome of mankind, he was a direct threat to her and Tori.