Title: Hunted Series, Prequel: Can't Wait
Author: Jennifer Ryan
Publisher: Avon Romance
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Genre: Contemporary, Western, Romance
From the All I Want for Christmas is a Cowboy Anthology comes Jennifer Ryan’s story of Caleb and Summer. Before the Hunted series they had a whirlwind romance not to be forgotten...
Other books in this series
Jack whistled, signaling their attack. Caleb came out from cover firing. Jack did the same, twenty paces away. Summer took the high ground and stood atop a large boulder with at least a dozen snowballs at her feet. She launched one after the other at him and Jack as they advanced on her. Her laughter rang out in the forest, setting what few birds remained to flight. Jack laughed along with her and he joined in. The most fun he’d had in … he couldn’t remember when.
He and Jack pummeled her. He got her in the gut and one to the chest. Shock widened her eyes when the snow went down her sweater between her lovely breasts. She shook it out, but Jack didn’t relent and hit her in the top of the head with another barrage. She stood to lob another at him and Caleb tossed another, hitting her in the thigh. She slipped on the icy rock, stood tall to gain her balance, but her other foot hit an icy patch and she fell backward, arms wind milling in the air. She disappeared off the back of the rock yelling, “Ow,” when she hit the ground with a thump that stopped his heart.
“Summer,” he yelled, and ran for her. He beat Jack and fell to his knees beside her. Without a thought, he wrapped his arm around her back and pulled her up to his chest and held her close, examining the gash on her head at her hairline. “Are you okay, sweetheart?”
She grabbed his shoulders to steady herself and gave him a tentative smile. “I’m okay. A branch caught me on the head when I fell.”
“You could have been really hurt.” He crushed her to his chest and held her close, giving his pounding heart a minute to settle.
Summer wrapped her arms around Caleb and set her chin on his shoulder, loving the feel of him so close. She looked up and caught Jack watching them with a strange look on his face. Caleb’s concern for her touched her deeply, and she couldn’t hide how that made her feel.
“You sure you’re okay?” Jack asked, not coming any closer.
“I’m good.” Being safe in Caleb’s arms made her feel better than good. She felt loved.
Jack gave her a nod.
Caleb stiffened and pulled away, holding her by the shoulders at arm’s length.
“Caleb, put some snow on that gash. It’ll stop the bleeding and take down any swelling. I’ll go up and check on the horses. Meet me up there when you’ve got her squared away.” Jack turned to leave, but looked back at her and smiled. “You were right about sticking to our traditions. The snowball fight was a lot of fun. You’ve gotten better.”
“I know. I won.”
Jack headed up the short hill, laughing. “Yeah, you did.”
Caleb’s head fell to her shoulder. “I thought you were really hurt.”
Surprised he didn’t comment about Jack seeing them in an embrace, she slid her fingers through his hair to the back of his head and held him to her. “It’s just a small scratch. Nothing to worry about.”
“Jack’ll kill me for putting a mark on you.”
“Not your fault. I slipped and fell.”
Caleb raised his head and met her gaze. “You’re bleeding. I can’t stand to see you hurt.”
The moment stretched and his eyes narrowed. He swore and crushed his mouth to hers. Something primal sparked inside both of them and they dove at each other, their lips meeting in a frenzied need denied far too long.
His hands remained gentle, cradling her face, but his lips took possession and consumed. His tongue slipped past her lips to taste and slide against hers. Her fingertips dug into his shoulders, pulling him closer.
Caleb broke the kiss first, holding her head between his two hands. He didn’t open his eyes right away, but gathered himself. They gulped in deep breaths and let them out on wispy gasps into the cold, crisp air.
He brushed a soft kiss on her forehead, her temple, and the small cut at her hairline. He pressed his forehead to hers and held her close. She covered his hands on both sides of her head with hers.
“Caleb, honey, it’s okay.”
“Jack’s going to kill me.”
“I think he knows there’s something between us.”
“He suspects, but if he caught me kissing you …”
“What? He wouldn’t be your friend because you like his sister?”
“What I feel for you goes far beyond like, sweetheart.”
“Then shouldn’t he be happy for us, that we’ve found something special together?”
Avon © 2014 Jennifer Ryan
Jennifer Ryan is the New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of The Hunted Series and The McBrides Series. She writes romantic suspense and contemporary small-town romances featuring strong men and equally resilient women. Her stories are filled with love, family, friendship, and the happily-ever-after we all hope to find.
Jennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children. When she isn’t writing a book, she’s reading one. Her obsession with both is often revealed in the state of her home and in how late dinner is to the table. When she finally leaves those fictional worlds, you’ll find her in the garden, playing in the dirt and daydreaming about people who live only in her head, until she puts them on paper.