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Cathy Gillen Thacker
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From Texas, With Love

Chapter One

Will McCabe had known retrieving Samantha Holmes by "whatever means necessary" was not going to be easy. He had been forewarned about the twenty-nine-year-old woman's stubbornness and feisty nature. However, he hadn't expected to have to pull her out of a war zone. But as he left the limo idling at the curb in one of New York City's more questionable neighborhoods, and found his way up the steep wooden steps to apartment 5E, a pitched battle was exactly what it sounded like. 

"Okay, that's it!" a female voice shrieked from the other side of the door. The words were followed by heavy footsteps and a karate-style yell. "You ugly looking son of a rodent! I've had it with you making my life so darn miserable!" she shouted over a loud crash and resounding whack that even had will jumping. "If you won't get out on your own volition, then I'm just going to have to kill you myself!"

Will's eyes widened at the blatant threat.

Howard Holmes had said his baby sister had bad taste in men, but letting a domestic dispute deteriorate to this level of violence was downright foolish. Determined to get her out of there before any more harm was done, Will pounded on the door with his fist. "Samantha! Open up!"

"I can't," she shouted back over the sound of glass shattering. 

"Seriously..." He tried the door handle and to his frustration found the latch locked. "We need to talk!" He pounded on the door again.

"I don't think so," she retorted.

WIll winced when he heard another loud crash. A neighbor from down below quickly opened his door, peered out, then slammed it shut. 

"Samantha!" Will ordered. "Open up now!"

The woman inside muttered something he couldn't quite catch. Then she screamed in terror. To heck with waiting, Will thought, as he muttered an oath and kicked the door in. It swung open to reveal a studio apartment that had definitely seen better days. 

Samantha Holmes whirled, looking every bit as beautiful in person as in the photos Will had seen. Her delicate face was dominated by long-lashed, dark brown eyes, a straight nose and luscious lips. Thick glossy hair, the color of dark cherrywood tumbled in loose waves past her shoulders. She came nearly to his chin--which made her about five foot eight--and every inch of her was feminine, from her silky skin to her full breasts, trim hips and long, sexy legs. Eyes flashing, she brandished a broom, while the biggest mouse Will had ever seen raced across the floor. 

"Don't just stand there gawking," she commanded, stepping over a pile of broken glass as the skinny gray tail disappeared beneath the sofa. "Shut the darn door and help me catch him!"

Relieved that it hadn't been a man Samantha Holmes was fighting with, Will complied. "You know, they have exterminators for jobs like this," he drawled, trying not to notice how great she looked in the cotton sleep jersey that fell halfway to her knees. 

Another resentful glare came his way. "An exterminator would kill him," Samantha protested. 

"Not necessarily." Will spied a flashlight on the coffee table. Glad this was one problem he could easily solve, he picked the light up and got down on his knees. He turned it on, illuminating the area beneath the sofa, and quickly located the quivering creature. Figuring "Mickey" wasn't going anywhere anytime soon now that it had found a place to hide, Will sat back on his haunches and looked up at Samantha. He was close enough to inhale the alluring fragrance of lavender clinging to her skin. "Besides," he teased, "you threatened to do that yourself."

Flashing an apologetic smile, Samantha gestured to a metal cage on the floor of the kitchen. "I didn't mean it."  She brought the contraption over to Will and set it down between him and the sofa. Hunkering down beside him, she bent over to get a look at the frightened mouse, then gave a little shiver. "i just want him out." She rubbed her arms with her hands. "Preferably right now." Climbing to her feet once again, she added, "I was hoping if I scared him  sufficiently he would take off and never return."

Aware that he was at eye level with her thighs, Will stood up, too, Then he realized her arms weren't the only part of her that was cold. Resolutely, he pushed away the enticing vision and turned back to the task at hand--capturing the mouse that was currently making Samantha Holmes's life miserable. 

Will glanced around, sizing up the threadbare furniture, several wardrobe racks of clothing, well-organized and an equally impressive tier of shoes and handbags. Obviously, when it came to work attire, Samantha Holmes spared no expense. "How long has your rodent buddy been here? he asked.

"A week." She gnawed on her lower lip as she looked up at Will. "I've tried everything to capture him so I could take him to the park and set him free." She shrugged. "Cheese. Peanut butter."

Will eyed her kitchen and found it sparsely equipped. "Maybe that trap you set up doesn't quite so humane to him. Besides--" he nodded at the cereal boxes on the counter, their bottoms eaten out "--why should he settle for a one-course meal when your kitchen cabinets provide a buffet?"

Samantha huffed, the action lifting the luscious curves of her breasts. "You sound like you know a lot about pests," she remarked. 

Wishing he hadn't noticed what a great body she had beneath the lavender sleep shirt, and that she wasn't wearing a bra, Will met her eyes. "True, although I try not to live with any.

She made a face. "Very funny," she retorted dryly. Then she narrowed her dark eyes, as if suddenly realizing she shouldn't be trusting him. She tightened her grip on the broom. "Who the heck are you, anyway?"

"Will McCabe," he told her, bracing himself for the worst.

She paused to process that information. "As in the McCabes--of Texas?" she asked finally.

Proud of his family's stellar reputation throughout the Lone Star State and beyond, he nodded. "You got it."

Samantha, however, seemed unimpressed by his lineage. Her scowl deepened. "Owner of McCabe Charter Jet Service in Laramie, Texas?"

Will accepted the credit for all he had accomplished. He angled a thumb at his chest. "that would be me, all right."

"Then I know why you're here and what you want." Samantha glowered at him. "And my answer is no."

Alternate Cover

The McCabes American Romance Book Series by Cathy Gillen Thacker

Cathy Gillen Thacker is the bestselling author of witty romantic comedies and warm, family stories whose books are published in 17 languages and 35 countries.