No One Needs to Know
He wants to turn her in—she wants to take him to bed!The moment wealthy ranch owner Tucker Brennan sees Annie Sheridan's photo on a website, he knows he's finally found the woman who let his brother take the fall in an embezzlement scheme. Now Tucker is on his way to the Safe Haven animal shelter in Montana to find out what really happened…and bring Annie to justice.With a struggling shelter and no cash, Annie Sheridan has her hands so full that she's almost forgotten why she had to go into hiding. So when the sleek and damnably good-lookin' Tucker shows up offering a donation—and potential nooky action!— Annie figures things are finally going right.There are secrets. There are lies. And there's one heck of an attraction. But once they give themselves over to lust, no one needs to know….
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About the Author
DEBBI RAWLINS grew up in the country with no fast-food drive-throughs or nearby neighbors, so one might think as a kid sheâd be dazzled by the bright lights of the city, the allure of the unfamiliar. not so. She loved westerns in movies and books, and her first crush was on a cowboyâokay, he was an actor in the role of a cowboy, but she was only eleven, so it counts. it was in houston, texas, where she first started writing for Mills & Boon, and now, more than fifty books later, she has her own ranchâ¦of sorts. instead of horses, she has four dogs, five cats, a trio of goats and free-range cattle keeping her on her toes on a few acres in gorgeous rural utah. And of course, the deer and elk are always welcome.
No One Needs
FROM HER PERCH ON THE PORCH railing at the Sundance ranch, Annie Sheridan took what she called a memory shot. If sheâd had her beloved old Nikon sheâd have pulled it out and centered the lens on the familiar faces of her hosts, but the spectacular sunset against the Rocky Mountains would have been the star. Only to the casual observer, though, which Annie most definitely was not.
Sheâd become an expert at the art of watching from a distance. It didnât even bother her that much, not anymore. Two years into exile, sheâd grown used to being the strange woman who ran the Safe Haven large-animal sanctuary, the one who never came to parties unless there was something her shelter neededâa favor, a donation, an adoptive home. Of course everyone in Blackfoot Falls knew who she was, and it would have stunned her if the residents of the small town hadnât made up at least a dozen stories to explain her hermit ways.
No one, she was sure, would ever come close to the truth.
She sipped from her glass of white zinfandel, a rare treat along with the scrumptious steak and baked potato sheâd had earlier. The last time sheâd eaten at a party wasâ¦in another life.
That sobering thought had her off the railing and heading toward Barbara McAllister and the cluster of family that surrounded the Sundance matriarch. If Annie let herself yearn for anything these daysâoutside of more money for Safe Havenâit was the friendship of this clan. The three brothersâCole, Jesse and Traceâwere always willing to lend a hand during an emergency. Jesse had saved many a poor animalâs life, or given a horse or a llama or a potbellied pig a new home with his rescue airlifts.
Then there was Rachel and her boyfriend, Matt, so giddily in love. In the past six months two of the three McAllister brothers had hooked up. And now with Rachel taken, that only left Trace on the loose. Something the Sundance dude ranch guests, all of them single women in their twenties or early thirties, were trying to remedy.
Rachel had made several attempts at befriending her, though Annie had kept her distance. But boundary lines that had once been set in stone were becoming more flexible.
âAre you getting ready to leave?â
Annie smiled at Jesseâs girlfriend. The whole reason Annie was socializing at all was due to unassuming, crazy-generous Shea. Taking a break from her high-security job as a computer programmer, sheâd come to Montana over the Christmas holidays to help at Safe Haven. But sheâd come back to Blackfoot Falls because of Jesse. That sheâd turned out to be the sanctuaryâs most influential volunteer and backer was a miracle.
Annie sighed with real regret as she nodded. âI have chores.â
âNot from you, although thanks for offering. You stay right here and enjoy yourself with that man of yours.â
Shea blushed as she slipped her hands into the pockets of her dark gray trousers. âIâm glad you stayed so long. Jesse said youâve never had dinner here before.â
âYou know how things are. Always something to do, what with every female animal at the shelter pregnant.â
Shea laughed. âNot every one.â
Annie set her glass on a big tray, knowing no one would mind that she didnât stay to clean up. âItâs been a nice party.â
âIt has,â Shea said, with more than a little surprise in her voice. âI usually hate parties. Never know what to say. But with the McAllisters itâs different.â She leaned in a little closer and lowered her voice. âYesterday, I talked to Sadie from the Watering Hole for almost half an hour.â
âWhoa, look at you, Shea. You havenât even lived here a full month yet and youâre already one of the in crowd.â
âJesse tries to include me in things because he knows Iâm oblivious,â she said in that matter-of-fact tone that still made Annie smile. âNot with gossip, though. He doesnât do that.â
Perhaps because heâd heard his name, the man in question sidled up to Shea and snuck his arm across her shoulders, but kept his gaze on Annie.
âIâm flying out to Missoula on Tuesday,â Jesse said, âso you might want to put together a shopping list.â
She perked up because it was about a hundred miles to Missoula, and she could get things there that werenât available in a small town like Blackfoot Falls or even the bigger Kalispell. Northwestern Montana was gorgeous, but it was mostly land and lakes and mountains. âIâll get on that tomorrow.â