A Wife for a Westmoreland

By: Brenda Jackson
One




Lucia Conyers’s heart was beating like crazy as she made a sharp turn around the curve while the wheels of her SUV barely gripped the road. She knew she should slow down, but couldn’t. The moment she’d heard that Derringer Westmoreland had been taken to the emergency room due to an injury he sustained after being thrown from a horse, a part of her had nearly died inside.

It didn’t matter that most of the time Derringer acted as though he didn’t know she existed or that he had a reputation in Denver as a ladies’ man—although she doubted the women he messed around with could really be classified as ladies. Derringer was one of Denver’s heartthrobs, a hottie if ever there was one.

But what did matter, although she wished otherwise, was that she loved him and would probably always love him. She’d tried falling out of love with him several times and just couldn’t do it.

Not even four years of attending a college in Florida had changed her feelings for him. The moment she had returned to Denver and he had walked into her father’s paint store to make a purchase, she’d almost passed out from a mixture of lust and love.

Surprisingly, he had remembered her. He’d welcomed her back to town and asked her about school. But he hadn’t asked her out, or offered to share a drink somewhere for old time’s sake. Instead, he had gathered up the merchandise he’d come to the store to buy and left.

Her obsession with him had started back in high school when she and his sister Megan had worked on a science project together. Lucia would never forget the day that Megan’s brother had come to pick them up from the library. She’d almost passed out when she first laid eyes on the handsome Derringer Westmoreland.

She thought she’d died and gone to heaven, and when they were introduced, he smiled at her, showing a pair of dimples that should be outlawed on anyone, especially a man. Her heart had melted then and there and hadn’t solidified since. That introduction had taken place a few months after her sixteenth birthday. Now she was twenty-nine and she still got goose bumps whenever she thought about that first meeting.

Ever since her best friend, Chloe, had married Derringer’s brother Ramsey, she saw more of Derringer, but nothing had changed. Whenever he saw her he was always nice to her. But she knew he really didn’t see her as a woman he would be interested in.

So why wasn’t she getting on with her life? Why was she risking it now by taking the roads to his place like a madwoman, needing to see for herself that he was still in one piece? When she’d gotten the news, she’d rushed to the hospital only to receive word from Chloe that he’d been released and was now recuperating at home.

He would probably wonder why she, of all people, was showing up at his place to check on him. She wouldn’t be surprised if some woman was already there waiting on him hand and foot. But at the moment it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered but to make sure for herself that Derringer was okay. Even the threat of possible thunderstorms this evening hadn’t kept her away. She hated thunderstorms, and yet she had left her home to check on a man who barely knew she was alive.

It was a really stupid move, but she continued to speed down the road, deciding she would consider the foolishness of her actions later.



The loud sound of thunder blasting across the sky practically shook the house and awakened Derringer. He immediately felt a sharp pain slice through his body, the first since he’d taken his pain medication, which meant it was time to take more.

Wrenching at the pain, he slowly pulled himself up in bed, reached across the nightstand and grabbed the pills his sister Megan had laid out for him. She’d said not to take more before six, but a quick glance at his clock said that it was only four and he needed the relief now. He was aching all over and his head felt as if it had split in two. He felt sixty-three instead of a mere thirty-three.

He had been on Sugar Foot’s back less than three minutes when the mean-spirited animal had sent him flying. More than his ego had gotten bruised, and each and every time he breathed against what felt like broken ribs he was reminded of it.

Derringer eased back down onto the bed and laid flat on his back. He stared at the ceiling, waiting for the pain pills to kick in.