A Wife for a Westmoreland(2)

By: Brenda Jackson

Derringer’s Dungeon.

Lucia slowed her truck when she came to the huge wooden marker in the road. Any other time she would have found it amusing that each of the Westmorelands had marked their property with such fanciful names. Already she had passed Jason’s Place, Zane’s Hideout, Canyon’s Bluff, Stern’s Stronghold, Riley’s Station and Ramsey’s Web. She’d heard when each Westmoreland reached the age of twenty-five they inherited a one-hundred-acre tract of land in this part of the state. That was why all the Westmorelands lived in proximity to each other.

She nervously gnawed on her bottom lip, finally thinking she might have made a mistake in coming here when she pulled into the yard and saw the huge two-story structure. This was her first time at Derringer’s Dungeon and from what she’d heard, most women only came by way of an invite.

So what was she doing here?

She brought her car to a stop and cut off the engine and just sat there a moment as reality set in. She had acted on impulse and of course on love, but the truth of the matter was that she had no business being here. Derringer was probably in bed resting. He might even be on medication. Would he be able to come to the door? If he did, he would probably look at her as if she had two heads for wanting to check on him. In his book they were acquaintances, not even friends.

She was about to back out and leave, when she noticed the rain had started to come down harder and a huge box that had been left on the steps of the porch was getting wet. The least she could do was to move it to an area on the porch where the rain couldn’t touch it.

Grabbing her umbrella out the backseat, she hurriedly got out of the truck and ran toward the porch to move the box closer to the door. She jumped at the sound of thunder and drew in a sharp breath when a bolt of lightning barely missed the top of her head.

Remembering what Chloe had once told her about how the Westmoreland men were notorious for not locking their doors, she tried the doorknob and saw what her best friend had said was true. The door was not locked.

Slowly opening the door, she stuck her head in and called out in a whisper in case he was downstairs sleeping on the sofa instead of upstairs. “Derringer?”

When he didn’t answer, she decided she might as well bring the box inside. The moment she entered the house, she glanced around, admiring his sister Gemma’s decorating skills. Derringer’s home was beautiful, and the floor-to-ceiling windows took full advantage of the mountain view. She was about to ease back out the door and lock it behind her when she heard a crash followed by a bump and then a loud curse.

Acting on instinct, she took the stairs two at a time and stumbled into several guest bedrooms before entering what had to be the master bedroom. It was decorated in a more masculine theme than all the others. She glanced around and then she saw him lying on the floor as if he’d fallen out of bed.


She raced over to him and knelt down beside him, trying to ignore the fact that the only clothing he had on was a pair of black briefs. “Derringer? Are you all right?” she asked, a degree of panic clearly in her voice. “Derringer?”

He slowly opened his eyes and she couldn’t stop the fluttering of her heart when she gazed down into the gorgeous dark depths. The first thing she noticed was they were glassy, as if he’d taken one drink too many…or probably one pill too many. She then took a deep breath when a slow smile touched the corners of his lips and those knock-a-girl-off-her-feet dimples appeared in his cheeks.

“Well, now, aren’t you a pretty thing,” he said in slurred speech. “What’s your name?”

“Puddin’ Tame,” she replied smartly. His actions confirmed he’d evidently taken one pill too many since he was acting as if he’d never seen her in his life.

“That’s a real nice name, sweetheart.”

She rolled her eyes. “Whatever you say, cowboy. Would you like to explain why you’re down here and not up there?” She motioned toward his bed.

“That’s easy enough to answer. I went to the bathroom and when I got back, someone moved the bed and I missed it.”