Soiled Dove

Life in Calico is ripe with opportunity for an industrious gal. Ginnie Roberts enjoys the party life, drinking and entertaining in the upstairs rooms over the saloon where she works. When she runs into a handsome cowboy who would rather talk than have a tussle under the sheets, she's intrigued, if not disappointed.

Totally smitten and determined to woo her, Joe is up for the challenge of trying to sweet talk Ginnie away from her life as a saloon girl, and he’s got less than a week to do it. But can he? Since he’s wagered his money, why not bet it all? If he can withstand her charms for one week, she’ll give up her profession and marry him. However, if Ginnie wins the bet, Joe must give up all talk about a future together and give her what she wants most: a wild ride with her sexy cowboy.

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Publisher: Deslisle Publications
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Clint rode hard until he reached the edge of the small lake bordering the ranch to the north. Cattle grazed on the grassy hillside. Off in the distance, fields of irrigated crops grew in rows as far as he could see into the horizon.

He had always been content with his place in life. Work on the ranch kept him from getting lonely, until Sherry. For the first time, he was jealous of Jack. Not because he got the girl they both wanted, or because Jack owned a prosperous ranch. To Clint, Jack seemed to have the world in the palm of his hand. Clint wanted the sweet taste of success on his lips, too.

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Roosters welcomed the dawn when Clint returned to Jack’s spread and left the horse back in the stables. He entered the bunkhouse to eat breakfast with the men. A loud, raucous laugh erupted from the corner. It appeared the party was still going strong for a few.

Cookie, you got any coffee?” he asked the round man behind the stove.

Cookie cracked eggs into a large bowl with his pudgy fingers. “Help yourself.” He nodded to the stove. Another loud round of laughter echoed off the walls.

What’s going on over there?” Clint asked, sipping hot coffee.

Dollie’s girlfriend is winning the shirts off Charlie and a couple of the boys. Been at it most of the night. Surprised the hell out of me. She drank six men unconscious.”

You’re talking about Sherry’s friend, Ginnie?”

He nodded. “That’d be the one.”

Clint set the coffee down and joined the group of men watching the poker game.

Ginnie sat with one foot propped up on the chair next to her. Tossing a couple coins into the center of the table, she called a bet. Her cards stayed folded close to her bosom, while the man sitting behind her tried to see her hand.

Clint felt prickles along the back of his neck as she tipped a glass of beer to her lips. She had complete command of the group. Her dress wrinkled, her hair disheveled under a borrowed cowboy hat, enhanced the satisfaction in her twinkling eyes.

Fold,” the man facing her said, and tossed his cards on the table, throwing his arms wide in defeat.

Another hand?” Her silky voice held a challenge.

At the shake of his head, Ginnie reached out to slide the coins into her pile. The man took her hand, and brushed his lips and mustache against her knuckles.

Clint watched the exchange, his temper darkening like ominous thunderclouds on a muggy summer afternoon. He approached the table.

Good morning,” she said to Clint, as she glanced at the men around her. “Thanks for the game, boys. Perhaps I’ll see some of y’all later.” She returned the cowboy hat to its rightful owner. “I’ll collect my winnings now.” Her eyes never left Clint as she folded the bills piled in front of her and stuffed them into the cleavage of her dress. Her gaze flitted away as she dropped the coins into her small bag.

She stood and put her hand on Clint’s elbow. “I’d like a cup of coffee.”

Still angry, his posture stiff, he fell into step beside her when she walked away. “You think I came in here to find you?” he asked coldly.

Quite the contrary. I know you’re irritated with me by the look on your face. I can tell you didn’t sleep either. We’re both still wearing the same clothes.”

At least you haven’t wasted your time. Your night was profitable.”

She stepped back, momentarily rebuffed. “Don’t be mean.”

He witnessed her increasing unease under his scrutiny as she fidgeted with her dress.

I was provoked,” she said.

His eyebrows shot up.

I wanted to spend the night with you, but your delicate sensibilities wouldn’t let you.” She bit her lips and looked away.

I’m a man, not an animal.” He stopped at the stove and poured her a cup of coffee. Once safely out of earshot, he hissed low into her ear, “Don’t treat me like one of your customers.”

Oh darling, if I was doing that you’d look much happier.”

They walked close together as they made their way to the stables. “I’m trying hard not to think about your profession, but you make it impossible.”

What is it you want from me?” she asked. “Have I mistakenly given you the impression I want something from you besides a bit of fun?”

I don’t want to simply take you to bed,” he ground out. “I aim to court you.” He said the words tentatively, still debating the notion himself.

A flash of humor crossed her face. “Clint, I’m only here for a couple of days.”

He pulled a pouch of tobacco from his pocket. “Then that doesn’t give me much time, does it?”

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