I never expected forever when I married Lucas all those years ago. It was a dare, encouraged by one too many vodka shots. It’s surprising neither of us annulled the marriage. But the truth is, I can’t be a wife, not to any man, not even to sweet, wonderful Lucas, thanks to the monsters of my past that still haunt me to this day.

By some miracle, when I was desperate to save my brother, Lucas reappeared in my life. Lucas, who’d helped me so many times in the six months I’d shared his home as a sixteen-year-old foster kid. I had little choice but to take his offer – move to his Wyoming ranch and be his wife, for real this time. He doesn’t know the reason why I need the money, and it’s a secret I can’t tell.

Running into Melody in an Iowa bar seemed like fate. And when I heard she was in trouble, I had to help her, because I’ve always felt protective over her. In my heart, she’s always been mine.

Now that she’s with me at Devil Creek Ranch, I find it impossible to ignore the feelings I’ve carried for her since I was seventeen. I want a wife, a partner in life as well as in my bed, but I know she is hiding something from me. Something I fear may drive us apart in the end.

Publisher’s Note: This sweet romance contains elements of power exchange, adult language and sensual scenes.




When Lucas McKinney caught sight of the woman seated at the table across the room he thought he was seeing things. As he studied the long, straight brown hair— the same hairstyle she’d worn in high school— the high cheekbones and aquiline nose, his heart skipped a beat.

“Do you know her?” he asked the bartender, Toby, his cousin and owner of the place.

Toby followed his line of sight and shrugged. “Not really. She comes in from time to time. Her name is Melanie. Or is it Melody? Something like that. She applied for a job once.” Toby went back to wiping off the bar top while Lucas studied the woman. “If you’re looking for a hookup tonight I think the girls over at that booth would be accommodating.” Toby gave him a sly grin.

Lucas glanced at the booth of four staring his way. He had no interest in casual sex, not these days. Especially tonight since Melody had miraculously reappeared in his life. Melody his estranged wife. That fated Las Vegas night flitted through his mind. He’d told himself more times than he could count he’d get the marriage annulled, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He wasn’t one to make rash decisions, and the decisions he made he stood behind. Even a spur of the moment marriage.

Melody looked good. In the low lighting he couldn’t see her eyes, but he carried their mossy-green color in his mind’s eye. He sucked his bottom lip between his teeth as memories of the months she’d lived with his family drifted to the surface.