Excerpt from A COWBOY LIKE YOU by Donna Grant
Of all the people Danny had thought he might run into, he’d never in a million years expected to see Skylar Long again. If he believed in destiny, he’d almost accept that his thinking of her earlier had brought her straight to him.
One of the things he remembered about her was how she’d wanted to get out of their town and move to a big city. Her sights had been set on Houston or even Dallas. She had wanted to get lost in all the people.
Many of his classmates had spoken about leaving their little town, but few did. And many who left eventually returned. Not Skylar. She’d gotten out, and he’d figured she would stay gone forever. After all, her parents had moved about ten years ago, which meant there was no reason for her to return.
Yet, here she was. And more stunning than ever.
She had been Danny’s crush from the time they were in grade school. Skylar had always been a free spirit. She had confidence that most girls her age lacked. It wasn’t arrogance, simply a belief in herself that came through in everything she did.
While beautiful, she had been a little reserved. She had run with the popular crowd, but she didn’t wield that social level to degrade anyone or use it to her benefit like others had. She had been kind, and she wore her heart on her sleeve.
He and Skylar had been able to talk about anything. She was always open and engaging, but Danny had never pursued her as his girlfriend. He’d never thought he was good enough for her, not when so many of his other friends had wooed her.
Danny looked at her. The harsh light of the streetlamp above them couldn’t diminish her beauty. Her golden blond hair was pulled up haphazardly with strands falling around her face and neck. But her large, azure eyes still held more shock and fear than he liked.
She was on the petite side with curves in all the right places. Her lips were full, pouty even, and they made his blood heat just looking at them. Her skin had the dewy glow of a healthy lifestyle that made him want to reach out and run the pads of his fingers down her cheek to see if her skin was as velvety as it appeared.
Hearing her story earlier made him want to go find Matt and punch him a few times. Danny had never been so happy to be in the right place at the right time. He gave himself an inward shake to get back to the matter at hand. “And what happened tonight?” Danny asked to get the final piece of the puzzle.
Skylar shrugged. “It was Matt’s night out with friends. I made sure to keep to my same schedule, not doing anything that would alert him that I planned to leave. I waited an hour after he left before I grabbed an overnight bag and threw a few things in. I just wanted to get out. I didn’t care about the rest of my stuff. I figured I could get it back later or replace it.”
“It was a good decision. Things can be replaced. Your life can’t. So, how did he figure out that you left?”
“I honestly don’t know.” Concern clouded her face. “He was gone, I know it. I even drove by the bar to make sure his car was there. Then I headed straight out of town.”
This wasn’t the first time Danny had dealt with a domestic situation like this, but he didn’t like that he knew one of the parties involved. Mainly because he knew the odds of how such circumstances turned out.
Danny ran a hand down his face, his gut churning. “If he was gone from the house and at the bar, then he had to know you left somehow. Are there cameras in the residence?”
Her eyes widened, and her lips parted in shock. “I . . . I don’t know. There could be. It sounds like something he’d do. He was adamant about me moving into his place. It was bigger than mine, even though mine was in a better location, so I agreed.”
“What about tracking your car?”
She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders at the same time. “I wouldn’t put anything past him.”
“Does he always know what’s going on in your life?
People you’ve talked to, places you’ve been?” “Yes.”
“What about phone calls and texts? Does he ask you specifics about them?”
She frowned as she thought about his question. “He used to, but not anymore.”
Danny figured as much.
Skylar’s gaze sharpened on him. “Why? Do you think he installed some kind of spyware on my phone? Oh, God. He installed spyware on my phone.”
“We’ll get you a new one, and I’ll have my guys look over your car to see if there’s any kind of device.”
Her eyes filled with tears that she hastily blinked away. “How did I get into such a situation?”
“It doesn’t matter. What counts is that you’re getting out of it. If that’s what you want.”
Her head bobbed up and down rapidly. “Yes. I knew I was getting away from him tonight, one way or another.”
Danny recalled that she had said she had a handgun in her car. Not that he could blame her for having it, but he was happy she hadn’t had to use it. “I’m glad you pulled in here.”
“I wasn’t going to. As soon as I thought the headlights were from a car like his, I thought it was just my imagination, that I was just scared and seeing things. Then something told me to pull in here and see if the vehicle followed. As soon as it did, I knew it was Matt. Why were you here?”
Danny lifted one shoulder and twisted his lips. “Eating dinner.”
She blinked and looked around. “At a rest stop?” “Yeah. Where were you headed?” he asked to change the subject. He didn’t want to discuss his lack of a life, not when her situation was more important.
Skylar blew out a breath. “I don’t know. I just got on the road and drove. I didn’t even realize I was here until I saw the county sign five miles back.”
“Is there anyone in town you can stay with?”
Her gaze dropped to the ground. “I didn’t keep up with anyone here. I can stay at a hotel.”
“That’s the first place Matt will look for you when he gets out of jail. I could post a deputy to keep watch, but that’s a temporary fix.”
“I understand.” Her gaze lifted to his, and she forced a smile that didn’t reach her blue eyes. “You’ve been a great help tonight, but you’ve done enough. I’ll figure something out.”
Danny took a step toward her. “If you think I’m going to walk away, then you don’t remember me at all.”
“Oh, I remember you,” she said. This time, the smile was the one he remembered from years earlier.
“Then let me help.”
Worry crossed her face once more. “Matt is the kind that won’t give up, isn’t he?”
“Let’s just say that I don’t want to take any chances with him. I know the perfect place you can stay. It’s a fortress unto itself. There’s no way Matt can get anywhere near you there.”
Her relief was so great that her shoulders drooped with it. “I can follow you there.”
“Your car is staying here. I’ll have it towed to the station to be looked over. Get whatever you need. I’ll drive you.”