Debra Ullrick is the author of three published books, The Bride Wore Coveralls, Déjà Vu Bride, and Dixie Hearts. She is married to her real life hero, Rick. They have one married daughter, Sharmane, and have lived on several cattle ranches throughout the Colorado Rocky Mountains for over twenty-five years. Her hobbies include, classic cars, monster trucks, mud-bog racing, reading, drawing western art, feeding wild birds, playing with her Manx cat, visiting friends and family, watching Jane Austen movies, COPS, and Little People, Big World. Visit her at www.DebraUllrick.com
“Please, let me go,” Allison begged her abductor. Her white empire muslin gown snagged on the saddle horn as she struggled to break free from his strong, yet strangely gentle grasp.
“Nope.” The man’s kind voice sounded vaguely familiar.
The horse stumbled. Allison clutched a handful of the horse’s mane in an attempt to keep herself from slipping forward. The man gripped her with muscled arms, and pulled her snug against his firm chest. She tried to free herself from his grasp, but she was no match for his strength.
“I promise not to bite,” he said, a low chuckle rumbling through his throat.
Where had she heard that laugh before? “Won’t you please remove this blindfold?”
“Soon.” His warm breath brushed against her ear. “We’re almost there.”
Almost where? And what did he want? If it was ransom, her uncle was so stingy even his money clip had cobwebs. And no one knew about the fortune her parents had left her, not even her greedy aunt and uncle.
As the horse plodded along, dust and sage filled her nostrils. Allison pondered her predicament. She should be frightened at being kidnapped from her uncle’s home. Yet mysteriously enough, she wasn’t. How could that be?
“Whoa,” he said, pulling on the reins.
“Where are we?” She tilted her head, listening for any kind of familiar sound. But only roses, horseflesh, leather, and clean masculine scents filled the air.
Allison clutched the saddle horn as he shifted his weight on the saddle and dismounted. Sturdy hands circled her waist. As he slid her from the animal, she placed her hands on his shoulders. But instead of putting her down, he cradled her in his arms. “Please, put me down.”
“In a minute.” Was that humor she heard in his voice? Since when were kidnappers friendly? Confusion yanked at her soul. Who was this man?
The boards creaked under their weight as he carried her up three steps and beyond. He shifted sideways and took another step. Lilac, oiled wood, and a hint of mustiness greeted her. They had entered a building. Allison’s insides trembled. God, please keep me safe.
Allison felt herself lowered onto a hard surface. “I’m going to remove the blindfold now,” he said from behind her. Then he slipped the cloth from her eyes.
Allison squinted against the brightness. Her abductor came around and stood before her. She looked up and gasped.
As if she were seeing a vision, she blinked several times. No wonder that voice and laughter sounded so familiar. After her aunt and uncle forbade them to see each other, and had stolen her away from her beloved Terrance, she’d almost given up hope of ever seeing him again. But her heart had refused to accept that it was over for them. Their love for each other was too strong.
And now here he was, the lover of her soul, the man who forever possessed her heart, standing in front of her. She leaped from the chair and flew into his arms. “Oh, Terrence.” She covered his eyes, his cheeks, and the tip of his nose with kisses. “You found me,” she kissed him more, then captured his gaze. “I just knew that someday we’d be together again.” This time she claimed his mouth.
When she released his lips, her sweet Terrence smiled. “We have an audience.” His peppermint breath mingled with hers.
Allison jerked back. A man wearing a minister’s collar stood there with his arms crossed, grinning. Her hands flew to her face. Heat rushed into her cheeks.
“Allison, this is my best friend, Pastor Dan. He’s here to marry us.”
“Marry us?” She shot Terrence a questioning look.
“That is . . .” His uncertain gaze searched hers. “If you still love me and want me.”
“Love you? Want you?” Her heart melted like snow on a hot spring day. “Oh, my darling, Terrence. I’ve never stopped loving you.” Their eyes locked. “And I’ve never stopped praying that one day we’d be together again.”
Inside the quaint, stained-glass windowed church, flooded with jars of her favorite lilac flowers and a multitude of lit candles, Terrence got down on one knee and clasped her hands. “Allison Marie Royal, will you marry me?”
A thousand butterfly wings took flight in her stomach. “Oh, yes, my love!”
Terrence stood. “Now?”
She studied his twinkling eyes and that gorgeous smile she adored and had never stopped missing. She’d dreamed of this moment ever since she’d met him ten years ago. Not about to risk losing her precious Terrance again, she turned to the pastor. “We’re ready, sir.”
After saying their vows, Terrance drew her into his arms and kissed her thoroughly. Breathless, Allison pulled back and looked up into his green eyes. “Thank you for kidnapping me,” she rasped softly.
He swung her into his arms and held her tight. Before his lips met hers, he whispered, “My pleasure, Ma’am.”
©2008 Debra Ullrick