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Crystal Green
Crystal Green


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Harlequin Special Edition
May 2012
ISBN: 037365670X

The Cowboy She Left Behind

Violet never saw it coming.  Davis Jackson.  Her secret high school sweetheart.  The rich boy who risked everything to be with her.  The carefree bachelor she thought would never settle down.  Pursuing her as if she was the last woman on earth.  Sudeenly, chasing down a story didn’t seem as important as a second chance with Davis.  If Violet was willing to stick around long enough to see where it would take them...

Davis Jackson couldn’t believe his eyes.  Violet Osborne.  Here.  Now.  Back in their sleepy hometown.  The off-limits miner’s daughter had been the love of his life until she went after her big-city dreams, leaving behind one broken-hearted cowboy.  But when that old Texas magic started heating up between them, the millionaire playboy made a vow: the girl who got away wasn’t getting away again...

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An innocent touch shouldn’t have almost brought Davis to his knees. But just the slightest brush of skin against skin was enough to turn his belly upside-down, his chest inside-out.

He looked down at Violet, her cinnamon brown eyes soft with an openness he hadn’t seen since she’d returned. Questions, answers.

Could it work if we tried again?

Yes, he thought, in this moment. Yes, it could.

He could hear her breathing, and each inhalation swept through him, too. It seemed right to go a little further—to wind his finger around hers under the cover of all those ribbons laying in the box, to link to her in such a small yet significant way.

Around them, it was as if everything and everyone had stopped motion, frozen in time while Violet and Davis caught up with each other in the Texas heat.

Kiss her. God, he wanted to kiss her so badly…

Then, out of nowhere it seemed, music invaded their bubble—tunes from the DJ stand at the edge of the square. Some kind of manufactured, auto-tuned pop that brought Davis out of this spell.

Violet obviously got shaken out of it, also, and when she tried to move away from him, just as she always did, Davis didn’t let her.

He kept his finger curled around hers under the ribbons. “I heard you used to make short visits to town, and you never let anyone know. Were you trying to avoid me all that time?”

The ribbons rustled, tickling his arm, making him a little giddy to know that she hadn’t run off from him just yet.

“I only came back to see my parents and Rita and her daughter. I wasn’t actively avoiding you,” she said, sidestepping his question. “Besides, there wasn’t any reason for me to act like I was Miss Popularity and that people would be clamoring to see me, so I stayed out of the town itself.”

When she glanced up at him again, he saw the vulnerability in her: the former Wonder Woman who’d lost the job that defined her, the one who’d had to slink back into St. Valentine to recoup her resources and maybe even her confidence. The one who probably thought he still had anger bottled up inside, all because of her.

What he’d give to see her believing in herself again.

And believing in him, just as she used to before everything had gone to hell.

In the background, the music abruptly changed from pop to a Keith Urban song. Davis became ultra-aware that he and Violet were still touching each other under the ribbons. Violet realized it at the same time, and she finally unwound her finger from his, moving to the other side of the box and grabbing another bunch of gnarled decorations.

It was over…for now, Davis thought. But he’d seen a lot in her this afternoon—things she probably hadn’t meant to reveal. Enough to make him think that there was a reason fate had seen fit to bring Violet back to St. Valentine.

Back to him.

But did he have the fortitude to put his heart out there again? Was it even the same heart as before, when he’d been young and hopeful, too crazy in love to know what life might do to break it?

After the music switched back to the pop song, Violet looked toward the DJ stand, where Jennifer Neeson and Lianna Hurst were standing toe-to-toe, clearly unhappy with each other.

Violet laughed, but it was a little forced. “I remember when those two were vying for captain of the cheerleading squad. The competition never really ended there, did it?”

Davis wasn’t about to get into just how the women had competed with each other since high school. After he’d come back to town, he might’ve had a little bit to do with their competitive streaks.

After Violet, he’d always made it clear that he wasn’t up for permanent grabs—not for Jennifer, Lianna or anyone who agreed to his non-committal style.

Violet was giving him a knowing glance. She was on to him, as usual.

He shrugged, and she seemed to be waiting for him to deny her suspicions.

Always the playboy. That’s what she had to be thinking.

How could he change her mind?

They continued to untangle the ribbons, and he wished it was this simple to untangle everything else between them. During the silence, his thoughts even became a mess: Was Violet wondering if he’d dated anyone seriously over the years? Had she already heard through the grapevine about how he had played a wide field?

And was she thinking that she’d been right to listen to his mom all that time ago, because he probably wouldn’t have ever stopped his habits?

By the time the ribbons were ready to go, Jennifer Neeson’s dad, the mayor of St. Valentine, had clearly settled the great DJ debate, and more hard-driving country music was playing. Over by the side dish table, where Jennifer had taken charge of doling out the food buffet-style, she looked smug.

“Point for the mayor’s daughter,” Davis said as Violet took up a handful of decorations and started to fix them to the gazebo railings.

“I noticed.” She glanced toward the street, in the direction of the Recorder office. “When I’m off ribbon duty, would you mind if I used one of your computers? I’d like to start interviewing tomorrow, but I want to firm up my questions and some research first.”

Satisfaction whirled in the center of him. He had her for at least another couple of days.

Holding back a grin, Davis said, “That sounds fine. By the way, rumor has it that Jared checked into Rita’s hotel.”


“No lie. It’d be interesting to find out why, wouldn’t it?”

When she smiled at him, it was one of genuine camaraderie, just like the kind of smile she would’ve used after he’d proved himself worthy to her on the high school paper. The kind of smile he’d seen before they’d first kissed and her smiles had started to take on a whole different meaning.

A ragged need tore through him, not only because he longed to prove himself worthy to her all over again, but because now, more than ever, he was determined to see her gaze melt whenever she looked at him.

Maybe he was out to show her, and himself, that he could still have her—just as his mom suggested. And maybe it was something else he didn’t want to think too hard about right now.

But, either way, he wanted to win her over, come hell or high water.


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From the book: Courted by the Texas Millionaire
By: Crystal Green
Harlequin Special Edition
Publication Date: 5/12
ISBN: 978-0-373-65670-7
Copyright: 2012
By: Harlequin Books S.A.
R and TM are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
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