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The Loner

Cover of The Loner

The Loner

Bitter Creek Series, Book 3
The Blackthornes and the Creeds. Two powerful Texas dynasties--and lifelong enemies. Set in the heart of the modern-day West, New York Times bestselling author Joan Johnston brings to passionate life...More
The Blackthornes and the Creeds. Two powerful Texas dynasties--and lifelong enemies. Set in the heart of the modern-day West, New York Times bestselling author Joan Johnston brings to passionate life...More
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Description-
  • The Blackthornes and the Creeds. Two powerful Texas dynasties--and lifelong enemies. Set in the heart of the modern-day West, New York Times bestselling author Joan Johnston brings to passionate life the clash of wills between Blackthorne and Creed . . . as a man and woman discover a love stronger than the forces trying to tear them apart.

    Summer Blackthorne swore she'd never forgive Billy Coburn for running out on her and their future together. But that was before she found out she wasn't Jackson Blackthorne's child--Billy was. And now the "Blackthorne Bastard" has come home for a final day of reckoning...to the town that damned him and the woman he had always wanted. Only Summer can satisfy the hunger burning deep within him. Only she can help him hold on to his own unwanted son. It will be a marriage of expedience only. Until doubts and mistrust vanish in the heat of passion...and a man and a woman who never stopped loving each other fight bitter blood and impossible odds for a glorious second chance....

    From the Paperback edition.

Excerpts-
  • Chapter One "What the hell are you doing back here in Bitter Creek?"

    Billy Coburn heard the challenge in the low, menacing voice but took his time turning to confront Jackson Blackthorne. He set his cigarette in the corner of his mouth, squinting against the smoke that caught under the brim of his Stetson, and stuck his boot on the brass footrail at the base of the Armadillo Bar. "None of your damn business," he said at last.

    Billy saw the anger flare in the older man's eyes and watched his shoulders square as he straightened. Billy almost smiled. Jackson Blackthorne's six-foot-three-inch height wasn't going to intimidate him. He was an inch taller than Blackjack, maybe even broader in the shoulders, and a hell of a lot leaner in the hip. His father--it felt strange to use the word, since he was the man's bastard son--didn't scare him.

    "We had a deal," Blackjack said. "I agreed to put that badge on your chest, and you agreed to stay as far from my daughter and this town as you could get."

    Billy thumbed a smudge off the silver TSCRA badge that was pinned to a leather folder stuck in his breast pocket. As a result of a deal he'd made with Blackjack, he'd become a field agent for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers' Association, hunting down modern-day cattle rustlers and horse thieves.

    He laid a hand on the Colt .45 holstered high on his hip, met Blackjack's stare, and said, "I've kept my part of the bargain. I've been living in Amarillo for the past two years." Which was about as far as you could go north and west of Bitter Creek and still stay in Texas. "I haven't seen or spoken to your daughter since I left town."

    "What I want to know is why you've shown up here now, two weeks before Summer's wedding. If you've got any notion of interfering--"

    "I've kept my part of the bargain," Billy repeated, his blood pounding in his temples as he absorbed the stunning news that Summer Blackthorne was about to be married. "I haven't seen Summer in the two years I've been gone. And I made sure before I left that she hated my guts."

    That also had been part of the deal.

    As far as Billy knew, Summer Blackthorne still hated him. But he felt an ache inside when he thought of her walking down the aisle with some other man. Once upon a time he'd hoped that she'd be marrying him.

    But that was a long time--and a couple of significant revelations--ago.

    "If you're not here because of the wedding, what are you doing back in Bitter Creek?" Blackjack said.

    Billy followed Blackjack's gaze to a booth on the other side of the bar. Summer Blackthorne was sitting there as pretty as you please. And she was every bit as pretty now as she'd been when he'd left her behind two years ago. She was laughing, her head thrown back to expose a long, slender neck. Soft blond curls fell over her shoulders--and onto the male arm that was draped possessively around her. The man must be her fiance.

    Billy hated him on sight. He felt the hairs on his nape stand on end and fought back the jealousy and sense of loss that made his stomach knot and his throat thicken painfully. Summer didn't belong to him. Never had and never would.

    "I asked you a question," Blackjack said. "What the hell are you doing here?"

    Billy took the cigarette from his mouth, flicked it onto the sawdusted cement floor, and ground it out with his boot. "Like I said, none of your business."

    "Look, son, I've had about as much--"

    "Don't ever call me son. You haven't earned the right."

    Billy saw the irritation flash in Blackjack's eyes. Maybe it was wrong to blame his father for what had happened. After all, it was Blackjack's wife Eve who'd...
About the Author-
  • Joan Johnston is the bestselling, award-winning author of many historical romances and contemporary romance novels. She received a master of arts degree in theater from the University of Illinois and graduated with honors from the University of Texas School of Law at Austin. She is currently a full-time writer living in Colorado.

Reviews-
  • Publishers Weekly "[Johnston] carefully controls each entanglement to craft a warm and charming homespun tale."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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