READER'S ROCK LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE VOL 2 ISSUE 4 NOVEMBER 2014 VOL 2 ISSUE 5 DECEMBER 2014 - Page 55

Terms of Surrender Excerpt LEANING awkwardl y against the bedframe post, Michael groped for his shirt. Trembling, he clutched it against his chest in a knotted bunch. “Mornin', ma'am,” he mumbled. “Beg pardon.” His ashen face, chalky beneath his tan, dispelled Annie's embarrassment, but it took her a confused moment to understand that he hadn't said moaning. “Are you out of your mind, Cap … Mr. Cantrell?” she demanded, moving quickly to set the egg basket on the table and stand beside him. She took his good arm for support and tried to guide him to sit back down. This time he resisted, lifting her hand from his arm and setting her firmly away from him. “No, ma'am,” he said, his voice raspy but steel-edged. “Been down long enough. It's time I earned my keep.” Annie regarded him sternly, about to light into him again, but then she changed tack and smiled sweetly. “Well, I'm very glad to see you on your feet, Mr. Cantrell. Heaven knows you've lazed around here long enough. Why, a body might mistake you for a malingerer.” When he scowled and opened his mouth to protest, Annie cut him off and went right on talking. “You need to get directly to work. I'll fix you some eggs, but soon as you're done, I've got some green broncs I want saddle-broke and shod. Then the roof needs reshingling and the south pasture needs to be cleared of stumps and rocks.” She tossed her head and, snatching up the egg basket, strode into the kitchen, leaving Michael staring at her back.  She waited a few moments, hearing his labored breathing behind her. Without looking back at him she asked offhandedly, “Reckon you can get all that done today?”  There was a long, silent pause before Michael spoke. “Yes'm,” he said finally in a low, solemn tone. “I'll get right at it.”  When her shoulders began to shake with laughter, he almost smiled, but caught himself in time. She turned to face him, folding her arms.  “Mr. Cantrell, she scolded teasingly, amused and exasperated all at once. “Are you always this bull-headed?”  He nodded soberly. “Yes'm. It's one of my finest points.”  “Oh, I see. And what are your fau lts, pray tell?”  This time, the ghost of a smile pulled successfully at his mouth, deepening the dimple.  “It's a pretty long list, ma'am. You mind if I sit a spell while we discuss 'em?” © by Lorrie Farrelly, available as ebook, paperback, and audiobook read by Keith Tracton. The War Between the States not only destroyed all Michael Cantrell loved, it left the young, former Confederate cavalry officer without faith or hope, a solitary, haunted man trying to escape his demons in the vast western frontier. Then, one spring day along the Wind River, a violent encounter lands him in the thick of another life-and-death struggle – Annie Devlin's war. Desperate to hang on to her ranch and her life, waylaid by gunmen hired by a powerful rancher who covets her land, Annie and her young brother, Robbie, fight a furious, rapidly losing battle for their lives. When all seems lost, into the fray steps a cold-eyed, steelnerved stranger – Michael Cantrell – who saves Annie and Robbie, but is himself grievously wounded. With Annie's care, Michael recovers not only his strength but a portion of his embittered soul as well. Fighting his powerful feelings for her, convinced he has nothing to give, Michael determines to stay with the Devlins only long enough to ensure their safety against the treachery that would destroy them. Reluctantly, Michael, who for years has known only loss, allies himself with a stubborn, courageous young woman who will take his heart by storm and test the limit of his honor, his courage – and his passion. Exciting and heartfelt, TERMS OF SURRENDER is a 2014 READERS' FAVORITE INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS winner and an ORANGE ROSE AWARD finalist.