Something’s on the rise in Two-Mule, Texas. And it ain’t just the temperature.
Honey Cafferty lives a happy, if precarious, existence as a traveling saleswoman. She sells her elixirs and potions while searching for the one thing she hasn’t been able to brew from the back of her colorful wagon—a sense of belonging. She arrives in Two Mule, Texas, with her Elixir of Love, a potion that improves a man’s libido but might just get her run out of town.
Sheriff Joe Tanner is protective of his little town. Downright hostile toward anyone who might take advantage of the fine folk under his protection. Any snake-oil salesman who rolls into town better just keep right on rolling.
Honey isn’t what Joe expected, from her vibrant red hair and cat-green eyes to her curvy mouth and hips. And when the men of the town begin to plead exhaustion—and place the blame squarely on her sweet-smelling shoulders—Joe has no choice but to launch an investigation. A very, very deep investigation…
Warning: Contains a sheriff who prides himself on keeping his town running as smooth as a well-greased wagon wheel, and a wandering saleswoman who’s more than a bump (and grind) in his road.
Excerpt #1 (PG)
“Sheriff, you’ve gotta do somethin’ about that woman.”
The note of exasperation in Curly Hicks’s voice was one Joe Tanner had heard often in the past couple of days—at least from the unmarried men of the town. He didn’t need to ask which woman Curly was talking about. He already knew who was responsible for Curly’s agitation. Her name was on everybody’s lips, although the tones with which her name was spoken varied widely.
He was curious what the normally reticent shopkeeper had to say about the lady in question. “Just what do you want me to do about her, Curly?”
“Send her packin’! She’s up to somethin’. Cain’t tell you ’xactly what, but ever since she came, nothin’s been the same.”
So he wasn’t the only one to notice. Since the day Honey Cafferty’s fancy-painted wagon had rolled into town, the mood around Two Mule had seemed…expectant, like the town itself was wakening from a long slumber and had suddenly discovered every joyful holiday was all wrapped inside one bright, shining moment.
Which posed a dilemma for Joe. Two Mule had elected him to keep the peace and things had been riding smooth like a Conestoga over flat land—no bumps, no bone-jarring thuds. So far, the townsfolk had been pretty satisfied with their lives. It was a quiet place—the right kind of town to set down deep roots—and he intended to keep it that way.
However, Honey Cafferty had a way about her that was anything but quiet. She radiated shimmering sensuality, from her vibrant red hair and cat-like green eyes to her lushly curved lips and body. Everything about her shouted like Fourth of July fireworks and crazily spinning whirligigs, eliciting a restless hunger in him that had no place in his tidy little life.
Just looking at the woman made his teeth ache, made him want to touch the fire he sensed smoldered just below the surface of her sweet-smelling peaches-and-cream skin.
“Whatcha gonna do, Sheriff?”
Not what he really wanted to, that was for damn sure. “Has she committed a crime?”
Curly’s cheeks reddened. “You’re not list’nin’ to me. Amos Handy didn’t open his smithy shop ’til half past noon yesterday. That ain’t never happened before.”
“Why do you think Miss Cafferty had something to do with that?”
“Amos’s wife bought a bottle of her special ee-lixir the day before.”
“So you think Miss Cafferty poisoned Amos?”
“I’m not sayin’ she did it on purpose, but Letty was sure lookin’ happy when I came
to see what was wrong. And you know that woman has the sourest disposition of any female this side of the Mississippi.”
“What about Amos? Did he look like he was sickening?”
“Well, no. But he’s mighty tired, he says. Said he was gonna close his shop for a couple of days—take a vacation. You ever heard such a load of horseshit in all yer born days?”
“Still don’t see where Miss Cafferty fits in with all this.”
“Sheriff, you need to open your eyes,” Curly said, his own eyes bugging wide. “Look at all the married folk. The men are lookin’ glassy-eyed and the women are hummin’ like mosquitoes. I tell you, it’s that woman’s fault.”
“What about you, Curly? Do you have any complaints?”
“I’m plain tuckered out keepin’ one step ahead of Sally. She’s been tryin’ to get me to stop by for her apple pie, but she has that look in her eye again.”
“Which one’s that?”
“That marryin’ look. The one what’s got me too sceert to step outside her mama’s parlor for a kiss. It might be all over for me,” he said dolefully.
Joe suppressed a smile. Not that he blamed Curly for his skittishness. Despite his longing to set down roots, the thought of marriage made him itch too. “Do you know anything about this special elixir the Cafferty woman’s selling?”
“Nope. Soon as she sold her dyspepsia cures, she shooed the menfolk away for a private chat with the ladies. They sure as hell aren’t talkin’ about what she give ’em.”
“Have you asked her straight out what she’s been selling to the womenfolk?”
Curly’s cheeks grew a fiery red. “I cain’t do that, Sheriff,” he said, his tone mournful. “I open my mouth to have my say, and all she has to do is aim those pretty green eyes my way and I’m meltin’ like ice cream on a hot summer day. Before you know it, she’s done sold me somethin’ else I don’t need.”
Joe pressed his lips into a straight line to keep from laughing. Yes, siree. Looking into the woman’s eyes did test the mettle of a man. If a man wasn’t on guard against her charm, she’d tie his tongue in knots and swell his…
Best not let his mind head down that dusty trail. “Tell you what, Curly. I’ll pay a visit to Miss Cafferty. See if there’s anything to your story.”
“Don’t have to go out to her campsite. She’s in the saloon right now. That was the other thing I was gonna mention. No righteous woman like she claims to be oughta be rollin’ on the floor of a saloon with Paddy Mulligan. It’s just not seemly.”
Joe stiffened. “She’s in the saloon?”
About Delilah Devlin
Delilah Devlin is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of erotica and erotic romance with a rapidly expanding reputation for writing deliciously edgy stories with complex characters. She has published over a hundred forty erotic stories in multiple genres and lengths. She is published by Atria/Strebor, Avon, Berkley, Black Lace, Cleis Press, Ellora’s Cave, Grand Central, Harlequin Spice, HarperCollins: Mischief, Kensington, Montlake Romance, Running Press and Samhain Publishing. Find out more about Delilah at www.delilahdevlin.com.
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