When Noah Calhoun finds his place in the world, he discovers a woman who makes him whole.
Book Seven of the Malloy family series
Noah Calhoun always felt like an outsider in the Malloy family, even though he’d been legally adopted at age fifteen by Nicky, the only sister in the pack. After an accident nearly kills his father, Tyler, Noah decides to leave and find his own place in the world. Using the skills his ex-bounty hunter father taught him, Noah finds a job as a small-town sheriff.
Rosalyn Benedict didn’t need a fresh-faced do-gooder sheriff trying to help her. She’d been surviving just fine on her own. Living on the streets since she was a child, Rosalyn was smarter, tougher and stronger than most people ever hope to be.
With her stubbornness and his pigheadedness, will Noah and Rosalyn find that one place where they both belong?
Because of a mix-up (namely me), the review will be up pretty late. But I’m not the best reviewer out there, and I think the excerpt will do a better job of selling The Legacy. So read on!
“I ain’t taking no bath.” Rosalyn stuck up her chin at the too-tall sheriff. “I already washed up good. You’ve been near me two days now, do I smell?”
He loomed over her. “You washed your face and hands with a pitcher of water and a sliver of soap I gave you. That’s not washing up good.” He took hold of her arm and slid the sleeve back, pointing at the dirt beneath. “You need a bath.” Noah pronounced each word like he was talking to an idiot.
She snatched her arm away. “I said I ain’t taking no bath and you can’t make me.”
“No, you’re right, I can’t. But a sheriff’s deputy can’t go around with enough dirt stuck on her body to make an ant hill. No one is going to hurt you, Rosalyn, I promise. We’ll go down to that bathing house down the street. Marina said they were good. I’ll make sure you have privacy and that no one bothers you.”
Her heart went clippity-clop at the thought that he’d be there watching over her, or perhaps watching her. Was that a good thing or a bad thing? Her body and her mind were all mixed up about Noah Calhoun.
“The lady who owns that bathing house don’t like me.” Her words were a little less forceful as she wavered on her decision to refuse a bath.
“I don’t care if she doesn’t like you. I do.”
That statement made every small hair on her body stand up.
Rosalyn’s resolve weakened again. “I just can’t pour that cold water all over me.”
“It won’t be cold. They heat the water.”
The idea of a warm bath hadn’t occurred to her because when she did take a bath and wash up all over, she did it in the creek right outside town. That water was always cold, sometimes colder than cold. “A warm bath?”
He grinned. “Possibly even hot.”
“Well, if it’s warm enough for me, I might take a bath. I ain’t saying that I’m gonna do it, I’m just saying that I’ll walk down there with you.”
“Sounds good. Thank you, Rosalyn.”
He held out his arm and she stared at it, unsure and awkward. She didn’t know how to walk with a gentleman. Lord have mercy, she was no lady.
“Take you arm and put it through mine like this.” Noah took hold of her arm and tucked it around his until her hand rested on his forearm. “It’s not hard. Are you ready?”
His scent, a combination of man, good old-fashioned sweat and something else she suspected was unique to Noah Calhoun, teased her nose. Not to mention, his presence next to her comforted her somehow. Her insides quivered and she hoped he didn’t notice. That would be really embarrassing.
“It still don’t mean that I’m gonna lay on my back for you.”
Noah’s eyes registered surprise, then disappointment. “I never expected that from you, Rosalyn, and I wouldn’t take it from you.”
She’d mucked up the moment, the sweet moment of him treating her like a lady, but it didn’t matter. None of it mattered. This was all like a story, one of those tales parents told their young’uns. Only it probably wouldn’t have a happy ending.
They walked down to the bathing house together, arm in arm. A few heads turned as they passed by. She’d hazard a guess that most folks noticed, and surprisingly some paid them no mind. The bathing house had a fancy sign out in front with swirly gold letters. Although she couldn’t read what it said, Rosalyn knew her ABCs. It was just a matter of putting them together to make words that she had trouble with. Still she knew this was the bathing house and that awful woman with the doughy face and the big flappy arms owned it. She’d chased Rosalyn away from behind the building lots of times. She must have trembled or shivered or something, because Noah laid his hand on top of hers and squeezed.
“I won’t let her hurt you. It’ll be okay.”
Stupid as it sounded, his reassurance actually made her feel better. It was odd and a little frightening. Rosalyn reminded herself that the sheriff was helping her because he wanted to feel good about himself, not because he cared about her.
When they stepped into the bathing house, Rosalyn’s stomach got tight and she braced herself. It was a good thing too. The owner rose from her stool in the corner, planting fleshy fists on her ample hips.
“That thing is not welcome in here.”
To his credit, Noah took off his hat like a gentleman. “Ma’am. I’m Noah Calhoun, the new sheriff.”
She pointed at Rosalyn. “She’s got to go. I don’t give no charity.”
Noah’s muscles tensed beneath Rosalyn’s hand. “Miss Benedict is my guest and deserves some courtesy. May I have your name please?”
His politeness impressed Rosalyn. She’d have started cussing right about then.
“Clara Cartman.” The older woman shook her head, the rolls on her neck moving on their own. “You shouldn’t be with her type. Folks won’t take kindly to it.”
“I expect our citizens to be kind to everyone, not just those who have a roof over their heads. Miss Benedict is working as a housekeeper at the jail.”
Clara snickered. “I’ll bet.”
Noah’s quick intake of breath was the only indication he was angry. Rosalyn, however, had had enough.
“Listen here, you’ve no call to be mean to me or call me names. I ain’t never done anything to you. The sheriff hired me to clean, not share his bed, not that you would even know what sharing a bed means, fattie.”
Clara’s face grew florid. “You little whore—”
“That’s enough.” Noah’s command cut through the heated air. “There’s to be no more insulting each other. We came here as customers, Miss Cartman. I’m sure at some point you will be in need of my services and I’d hate to think an upstanding citizen like you wouldn’t receive them.”
Noah’s threat made Clara step back a pace. “You saying you wouldn’t help me if I needed it?”
“I’m saying that charity begins at home. This town is my home now as much as it’s yours and Miss Benedict’s. We need to treat everyone with respect or there won’t be any peace.” He gestured to the curtain behind Clara. “Now if you wouldn’t mind, Miss Benedict is in need of a bath and you have the nicest bathing house in town.”
Rosalyn was about to point out there were only two in town and one was for men only, mostly cowboys, when Noah pushed her toward the dark blue curtain.
Clara’s eyes narrowed. “You vouching for this piece of trash?”
“I specifically asked for no more name calling, Miss Cartman. With my help, Marina can make sure no one uses your facility anymore.”
Now that was a direct threat. Rosalyn wanted to clap, but figured a smirk would do. Unfortunately, Clara’s gaze was locked on Noah so she didn’t see it.
“You’d do that?”
“I would. You can’t treat people like offal, Miss Cartman. What we do to others comes back to us tenfold.” He started walking Rosalyn back toward the curtain again. “With your permission?”
Clara flapped her hand. “Fine then, go ahead.”
With a polite nod, Noah ushered Rosalyn into the bathing room and to her first hot bath in more than ten years. There were six bathtubs, positioned a couple of feet apart. She stepped up to the closest one and stuck her finger in the water.
“It’s cold.” She backed away. “I told you I wasn’t taking a cold bath.”
Noah touched her back to stop her retreat, the heat from his hands seeping through the dress and into her skin. The man had big hands, ones that made her wonder what they’d feel like on other parts of her body.
“Don’t worry, Rosalyn. They keep the water hot in the back. They keep the tubs half full until someone comes in to use them.”
“That’ll be four bits.” Clara stood behind them, arms folded across her chest.
Noah dug around in his pocket, pulled out money, then handed it to Clara. “She gets fifteen minutes.”
“Ten minutes, no more than that.”
“Fifteen. She’s got long hair, it’ll take five just to rinse it.” Noah took a hank of her hair in his hand and lifted it up.
Rosalyn shuddered at the sensation and had to stop herself from running out the door. The sheriff needed to keep his hands to himself or she’d never survive this job.
When he let her hair go, she did step away, finally able to take a breath. Two boys came in with buckets of steaming water and poured them into the tub in front of her. Wisps of steam rose from the tub.
Noah stuck his fingers in the water. “It feels pretty warm now.”
His gaze locked with hers and Rosalyn felt herself falling into the brown depths of his eyes. The warmth of the room became very, very hot. What was happening to her?
© Beth Williamson 2007
Remember. Contest. Comment. Tell us how badly you want to read this book. Better still, just go buy the book.
If you need more convincing, or you can’t get the book yet because you’re at work, you can find a few more excerpts at the following places: