Texas Wanderer

Lone Star Lovers, Book 6
Texas Wanderer Lone Star Lovers Texas Heroes Jean Brashear

When she’s lost all her dreams and is finally finding a place to call home, will she place her trust—and her heart—in the hands of a wanderer with secrets?

Vanessa Porter’s brilliant career as a hotelier goes up in flames after a scandal, and she pours herself into rehabbing an old mansion to become a boutique hotel, doing much of the work herself because her funds are running out.

Hotshot adventure photographer Dane Sullivan’s career is grounded after a near-death fall, and he’s no longer sure he wants the life of death-defying risk that energized him for so long. While he’s recovering and assessing his options, his kid sister Jilly volunteers him to help her friend Vanessa with handyman skills he and his brothers learned from their dad.

The irascible, too-handsome photographer turned handyman won’t be around long, which suits Vanessa just fine—until the sparks between them turn from aggravation to smoldering attraction. Though her life has been filled with loss, can she survive losing this man who’s come to mean so much to her?

As Dane begins to contemplate sinking roots, the once-in-a-lifetime trip to a forbidden land suddenly is his for the taking, and he will have to choose between a life he never imagined and the dream that would restore the career that was once all he ever wanted.

Read an Excerpt from Texas Wanderer

Dane Sullivan stood braced on the rock ledge just beneath the summit of the Andean peak. The shot he knew was there would come once the cloudbank drifted just a little more. The way the wind had suddenly gusted, it wouldn’t be long.

He leaned out, camera still tight against his eye, his core muscles locked, his weight balanced on a razor’s edge. Pebbles showered down the steep grade, and he shifted quickly to regain balance.

He was cold and tired and hungry.

But he was happy as hell. It was shots like this that had made his soaring career, the ones that required guts and steel nerves, a keen eye that saw beyond the expected, that landed the viewer into the unimagined.

“Dane.”

“Yeah?” He never looked away from the viewfinder.

“I’ve got to climb to the east or my shadow will fall on your shot in a minute.”

“Thanks, man.” His friend and guide, Jaime, was the best for many reasons, but this was one of them. They’d first worked together nearly ten years ago, and Dane relied not only on Jaime’s climbing skills—which exceeded Dane’s own quite competent ones—but his ability to be present, always waiting to help without spoiling the mood Dane was caught in. Jaime understood Dane and his passion as few ever had.

If Jaime weren’t happily married and father of three, Dane would never accept an assignment without him. But a life of constant travel, while perfectly suited to Dane, wasn’t for everyone and definitely not for a man with a family.

“I’ve played out the rope a little,” Jaime said quietly. “Brace yourself, and I’ll be done in two minutes.”

Dane didn’t—couldn’t—let go of the camera or take his eye off the scene. He was close, so close… He braced his legs. “Go,” he said to Jaime, only wanting it over with. Nownow

There. He had it. One, two, four more shots in rapid succession, though he knew in his gut the first one was perfect—

Abruptly the wind roared, whipped him around, jerked him off-balance.

The mountain rained down.

“Jaime—” But he knew what was happening. What could happen to both of them.

By instinct, Dane shoved his camera inside his jacket even as he grappled for a handhold. He didn’t need anyone to tell him the situation was bad. “Jaime!” His eyes teared against the bitter wind, and he blinked furiously, trying to make out his friend.

A muffled shout to his left. The thunder of rattling stones roaring louder and louder…Dane watched in horror as Jaime tumbled like a slow motion puppet, out of his reach. Dane stretched toward him, too late, too late—

Shouting, cursing, scrambling—

A savage gust knocked Dane off his feet, yet he fought to cross the distance even as Jaime vanished over the edge. “No!” he screamed as his world turned on end.

Pain exploded.

Then…nothing.

* * *

A hand lay quietly on his arm. Voices murmured. Machines beeped.

Dane struggled upward through the thick tar of darkness. Cold trapped him, no light, no…

“Look,” a deep male voice said. “Did he just frown?”

Where was he? Who… “Unh…”

A gasp. “Sweetheart? Dane? Talk to us.” The hand stroked his skin. “You’re fine, honey. Just open your eyes.”

His lids were so heavy…his body weighted by concrete…

“Son, you’re safe. You’ve been hurt, but you’ll be okay.” The man’s voice was familiar in his bones, but worry crackled beneath the words.

He turned his head toward the voices until needle-sharp pain seized him.

“Don’t move, sweetheart. You’re all right. Just don’t…please lie still.” The woman again, only now he could see her in his mind’s eye, the face of love.

“M…” His throat was dust-dry. He tried again. “Mom?” he croaked.

A cheer rose, several voices. “Yes, oh, sweetheart, yes—” His mother’s voice was thick with tears. “You’re in a hospital. You’ve been hurt, but you’re going to be all right.” Determination laced through her fear, and he tried to remember, but his thoughts darted away like silvery minnows…

“Rest easy, son,” said the man he realized was his father. A large hand on his shoulder, squeezing. “We’ve sent for the doctor to tell him you’re awake at last.” Gruff with emotion, his father’s voice pulled Dane through the unrelenting agony sucking him back down…down….

Dane forced his eyes open, blinked once…twice… Figures swam in and out of focus. Other men—his brothers, he realized, Liam, Rafe and Alex—and the fierce angel face of his sister Jilly crowded around the bed.

“What…happened?”

His mother put a straw to his lips, and the cool grace of water slid down his parched throat.

Then he realized that both his always-composed mother and the dad who was the bulwark of a whole family were crying.

“How bad is it?”

His mother’s lips pressed into a tight line, and his father’s eyes spoke of worry. “You’ll be fine. You had a climbing accident, but you’re going to make it, I swear. Thank God you’ve come back to us.”

But in that way of souls who’ve skimmed the edge of death, Dane knew it had been close.

And he wasn’t done yet.

“Tired…” He couldn’t keep his eyes from closing. Then he stirred. “Jaime—”

Oh, God. He struggled upward again, hazy vision blanketing him with despair. His fingers flexed weakly at the memory of fear…failure… Grasping….searching…losing…. “I have to…”

“Sleep, son” his dad ordered. “We’re here. We won’t leave you.” Strong, reassuring fingers squeezed his shoulder.

Dane gave up the struggle and let sleep take him.

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