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The afternoon sun burned hot and
bright, dusting the vast Ryan ranch
with the glow of golden wealth. Wealth
Rosa’s grandfather, her abuelo,
claimed belonged to the Del Fuego
empire. Frowning, Rosa scanned the
expanse of the Ryan ranch, the Bar R.
Their acreage, just south of San
Antonio, was rich in history and
drenched in blood, extending for miles
in every direction and beyond the
mountains in the distance.
Her neck prickled. She scanned the
arid landscape, and seeing nothing
alarming, her thoughts turned again to
the Ryans. During her research into
both families, she’d failed to find
one scrap of evidence to back up the
one-sided information her brothers and
grandfather had fed to her throughout
her life. Fury bubbled in her gut.
Digging into the Del Fuego and Ryan
rivalry would most likely deepen the
trouble. Of course, the findings could
also give her a great story. She
swallowed. Or get her killed.
Her brothers, especially Ramon,
accused her of not supporting the
family, and had vowed to make her life
miserable if she refused to help. She
didn’t doubt his selfish vow of
violence. Demonstrated by her
brothers’ behavior, and according to
her mother, the three boys were just
like Rosa’s ne’er-do-well father, Gino
Del Fuego. Her mother had told her
many times how she resented and feared
Gino, how he was a controlling man
with no morals who’d never worked a
day in his life.
Now he was living on abuelo’s, ranch
just over the Mexican border, living
the life of a wealthy gentleman
vineyard-owner while her abuelo rotted
in prison and they struggled to
survive. With everyone at odds, she’d
lived her whole life in a pressure
cooker. Now, with her grandfather and
brothers forcing her to invade the
Ryan holdings, it could all blow up in
her face.
She released a long breath, lifted her
chin, and fought the mounting pressure
squeezing her lungs. In the distance,
gusts of dust spiraled up from the
desert floor as a rider galloped her
way in a thunder of hooves. Her
stomach knotted. Furtively, she tucked
the binoculars away in the saddlebag,
next to her camera and .38, and
plastered a smile on her face.
The rider dug his knees into the red
Quarter Horse’s flanks, yanked on the
reins, and brought the handsome piece
of horseflesh to a stop. “This is
private property, ma’am,” the cowboy
drawled in a tight voice. He rode up,
close and intimidating, his mount
facing her black Mustang, both animals
stomping in place and snorting.
She tilted her head. Could she handle
this impressive opponent?
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