This is the moment Pearl and Rodrigo meet, Chapter One but not page one --
Rodrigo Garcia spotted the rogue horse trainer right away. She was dressed like a cowboy in a flannel shirt, flattering dungarees—well, not that he noticed if dungarees flattered cowboys, but he had to admit they looked nice on her. He scolded himself for noticing her figure instead of the look on her face. Standing on the walk outside the cafe, a deep frown tugged at her brow.
And he was about to make her morning grimmer. He and Miguel walked up to her, his boots thumping loud enough to be heard over the freight wagon passing by. Pulling off his sombrero, he addressed her politely. “Señorita?”
She turned to him, sized him and his son up, then tilted her head in a cocky manner. “Yeah?”
The little scar above her lip did nothing to hinder the allure of her soft, full lips. And her eyes…intense, alert, and green as spring grass. He blinked and again scolded himself for the foolishness of noticing. “Miss Sally tells me you refused the job.” Annoyed with her—or himself—he’d let irritation slip into his voice but didn’t bother to walk it back. “One of the first things we learn at Burning Dress is we keep our word.”
“We keep our word,” the twelve-year-old echoed. Rodrigo wasn’t sure if the boy was agreeing or mocking him.
“Who are you?” She sounded as annoyed at Rodrigo felt.
Huffing, he ran his hand through his hair. He had more important things to do than drag an unwilling guest back to Burning Dress. “Miss Sally hired a horse trainer. You have agreed to do this task. It is a great inconvenience to her if you back out.”
Sheriff Hollister wandered up at this moment, his big belly entering the conversation seconds before he did. “Is there a problem here, Rodrigo?”
Rodrigo didn’t miss the nervous glance the girl gave the lawman’s badge. “None whatsoever,” she said abruptly. “Just a little misunderstanding.”
“But we have it worked out,” Rodrigo said. “Sí?”
She nodded and smiled but it did not reach her glittering, jade eyes. “Sí.”
“I’m here to give her a ride. She’s our new horse trainer.”
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