Home > Love of a Cowboy (McGrath #2)

Love of a Cowboy (McGrath #2)
Author: Jennifer Ryan

Chapter One


Skye Kennedy snuck toward the master bedroom, drawn by Gabriel’s harsh voice and the ominous feeling she couldn’t ignore. She peeked through the ajar door and stared, horrified by the anger blazing in his eyes. Gabriel held Lucy trembling in front of him, his hands fisted in her linen shift dress, his body bent toward her as she leaned away, his face an inch from hers.

Skye didn’t recognize who Gabriel had become.

The boy she grew up with had turned into a very dangerous man.

Poor Lucy. She couldn’t get away. Not that she tried. Fear held her wide-eyed and docile.

Lucy’s fear echoed through Skye.

“What will my bride think if you bring that bastard into this world?” Rage and disgust filled Gabriel’s unbelievable words.

They stopped Skye’s heart.

If she wasn’t mistaken, in this case, “bride” referred to her.

Skye didn’t like being told what to do, which is why she’d never agree to be his wife.

But several of the other Sunrise young ladies couldn’t wait to marry the men Gabriel—in an unprecedented dictate—handpicked for them. They thought it an honor to marry into his inner circle of tried-and-true, trusted friends.

Believers in his new vision for Sunrise.

She didn’t believe in Gabriel’s new direction. It led them down a dangerous road. And if the rest of the Sunrise Fellowship community outside Gabriel’s circle of friends knew what he was doing behind their backs, they’d cast him out once and for all. But for the sake of the community and all they believed in, Skye worked in the shadows to find a way to take down Gabriel without him turning the tables on her for going against him.

Right now, she feared she’d taken too long to oust him, and Gabriel was about to do something else to prove how far he’d strayed from their ideals.

Tears streamed down Lucy’s pale face. “I didn’t mean for it to happen.”

Skye had no idea, nor did she care, that Gabriel had been sleeping with Lucy.

Gabriel pulled Lucy even closer, their noses nearly touching. “Who did you tell?”

Lucy patted Gabriel’s chest with one shaking hand, trying to soothe him, but nothing, not even the child she carried, seemed to calm Gabriel’s ire. “No one. Just you. Please, Gabriel, he’s your son.”

“Skye will give me strong sons. She’s the only one worthy to be my wife.”

He’d always had a thing for her. She avoided him when possible. When that didn’t work, she tried to be kind like she’d been taught, but careful about how much attention or interest she showed Gabriel.

She didn’t want to give him the wrong idea.

Not that he cared what she wanted either way.

“She will stand beside me. Not you.”

Never. Not going to happen.

A desperate plea filled Lucy’s eyes. “But you said I was chosen.”

Gabriel sneered at her. “You were. To serve me. And you’ve served your purpose.”

So cruel.

He was one of those people who thought everyone loved him and you were lucky to be his friend even when he was unkind.

He held himself in high regard, thinking himself better than everyone else.

Tonight he proved to be far lower than the worst of them.

“You will not have this baby.”

“I won’t give him up,” Lucy wailed.

Gabriel shook her. “You’ll do as you’re told!”

Lucy’s gaze dropped and she shook her head. “You can’t make me.” Her defiance set Gabriel off.

He shook her again, making her head snap back and forth like a rag doll’s. “You will!”

“No!” she shouted right in his face.

He shoved Lucy to the floor and kicked her right in the stomach, sending her body sliding across the hardwood toward the dresser. “Why are you trying to ruin everything?”

Skye pressed her hand over her mouth to cover her shocked gasp.

Lucy screeched, then let loose an agonizing wail.

In a blind rage, Gabriel kicked her again, then stomped his big booted foot right into her thigh as she tucked her legs to her chest to protect herself from further harm.

Too late.

Lucy’s piercing scream echoed in Skye’s ears.

Bright red blood spread and saturated Lucy’s white dress.

Gabriel stood over her, his breath heaving in and out with the fury still tightening his muscles and etched in his face.

Lucy stared up at him, her teary eyes wide and wild. “Why?”

Gabriel gave no answer for his horrendous behavior. If he felt any remorse for his child and what he’d done, it didn’t show.

Lucy clawed at the material, dragging it up her thighs, and stared as blood spread and pooled on the floor between her legs. She clutched her belly. “No!” Pain etched lines on her distraught face.

Skye wanted to rage. She wanted to help Lucy, but fear locked her in place, witness to the horrifying tragedy. Stuck in this terrible nightmare, her mind couldn’t make her body move.

Lucy stared up at Gabriel, her eyes huge and filled with grief and blame and unimaginable sadness. “Y-you k-killed him.”

Gabriel stared down at Lucy. “He was never meant to be.” Those flat words left Skye cold.

He squatted next to Lucy. Skye hoped he’d finally help her. But no, he gripped her jaw tightly in his fingers and glared at her. “My son will be born to my wife, not some whore.”

How had so much malice corrupted his heart?

Shame washed over Lucy’s face, but she retaliated. “Skye w-won’t have you. When she f-finds out . . . you plan to m-make her . . . m-marry y-you . . . tomorrow, she . . . she’ll . . . re-refuse you.”

That truth narrowed Gabriel’s eyes and filled them with renewed fury. He released Lucy’s face and backhanded her, splitting her lip and sending her sprawling on her back. Her head cracked against the floor and her tear-drenched eyes fluttered.

Gabriel pointed his finger in Lucy’s face. “No one refuses me. I am the supreme leader of Sunrise.”

No, he’s not!

There was no such thing here. They worked in cooperation with each other.

But Gabriel wanted to be treated like some patriarch. He demanded people’s respect, but hadn’t earned it through his words or actions.

Tonight, he’d proven he’d lost all reason.

Lucy’s head rolled to the side and her eyes locked with Skye’s through the crack in the door. “Love is free.” Lucy’s breath slowed. “Love is kind.” Lucy sucked in a shaky breath as the blood pool between her legs grew wider and she looked up at Gabriel. “You will never have love, because y-you’re cruel.” Air whistled as she inhaled. Then Lucy exhaled, “Ruunnn,” though barely a sound left her lips.

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