Picture the Old West lawman, tall and lean, cowboy boots on his feet and well-worn felt hat on his head, a shiny badge on his vest and a sixgun holstered at his hip. What draws us, women and men, so unerringly to this icon? Just what is it that makes a Western lawman so sexy?
This lawman is legend, a hero who represents unyielding integrity and indomitable will. Exemplified by the small town sheriff, the historic lawman will always chase down the bad guys—alone if it comes to that. He lives by what he believes, and not by what he’s told. This is the hard riding loner who puts himself in danger to save the little frontier town, a man long ago wounded by the woman whose image still resides in the depths of his heart. This man is as much an unattainable fantasy to the local ladies in low cut silk dresses as that nearly forgotten woman is to him.
And if the Old West hero had sex appeal, does that same allure attach to today’s law enforcement officer? Fast forward 150 years from the Old West. What characteristics of that iconic lawman survive? What makes today’s LEO sexy?
Cops of today personify strength. Their roots may be more military than Western, but they still wear the badge and carry a gun at their hip. The image of the loner is still there, along with the indomitability and strength. Look at today’s cop cars, big, heavy vehicles outfitted with black push bars and iron cages. Today’s cops use automatic weapons. The use of force might be the last form of persuasion, but the reminders of an officer’s power are unmistakable. In this age of fascination with BDSM, the modern uniformed police officer is the ultimate Dom.
And yet for all their modern armor, today’s police are as vulnerable to ambush as yesterday’s sheriff riding out alone on a horse. The danger for the ones upholding the law is as immediate as it always has been, and the fears of the one waiting at home for the return of the family LEO are just as real.
The second in my Hawk Point Romances, Perilous Promises, features just such a tough modern lawman, Sheriff Noah Dalton, whose heart remains unmended five years after his divorce from Perris. For her part, Perris can survive anything except the men who love her. Perris Dalton doesn’t need a man. She left southwest Wyoming broken, so transformed by fighting cancer even her big hunk of a lawman couldn’t make love to her. Now she’s back.
Her new job is to mitigate conflicts with raptors at a power plant’s coal mine. There’s no reason for her path to cross her ex-husband’s. But when an environmental demonstration inexplicably centers in on her, Sheriff Noah Dalton steps in, confident he can win back the woman who once walked out on him.
As the demonstration spirals into personal attacks, Noah, Perris’s father the sheep rancher, and her brother the college student, hatch a secret plot to protect her.
In a humorous contest of wills with a lone woman survivor used to solving her own problems, and three big, strong, Western heroes just as determined to save her, all hell starts to break loose.
Perilous Promises excerpt:
“Perri, I want to come over.”
Noah’s voice was soft, deceptively soft. Everything in Perris fought against giving in to that familiar tone. She knew he wanted to be near her. And she wanted it too. She could feel herself weakening. He was too much temptation; some secret part of her still considered them married and always would. They had once been more to each other than mere vows.
But she could say no to him now, where before she never could. No other man had ever made her so trembly in the knees she toppled backward into bed from a few kisses. She couldn’t let him get so near. She had no willpower when it came to Noah Dalton. She was well aware that that much, at least, had not changed.
“No, you can’t come over.” She should never have told Noah about Collins. She didn’t know what her ex-husband could do, caught as he was between her troubles and his re-election. But he would find a way to come riding to her rescue if he truly wanted to. The question was, did she want him to?
Possibility hung heavy in the silence between them. She was grateful for the cold plastic of the phone, and the distance it put between them.
“I hate this,” Noah said. “I want to know what Collins said. I want you to look at me while you tell me exactly what happened today.”
“No. I don’t think it’s a good idea.” She repressed a deepening shiver. She’d detected the same undertow all during the conversation, running beneath the surface of Noah’s words. A deep current that she’d felt tugging at her, tugging her under. He wanted to see her again. He wanted to start the cycle all over again. The vicious cycle of saying he loved her but treating her like a wounded little girl. No.
Because I want you too much.
Because I’m thinking that maybe you want to try again. And I can’t go through it all again. I can’t face the pity in your eyes when you look at me.
“There’s really no need for you to come all the way over here.” She tried to sound calm, confident, assured. The modern, independent woman she prided herself on being since she had no man in her life to depend on.
“Less than twenty miles.” She could hear the smile in Noah’s reply. “Fifteen minutes on the highway, Perri.”
Her knees started to grow watery at the familiar quality of his deep voice. She closed her eyes against the image of a flash of his white teeth when he smiled. The idea of how much fun they’d had together, how close they’d been.
Once upon a time. Long ago.
She moaned. “Noah. Please. Not tonight.”
“Okay.” His voice grew guarded, as if he thought she had a date or something. She hadn’t had a date since their divorce. But let him think so if it kept him away.
“Tell me exactly what Collins said and then I’ll let you go.”
Grateful to have the conversation turned from where she’d been afraid it was going, she spoke without thinking. “He said he would get me.”
Noah paused. “How do you think he meant that, Perri?” His voice was his hard cop voice. She could picture a frown drawing his sandy eyebrows together as he formulated a plan to defend her.
She had to throw Noah off the track, or he’d have the twenty miles separating them driven in ten minutes. Her words tumbled over each other as she tried to regain lost ground. “I told you, Collins was just angry. He doesn’t mean anything, Noah. Really.”
He paused. She could picture his hand clenching the phone as he fought to get his warrior instincts under control. At last he sighed, a forced exhalation of breath that she knew all too well. “All right. I’ll let it go this time, because that seems to be the way you want it,” he said. “But promise me you’ll call if he does anything more. And I mean anything outside the legal limits of his protest.”
She had won. He was giving up. He would stay away. He’d learned his lesson about stepping in where he wasn’t wanted.
So why didn’t she feel happy about it? Why did she feel bereft? She felt as if she stood alone in a blinding snowstorm, cut off from the warmth of a blazing fire.
“I’ll let you know. I really have to go now. Thank you, Noah.” Her hands were shaking again, but luckily her voice betrayed none of her inner turmoil. She only hoped she could disconnect before she blew it completely and ended up begging him to come over.
“Good night, Perri,” Noah said quietly, and hung up.
He still didn’t say goodbye, she noted as she laid the cell phone down with shaking fingers. After all she’d put him through, Noah Dalton was still refusing to say farewell. He left the metaphorical door open for her and the symbolic night light on in case she wanted to come home.
“God help me.” Perris groaned, as if the sound of her own voice could banish Noah’s veiled appeals from her head. What did she have to do before the man would finally let her go? She’d come back to Wyoming, she now realized, to have Noah Dalton conclusively and completely and finally set her heart free. Why couldn’t he just say the one simple word, goodbye, that would let her go forever?
Why couldn’t he admit that there was nothing between them anymore? He had to have retained the same painful memories she had, of their love falling to ruin while she focused all her attention on overcoming her disease.
He was the most stubborn man she’d ever met in her life. She wasn’t fooled by his backing off, by his giving her a little space. He was serving notice that he intended to move back in on her. He wanted to see her? What a joke! He wanted to give her help she didn’t need. He wanted to shield her from living.
She’d seen the way he looked at her, his silvery blue eyes traveling over her while his face remained impassive and the emotion in his eyes shuttered. He remembered. He remembered what the doctors had done to her. And yet he still wanted to try again.
But she couldn’t. She remembered too, so very well. And the memories were set loose now, running amok where they’d been so safely locked up. She put shaking hands to her head as if to contain the memories flying free, to trap them back inside their rusty cages in her mind where they belonged.
She swiped at the tears flowing down her cheeks.
She wanted to scream. She wanted to hide. She wanted to run.
She had run from nothing in the last five years, faced everything head on with all the strength she had. Only one thing could make Perris run now. And that was the thought of finally facing Noah Dalton.
The Hawk Point sensual contemporary romances:
HTML or PDF from Whiskey Creek Press/Torrid
Take a Chance on Love:
HTML or PDF from Whiskey Creek Press/Torrid
Links for Christi Williams: