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“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” he asked

“I’ve never been kissed like that before,” she said on a gasp.

He smiled. “Then let’s do it again and go for two.”

“I’m sorry,” she said quickly. “Laredo…I’m not the girl for you.”

And then she ran into the Lonely Hearts Salon.

Not the girl for him? Of course she wasn’t the girl for him. He wasn’t looking for a girl. He was passing through town on his way to Something Big.

But he liked Katy, liked her an awful lot. Wouldn’t want to hurt her.

Katy was right—she wasn’t the woman for him. There would never be a woman for him.

He should never have kissed her….

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina Leonard loves to laugh, which is one of the many reasons she loves writing for Harlequin American Romance. In another lifetime, Tina thought she’d be single and an East Coast fashion buyer forever. The unexpected happened when Tina met Tim again after many years—she hadn’t seen him since they’d attended school together from first through eighth grade. They married, and now Tina keeps a close eye on her school-age children’s friends! Lisa and Dean keep their mother busy with soccer, gymnastics and horseback riding. They are proud of their mom’s “kissy books” and eagerly help her any way they can. Tina hopes readers will enjoy the love of family she writes about in her books. Recently a reviewer wrote, “Leonard had a wonderful sense of the ridiculous,” which Tina loved so much she wants it for her epitaph. Right now, however, she’s focusing on her wonderful life and writing a lot more romance!

Laredo’s Sassy Sweetheart

Tina Leonard

Laredo's Sassy Sweetheart - fb3_img_img_89e90b2a-31db-583d-ad21-ddb02112a5ad.png

www.millsandboon.co.uk

Many thanks to my readers! There is never enough I can say to thank you for your support and your generosity. This series is for you. Here also I wish to extend special mention to the following wonderful people: LaJoyce Doran, Shadin Quran, Nicole Christoph, Jeanette Bowman and Beth Reimer.

More than ever, my gratitude goes to the editor angels at Harlequin who watch over my career—thank you to Melissa Jeglinski for your many kindnesses and Stacy Boyd for your calm guidance and patience!

And extra-sloppy, noisy kisses to Lisa and Dean. I adore you and need the light you bring to my life~~Mumzie.

THE JEFFERSON BROTHERS OF MALFUNCTION JUNCTION

Mason (37)—He valiantly keeps the ranch and the family together.

Frisco Joe (36)—Newly married, he lives in Texas wine country with his wife and daughter.

Fannin (35)—Should he pack up and head out to find their long-lost father, Maverick?

Laredo (34), twin to Tex—His one passion: to go east and do Something Big with his life.

Tex (34), twin to Laredo—Determined to prove he’s settled, he cross-pollinates roses, but can’t seem to get them to bloom.

Calhoun (33)—He’s been thinking of hitting the rodeo circuit.

Ranger (32), twin to Archer—No one believes him, but he’s serious about joining the military.

Archer (32), twin to Ranger—He’ll do anything to keep his mind off his brothers’ restlessness—even write poetry to his lady pen pal in Australia.

Crockett (30), twin to Navarro—He’s an artist who loves to paint portraits—of nudes.

Navarro (30), twin to Crockett—He may join Calhoun in the bull-riding game.

Bandera (26)—He spouts poetry like Whitman—and sometimes nonsense.

Last (25)—Never least, he loves to dispense advice, especially to his brothers.

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter One

“A man only fights for the good, boys, not to impose his will on others. Believe in yourself. No one can do that for you. But a real man learns to fight with his brain, not his fists.”

—Maverick Jefferson to his sons when they asked him if they could give Sammy Wickle a black eye in kindergarten.

Laredo Jefferson had seen a lot of madness in the past month. The neighbor the twelve Jefferson brothers had known all their lives, Mimi, had become engaged, a startling situation in itself, since the engagement was to someone other than his big brother, Mason. Mason hadn’t pulled his head out in time to realize he was going to lose someone who mattered a lot to him—or, at least, Laredo was pretty certain Mimi and Mason meant a lot to each other. Sometimes it was hard to tell if all the preening and poppycock was prideful love or just the wear and tear of a brother-sister relationship.

Frisco Joe had married a fine woman, another surprising development, since, of all twelve brothers, Frisco was the darkest horse, being possessed of an ornerier-than-most nature. Amazingly, Annabelle had certainly sugared him up a bit, and baby Emmie kept Frisco in a constant state of cockeyed grinnyness. It had been a pleasure to watch his sour brother get mowed down by a little mama and her no-bigger-than-a-chickpea baby.

But he was not about to be caught in the same net.

After all the years of drought on their ranch near Union Junction, they’d had a veritable shower of charming female visitors. And it was all he could do to resist paying court to every one of them! Nine new women had come to town from Lonely Hearts Station, a neighboring town. After helping out during last month’s terrible storm, the women had decided they would stay.

A lot of bachelors in Union Junction, Texas, had been real happy about that.

Laredo hadn’t asked any of the women out on a date. Fidelity was something to be avoided, at least in his opinion. If you were dying of thirst, and someone offered you a huge jug of water, wouldn’t you drink as long as you could? he’d reasoned to Mason.

Mason had grunted and told him to go fill the water troughs for the horses. Laredo thought the house was going to be plenty empty without Frisco, and plenty full of Mason and his bad temper. Without Frisco Joe, life wouldn’t be the same! Mason had ridden Frisco, Frisco had bucked Mason—without Frisco, Laredo might be next in line to be ridden, and he didn’t have Frisco’s ability to deal with Mason. Laredo’s brothers called him a dreamer, but they usually gave him a pass and picked on his twin, Texas, more, since Tex’s passion was growing roses that never bloomed. Budus-interruptus, Frisco had told Tex, that was his problem. Tex had been really steamed, but Laredo had snickered under his sleeve, his face turned from his twin.

Maybe his brothers were getting on his nerves. Maybe they’d lived together too long. Which got him thinking about traveling east—something he’d been thinking about long before the madness of love had hit the ranch. He was in the mood for adventure, a change of pace. Love wasn’t going to hit him, he vowed, and picked up his packed duffel bag. He was not about to settle down.

He wanted to do something big.

Without another glance back he left the only home he’d ever known to venture out into the warm March morning. First stop: paying a visit to the Lonely Hearts Beauty Salon, just long enough to say hello to some ladies who’d made his life a little more fun last month. There was a place for a troubled man to find a sympathetic ear.

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