HUNTED is the first in the series about the Hawkins ranch and the Hawkins men. It’s a romantic suspense set in Duster, a fictional, small town in Montana.
Staying alive wasn’t Maggie McGonagall’s first concern.
Could she convince the man she hadn’t planned on ever seeing again, to accept and protect, a son he didn’t know about? Once she managed that, she’d figure out how to keep herself from getting killed.
Cody Hawkins came running when the woman he wanted to forget called him for help. Could he help her, and walk away?
The Hawkins ranch was Maggie’s second home growing up. She’d been in love with Cody ever since she met him when she was ten years old. Until her late teens Cody never showed interest in her as a person.
One night, caught in a cabin in a thunder storm they had made love. Maggie thought Cody finally realized he loved her. He had to leave on a cattle drive the next day and was gone for several weeks.
While he was gone Maggie found out she was pregnant. She planned to tell cod, but when he returned home she found him in the arms of another woman. To prevent embarrassing her family as an unwed mother she left Duster.
Moving to Chicago she worked as a receptionist in an accountant’s office. One night she forgot a book she’d been reading. Returning to the office she opened the door just as shots were fired and the accountant fell to the floor. Two men trained their guns on her. She ran and escaped.
It had been a mafia contract killing. The FBI found her and Maggie testified, sending everyone involved to prison.
After delivering a healthy baby boy, they are both put into the witness protection plan. She’s been living in Seattle, under an assumed name, with her son ever since.
Cody returned from the cattle drive after a disastrous mistake on his part, expecting to find Maggie waiting for him. Instead, she had left town. No one would tell him where she went. He tracked her to Great Falls but then she completely disappeared off the face of the earth. He’s been angry with her for running out on him, ever since.
After seven years someone is trying to kill Maggie. She’s convinced the mafia has finally found her. She contacts Cody. She wants him to protect their son.
Cody flashed his heart-stopping grin at the blonde. She looked like she might faint right then and there.
The same warmth Maggie remembered from years ago spread inside her chest. It always happened to her when he’d looked at her like that and grinned. He’d made her feel special, even when she was a teenager.
His dark hair curled around the base of his neck when he removed his battered Stetson and laid it on the counter. She’d run her fingers through those curls that last night they were together.
He leaned in to talk to the girl. A shard of jealousy stabbed through Maggie. Come on, girl. He never really cared about you or he wouldn’t have been with another woman as soon as he got back from that cattle drive.
She wouldn’t have contacted him if the mafia hadn’t found her, but he had to meet Matt, get to know his son, and take him back to Duster. If Matt stayed with her, his life was in danger.
Cody glanced at the woman’s nametag. “Thank you, Louise. I’m looking for Miss Johnson, Jane Johnson.”
Maggie’s closed her eyes, letting the sound of his deep drawl float up and wrap around her. Most of the people moved past the reception desk allowing Maggie to hear the conversation.
Louise fluttered her eyelashes. “Certainly, let me check that for you.”
“She left a message for you to meet her in the bar. It’s up one level on the mezzanine floor and around the corner to your right.”
“Thank you, Louise. I appreciate your help.”
“Anytime Mr. Hawkins, if you need anything else, let me know.”
Cody nodded before he strolled across the lobby.
When he turned toward the stairs, Maggie stood up and slipped out from behind the pillar. She didn’t want to be caught spying on him like a teenager. That would be a great way for him to find her. She brushed a few specks of dust off her jeans and straightened the camel jacket she’d worn over her t-shirt before scurrying toward the bar. She wanted to be sitting when he walked into the room. It would give her more control over the situation, and she needed all the control she could muster right now.
Inside the bar, she picked a chair facing the entrance. Her heart pounded like a jungle drum, her mouth felt parched.
Cody was here.
After all this time why did Maggie want to see him? And what the hell was she doing in Canada, fer chrissake?
Cody took the stairs to the mezzanine two at a time.
Damn her anyway. It had been seven years since she’d walked out on him. He’d searched everywhere, but she’d dropped out of sight. How could anyone manage that so completely? Not a word for years until now, and why here? This fancy hotel lobby was no place for a Montana cowboy. It was big, cold, and full of foreigners.
What was she up to? Would he even recognize her? And why the hell was he here?
But Cody would recognize her. He’d never forgotten her.
Where had she been all this time? Why had she left without a word? Those unanswered questions had filtered through his life for years, along with the pain. Now he would get answers.
Until that last night together, he’d tried to be like a big brother; there to protect her from accidents and mistakes and boy problems. That night he’d made a disastrous mistake, his second biggest one. He’d let his emotions override his common sense and made love to her.
He remembered her sweet vanilla scent. Her skin had been smooth, like a well-oiled saddle. No other woman, before or since, had stirred any of the emotions that surged through his body when he thought of Maggie McGonigal.
He’d planned to tell her he loved her and ask her to marry him when he got back from the cattle drive. Then he’d made his number one mistake. He had so totally screwed-up. When he sobered up, he had no idea what to tell Maggie when he got home. The biggest mistake of his life ripped his gut open.
But she’d been gone. Initially, his reaction had been relief. He’d have time to figure out how to resolve the situation before she returned. But she hadn’t come back. No one would tell him where she’d gone. Desperation clawed at him every minute. Even if he couldn’t marry her, he couldn’t live without her. Finally, he’d convinced her parents he had to find her. They’d shared the little information they had.
The next day, he’d driven to Great Falls. But she’d left there. No one, not even her parents, heard from her after that, until now.