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The Hero's Best Friend

The Hero's Best Friend by Beraru Elise Dee
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Big Sam Blake and Miss Prudence Hofheinz both believe love was meant for other people--the kind that look like his partner Clint and her beautiful friend Arabella--but not for them. So when the Sidekick and the Schoolmarm meet during a drought-ridden springtime in a dusty western town, they never expect to fall in love with each other.
Awe-Struck Publishing; February 2001
328 pages; ISBN 9781587491139
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Title: The Hero's Best Friend
Author: Beraru Elise Dee
Sam sat to her right in order to leave his gun handy. Prudence could not help being aware of the length of well-muscled leg running hip to knee with hers as well as the warmth that spread through her body at his nearness. She handed over the reins and their hands lingered just a moment longer than the transfer took. Prudence's hands were far from dainty, yet they were dwarfed by Sam's leather-hardened, ham-sized mitts. Sam declined the buggy whip and got Max started with just a gentle pull on the reins. The buggy took off with Sam's dun trotting alongside.

They sat in companionable silence, neither knowing quite what to say.

Prudence used the opportunity to examine this giant, decidedly unusual man. Other than the pure physical mass of him, at first, Prudence could not put her finger on the difference. It was then that she realized that he smelled different from other men of her acquaintance.

"Mr. Blake," she began tentatively, "you don't smoke, do you?"

Sam's eyes widened in surprise at the question. "No, not anymore. Why do you ask?"

Prudence blushed unexpectedly. "Most of the men I've met carry certain odors. Leather, tobacco smoke, sweat, bay rum, horse...Oh God, I'm not doing this right!" Well, girl, in for a penny, in for a pound. "You smell--I don't know--clean somehow."

For a moment there was an uncomfortable silence. Then, unexpectedly, Sam threw back his head and laughed.

Prudence was confused. She folded her arms across her chest. "What's so funny?"

Still laughing, Sam reached in his back pocket for his handkerchief, removed his glasses and wiped the tears from his eyes, then wiped the lenses and replaced the glasses, all with one hand since the other was on the reins. "I'm sorry, Miss Hofheinz, it's's just that...well, when a man wants to make an impression on a lady, I suppose clean is not exactly the description he wants to hear."

"I didn't mean to insult you, Mr. Blake."

"You didn't. But please, call me Sam."

Prudence's face fell. "But that would mean you would have to call me Prudence."

Sam touched her lightly on the arm. "You don't like your name, do you?" he asked gently.

"No. When you have a name like Prudence, people expect you to be virtuous and untouchable. Can you imagine a man saying 'Prudence, I love you?' It sounds absurd!"

It didn't sound absurd to Sam.


Standing near him, Prudence again became aware of how big this man actually was, but instead of being intimidated, she was fascinated. A man like this could envelop a woman and make her feel protected. She wondered if his arms were as strong and secure as they appeared in the well-made black frock coat. Prudence wanted to touch Sam's hair and beard. Were they coarse or soft? He was not one of those whipcord lean, narrow-waisted, spare cowboys. Was his chest smooth, or did he have body hair?

Prudence blushed at the wantonness of her thoughts. She had no right to speculate about this man. And yet--she sensed the loneliness in him, saw the isolation. Perhaps they had both been lonely too long.

Pru wanted to take a chance.

The biggest problem was he was most likely to say no.

Then again, the worst thing was that he might say no. Prudence needed the most courage she had displayed since the Great Chicago Fire.

"Sam," she said warily," would you like to come in and sit a while?"

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