Like all MacKenzie men, Whit respects three things: hard work, his family, and the wild beauty of the Montana land he calls home. The solitude of the high country is a welcome respite to a loner like Whit. So when a powerful spring snowstorm hits as he’s tending the herd, Whit heads to one of the family’s isolated cabins. The cold winds don’t trouble him. The gorgeous mystery woman waiting inside does.All Cara Walton wanted was a chance to clear her head. And the forgotten cabin on the outskirts of the MacKenzie ranch seemed like the perfect place to do just that—until Whit arrives. The rugged cowboy quickly melts Cara’s defenses and she’s powerless to resist his strong arms or his tender touch. She desperately wants to trust him, but there’s so much Whit doesn’t know, so much she hasn’t told him. She lost everything once—can she find the courage to risk her heart again?
The door opened and the woman who’d been on his mind stepped into the snow and started toward him.
“I feel like Nanook of the North.” She was grinning from ear to ear.
He was relieved to see the smile back in her eyes. “You look like my nephew Casey when his mother puts him in a snowsuit. It’s like a straightjacket and he can barely move. Can you bend those arms?”
With a laugh, she walked stiff-legged and stiff-armed in his direction. “What arms? Are there arms under all these layers?”
He was laughing as she bent down and, without warning, scooped up a handful of snow before taking aim. It hit him squarely in the face.
His smile turned into a look of surprise before he set aside the ax and filled both hands with snow. “Goldilocks, that was a declaration of war. And you don’t stand a chance.”
Seeing what he planned, she ducked, and the snowball he tossed landed harmlessly on the bark of a tree behind her.
“A certain cowboy needs to correct his aim.” She scooped up more snow and sent it flying toward his head.
Before she could blink, a handful of snow landed on her cheek and found its way down the collar of her parka.
Just as she brushed it aside, she looked up to see him racing toward her.
With a squeal, she turned and started running.
In quick strides he caught up with her and wrapped both arms around her, lifting her clean off her feet. In one quick motion, he scooped up snow and lobbed it right at her.
“Oh, you’ll pay for this, Cowboy.” She was still wiping away the snow when he bent down and filled his hands with more.
Seeing that, she dropped to her knees and did the same.
“Not on your life, woman.” Whit leapt on her, moving so quickly she was pinned beneath him, and they sank into a snowdrift tall enough to bury them both.
He grabbed some snow and held it up menacingly.
“You’d better apologize for that sneak attack, Goldilocks, or your face is going to freeze.”
She held up both hands in a sign of surrender. “Whit. No. I’ve had enough.”
Laughing, he tossed aside the snow. When he looked down at her, he realized too late that it had been a mock surrender. Laughing, she tackled him and rubbed a snowball into his face, forcing him to eat a handful of snow.
“Quite the little actress, aren’t you? Now you’ve done it. I won’t be fooled again by your cheating.”
“I wasn’t cheating. I was using war strategy.”
“Here’s your strategy.” Straddling her, he smeared snow over her face just as she did the same to him.
They both froze in place, laughing so hard they could barely catch their breath.
“I love the devious way you think, Goldilocks.”
“You mean, the same way you do?”
“Yeah.” Whit leaned close enough to touch his forehead to hers. And immediately realized his mistake.
Up close, her face was glowing and her lips, pursed in a perfect little pout, filled his line of vision.
“I think I’ve found a way to end this war.”
Seeing the way his gaze burned over her lips, she understood his intention and tried to turn her face away.
He reached up and caught her chin so that she could do nothing more than watch as his face slowly descended toward hers.
“You’d better declare a truce, Goldilocks.”
“Never.” The word was forced from her suddenly dry throat in a low, drawn-out whisper.
“Oh, I do love a challenge. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
His mouth closed over hers in a kiss that was as shocking to their systems as the snow had been just moments earlier. A kiss that sent tiny spears of fire and ice dancing through both their veins.
“Ready to declare a truce?”