Can she save his life in the past to give him a future?
Rumors of a ghost cowboy didn’t stop Jillian Brady from buying a rundown ranch in Cold Creek, Texas. When a mysterious horseman appears during a storm, she thinks it’s the locals playing a prank.
Mitchell Crenshaw is a ghost. Murdered during a thunderstorm in eighteen seventy-seven, he’s been riding the lightning ever since. Yet every time the storm moves on, he’s pulled back in time, forced to relive the day of his death.
Unless Jillian can intercede and save Mitch’s life, he’ll be doomed to ride the lightning forever…
Riding the Lightning
by Rebecca Goings
“I suppose you want to know how it happened?”
She cleared her throat. “I wasn’t going to ask.”
With a shrug, she said, “Figured it’d be...impolite.”
He smiled. “You can ask me anything, Jilly. If you asked me for the moon, I’d try my hardest to reach up and pluck it out of the sky for ya.”
Her hands clamped down on the mug she was holding. If she set it down, she’d be too tempted to take his hands, touch his chest, anything to get closer to him. The man oozed a certain kind of easy charm that was downright sexy. But remembering he was a ghost brought her to her senses.
“I was a witness to a murder.”
Jillian’s loud gasp reverberated throughout the room. Her eyes widened, and she couldn’t help the look that must have crossed her face. He nodded at her shock.
“Watched a man gun down a woman for nothing at all. Mr. Fred Hennessy. Told the sheriff what I’d seen. But Hennessy had already high-tailed it out of the area. Or so I thought. It would seem I’d been in the wrong place at the wrong time. He hadn’t expected there to be anyone to witness his crime. Guess he figured if he got rid of the witness, he could get the murder charge dropped.
“There was a bounty on his head after I’d told my story to the sheriff, so Hennessy couldn’t show his face. But he was pissed enough to seek me out at my own home.”
“Oh my God.” Jillian covered her mouth.
Mitch sat forward and rested his elbows on his knees, clasping his hands together. “It was storming that day, like it is now. I’d saddled Gypsy and went exploring up Bunker’s Hill because I’d heard a gunshot. Someone was shooting on my land. Thought maybe rustlers had come for the cattle or maybe one of my ranch hands was having a dispute. I needed to find out what was going on.
“So, I rode up the hill, heard another shot, and Gypsy went down.”
Jillian’s eyes filled with tears, and she covered her mouth. She’d wanted to know how he died, but now that he was telling her, she wasn’t so sure she did.
“I couldn’t get out of the way fast enough. Her body landed on top of me as we tumbled back down that hill, and I remember hearing all sorts of snaps and pops.”
“I was in agony, pinned under my horse, when that bastard Hennessy walked right up to me and raised his gun. That was the last thing I remember before riding the lightning. Been appearing as a ghost ever since.”
She sniffled and scooted closer. She wanted to soothe him, to soothe herself, and almost reached out to touch him.
“But that’s not the worst of it.”
Her heart stopped. “How can it not be?”
He gave her a look of pure sorrow. She scooted even closer.
“I’ve been appearing with every thunderstorm that rolls across the countryside in all the years since my death. And every time the storm is over, I have the pleasure of getting sucked back to that day, reliving it again and again. No matter how I try to do things different, no matter how much I try to change things, at the end of the day, I’m dead, and a new thunderstorm is brewing in your present.
“You wanted to know where I go when I disappear. Now you know.”
Jillian didn’t know what to say. She stared at him, not able to comprehend what he’d told her. Not only was Mitch a ghost, but he had to relive the day of his own murder. Every inch of her skin prickled and her eyes fairly burned.
How many times had he died?
“Mitch,” she managed to say after a few moments of silence. “Are you sure you go back? How do you know it’s not just a memory of your death? Maybe you’re stuck in some kind of...of limbo. Maybe it’s just—”
“The pain, Jilly. I know from the pain.”
She stared at him, dumbstruck. His eyes were hollow, haunted. He was an exhausted, lonely man, stuck in an endless loop of terror and misery. She didn’t know what to say, what to do, that could possibly be a comfort to him.
Lifting her hand, she smoothed away the lock of hair that had fallen over his forehead. He turned toward her and let her touch him, watching her all the while. She felt the soft texture of his hair, the curve of his ear, and the prickly stubble on his cheek.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispered.
In that moment, something changed in the air between them. Mitch grabbed her and dragged her to his lap before she’d even seen him move. His arms were like bands of steel as he held her close. He lowered his head and hid his face in her neck.
“I want it to end, Jilly,” came his tortured reply. “I want to rest. I want to die. Truly die! Why is there no heaven for me? Why can’t I go there?”
His warm breath puffed on her skin, sending ripples of awareness across her body. “I don’t know,” she said. Her fingers trailed through his hair as she clung to him.
“No matter how I try to change what I do that day, no matter how many times I live it, I can’t stop what happens. If I don’t go up the hill, Hennessy shoots me in the barn. If I don’t go to the barn, he breaks down my front door. If I confront him, I’m never quick enough on the draw.
“I’ve set traps for him, I’ve surprised him, I’ve even tried running away, but he always finds me, he always...kills me.”
“Don’t talk about it,” she said. “Don’t think about it.”
“How can I not?” he asked, pulling back to look into her eyes. “When I leave you, that’s what I’ve got to look forward to. The only solace I have now is dying again to be with you.”
Swirling heat pooled in her belly. What he’d just said was much too intimate for mere friends.
“When will that be?”
“Whenever there’s a thunderstorm.”
“Mitch, I...I can’t wait on the whim of the weather. And you’re a ghost. You’re not—”
“A real man?” he interrupted.
She nodded and held his eye contact, no matter how much it pained her to do so. She wanted him, Lord, how she wanted him. But this was madness.
Mitch set his jaw and twisted his hand in her hair.
“The storm’s moving on,” he whispered.
Jillian’s heart hitched. No, not now. Not yet. Clutching him closer, she straddled his thighs. “I don’t want you to go.”
“I’ve got no choice.”
“Will you think of me? When you go back?”
“Every damn minute.”
“I don’t want you to die again!” More tears sprang to her eyes before she could stop them.
“Oh, honey, I do. I want to die so I can come back and hold you, just like this.”
His arms tightened, bringing her flush with his body. Every hard inch of his cock pressed against her. She had no doubt what he wanted. She wanted it too. But was it even possible?
“I don’t know if we...can,” she said.
“You can feel me, right?” He raised his brow and cupped her ass.
“Yes!” she yelped.
“Then we can. Do you want to?”
“Mitch...” She rested her head on his shoulder.
“Jilly, I’ve gotta go, honey.”
“I have to leave. Tell me you want me. Please.”
She couldn’t help herself; she kissed her way up his neck and across his cheek. “I want you, Mitchell.”
He pulled her mouth to his in a rough kiss. His stubble scraped her cheeks, but she didn’t care. All she cared about was his tongue, stabbing into her, rasping against her own. His lips were an inferno, raging on hers.
“Don’t leave me,” she whined against his mouth.
“Damn it, I have no control, Jilly. I can’t hold on much longer.”
This book is coming soon from Cobblestone Press. If you read it, I hope you fall in love with Mitch and Jilly, just as I did. Everyone deserves a happily ever after--even time-traveling ghosts.