Daughter of Texas
Discover the Texas Ranger Justice series where danger lurks in the Lone Star State
Texas Ranger Ben Fritz would give his life to protect Corinna Pike. After all, she’s his captain’s beloved daughter—and the only witness to her father’s murder. When the assassin targets Corinna, Ben dedicates himself to her safety…while keeping his distance. The beautiful ballerina deserves better than a rough-and-tough ranger. Yet Corinna refuses to ignore the draw between them, just as she refuses to give in to fear as danger grows. Ben will need her courage—and love—to guide him through the line of fire when the killer strikes again.
Originally published in 2011
Read an expert from Daughter of Texas
The Ranger creed: “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin’.”
Corinna Pike froze on the unlit front porch of her family’s ranch home. Gunfire had come from within the house!
Her startled gaze shot to her father’s Crown Victoria parked in the driveway. Her father, the only person she had left in the world, was inside the house.
Terror crashed through her like a runaway freight train.
She exploded into motion, but the front door was locked. She dropped her dance bag, fumbled with her house key, jammed it in the lock and pushed the door open so hard it bounced back from the wall.
“Dad!” she yelled at the top of her lungs.
A chill of dread that had nothing to do with the drop in the late September evening temperature skated across her flesh.
Corinna raced through the darkened hallway of the sprawling, single-story house toward the crack of light coming from beneath her father’s study door. As the daughter of a Texas Ranger, running to gunfire was in her blood.
She skidded to a halt and reached for the study’s doorknob and flung open the door. The light in the study winked out, throwing the world around her into pitch blackness. A loud feline screech, followed by eighteen pounds of fleeing cat slamming into her legs, made Corinna lurch back.
Before she could even think of shouting out in surprise at her deranged tabby, an explosion of noise erupted. A bright flash of light scalded her eyes. Her ears rang. Something hot sliced across her bare biceps. Searing pain brought tears to her eyes. She’d been shot!
She instinctively dropped to the floor, her hands covering her head. No more bullets came her way. Instead, she heard the patio doors fly open and the sound of running feet leaving the scene.
Around her, the house settled into a stark silence where only the rasp of her own breathing echoed in her ears. The acrid smell of gunpowder permeating the air almost obliterated the coppery scent of blood assaulting her senses.
The moon’s light spilled into the study through the open patio doors outlining the desk. Staying low, she edged along the wall toward it. Using the desk as cover, she reached for the lamp with her right hand and winced with pain at the effort to raise her injured arm. Switching to her uninjured arm, she flipped the control knob. Soft light made her blink as she adjusted to the brightness. Cautiously, she peered out into the room.
She didn’t see anyone ready to take another shot at her, but the sight before her was even more horrifying.
Her gaze landed on her father sprawled across the thick wool rug in front of his cherrywood desk. Everything inside her recoiled. Her mind tried to process what she saw, her feet felt rooted in place.
Her father’s service weapon lay beside him. Blood oozed from a gunshot wound in his chest just below the Texas Ranger badge pinned to his plaid flannel shirt, soaking the beige carpet beneath him a deep crimson red.
Her wild gaze swept the room again looking for a threat and landed on an unfamiliar man’s prone body. He had a similar wound in his abdomen. The man, mid-thirties and looking very much out of place with his dirty clothes and matted dark hair, lay very still.
She didn’t see a weapon in his hand.
Crying out in anguish, Corinna crawled as best she could with one arm to her father’s side. “Please, don’t let him be dead.”
A high keening noise filled the room. Vaguely aware the sound came from her, she reached a shaky hand to his neck and pressed her fingers to the spot where a pulse should beat. Nothing.
Agony trapped her breath in her lungs. She fell forward, her head coming to rest on her father’s broad shoulder. First her mother, now her father. The two people she loved most in the world both taken from her. Her mother by sickness, her father…murdered.
How could God let this happen?
Forcing herself to move, to assess the situation, she asked herself, What would her father do?
She scrambled over to the other man and checked for a pulse. Beneath her fingers she felt the faint beat of his heart.
Quickly, and without regard to her own pain, she ripped off her navy sweatshirt with the orange-and-white roadrunner logo of the University of Texas, San Antonio. She pressed the wadded-up material against the man’s wound to stem the flow of blood seeping from his abdomen.
She needed help. She ran to the credenza and grabbed the cordless phone with the hand of her uninjured side.
A cat yowled to her left.
Corinna jumped at Gabby’s unexpected cry, her heart still racing from being shot at, her breath stalled in her chest. The orange tabby stood on the threshold of the open double French doors leading to the back patio. Corinna breathed a sigh of relief. If it hadn’t been for Gabby’s forceful exit just minutes ago, Corinna might be dead.
In the distance the sound of an engine turned over, roared and then faded away. The killer getting away. Returning to the stranger’s side to press the hand of her wounded arm on the bunched-up sweatshirt, she dialed 911 with her other hand. Her gaze shifted back to her father.
A sob caught in her throat. Now she was truly alone in the world.
Texas Ranger Ben Fritz threw his Jeep into park on the curving, graveled driveway of the ranch behind the small compact car belonging to Corinna, Captain Pike’s daughter.
Gut churning, Ben glanced once more at the cryptic text message he’d received on his cell phone from his boss, Texas Ranger Captain Gregory Pike, only twenty minutes ago.
CONVENE AT MY HOUSE, ASAP. MAJOR CASE ABOUT TO EXPLODE.
What was Greg working on that was so volatile?
No way would he call the Rangers to his house for a case with his adult daughter in attendance. Greg had kept his private life as isolated from his job as possible.
When he’d first received the text, Ben had been bothered that Greg had kept a case from him. But his annoyance evaporated. Something weird was going on and Greg had reached out to him. Apprehension slithered down Ben’s spine like a rattler on the loose as he jumped out of his Jeep.
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Terri Reed’s romance and romantic suspense novels have appeared on Publisher’s Weekly top twenty-five, Nielsen’s Bookscan top hundred, Amazon Bestseller and featured in USA Today. Her books have been finalists in Romance Writers of America RITA contest, National Readers’ Choice Award, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award and finalists three times in American Christian Fiction Writers The Carol Award contest. Contact Terri @ P.O. Box 19555 Portland, OR 97224