From the award-winning author of Jake’s Redemption comes Book 3 in the epic Angel Eyes Series.
He swore he’d protect her.
But can they ever trust each other enough to fall in love?
Bret Masters is as good as his word. Following through on his pledge to nurse back to health the woman who owns him, the rugged ranch-hand showers her with care while still guarding his heart. But as he spends hour after hour by her side, the stubborn cowboy feels his resistance crumbling.
Angel Aldridge fears she won’t recover. Seized by the horrors of her past, her handsome foreman is the only comfort she knows. But when a frightening incident results in an intimate confession, the curvy rancher worries she’s pushed him away for good.
Stung by Angel’s words, Bret struggles to believe love could ever be possible in this broken world. And with Angel’s enemy returning to exact revenge, she’s frightened she’ll never again feel her hero’s embrace.
With danger on its inevitable way, is this the end for the star-crossed couple?
Masters’ Promise is the steamy third book in The Angel Eyes futuristic dystopian cowboy romance series. If you like captivating characters, forbidden desire, and dark twists, then you’ll adore Jamie Schulz’s riveting read.
Buy Masters’ Promise for a passionate adventure today!
Masters’ Promise has an HFN ending with a slight cliffhanger that leads into Book 4 of the series. The books in this series should be read in order as the story builds with each book.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
It is part of a series that has been a long time in coming. I first thought of it in high school and have been building it in my head ever since. The prequel and the first two books in the series have been out for a while now and I need to finish the story for me and my readers.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
It was a play on historical facts. We were studying the American Civil War and I wondered what could be worse than living as a slave? And what if it wasn't about race, but rather, gender? The story morphed from there with several changes and improvements over the years.
THE WEEPING WILLOW
ANGEL ALDRIDGE LAY ON HER BACK, staring at her oversized, four-poster bed canopy, waiting for the man who’d been a pain in the rear ever since he’d come to live on her ranch. Bret Masters was a mouth-wateringly attractive man, but in the last eight months, his stubbornness had caused Angel all kinds of grief. Until recently. Something had changed since her sudden illness. He’d changed. The attraction between them was as strong as ever, but where Bret had only shown lust, anger, and pride, she now sensed an easing of his obstinacy and a warmth to his actions that had not been there before. It made her anxious, but his gentle care and attention touched her deeply, which, in turn, unnerved her even more.
When he brought her dinner last night, Bret had mentioned that he’d be taking his breakfast in the dining hall downstairs today and someone else would be bringing Angel’s morning meal.
“I want to check in with everyone, see how things are going with the ranch,” he’d said.
She’d heard his words but had been mesmerized by his mouth, the perfect shape of his lips, wishing she could taste them, measure their texture once again. Instead, she had dragged her eyes away and shrugged. “Sounds good to me.”
That hadn’t been entirely true. She’d grown accustomed to his company and a little pang of regret struck her when he’d told her his plan.
But it was now after noon of the next day, and her stomach had already reminded her several times that lunch was late.
What’s taking him so long? A little niggle of guilt tugged in her chest at that thought, but she stifled it. Bret had brought his circumstances on himself. It wasn’t her fault that he’d chosen to run and then get caught by the Section Guards. To protect the others on the ranch, Angel had done what was necessary. Though Bret chafed under the order, she’d picked the best option available to punish him for his escape attempt. No way would she resort to the physical abuse other women used to discipline their enslaved men. Still, forbidding Bret to exit the homestead walls and assigning him to take over Jake’s duties within those walls had created another problem for her to deal with. Having his tempting self around and up close several times a day wreaked havoc on her self-control, but what else could she do?
Rolling onto her side, she groaned at the pain that lanced through her lower abdomen. A couple of days had passed since she’d undergone surgery to remove her appendix. The incision was only a few inches in length, but every movement made it feel as if she’d been stabbed repeatedly with something long and sharp.
Sighing with the frustration of being bedridden and for having to accept Bret’s help to do the most menial of things—like using the restroom, brushing her teeth, or just sitting upright—she began stacking pillows against her headboard in preparation for his arrival with her afternoon meal.
Her appetite had increased over the last few days—a stark contrast to her total lack of it before she’d gotten sick. Still, darkness loomed on the fringes of her mood and she worried that it might overwhelm her again, make her do and demand irrational things.
Bret, please. Let me go… Let me die… Her words from the hospital when they’d been alone rang hollowly in her mind.
Bret’s gentle voice followed. I’m sorry, darlin’, I can’t do that…
Angel punched one of her pillows especially hard and moaned when another slice of pain ripped through her. It hurt, but not as much as the remorse that sat like an anvil on her chest.
She should’ve never demanded Bret’s help at the hospital, but she’d been so lost, so tired and afraid, and the pain had been excruciating. At the time, she hadn’t cared about anything but ending her suffering. Not from her inflamed appendix, but from the horror of her past. The physical pain had simply amplified the loneliness and guilt she had carried inside for so long. It had been too much, and she’d been sucked into the black hole of dread and despair. Bret had been the light that brought her back from the brink. Essentially, he’d saved her life. Again.
With the pillows in place, Angel braced herself for the discomfort of pushing her body into an upright position. She didn’t want to rely on Bret to help her again. Being in his arms, even for something so small, triggered things in her body she didn’t want to deal with. Hell, just thinking about it had goosebumps running up and down her arms.
Stop thinking about it, she scolded herself as she struggled.
A few minutes later, upright and relatively comfortable, despite the slight sheen of sweat that coated her skin, she pressed her hand to her injured side and groaned. Concentrating on her breathing, she waited for the ache to dissipate as she sat against the pillows.
Her stomach growled. Bret should be there any minute with her lunch. His tardiness wasn’t normal, but considering how much time he’d been spending with her and not dealing with the ranch, she shouldn’t be surprised catching up took longer than he’d expected.
Not for the first time, she wondered about his attentiveness. He’d been kind to her before, helped her through bouts of unhappiness, and had refused to listen to her idle threats or allow her to act like a child. He’d fought with her, shouted at her, done everything he could to make her eat, and she’d never really thanked him for any of it.
Then she’d gotten sick.
Remembering their conversation after returning home, Angel squirmed in place, careful not to upset her wound. Bret had been so sweet when she’d awakened in her bed. And he’d finally admitted that she’d saved his life when she bought him at the auction. He finally understood his life would’ve been filled with misery had Darla Cain won him.
The real shocker, however, had fallen on the heels of that admission.
“I care what happens to you, Angel. I don’t want to see you hurt. I don’t want to see you die. And I don’t want to walk away tonight letting you think anything different.”
Heat gathered in her chest and rushed upward. Guilt and shame still hounded her. Not only for thinking that he would jump at any chance to be free of her but for his offer of aid when they’d returned home. Only two days before, he’d sat beside her on this bed and practically begged her to allow him to take Jake’s place.
“Let me be there for you. I won’t let you down, not now.”
Her chest tightened. She’d been so tempted to let him in, but she couldn’t open that secret door; she couldn’t share the regret and pain she’d locked away behind it.
Bret hadn’t been discouraged though and, in the end, had pushed through her wall of doubt and moved her battered heart to forgiveness and…hope. She hadn’t wanted to believe him—he had lied to her, after all—but he’d been so sincere, she couldn’t help herself.
She had kissed his hand when he reached out to wipe her tears away, and when their eyes met again, sparks of awareness and something else, something new, danced between them.
Warmth filled her chest and a soft, fuzzy kind of something swirled around in it. Could he really be the man she’d fantasized about for all those years?
Angel shook her head and reached for the book she’d been reading earlier.
It was silly to think she and Bret could get past all the baggage between them, but for a minute, as she’d stared into his beautiful green eyes, she’d been foolish enough to think so. Her heart had fluttered and the possibilities had seemed…real. Even their conversations since had given her the sense of amicability growing between them. Despite being too foggy-headed from the pain meds to really remember the last couple of days in detail, she remembered the lightness in her chest, the warmth of his gaze, and the smiles he’d brought to her face with his friendly teasing.
He was more than just a handsome man, so much more, and she’d be hard-pressed to think of him as selfish now. Not after all he’d done for her and the ranch. Not after his admission of caring for both.
Opening her book to where she’d left off, she shook her head and reminded herself to be careful. If her thoughts continued down that path, she could easily fall in love with him.
As if you’re not halfway there already, her conscience taunted, and she sighed, her shoulders slumping a little. Maybe that was true, but maybe the rest of it was too. His promises and additional offers of aid, his apparent willingness to put himself out for her in ways he never had before, had touched her more deeply than her old fantasies about him ever could.
Her stomach growled again, and she glanced at the grandfather clock beside her bedroom door.
“Hurry up, Bret,” she muttered, dropping her gaze to her book once more. Ignoring the flutter of expectation in her belly and the warmth that swirled through her whole body at the thought of seeing him soon, she tried to lose herself in her book.
Bret would come and she’d play her part as the amiable friend, but deep inside, she knew what she wanted. What she didn’t know was whether she would ever get past her grievous losses or if she could ever truly trust Bret enough to let him into her heart.
BRET MASTERS MADE HIS WAY up the stairs with Angel’s meal on a large tray in his hands. Despite his internal compulsion to hurry, he moved slowly to keep everything he carried balanced. Upon reaching the second-floor landing, he carefully rolled his shoulders to loosen the tension that had gathered there. He hated being late, especially with Angel. Even more so since he’d tied himself to her with promises to stay as long as she needed him. He had warned her of his absence this morning, but he hadn’t planned to be late with her lunch and his conscience gnawed at him, spurring him forward.
His cowboy boots echoed quietly through the long carpet that covered the hallway’s hardwood flooring as he strode toward Angel’s bedroom. A wave of unease washed over him, chilling his skin when he stopped at her door. He expected to find an annoyed, hungry woman waiting impatiently for him to bring her meal. Would she start a fight? Or had she really accepted his vow to help her?
Taking a deep breath, he knocked and entered at her invitation.
His muscles tightened as he went inside, preparing for the worst, but instead of an angry frown, Angel was sitting up in bed, a plethora of pillows stacked behind her back, wearing her white pajamas, and reading a book. He hesitated, a fit of nervous butterflies fluttering in his stomach as that lilac scent that always followed her invaded his brain and made his heart thud in his chest. When she smiled, marked her page, and put the book aside, everything inside him loosened and he breathed a little easier.
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