Steely Desire

(Desire, Oklahoma: The Founding Fathers 5)

Erotic Romance, Historical, Menage, Western/Cowboys, Romantic Suspense, MFM, HEA

Hart and Gideon Sanderson were too hard and cold for marriage, but when they made the trip to Tulsa for supplies and picked up a mail order bride, they knew they couldn’t let her marry anyone else.

After burying her brother and husband, Charlotte Mullen took the money her outlaw brothers left behind when they deserted her.

Despite the caring and passion between them, the threat of her brothers hung over them, her lack of trust in their ability to protect her from them a wedge between them.

Hart understood that Charlotte had no experience with trust or feeling safe.

He could only be there for her.

When her brothers arrived and were dealt with, he’d thought the matter over, but another surprise lay in store, one that changed everything and made him realize that love brought its own miracles.


Once they made their way out of town and started the long ride back to the ranch, Hart became aware of the other men’s interest in her, including his brother’s.

Glancing at her, Hart saw that she stared straight ahead. “Sorry about your husband.”

She nodded once, still staring straight ahead. “Thank you.”

Irritated that she didn’t look at him, Hart glanced at her again. “Married long?”


His irritation grew at the one-word answer.

“How long?”

“Almost a month.”

Hart had to bend closer to hear her, the cold wind whipping her words away. “What happened to him?”

“They hung him.”

More intrigued by the minute and aware that the wind and the noise from the buckboards and horses made eavesdropping almost impossible, Hart eyed her again. “For what?”

“Robbed the bank—well, tried to rob the bank.”

“How long ago was this?”

“Three months ago.”

“Town folk turn on you?”

“Yeah. No chance at work.”

“So you decided to go to a strange place and marry a total stranger?”

She turned to him, her eyes flashing.

Filled with satisfaction that he’d finally broken through and gotten a glimpse of the woman beneath the hard shell, Hart held her gaze for several long seconds before she turned away, facing forward again.

“Women don’t have the same choices that men do.” With a shrug, she glanced around. “Word is out that the men of the Circle T take care of the women and keep them safe. I’m hoping that’s true.”

Clenching his jaw at the fleeting glimmer of fear in her eyes, he sought to relieve her. “It is. All the women on the Circle T are well protected. We make that a priority.”

She turned to him again, appearing both relieved and curious. “Why would you make it a priority?”

“Because the bosses are buildin’ somethin’, and it’s hard to do that without women on the place and the babes they have. Can’t get women to come if they don’t feel safe.”

“That sounds like a real smart idea.”

“The bosses think so, and we’ve all begun to think the same way.” He glanced at her again as she brushed snow from her blanket. “Are you warm enough?”

“I’m fine, thank you. When I get to the ranch, is there a place for me to stay until someone wants to marry me?”

Jeremiah moved closer. “We built a place for the doctor’s office. It’s a house with several bedrooms. You’ll stay in that house with the doctor until someone claims you and you accept the claim.”

Her eyes went wide. “Claims me?”

Jeremiah inclined his head, his gaze flicking to Hart. “Yes. Preacher’s in Tulsa, but if a man, or men, claim you and you accept their claim, he or they are responsible for you as if you were married until we can make it legal.”

She stared up at Jeremiah for several seconds before turning to look at Hart. “So some man has to say he wants to marry me, and I get to say yes or no?”

Hart inclined his head, reaching back to get another blanket for her. “Yes, ma’am. You’d have to agree.”

Jeremiah inclined his head. “Just to let you know, some of the men share a wife. You might find yourself married to more than one.”

Charlotte frowned and stiffened. “I’m sorry. I don’t think I heard you right. It sounded like you said that I might find myself married to more than one man.”

“That’s what I said.” Jeremiah inclined his head. “The ability to share a woman is why my brother and I started the ranch. You could have two, or even three husbands.”

“What?” Charlotte gaped at him. “You’re kidding!”

“No. I’m not. That’s a subject I take very seriously.” With a frown, Jeremiah started toward the outside of the group, scanning the tree line. “Put that other blanket on. Can’t have you freezin’ to death before we get there.”

Charlotte wrapped the other blanket around her shoulders. “A woman married to more than one man? Is that legal?”

“It is on the Circle T. Jeremiah and his older brother, Eb, share a wife. Her name’s Maggie. They have a little boy, Ace, and another babe on the way.”

He gestured toward Phoenix driving the other buckboard. “Phoenix there shares a wife with his brothers, Blade and Hawke. Their wife, Sarah, just had a baby boy a couple of weeks ago. His name’s Matto. The sheriffs on the Circle T, Wyatt Matlock and Hayes Hawkins, have been friends for years. Their wife, Savannah, has a baby boy, too. Jacob.”

“Does every man share their wife?”

Hart shook his head, glancing at his brother, who’d moved closer, his lips twitching. “Duke Faulkner doesn’t. His wife, Esmerelda, is getting ready to have a baby in about two months.”

Phoenix looked over and chuckled. “I haven’t heard you string so many words together since you hit your thumb with a hammer.”

Adam smiled faintly. “I was just thinkin’ the same thing.”

Hart glared at both of them before looking straight ahead, the thick snow slowing their journey.

They rode in silence for several minutes before Charlotte turned to him again. “Are you married?”


“Why not?”

Hart glanced over at his brother, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. “We wouldn’t be good at it.”

Charlotte stilled, swallowing heavily. “We?”

Inclining his head toward one of the men on horseback who rode ahead of them, Hart glanced at her again. “My brother, Gideon, and I share women but don’t plan to get married.”

Aware that his cold bluntness would put an end to the conversation, Hart nevertheless regretted it.

It was a long, cold ride back to the ranch, the frigid air seeming even colder when the conversation with Charlotte ended.

He’d always been a man of few words, finding small talk useless.

He wished now that he had the words that would make Charlotte smile.