EXCERPT ONE – SEDUCING THE SHERIFF
Joe turned over onto his side, wishing he could fall asleep. Crime in their little town was generally the mild sort, and armed robbery was a total anomaly. But it wasn’t the seriousness of the crime keeping him awake. It was Cassidy, in his bed, dressed in some flimsy pink pajamas.
Bringing her here might have been a mistake. In the office, it had seemed perfectly sensible and platonic. They’d always been friendly. But sitting with her on the sofa as she got tipsy on a little bit of whiskey was something else. She brought out his protective instincts. She brought out more than that, too. When she’d looked up at him and said that she trusted him today…something had changed. He’d felt it, like a thump to the chest. There was something about the way she’d looked into his eyes. Nothing was completely platonic. They were two people of roughly the same age, single, and damn, she was pretty. Even during the stress of the day, she’d managed to crack a few jokes. He admired that.
He flipped over to his other side and closed his eyes, focused on slowing his breathing, and tried to lull himself into sleep. If only he could shut off his brain.
She’d asked for more whiskey, and he’d been tempted to give it to her. But he’d also known it would be a mistake to indulge. He was supposed to be looking after her. He definitely wasn’t supposed to be staring at her lips and thinking about kissing her. That would be totally inappropriate, considering the circumstances. He’d brought her here out of duty. Nothing more. Except she’d gone from sweet to sexy as hell right before his eyes, and he’d done the responsible thing and cut her off. For both their sakes.
EXCERPT TWO – CAPTIVATING THE COWBOY
“You’re a good man, Slade Weston.” She looked at him over her glass as she took a slow sip. “But we can’t do this if you’re going to do something stupid like fall in love with me.”
“I could say the same to you.” He took a long pull from
his beer, a lighter brew than the one he’d enjoyed downstairs. Chick beer. Which meant she didn’t do this often enough to keep her fridge stocked. With as easily as she’d suggested this, he’d wondered about that.
“Oh, not a problem. You’re everything I don’t want.” “Um, okay?” He couldn’t help the grin. “I mean, physically you’re delicious. But two kids and a
cattle ranch?” She placed a hand on her waist and cocked her hip out. “Do I look like that kind of girl?”
He shook his head. Not in a million years. Her strappy heels alone tossed her out of the running. And then there was her slight frame, the sexy dress, ashy jewelry, makeup, and not a hair out of place. Not to mention the eight-year age difference. She wouldn’t t into any of the boxes he’d checked on Not My 1st Rodeo.
And yet, here he stood, his body tight with desire and smoldering with heat. She was stunning, determined, and heading out of town in a matter of weeks. He needed someone modest, practical, and within reach. Two people couldn’t be more different. She was an adventure straight off the pages of a fashion magazine, and he was rooted to the land, a fifth generation cattle rancher. He’d never leave, and she’d never stay.
There could never be more than this between them. He knew it, in his heart as well as his head. A physical affair wasn’t what he needed, what he’d devoted himself to finding for the last year. But oh, how he wanted her. She stepped closer, her sweet rose scent wrapping around him. The world shifted when she was this close, and he reasoned being with her was like a vacation. A few weeks of fun that would recharge him to get on with the rest of his life. Because he already knew, one night with Jules wouldn’t be enough.
EXCERPT THREE – ROPING THE RANGER
Helena was a large city by Montana standards, but this wasn’t match.com. By the time he had narrowed his search down, he really only had about twenty-five potential candidates. Which made it sound like he was interviewing them for a job and he wasn’t. Hell, he didn’t even know if he was going to do anything once he got done staring at photos of older women online. Nothing, probably. Just a weird…well, it wasn’t even a fantasy. Not a real one. Just a…thing. A quirk. Like he’d told Carlene earlier, just another wild Saturday night.
He was halfway down the list—and had tipped his hat, as the site called liking someone, a few times—when he saw her. At least, he thought it was her. The name said Carly Hughes, not Carlene. But that photo? It had to be Carlene—his Carlene, the waitress who’d taken care of him nearly every Saturday night for the last five and a half months. In the photo, her blonde hair wasn’t pulled back into the tight twist that she almost always wore at the restaurant. It was loose and hung in big waves almost to her shoulders. Instead of the professional button-up shirt, she wore a tight T-shirt—long sleeved, but cut low in the front. The shirt was turquoise and it made her blue eyes pop in a way that the dim interior lighting of the restaurant never could.
She was smiling at the camera. That was what convinced him it was the same woman. Because he’d been watching that smile for months now. He got that smile every time he asked how she was doing, if she’d had a good night, or if her team had won. Carlene was Carly Hughes. His fantasy just got a lot more specific. And, according to her profile, she was available. She was divorced—was Hughes her maiden name or her married name? It said she was an assistant manager at a restaurant, which was news to him. He’d thought she was a waitress, not one of the managerial staff. But that would explain why she was always dressed like a businesswoman instead of a server. Wait. She was an assistant manager, so why the hell did she always wait on his table? That didn’t make any sense. Unless… Tommy hadn’t put his picture on his profile—again, he didn’t really belong on the website, and he didn’t want to get called out for it. So he had no idea if she would know it was him or not. She knew his name—his first name, anyway.
He assumed that she was passingly familiar with his last name, as he paid with his credit card at least half the time. Did he want her to recognize him? There was no law that he had to keep going back to Peachtree’s, right? He clicked the hat-tip button. The site gave him an option also sending a message. He sighed and stared at her face in the picture again. Well, hell. If he was going to do this, he was going to be all in. He clicked in the message box and began to type.
Does this count as something different?