We are so excited to bring you this little taste of Jillian Neal’s Rodeo Summer. This brilliant Contemporary Western is out right now!
When the doors opened on the upper floor, he stepped onto the plush carpeting and halted abruptly. What the hell? Rushing his steps, he headed towards Summer, seated on the floor with her head in her hands right outside Brant Preston’s hotel room.
“Summer?” He stood in front of her. She wasn’t escaping until she explained herself. “What the hell are you doing in front of Brant’s suite?”
She lifted those eyes that he swore held the secrets of the whole damn universe and stared at him. The wildfire he’d seen there before was gone. Pain and fear broadcast from every square inch of her beautiful body.
“Talk, darlin’. Because I’m trying to keep my cool, but if I’m about to find out that you just walked way over a mile in the dark from the hotel you had me leave you at with ten-dozen half-drunk assholes out and about in this tourist-trap town looking for something sweet to take a’holt of, I’m gonna have something to say about it. I thought you hated Brant.”
She swallowed, and he edged closer. Rubbing her hands over her eyes, she slumped and then returned her gaze to his. “I do hate Brant. I always did.”
“Then why are you looking to get in his room?”
“I’m not.” She stared up at him, narrowing her eyes defiantly. “I’m in front of Brant’s room … because my little boy is in there.”
If she’d backhanded him, he wouldn’t have been more shocked. “Come again?”
The tremble of her shoulders marked her shuddered breath. “My baby, J.J., is in Brant’s room, and I don’t have a room … anywhere.”
A volatile mixture of anger, protectiveness, and confusion swirled in his gut. “Get up.” He held his hand out to help her off of the floor, but she didn’t accept the help.
“Austin, I don’t need some cowboy superhero to save me, okay?”
“Lucky for you my cape is at the dry cleaners. Now, get up.”
When she didn’t move, he leaned and in one quick motion scooped under her arms and lifted her off of the hotel floor. “I have a suite with two beds. I also suspect that after the hike you decided you needed to take in eighty degree weather you might like a shower. I have one of those in my room, too. When you’re finished with that, we’re gonna talk. You may not need a superhero, Summer, but I’d say you sure as hell could use a friend. I’m taking the job.”
“I can’t…” she started to protest.
“Hush. You can sleep in a bed and take a shower. I will stay in my own bed. I’m not a douchebag, but I’m not taking no for an answer on this.” With that he swept under her legs and carried her three doors down to his own room.
“You didn’t have to carry me.” She crossed her arms over her chest as soon as he got her inside.
“You’re stubborn, and just in case you’re wondering, you can’t outrun me. Now, do you have bags somewhere? I have a hundred other questions, but we’ll start there.”
Her cheeks pinked with embarrassment, and Austin clenched his fists to keep from dragging her back into his arms and holding her until her confession made sense.
“I have a bag in my truck.”
“Keys.” He held out his hand. Begrudgingly, she dug in the pocket of those painted-on blue jeans that had been driving him wild all damn night and dropped a single key on an old Dodge keychain in his hand.
“Probably won’t take you long to figure out which truck is mine.”
“Good. Now, look at me.”
She rolled her eyes but then landed them on him.
“You will be inside this hotel room when I get back, or so help me, when I find you, and I will, I’ll turn you over my knee. I’m assuming that because your kid is across the hall you’re not gonna skip town on me.”
A huff of disdain lit the air between them. “You don’t have to threaten me, Austin. I don’t have anywhere to go. You could be nice. Thought you were a gentleman.”
All right, so maybe he was being an ass, but every time he thought about her out in Cody in the dark of night after a rodeo with a thousand out-of-town cowboys in to watch the show and have a good time, it scared the shit out of him. God, what if she’d stumbled up on … He shut that thought down before his supper made a rapid reappearance. “I’ll be right back.”
When Austin reached the parking lot he headed right instinctively. “Damn it all to hell, Brant Preston, you are a motherfucking asshole,” he spat in the stagnant air. The Dodge she’d hidden out near the hotel dumpsters should have been what was going in a compactor. If the thing cranked on the first turn, it’d cost God four miracles. He unlocked and then heaved the door open. What kind of shit-sack lets the mother of his kid live without a fucking place to stay and drive this? He located an old tack bag that contained a few pairs of jeans and a dozen tank-tops and t-shirts. Panties and a bra were visible amongst the clothes. His mind spun, but he was too angry to really consider them. An economy-sized bottle of V-05 shampoo and conditioner along with dozens of hotel soaps were shoved in the front pockets where horse brushes were supposed to be stored, along with a small make-up bag.
The only thing in the truck worth owning was a car seat, facing backwards in the front seat. The rusted-out truck was manufactured four decades before the invent of an airbag, so that wasn’t a problem. Several blankets were crammed behind the bench seat. Another round of volatile fury rocketed through his veins as he considered the fact that she must’ve slept in the truck occasionally. He’d find Brant and fire-iron brand him with his personal Camden cattle marks all over his sorry ass. Slamming the truck door, he ordered his temper to remain in control as he stomped back inside the hotel.
The universe was playing hot and fast with him that night, however. Brant crossed his path on the way to one of the bunny’s rooms on the first floor of the hotel. Austin clenched his jaw, but he couldn’t help himself.
Bestselling author, Jillian Neal, was not only born 30 but also came accessorized with loads of books and adorable handbags in which to carry them, at least that’s what she tells people. After earning a degree in education, she discovered that her passion could never be housed inside a classroom. A vehement lover of love and having maintained a lifelong affair with the awe-inspiring power of words, she set to turn the romance industry on its head. Her overly-caffeinated, troupe-spinning muse is never happy with the standard formula story. She believes every book should be brimming with passion, loaded with hot sexy scenes, packed with a gut-punch of emotion, and have characters that leap off the page and right into your heart.
Her first series, The Gifted Realm, defines contemporary romance with a fantasy twist. Her Gypsy Beach series will leave you longing to visit the sultry shores of the tiny bohemian beach town, and her erotic romance series, Camden Ranch, will make you certain there is nothing better than a cowboy with some chaps and a plan. The sheer amount of coffee required to keep all of those characters dancing in her head would border on lethal, so she unleashes their engaging stories on page after page of spellbinding reads.
Jillian lives outside of Atlanta with her own sexy sweetheart, their teenage sons, and enough stiletto heels, cowgirl boots, and flip-flops to exist in any of the fictional worlds she brings to life.