The fourth book in Laura Wright’s thrilling rough n’ tumble Cavanaugh Brothers series, Bonded, hit the shelves this week and we have an exclusive excerpt for you showing her strong willed heroine in action!
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The New York Times bestselling author of Brash returns to the Triple C Ranch in River Black, Texas, for more cowboys, romance, and danger…
Ranch hand Blue Perez’s once simple life is spinning out of control. He’s discovered he has three half-brothers, and they’re not ready to accept his claim on the ranch. Also, Blue’s girlfriend may have betrayed him in the worst way possible. And after one evening of drowning his sorrows at the bar, there’s someone he can’t get out of his mind, a woman who says she’s carrying his child.
Following a night of breathtaking passion in the arms of a man who now rules her dreams, waitress Emily Shiver is contemplating her next step. Blue is determined to be a part of her life, yet she would rather raise the baby on her own. But when she becomes the target of someone’s dark obsession, Emily must let Blue in—to both her heart and her future.
As if the silent promise were really an enticement to do just that, Emily’s brown eyes—which her father called doe eyes, or can’t-say-no-to-my-baby-girl eyes—tracked left. Seated at the bar, his back to her, Stetson riding low, was the very object of her . . . what word had she resorted to again? Hots? No. Not hots. Oh yeah, appreciation. And boy oh boy, could she appreciate him tonight. His long, lean, hard body was showcased in nothing special: standard cowboy gear, jeans and black T-shirt. But her eyes moved covetously over him anyway, from tanned neck to broad shoulders, trim waist, and . . . a denim-clad butt that made her heart kick up and certain unmentionable lady parts quiver.
Sigh. She’d worked at the Bull’s Eye for a year and a half now, and the man had an irritating and—she was pretty sure—random habit of coming in when she was on duty. Not that he was much of a drinker or a socializer. He never sat at the bar, like he was now. Usually at a table eating lunch or dinner with Mackenzie Byrd. The pair worked at the Triple C together and seemed like pretty close friends. Or they had been. Emily hadn’t seen them in the Eye together all that often lately. Since Mac had gone and married the eldest Cavanaugh, in fact.
Emily continued to stare at what God and his parents had granted him. What the heck had brought him in here tonight? So late? And straight to the bar? He’d been tossing back one—
Emily whipped around just as one of her customers shot to his feet, hands going instantly to his crotch. Crap. Emily glanced first at her tray and the now-empty glass on its side, then back at the man—and the denim that was sporting a spattering or two of whiskey. That’s what appreciating does, flower girl, makes for some pretty wet and pissed-off customers. Not to mention the no-tip factor.
As quick as she could, she set the tray down on the empty tabletop behind her and grabbed some napkins. “I am so sorry,” she began, holding out the napkins for him. No way was she offering to clean up his crotch. “Here. Please take these.”
The man’s head jerked up, and venom fairly bled from those two pale brown eyes. “What the hell are you?” he ground out. “Blind? Or just clumsy?”
Perfect. No forgiveness here. She ignored the grunt of humor from the man’s heavily bearded friend, who was leaning back in his chair, arms folded over his chest. “I really am sorry. Let me get you another, on the house. And some club soda.”
For anyone in River Black, this would’ve been enough. Hell, a free drink would’ve probably garnered a begrudging smile from one of the locals. But for this out-of-towner, blood and humiliation was all he was after now.
“So you can spill that on me too?” he snarled at her, swiping at his crotch with the cloth napkin near his plate of nachos. “Pass.” He turned to his friend. “Should’ve known. Stopping in these tiny towns, all you get are stupid, clumsy bitches with big racks.”
Wow. Okay. Heat spread through Emily’s neck and jaw, and she felt her lip curl against her top teeth. Truth was, assholes came and went. They were part of the job. Maybe not as much in River Black as in the bigger cities, but it happened. For the most part it was always better to walk away from the table or let Dean handle it. But Emily had never been able to suffer insults or blatant misogyny well. Shoot, she’d grown up with two brothers and had schooled them early and often. In fact, they’d stopped thinking they could get away with sexist bullshit at about the age of five.
She eyed the men before her. She supposed Jerkweed One and Two here were going to have to learn that hard fact a little later than most.
“I don’t think I caught all of that, sir,” she began, her tone low and cool as she locked eyes with him. “What did you call me?”
The bearded friend made a low whistling sound, his smile wide with delight, before Jerkweed One muttered, “No eyes, but she’s sure got ears.”
“I absolutely do,” she agreed. “And they’re almost as big as my rack.”
Both heads came up. Both sets of eyes widened.
Pressing the flower deeper behind her ear, she continued undaunted, “So I’m surprised I didn’t hear all of the degrading and insulting things you just said to me.” Her eyebrow lifted. “Things I’m sure your mothers, sisters, daughters, girlfriends, and/or wives wouldn’t be so proud of—am I right?”
They both just stared at her.
“Now,” she said, easing back just a touch, giving them room to rethink their attitudes and drop their crap. She wasn’t looking to have a problem in the Bull’s Eye tonight, and hell, her shift was almost over. Getting home and putting her feet up was a priority. “I sure didn’t mean to splatter you with the whiskey. I’m offering to bring you another. On me. Be done with this. What do you say?”
For one brief, shiny moment, Emily thought the jerkweeds had heard what she’d said and were going to act like civilized human beings about it. But jerkweeds were called jerkweeds and not jerkflowers for a reason.
Number One opened his big mouth and let it rip. “You’re a feisty one, darlin’,” he drawled, dropping into his chair and spreading his legs wide apart so the whiskey stain could be seen by the few people who were still in the Bull’s Eye. “But a man only likes his women feisty in the bedroom.”
“Is that right?” she returned. Oh, this wasn’t going to end well.
He nodded, all slow and thoughtful, his eyes taking on a glitter of malevolence. “I think someone should teach you some manners.”
She rolled her eyes just as Jerkweed Two offered, “I’ll do it.”
“Okay,” Emily said on a sigh, her patience pretty much worn down to the nub. “I’ll get you guys the check. Or better yet, leave now and I’ll take care of it.”
Jerkweed One laughed. “She thinks she has a say over what we do, Tim.” The man snorted and leaned back even farther in his chair. “Oh, honey, get a clue. Big tits and a nice ass only sway a man—”
“How we doin’ over here?” came a welcome interruption behind Emily. It was a low, masculine, unyielding voice. One that drove both cattle and the cowboys who herded them.
Where seconds before, the fire of tightly held anger raged through Emily’s body, now a different kind of heat coursed through her blood. The kind that blanketed her with warmth and curiosity, and she instantly turned toward it, like one of her beloved flowers to the sun. Blue Perez Cavanaugh was standing beside her. He was a good foot taller than her, strong and handsome, with eyes so fierce and so piercing they near took her breath away.
About the Author:
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Laura Wright is passionate about romantic fiction. Though she has spent most of her life immersed in acting, singing and competitive ballroom dancing, when she found the world of writing and books and endless cups of coffee she knew she was home. Laura is the author of the bestselling Mark of the Vampire series and the USA Today bestselling series, Bayou Heat, which she co-authors with Alexandra Ivy.