Want Me, Cowboy, страница 1
Want Me, Cowboy
A Copper Mountain Rodeo Romance
Want Me, Cowboy
Copyright © 2016 Sinclair Jayne
The Tule Publishing Group, LLC
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Table of Contents
Other sizzling romances by Sinclair Jayne
The 78th Copper Mountain Rodeo Series
About the Author
Luke Wilder tilted his Stetson lower on his face and pushed open the double doors on Grey’s Saloon and eyeballed the historic bar. If it had been any other bar in any other Montana town, he would have liked what he saw—a long battered bar that told a story and a worn, scuffed floor that told a thousand more—but this was Marietta, the one town and the one rodeo he’d avoided the entire ten years of his professional career.
Sanctimonious, judgmental bastards.
He went inside, letting the doors swing shut behind him. Eleven o’clock was early for a beer, but what the hell? It was Thursday. He was in town a day ahead of schedule. His trailer was already set up at the fair grounds for the rodeo. He was hungry. And thirsty. And meeting up with his mother after deftly avoiding her for the past two years definitely required a beer on board.
He hooked one boot on the rail under the bar, leaned against the scratched wood, and scanned what was on tap. Under the patina of history, Grey’s looked a lot more upscale than most bars he’d been in during his rodeo days. His mom had said Marietta had changed so much she’d barely recognized it. A lot more boutiques and niche restaurants. The Graff hotel that had once been in total ruin had been renovated and was now featured in travel and design magazines and boasted more than a few celebrity sightings. His mom had sounded a bit disappointed when she’d told him, although his mother’s slumming days were so far in her past she didn’t seem to remember them. He did.
Frowning over his unusual burst of introspection, he ordered a Big Sky Scape Goat Pale Ale, not exactly local out of Missoula, but he had at least visited that town and liked it, and he’d spent many years as a scape goat for the antics of his younger brother, who’d managed to charm their mother while Luke had been heaped with responsibility, cooking and cleaning and watching his brother while his mother worked, attended school, and bounced between men. This late morning meeting with his mom made him feel like those memories might not be as far in the past as he’d like. The bartender, who slid the beer in front of him, looked as pissed off as Luke felt. Guilt and a misplaced sense of family duty were bitchy twins to carry around on his shoulders, and he was damned tired of the burden.
He avoided his mother and his brother for a reason.
He took a deep drink. Ordered a burger and fries. Avoided eye contact with the few other men sitting at the bar. None of the circuit cowboys had rolled into town yet. They’d probably start arriving early to midday tomorrow, and then this town would feel a hell of a lot more comfortable, once he took care of the business that had brought him here.
His way. Not his mother’s.
He’d experienced some peace in the last two years since he’d seen her, and he’d like to keep it that way.
“Hey, baby, what are you doing in here?” A breathless voice with a husky catch demanded behind him. Two slim, pale, bare arms slid around his waist, one palm flattened against his abs while the other stole his beer. “You finally broke down and tried a microbrew. Big Sky? Hmmmm. Delish, but Summer Honey is my favorite.”
Her hand slid down his abs a bit lower, and Luke definitely felt his body respond to the hint.
“Bit early though.” Again the husky voice caressed his ear, and he wasn’t sure if she were implying a bit early for beer or for something more physically recreational, either one he was game. “But live a little, I guess.”
He turned to face the thief. Tall. Slim. Legs that stretched forever under her short denim skirt. Crazy, blonde curls spilling everywhere. Blondes weren’t necessarily his type, but a quick hookup would improve his mood at having to be in this town.
“As an opening line that totally worked.” he said, his eyes skimmed over her body. “And the rest works just as well.” He smiled.
The dismay on her face was hilarious. And the beer foam around her delectable mouth was tempting. He leaned forward, thinking to lick it off and be equally forward as she had been, his body already missing the intent of her roving hand, but she backed away a step, her eyes huge and round. He caught his beer as it slid from her fingers without too much spillage.
“I…um…” She couldn’t seem to form the right words, but he got it.
She thought he was someone else. Weird. Someone at the hardware store had called him a different name and then had apologized.
“I’m sorry…” she whispered, her breath coming in little gasps. “I…thought…”
She was pale as a ghost and he wondered if she’d pass out. He’d never seen a woman pass out so didn’t know what to expect, but she didn’t look good.
She continued to move away from him, step-by-backwards-step, her face a confusing mix of shock and fear. So she thought he was someone else. Big fucking deal. But she looked utterly spooked. He hadn’t touched her, had he? Her mouth was temptingly sexy, but he hadn’t really licked it. Right? That was more his brother Kane’s behavior. She’d touched him like she owned him, not the other way around, right?
“Hey, relax. No harm done.” He grinned.
He didn’t smile a lot but ladies said he killed when he made the effort, so he did.
Made it worse. She stumbled, turned, ran.
What to do? Let her go? But she could get hurt. Run into the street or something. This wasn’t Bozeman or Billings with traffic, but she definitely shouldn’t drive till she settled down. But he didn’t even know her name. How would he calm her down? And he didn’t think chasing a freaked-out woman down Main Street was what his mother meant by “keep a low profile.”
Luke took another sip of beer, pondering, then almost as if he could hear his mother’s insistent voice ordering him around and telling him how to treat and not treat a woman, he got up off the barstool and headed to the door. He just wanted to make sure she wasn’t hyperventilating or whatever freaked-out women did.
“Baby, did some dumb ass cowboy touch you?”
He heard a deep voice demand as his hand hit the handle and pushed. He barely heard the woman’s murmur, but the “Fuck that!” was loud and clear as the saloon’s doors were shoved open in his face.
“Whoa.” Luke dodged through the opening with reflexes honed by years of riding eighteen hundred pounds of honed, pissed off bull muscle determined to toss him off.
He wondered if that jerk had hurt her. “Lady, are you okay?”
The words were barely out of his mouth before he was slammed against Grey’s Saloon’s doors, which yielded. He stumbled back inside and went down hard but popped back up, throwing the first punch by instinct, feeling his fist connect even though he didn’t get a chance to focus on his target, who hit back hard, but Luke was so jacked up he didn’t feel it. He’d never been in a bar fight but had broken up a lot over his years on the circuit so he was skilled at ducking and restraining, but this was a whole different game. The surge of adrenalin and power and instinctual drive was as unexpected as the sheer joy that coursed through him as he cut loose his self-restraint for the first time in his life and let everything that usually lay coiled uneasily inside him fly.
It was like slamming fists into a large oak, but Luke got a couple more solids in before his legs were swept out from under him by something pointed and hard, and he fell back. His arms were wrapped around his opponent’s shoulders, so they couldn’t break his fall, and he dragged the fighter with him. Pancaked, all his air whooshed out, leaving him sucking and heaving like a damned caught trout.
“Luka Aleixo Wilder! I’m not even late, and this is how you introduce yourself to your hometown?”
Marietta was nothing to him. Not a hometown. Never would be, but he was too busy coughing and, as he tried to suck in something resembling air, he looked up into the very angry face of his mother standing over him, hands on her narrow hips like he was nine-years-old again, fighting with his half brother, Kane.
“I did not raise you to act like a thug. This is not LA.” She hissed, and Luke wondered why she’d chosen that city as the hot bed of street thugs, but like everything else about his mother, her choice of similes, metaphors, analogies, and men remained a mystery.
His ankle throbbed and he saw she wore glittering turquoise boots inlaid with feathers and a bunch of other sparkling things that hurt his eyes, and the boots were as pointy as a blade. Had she kicked him to knock him down? Him. Not the other guy who’d started the whole damn thing.
“Get up, Luke,” she demanded.
Hard to do when pinned by a solid mass. He’d been thrown and rolled on by broncos that seemed less dense.
“This is not a fight cage. Up.”
His opponent rolled off him and popped to his feet, eyeing his mother with such cool disinterest it was spooky and Luke felt a twinge of worry for her safety so he tried in earnest to sit up, but the sharp pain in his ribs was a bitch. The bartender loomed over him, his narrowed eyes and tense face looked grimmer than when Luke had walked in. Understandable as was the order.
“Don’t want to see you boys back.”
“Unbelievable.” He heard his mother huff.
“Sorry, Talon,” the bartender said to the blonde who was feathering her fingers down Luke’s opponent’s arm soothingly.
For some reason, that too burned.
The bartender offered his hand to pull him to his feet. Easier to do if he could breathe. His ears rang, the left side of his face seemed to pulse with his heartbeat, and the left side of his ribs screamed. Topping off that list, his lungs felt flat. The adrenalin that had fueled his response had ebbed. He took the hand and got up, wiping at his face, a little dazed when his hand came away bloody.
“Your face. You can’t go out to the ranch looking like that. He’ll think you’re just like your—” His mom broke off, but Luke tuned her out, just like he did every time she railed about the father he couldn’t remember.
He’d changed his last name to his mother’s maiden name so there’d be no more reminders and no more rodeo old-timers recognizing the last name and wanting to regale him with tails of his deadbeat, hard-drinking, womanizing, fists flying, magic on the back of a bull, goddamn horse whisperer father.
Fuck him and fuck his mom for ever bringing up Helidoro Aleixo De Silva when he wasn’t perfect. Today’s transgression had not been Luke’s fault, yet if it got him off the hook for being her errand boy spy, fanfuckingtastic.
The leggy blonde handed him a bandana she’d dipped in ice water. He wiped his face with it, blinking to try to clear his vision. Now that he was no longer swinging, his body started to pipe up with a rash of complaints, some still grumbling from the last rodeo.
“Colt.” He heard the blonde whisper. “It’s her. The woman I told you about who was interested in the necklace you gave me. The one at the diner the other day before you came home.”
His mother stopped speaking abruptly. Silence. If he didn’t count the atonal ringing in his ears. The bartender still glowered at them.
The bar was silent. Luke wiped at his face again, wincing, wondering if he’d be too much of a pansy if he got some ice for the cut above his eye, but he had to compete Saturday and vision was pretty vital, and the cut seemed to be swelling exponentially.
“Luke.” His mother sounded reverent and, when he looked at her, surprised at her unusual tone since she was usually bitching about something, she looked so beautiful it hurt. She glowed, her lips parted, and her eyes shone. “I’ve found him. Finally. My son.”
“What?” He and the other man both barked.
She reached out a slim hand toward the stranger, who leaned away from her, his face stiff, unreadable and not bleeding, Luke noticed resentfully. The blonde linked her fingers through the other guy’s. She looked frozen by surprise. It was like a really stupid soap opera with really bad actors, and dramatically cheesy camera cuts. He so wanted to get the fuck out of here.
“Your brother,” his mother said, “my first baby boy.”
Tanner McTavish shoveled more sawdust into the trailer and spread it around. Through the bandana covering her mouth she sang an upbeat, slightly jazzy style of the Dixie Chick’s “Traveling Soldier” and swung her hips in time as she spread the sawdust and then, pretending the rake were a dance partner, she danced a two-step with it down the trailer gate, slamming the handle down in time with her feet, loving the rhythmic clack, clack, clack.
She dropped the rake with a clatter.
A cowboy leaned against a black truck. Black T-shirt that fit like a dream over a cut torso, worn jeans that ended in dusty, black cowboy boots. Black Stetson tipped low, but she could see the square-cut jaw, high cheekbones, and a mouth that twisted in amusement. Fine. He caught her dancing by herself, like he could have caught her dancing any other way. So what? La-di-da. This was her ranch and she hadn’t invited him unless… her heart flipped.
She recognized the stance, cocky and deceptively relaxed, and “I got the whole world in my hand and you are…?” Luke Wilder. All-around cowboy. He was wasting his time on the rodeo circuit. He should be the international model for Wranglers. And Stetsons. And T-shirts. And probably underwear. Boxers? Briefs? Commando?
How many times had she played the game with him in her head while she stood against a cold, concrete wall while her insides heated just watching him climb over the metal bars of the chute and mount one of her bulls? Lucky bull. The desire to still know, boxers or briefs, pinched hard and low in her stomach, and she gave herself permission to stare. She worked with cowboys daily at her ranch and when she traveled with her bulls to rodeos. But he was spectacular. Luke Wilder. Even his name was doable. She’d seen him before at several of the Mountain circuit rodeos. The most handsome man she’d ever laid eyes on. He hadn’t noticed her. Ever. Not once. Even when he walked past. And the time they’d been introduced his eyes had passed over her so casually and his “hello” had been so low she would have rather been ignored. At least then she could have held on to her untainted fantasies.
But he was looking today and this close he dried her mouth and fried her brain.
She picked up the
“You startled me,” she stated.
She walked a little closer, forced her body to stay relaxed, and kept her breathing even, exactly like she’d enter a pen to look at a new bronco or bull. He tipped his hat back a bit. Wow, he looked a lot like her friend Talon’s boyfriend, Colt. No wonder Talon had been so blissed out the three weeks they’d been together. Talon had texted her yesterday to say Colt had come back. That he was done with the army and moving back to Marietta and in with her and her son Parker and that Colt wanted to get married. Tanner wasn’t surprised Colt was going all in with Talon. He was the most intense guy she’d ever laid eyes on, but Luke Wilder, this close up, had his own intense thing going on, and it was totally raising hell with her body and forget about her brain helping her out. It had shorted out at the first sight of the deceptively relaxed pose he struck.
How did Talon manage to do normal everyday things like fry an egg for Parker’s breakfast, study for an exam, or go to work? If Tanner could have Luke Wilder under her and above her and wrap her legs around all of his masculine heat and power and feel him pumping hard into her, she wouldn’t be able to remember her name, much less be sentient enough to text a friend to let her know that God’s perfect example of a dream man had arrived on her doorstep.
Ugh. Had she just thought that? That Luke Wilder was the man of her dreams? Even as a dream man he was out of her fantasy league. Her dreams needed to chill and scale back on the ambition. Keep those lofty goals for her professional world.
God, she loved how his body looked so relaxed and yet radiated such coiled, ready-for-anything masculine energy. He looked primed for action.
Unfortunately not the type she wished she could have with him. Cowboys like Luke, who exhaled sexuality and testosterone, had so many hookup offers from buckle bunnies during their weekend rodeos that he hadn’t noticed a mere mortal like herself for a lot of reasons. Luke Wilder had a lot of buckles. And a lot of fans.