Lacy Denvers has lost her job, and lost her way. All she wants to do now is get her career back on track and find some stability again, but first, she wants to mark something off her bucket list: She wants to learn to ride a horse. Her dream vacation to the Crawley Creek Cattle Ranch turns into a lesson in patience when the North Dakota winter proves unpredictable as ever. Wrapped in a cocoon of snow, Lacy finds the ranch to be a hidden treasure trove of cowboy eye candy, and her mouth is watering even as her brain is telling her to run.
After a devastating tragedy, a young Drannon Russo ended up fostering with the Crawley family, and found a home. He’s only moved away once and had to lean on family for support when his dreams were shattered. Being a cowboy on a ranch is a pretty lonely existence. When a beautiful redhead shows up looking for a fresh start he’s determined to give them both what they want.
Will this vacation into the heart of cattle country turn out to be a mistake, or will Lacy and Drannon find their future in each other?
Warning: Explicit romance
There was a couple of inches of snow drift across the front lawn, but when she turned the corner and faced west, brown grass poked through just a dusting of snow, and the wind stole her breath from her lungs. Grey clouds filled the sky and the scent of snow was on the air. Tipping her head down, she hurried across the yard to the massive barn doors, pausing only long enough to tug one open and squeeze through it.
Compared to the cold outside, the warmth of the barn was intoxicating. The smell of animals and hay filled her nose and she sneezed loudly.
The deep voice was followed by a masculine chuckle, and she jerked in surprise looking for its owner. When she didn’t immediately spot anyone she frowned.
“Thank you, um, whoever you are?”
A black cowboy hat appeared over the top of a stall next to a brown horses head. Under the hat was a strong face, with a sharp jaw and a meticulously trimmed goatee and mustache. His nose was a little large, and as she stepped closer she could see that it was also slightly crooked with a telling bump in the middle. The smile on his face was amused as he allowed her to look her fill. But his dark black eyebrow rose when she remained quietly standing several feet away from him.
Concern filled his brown eyes and he reached one long arm over the stall door opening the latch. Her vision suddenly filled with the huge sexy body of a real life cowboy and she felt her chest tighten. He was beautiful. Black curly hair peeked out from under the brim of his hat, barely curling over his ears and the collar of his heavy brown coat. His wide shoulders filled out every spare millimeter of the material, and a powerfully built chest drew her gaze further down until her eyes struck gold. Framed by perfectly cut chaps was a thick looking bulge of blue denim and zipper, and Lacy nearly groaned out loud at the many wicked images running through her brain.
“Are you all right?”
She jumped in surprise at his question and felt a hot blush creep up her cheeks. “Yes, I’m sorry. That was ridiculously rude, please excuse me.” She stepped forward with her hand out, “I’m Lacy Denvers.”
“Ah, Denvers, yes Marilyn said we were going to have a guest for a couple of weeks.” The hand that took hers was enormous, and it engulfed her grip until she could barely see her own skin. She could feel calluses on his palm and a shiver went up her spine at the touch. What would that feel like on other more sensitive parts of her body? “Pretty unusual for someone to book a vacation in North Dakota in the winter.”
She was taken aback by the comment, and frowned up at him. At five foot eight, Lacy wasn’t a short girl, but the cowboy was at least eight or nine inches taller than she was, so her head had to tip back to see his eyes. “I booked the trip last summer. I wanted to get away from the city and I wanted to learn how to ride. Is that a problem?”
“Want to learn how to ride, huh?” The teasing flirtation in his voice made her pussy clench and her breasts swell. This time it was his eyes that slowly wandered down her body taking in every bit of her before coming back up to meet her pointed gaze. “I have no doubt that you can learn how to ride like a pro here at Crawley Creek.”
She nodded sharply refusing to acknowledge the innuendo. His eyes had turned a darker color, and his pupils had grown along with the bulge behind his zipper. The attraction was clearly mutual. Her heart was racing in her chest, and she turned back to the horse he had been working with in order to give herself some breathing room.
“She’s pretty, does she have a name?”
The cowboy stepped closer to the stall. Suddenly her palms were sweating too, and she was glad she had on so many layers so that he wouldn’t be able to see the hard nubs of her nipples poking through her shirt.
“She is a he, and his name is Toto.”
Lacy snorted and then covered her mouth in embarrassment. “Sorry, you don’t mean, Toto like the dog in Oz do you?”
“Is there another Toto?”
A giggle slipped out, and then turned into a full on loud laugh. Toto snuffed in his stall and looked at her with large brown eyes. The cowboy seemed amused at her enjoyment. He stepped closer and reached his hand up to run it over Toto’s forehead. The horse nuzzled him, and bobbed its head asking for more affection.
“Here, reach up and touch him. He’s like any other male, if you stroke him right he’ll be yours.” His voice was low and deep, and his eyes were locked on Lacy while she reached up to run her hand over the soft white spot on Toto’s forehead. Toto truly did seem to appreciate the gesture, and he tipped his nose to sniff at her arm.
“He’s beautiful. This is the closest I’ve ever been to a real horse.”
“Toto is honored to be your first.”
Lacy’s eyes darted over to look at the cowboy. His flirtations weren’t subtle, and his eyes blatantly said that he would be up for a hot sweaty fling. She pondered for less than a breath before she turned to face him.
“Are all cowboys this forward?” She cocked her head to one side watching him. His eyes shuttered and the heat seemed to seep out of them instantly.
“I apologize. It’s not often a beautiful woman appears in the barn out of nowhere. I have some more work to do, but you’re welcome to look around, just make sure to stay out of the stalls without someone with you. All of the horses are gentle most of the time, but accidents happen. You’re such a wisp, one kick and you’d be done for.” While he spoke, he reached back over the wall of the stall and pulled up a bucket that must have been on a hook inside. There was a collection of unusual tools inside the bucket, but she didn’t have a chance to ask him what they were before he was headed down the walkway and out the doors.
Cowboys don’t cry, but Roman “Romeo” Freemont certainly has enough tragic history to spend his days teary-eyed. Instead he’s turned to women and liquor in an effort to soothe his aches and pains, but when a petite brunette with a feisty temper comes crashing into his world, he realizes what he’s been missing.
Francesca “Franki” Scott has walked through fire herself. Nowadays she just isn’t a people person, and she’s definitely not interested in a wannabe playboy ranch owner either. She has a mission and it could mean life or death for someone close to her if she gets distracted.
Closing the gap between these two wounded souls could mean surviving yet another tragedy. Will their determination to hide their pain from themselves be their downfall, or will they come through this rough ride together?
Warning: Explicit Romance
Roman was concerned for Franki’s well-being. Or at least that’s what he kept repeating in his head as he climbed the stairs and walked directly to the door marked Sunflower Room. She’d looked pale when she skipped out of dinner early, and he just wanted to check on her.
Rolling his eyes as he stared at the wooden door, he scoffed silently at his own thoughts. The truth was that he wanted to see her again, and perhaps question her about what’d happened between them earlier. It was clear there was attraction on both their parts, but she didn’t seem happy about it.
Lifting his hand, he knocked softly and held his breath until the door opened. The lamp was on behind her, and it gave her a soft glow as she frowned up at him. Her beautiful hair was down again, and it curly wildly around her face and shoulders. Bare shoulders. She wore some sort of stretchy material over her breasts that left her shoulders and soft belly bare down to her hips where a pair of low rise shorts clung to her curvy hips. Seeing all that bare skin made his knees weak, and he leaned heavily against the door jamb.
“Roman?” she crossed her arms over her bare midriff and took a step backwards. “I thought you were Marilyn, is everything okay?”
When he tried to speak his voice came out as croak and he had to clear his throat, and start again. “No. I mean, yes, I mean, everything is fine. I just wanted to check on you. You ran out of dinner so quickly, and you looked a little…I’m sorry. I didn’t meant to wake you again.”
He wanted to kick his own ass for his rambling. Never in his life had a woman made him this off balance. Charm was his game, and he played it well, so why was he suddenly unsure of himself?
“I’m okay, just really tired. The road trip version of jet lag I guess. Thank you, for checking on me.” She said, giving him a small smile. She reached for the door, but then hesitated and glanced over her shoulder at the interior of the bedroom as if unsure of her next move too. The light washed over her face and he noticed the tear tracks on her cheeks and a slight puffiness to her eyes. His stomach clenched and before he could stop himself, he tugged her into his arms, delighting in the softness of her curves against him.
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Best-selling author, Lori King, is also a full-time wife and mother of three boys. Although she rarely has time to just enjoy feminine pursuits; at heart she is a hopeless romantic. She spends her days dreaming up Alpha men, and her nights telling their stories. An admitted TV and book junkie, she can be found relaxing with a steamy story, or binging in an entire season of some show online. She gives her parents all the credit for her unique sense of humor and acceptance of all forms of love. There are no two loves alike, but you can love more than one with your whole heart.
With the motto: Live, Laugh, and Love like today is your only chance, she will continue to write as long as you continue to read. Thank you for taking the time to indulge in a good Happily Ever After with her.
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