From New York Times andUSA Today bestsellingauthor RuthCardellocomes thesteamynew release to the Lone Star Burnseries.
Lucy Albright never wantedher family’s Texas ranch,butnowit’s inforeclosure. She’salready lostsomuchshecan’tbearthethoughtoflosingonemore thing. Lucy learnedthehardway nottoaccepthelpfrom amanwhentherearestringsattached, so she’lldowhatever ittakes tosavetheranchonherownterms—evenif that means launching anonlinebusiness marketinghigh-techsex toys.
Ranch manager DavidHarmonhas areputationfor beingacowboy withaheartofgold.Even if she refuses his help,down-and-outLucy is thekindofwomanhe’lldoanythingtoprotect. And while David may notknowmuchaboutLucy’s naughty sidebusiness,thatwon’t stop a cowboy from doingsomethinghe’s sethis mindto.
With the ranch threatenedby aschemingneighbor,Lucy can’thelpbutkeepDavidaround. Their attraction may beundeniable,butwillthespark betweenthemburnherentirefuture to the ground?
ExcerptsShe met his eyes, andfor amomenther resolvewavered.Hehadthekindesteyes she’dever looked into. What wouldwebetoeachother ifwe’dknowneachotherbeforeallthis?IfIwasn’t already a tangled mess ontheinside?
Why ask myself what mighthavebeen,whenallIhaveis hereandnow?
“Keeping this ranch is mypriority now.My only priority.Iknowhowungratefulthatsounds,butIasked you not to come. I warnedyou.Good-bye,David.”
He bent closer again, so closeLucy’s resolvebegantodissolve.“I’mnotleavinguntilI’msureyou’re safe, Lucy. Wyatt hiredmetohelplook after theoutbuildings,andIagreedtobringsomeof my horses over to givework tosomeofthemenwhowereheretoday.Wyattseems tothinkthey’ll need it.”
The room spun. “Wyatt can’thireyou.This is my ranch.”
David caressed the side ofLucy’s face,runningtheback ofhis fingers downonesideofherneck. “Wyatt’s worried aboutyou.Hethinks youneedsomeonetowatchoveryou.Iagree.”
The pleasure of his touchconfusedLucy.Shefeltvibrantly alive,andhermiserablemorningwas too easy to forget. No.No.No.Shepushedhis handaway.“Idon’tcarewhatWyattthinks,and I don’t care what you do,either.I’m tellingyoutoleave.Idon’twantyouhere.”
“Then why do you look likeyouwanttokiss mesodamnmuch?”heasked.
Lucy turned away from him.Shewrappedher arms aroundherself.Shecouldlietohimandsayhe was wrong, but they’dbothknowitwasn’ttrue.“Yousay youwanttohelpme,David,butyoudon’t listen to me. I will savethis ranch,andIwilldoitmyself.” Sheturnedback tofacehim.“Haven’t you ever neededtoprovesomethingtoyourselfsobadly thataneasierway ofdoingsomething was impossibletoconsider?”
David nodded. “And that was usually rightbeforeIfellonmy face.”
She sputtered angrily and was abouttotellhim offwhenheraisedhis handtocaress hercheekagain. “We’re at a standoff,youandI.My daddy always saidthesecrettosolvingadisagreement was finding acompromisebothcouldlivewith.Wyattneeds helpoutside,themen who were here today needjobs,andIneedtoknowyou’reokay.”
He ran a mesmerizing thumbacross her partedlips.“Youneedtosavetheranchonyourown.What if I promise I won’t stepintohelpagainunless youask meto,andinreturnyouletmepayfor the use of your barns andfields totrainmy horses.”
“You can’t pay me. I oweyoumoney.”“Then charge me and deductas wego.I’llpay youafair ratefor theleaseofyourfacility.”
“Why would you do that?” Besides tosleepwithme,becausethatcan’thappen.
As if he heard her, he droppedhis handandsteppedback.Thesadness shefeltattheabsenceof his touch was as confusingas fightingthepleasurefrom ithadbeen.“I’vebeenthinkingabout getting my own placefor awhile.This wouldbeaway totesthowIlikeit.WorkingwithTony has been good for me,butlikeyou,it’s timefor metoseewhatIcandoonmyown.”
“You can’t stay in the mainhouse.” Lucy blushedrightafter sheblurtedherthoughtout.
A slow smile spread across his face.“WyattsuggestedIstay intheoldworkers’quarters.Noneof the men who were heretoday willbelookingtostay there.It’llbeperfect.”
Am I honestly considering this?“IfIsay yes,itdoesn’tmeanI’m agreeingtoanythingelse.Iwant to be clear about that.”
A twinkle lit his eyes. “Why,Miss Lucy,whatelsemightIthink youwereagreeingto?”
Lucy walked back to thebox andpickedupthelargesttoy inside.Itwas thevelvetbasewiththe exchangeable mechanicaldildoontop.Sheplaceditonher desk,laidoutthevariety ofattachable pieces in front ofit,andsatdown.Sherestedher chinononehandandlookedatitsternly.
You don’t scare me, you know.
You’re just a bunch of wires andsiliconemolds.
She glanced at the directions,thenattachedoneofthedildos tothetop.Ithadatickleronitsend that reminded Lucy ofamopofhair.
Not even sexy. More likesomethingfrom outer space.She absently ran her finger over thecomplicatedarrangements ofbuttons onthefront.Andseriously, how much does somethinglikeyouneedtodo?
As she brushed too hard againstoneofthebuttons,thedildostartedtospin.“Shit.”Shetriedtoturn it off, but the button she’dpressedhadsentthebaseintoavibrationmodesopowerful,thething was hopping on her desk.Shemadeagrabfor it,pressedanotherbutton,andthedildoflew forward, slapping her across theface.Shesworeandlosthergrip,andithoppeditselfoffher desk and crashed to thefloor.
She scrambled onto her knees,tryingtograbthedamnthing.Iteludedherfirstattempt,butshefinally caught it. Despite howitwiggledfor its freedom,sherighteditandlocatedthe“Off”button. Swearing, she satback onher heels andwipedahandacross hernowsweaty brow.Itwas only then that she noticedDavidstandingatthedoor.
There are moments in life thattestaman.ThesightofLucy chasingahoppingmachinewithadick waving from the top ofitlikeaflagwas probably thefunniestthingDavidhadeverseen.The expression on her facewarnedhim nottolaugh.Hetoldhimselfshewas probablyembarrassed, and he shouldn’thaveopenedthedoor withoutknocking.
Then, because he was only human,hegrinnedandasked,“Toughday atwork?”
Ruth Cardello was borntheyoungestof11childreninasmallcity innorthernRhodeIsland.She spent her young adultyears movingas far away as shecouldfromherlargeextendedfamily. She lived in Boston,Paris,Orlando,NewYork--thencamefullcircleandmovedback toRhode Island. She now happily lives onetownover from theoneshewas bornin.Forher,family trumped the warmer weather andinternationalscene.
She was an educator for 20years,thelast11as akindergartenteacher.Whenherschooldistrict began cutting jobs,Ruthturnedaserious eyetowardher secondlove-writingandhasnever been happier. Whenshe's notwriting,youcanfindher chasingherchildrenaroundhersmall farm, riding her horses,or connectingwithher readers online.
Connect with the author:Website: www.RuthCardello.com
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