Authors: Delores Fossen
Tags: #Contemporary, #Romance, #Fiction, #Forever Love, #Adult, #Bachelor, #Single Woman, #Sensual, #Hearts Desire, #Novella, #Short Story, #Series, #Spring Hill, #Texas, #Cowboy, #Western, #Cattle Operation, #Elopement, #Mistake, #Quickie Divorce, #Past, #Still Married, #Can't Marry, #Father Chooses, #Runion, #Second Chance, #Ranch Hand, #Twelve Years, #Rekindle Romance, #Opposites Attract
Two people prove opposites really do
attract when the fiery passion they once shared is rekindled twelve years later
in this digital installment of The McCord Brothers by
bestselling author Delores Fossen...
Ranch hand Rico Callahan struggled to earn everything he has,
but sitting proud at the top of the most successful cattle operation in Texas
doesn’t change that he was born unworthy of Spring Hill sweetheart Natalie
London. Their elopement years ago was a mistake. Their quickie divorce was
supposed to put it all in the past. Now Natalie’s back in town claiming they’re
still married—and everything’s at stake.
Natalie can’t wed the perfect-on-paper man her domineering
father chose for her when she’s still married to her true love. And she
definitely can’t walk away when seeing Rico again only makes her want him more
than ever. Sex for old times’ sake sounds better than good, but one touch shows
them what matters--and what they’ll have to risk to turn a sizzling reunion into
Not what Rico Callahan wanted to see when he came out of one of the barn stalls. Yet there they were.
Four Wrangler jeans faced him like some kind of stock picture that got posted on the internet. And none of those jeans-covered butts were moving, something that darn sure should be happening since there was more manure that needed shoveling and fences that should be checked.
“Is there a reason I’m the only one on bullshit detail?” Rico snarled.
No answer. All four ranch hands just stood there gawking. So help them if they were ogling Anna McCord sunbathing again in the backyard, he was going to kick some of those butts. One of Anna’s brothers, Logan, was Rico’s boss and the head of the McCord Ranch, but Rico thought of her like a kid sister, too.
Using the hay strewn on the barn floor, Rico wiped off some of the muck from his boots and made his way to the others. Along the way, he stopped by the tack room and snagged a bottle of water from the fridge. He drank half and poured the other half over his head. The water snaked down his face and back.
It didn’t help.
“Hey, Rico, you’ll wanna take a look at this,” Shane called out. He was butt number two from the left in the line of gawkers.
When Rico reached them, he followed their gazes. Not to a sunbathing Anna. Or even to another livestock delivery they were expecting any minute now. They were staring at a sleek silver sports car, as expensive as they came. And it was parked on the side of the McCord house.
The driver’s door of the car was already open, but thanks to the tinted window and the door itself, the only thing he saw of their visitor was a foot. Not just any old foot, though. One wearing a four-inch sexy heel that was almost the same color as the car. That heel and the accompanying shapely ankle grabbed Rico’s attention.
It was like watching a striptease. A delicate hand slid over the top of the driver’s-side window and door. Perfectly manicured nails—the color of ripe raspberries—gripped the glass and metal. The other foot touched down on the ground. Graceful. Like a dancer getting ready to strut her stuff.
Rico felt like fanning himself, and it wasn’t all a result of the July heat. It’d been a while since he’d taken the time to appreciate a good-looking woman. A reminder that he needed a life outside the ranch and shit-shoveling.
Inch by inch the top of their visitor’s head came into view as she rose from the seat. Honey-blond hair. It looked touchable, and he could almost feel his fingers sliding through it. It’d probably be like silk.
She had a well-shaped forehead. Sleek sunglasses that curved just above her high cheekbones. Blush-touched cheeks, and he was willing to bet it didn’t totally come from a bottle or a tube.
But then the striptease came to a kick-to-the-nuts halt.
Rico’s gaze landed on her mouth. A full, sensual mouth covered with just enough gloss to make it noticeable. And notice it he did. It was a mouth he hadn’t seen in twelve years, and it belonged to the last person on earth he wanted to see.
Shane and the others cursed, obviously realizing that their fantasies had been ill-placed, as well. They all knew Natalie, of course, even though she no longer lived around here. Everybody knew everybody in Spring Hill, both past and present residents, and the gossips soon filled in the newcomers with all the delicious details.
Gossipy details about Rico and their visitor.
Like the fact that Natalie had been slumming twelve years ago when she’d married Rico, the ranch hand. The fact that she’d dumped the ranch hand, too, when her daddy hadn’t approved. And the final fact was that most folks thought Rico hadn’t gotten over her.
They were dead wrong about that.
With seemingly no effort, she used her elbow to push the car door shut, eased off her sunglasses and started toward the barn. No hurried footsteps for her. Just the long, easy stride of a woman who had a mountain of confidence.
A change for Natalie.
She wasn’t exactly the mountain-of-confidence type. Or the type to wear sex-against-the-wall heels like that. His Natalie—when she had been his, that is—was more of a jeans-and-cowboy-boots kind of girl. Her daddy had often joked that cowboy boots and princess tiaras didn’t go well together.
Neither had princesses and cowboys.
But she was definitely more in the princess wheelhouse today. The muggy breeze flirted with her turquoise-colored skirt, fluttering it around the tops of her knees. Rico obviously wasn’t the only one to notice that, because Brandon mumbled something about being “in lust.”
Rico understood completely.
Even now, he felt the lust. He wanted to punch himself hard for feeling it, and he wanted to punch all four Wrangler butts for feeling it, too. Thank goodness that lust was tempered with a hefty dose of reality. It didn’t matter how good she looked, he definitely didn’t want to go another round with Natalie Landon.
Now, the question was—did she want to go another round with him?
If so, it’d be a shocker, considering she hadn’t even bothered to call him once since she’d walked out on him twelve years ago after their one-week marriage. No, it probably wasn’t for round two. After all, she’d been the one to leave.
By the time she’d made it to the front of the barn, her deep violet-blue eyes slid in Rico’s direction. Their gazes met. And held.
Natalie didn’t smile or offer him an acknowledging nod, even though her mouth did that little quivery thing where her bottom lip trembled just slightly. This time it was maybe from nerves, but it happened other times, as well. She probably didn’t know she did the same thing just seconds before reaching an orgasm. He knew. Because Rico had been on the giving end of those particular orgasms.
And that was something else he really wished he hadn’t remembered.
Rico stayed put but watched as she made her way past the line of butts. The barn was littered with hay, feed and equipment. The air was heavy not just with heat and humidity but with manure and dust. Hardly a fitting place for Natalie, not dressed like that anyway.
Not smelling like that, either.
She was wearing perfume that screamed “I’m expensive.” Ditto for the earrings. Diamonds, of course, that dripped down like raindrops on tiny gold threads. The only thing that didn’t mesh was the small silver heart that she’d pinned, well, over her heart.
Natalie stopped right in front of him, and her attention went from his hair, which was still soaking wet, down to his unbuttoned shirt. Also drenched. Not just drenched from the water he’d poured over his head, either, but from an ample amount of sweat. If she’d been any other woman, Rico would have wished for a shower and a shave before facing her.
But she wasn’t any other woman.
There was no need to impress her.
“Lost?” Rico asked, just so he could make sure his mouth was moving and not gaping. “Because you’re a long way from Austin.”
“No, not lost. But believe me, it’d be better for both of us if that’s why I was here. Is there someplace we can talk? In private?” she added, sparing the hands a cool glance.
Hell. This couldn’t be good. Rico wanted to refuse, but that would just make him look petty. Besides, he was curious, and since he wasn’t a cat, maybe that curiosity wouldn’t kill his ass.
He led her through the barn. Through the crap and hay. No doubt messing up those girlie shoes. Rico took her to the bunkhouse and his office there. Such that it was. It was barely big enough for one, so Rico had to work hard to keep some personal space between them. He leaned his shoulder against the metal filing cabinet, folded his arms over his chest and generally tried to look surly. With the heat and her impromptu visit, it wasn’t a hard look to accomplish.
“Well, you don’t appear to have a flat tire,” he commented.
A reminder, or rather a jab, of how they’d first gotten together. In a downpour, no less. She’d had a flat tire on her vintage candy-apple-red Mustang. One look at her, and he’d stopped to help. And the rest was history. Within three days, they’d become lovers. Secretly. Within three months, they’d become engaged.
Ditto for the elopement and marriage.
It’d been a whirlwind romance by anyone’s standards. But when the whirling finally stopped, Natalie opted out of her promise to love him forever and went back to dear old Dad.
“No flat tire.” And from the way she pursed her mouth, Natalie was remembering that fateful day, as well.
She pushed aside some papers on his desk and propped her right butt cheek on the corner. She probably did that to give herself some more space as well, but the simple gesture caused her skirt to shift slightly, and he got another glimpse of her thigh.
That cooled down the surliness and brought on the fantasies again.
Hot fantasies of him sliding his hand right up her thigh and into her panties. Which were almost certainly silk and lace because even when Natalie had been a tomboy, she’d had great taste in underwear. Then he could sink his fingers into that moist, slippery heat and give her an orgasm they’d both remember.
What the hell was he thinking?
Or better yet, what was he thinking with? Of course, he already knew the answer to that. He was thinking with that brainless part of him that was causing a three-ring circus in his jeans.
“This is your office?” she asked, her gaze landing on the framed photo on the file cabinet of him and his mother. She sounded surprised. Maybe because she hadn’t thought of him as the office-having sort.
Rico nodded and nearly added that he was a top hand now, that he supervised the gawking butts. But that wouldn’t impress Natalie because simply put, he was still just a cowboy.
“Why are you here?” Rico came out and asked at the same moment Natalie said, “Are you, uh, seeing anyone?”
Rico was certain he scowled. Natalie scowled, too, huffed and stood. Or rather she tried. But she got off-balance in the small space and wobbled. It likely would have stayed just a wobble if she’d been wearing cowboy boots, but the needle-thin heels didn’t give her much support. She reached for the filing cabinet to steady herself.
She caught on to Rico instead.
Specifically, his thigh. She clamped her hand over it. That didn’t help him in the dirty-thoughts department.
“Sorry,” she grumbled, snatching back her hand and hitting him in the crotch in the process. He winced, cursed. But she cursed, too. “These damn shoes.”
Bingo. Natalie was still a cowboy-boots girl. “Please don’t tell me you wore them to impress me?” he asked.
She blinked and stared as if he’d just suggested they fly to Pluto on a hay bale. “No.” Natalie paused. “Maybe,” she amended, swallowing hard.
Hell’s Texas bells. Now he was the one with that “fly to Pluto” look of disbelief. “You’re not here for ex sex, are you?”
“No,” she jumped to say. But then she hesitated, nibbled on her bottom lip. “Are you seeing anyone? Engaged? In love?”
None of the above, but Rico didn’t answer. He went with a repeat of his question. “Ex sex?” And he was about to tell her there was no way that would happen. However, Natalie spoke before he could get his mouth working.
“We’d have to be exes for ex sex,” she said.
Because Rico was already confused, it took longer than normal for those words to sink in. Even when the sinking was done, they still didn’t make sense.
“What are you talking about? We’ve been divorced for twelve years.” He was about to add all that old baggage about her buckling under to her daddy’s demands, but again Natalie got a word in first.
One very important word.
“No,” she said.
“No?” he questioned, only because Rico didn’t know what the hell else to say.
“No,” she verified. “The district clerk messed up and didn’t file the papers properly. We’re still legally married.”
Then Natalie did something else that nearly shocked Rico’s boxers off. She slid her hand around his neck, dragged him to her and kissed him.