Authors: Stacey Espino
Ride ‘em Hard 1
Samantha has one week off work to explore the country, never expecting a snowstorm to nearly take her life. Nor does she expect to find love and salvation with the three Carson brothers. Her cowboy saviors have no problem sharing, pulling her deeper into their world of erotic pleasures each day she remains on their ranch.
Wyatt and his twin brothers, Cord and Val, need inspiration in the worst way. When Samantha comes into their lives, she gives them a purpose and fulfills all their desires. There's no way they can let her return to the city. But can they convince the independent brunette to let them take care of her—forever?
Contemporary, Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Western/Cowboys
Ride ’em Hard 1
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Ménage Amour
Copyright © 2011 by Stacey Espino
E-book ISBN: 1-61034-726-9
First E-book Publication: August 2011
Cover design by Jinger Heaston
All cover art and logo copyright © 2011 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
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As promised, this book is dedicated to Pat C. and L.K. Below for winning my
Name The Hero
Thank you, ladies, and everyone else for participating!
Ride ’em Hard 1
Copyright © 2011
Where both deliberate, the love is slight: Who ever lov’d, that lov’d not at first sight?
Waiting for the subway in mid-March, at midnight, was one of the most unpleasant experiences Samantha Brown had to live through. But she did it six days a week in order to pay the bills. The frigid winter air wafted in from the subway tunnels, traveling up her pant legs and making her skin break out in gooseflesh. She hugged herself and her purse. Worse than the cold was the isolation at this hour. Samantha wondered how long she could go without getting mugged or attacked by some drunk.
As she continued to wait, she wondered what Dave was up to, even though she promised herself not to bring him to mind. Eight months of her life had been wasted on that jerk, and she had nothing to show for it, not even good memories. Samantha didn’t share and refused to look the other way. She remembered the advice her sister gave her:
“All men cheat. He’s a good guy. You won’t get a better catch than him.”
She could never marry out of necessity. It had to be love or nothing at all. At this point in her life, she wondered if real love even existed.
Once seated on the subway, she dug in her purse and pulled out her Kindle. She was in the middle of a great e-book. When her days consisted of work, sleep, work, an escape was vital to her sanity. Whether it was a knight, warrior, or cowboy—any hero would do. They were all tall, muscled, fiercely loyal, and tireless sex machines. Right now she was halfway through a wolf-shifter romance. Her page loaded and she dove in, knowing she had a good twenty minutes before her stop.
She hadn’t realized how entranced she was in her novel and suddenly felt exposed and a bit confused as she abruptly shifted into reality. Samantha glanced up to see a businessman standing in front of her holding the silver support pole. Of the few train occupants, he was the last one she expected to pose a potential problem. He was clean-cut and middle-aged so he didn’t scare her. His stop was probably next.
“Sure,” she answered, not wanting to be rude. Offering the title was another thing. Book three in the
series was not something she planned on sharing.
“Where you heading?” He adjusted his shoulder strap of a traveling briefcase higher on his shoulder.
Okay, her hackles started to rise. He was a stranger. Samantha might have been thirty, but she looked at least five years younger with light mocha skin thanks to her father’s Hispanic heritage.
She wasn’t dressed provocatively. Her thick, black tweed coat came nearly to her knees, and her boots reached past her calves. Samantha wanted to be invisible, especially riding the subway at this hour.
Did he actually expect her to tell him where she was going?
“Home from work.” She smiled politely and glanced at her watch to keep her eyes busy.
He shifted closer after two teenagers exited on the next stop. Oh God, there was only a drunk in the far corner, fast asleep and oblivious to the world around him. She took a breath.
Get it together, Samantha. He’s just being friendly.
“It’s pretty late to be getting off work.”
She shrugged. “Gotta pay the rent.”
“You live alone?” His expression changed, going from casual to seductive.
When the subway stopped at the next station, she bolted like a fool. She'd seen too many news reports about rapes to risk sticking around. Once she felt safe, her adrenaline-riddled body sagged in relief, and she leaned against the tiled support pillar. An empty bottle falling on the concrete echoed around her, the sound bouncing off the walls of the isolated platform.
The murmur of conversation drifted closer, but she was hidden by the pillar. A multitude of footsteps and raucous male laughter made her breath hitch. If a group of drunken punks found her alone, God knew what they’d be capable of. Where was her Prince Charming when she needed him? Time stood still as they drew closer. She felt light-headed, all her muscles tense. At this point, even her shitty apartment sounded like heaven compared to here. She’d give anything to be there right now.
When they were nearly behind her pillar, the next subway car was her saving grace as it whined and whistled up the tunnel. The bright lights emerging from the darkness was the most beautiful sight she’d ever seen. Once she boarded, she kept her e-reader in her purse and sat stiff and alert for the remainder of the trip.
By the time she walked up four flights of stairs to her apartment, thanks to the broken elevator, she was ready to crash—both physically and mentally. Samantha locked her deadbolt and door chain, dropped her oversized purse on the floor, and trudged into the living room. She collapsed on the recliner and unzipped her boots, wiggling her frozen, cramped toes once they were free.
Samantha flicked on her CD player, something mellow to kill the white noise. There were pictures of sunsets, hunks, and inspirational quotes pinned to her walls. It was her counterfeit paradise to escape the real world. But nothing could make up for her loneliness. How on earth did people meet their significant other these days? Internet dating? She didn’t want to be chosen by her appearance like a prized heifer at auction. Her social circle was small and diminishing with time, so getting out was not in the cards either. If she couldn't find Mr. Right, she only hoped he'd find her.
* * * *
“Are you serious, Keith? I can’t afford this!”
Samantha massaged behind her neck as she paced the bustling kitchen. Two guys skipped out on their bill, and her supervisor expected her to cover the tab. She couldn’t afford to feed herself, never mind pay the almost eighty-dollar lunch bill for two dine-and-dashers.
“You’re supposed to watch your tables.” Keith was no-nonsense, no mercy.
She started to untie her apron, getting caught up in knots due to her irritation. “How am I expected to watch every table? We’re short staffed and I have tables on both levels. Never mind all the time I have to keep coming in the kitchen to deal with all the messed-up orders.”
“Rules are rules, sweetheart.” He talked over her, speaking to the chefs across the stainless steel counter as if she were of no importance. All her tips would go to cover that bill today. She’d had a good morning and was hopeful about sending some money to her sister by week’s end. Not anymore. She wanted to escape to the public washroom, lock herself in a cubicle, and cry.
“Don’t you have work to do?” Keith glared at her.
She exhaled in a growl and stomped away, pushing open the swinging door with exaggerated force. Now she had to put on a fake smile and work until late tonight just to break even. Then it was the long, nightmarish subway ride home again.
Samantha watched as a large group of businessmen gathered in the lobby. The hostesses looked flustered as they tried to find a table large enough for their party. It was a busy night. She had to dance around her coworkers, who carried trays of glasses above their heads, or guests looking for the washrooms.
Kate rushed over to her, clipboard pressed against her chest. “Sam, can you handle a party of eleven? The only space is in the party section.” Her eyes beseeched her. “They look like good tippers.”
Dammit, she needed the money. The extra workload would kill her when she already had more tables than one waitress should be expected to handle, but she’d deal with it. “Get the busboys to push those two together.” Samantha nodded to the two rectangular tables in their reserved section. “I’ll come check on them in ten.”
“You’re a lifesaver, doll.” Kate twirled around and returned to the lobby, her long ponytail whipping to the side.
Samantha tended to her tables, more zombie than woman. She could take and remember orders, balance an oversized tray of steaming-hot food, and weave around guests and coworkers like a prima ballerina. The men at the party table were in their mid-thirties to fifties, and they screamed money. She hoped they were generous because they worked her to the bone.
Samantha became a waitress because it was the only job where she could make decent money without a college education. Although she was smart and had done well in high school, her mother didn’t have money for college. Samantha had planned to get a student loan after a summer of waitressing, but one summer turned into two, then three…now she was here, in the same place at thirty years old.
She didn’t know who she was or what she wanted out of life, and her best years were already past her.
“Want a ride home, Sammie?” asked Ray, one of the sous-chefs as he left for the evening. His brown hair was matted from the hairnet he’d worn all day, and he looked nearly as tired as she felt.
“Some of us are lucky enough to work past closing.” She winked at her friend and tried her best to maintain a friendly smile.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Sam. Have a good night.” The last of the waitresses said her good-byes. At this hour, Samantha would be better off sleeping on one of the grates downtown rather than traveling all the way home for a couple hours of sleep.
Another half hour later and some of the men started shifting in their seats and donning their suit jackets.
When she appeared at the table, one of the men motioned for her to come closer. With a further gesture for her to lean over, he managed to tell her the one thing she didn’t need to hear. “Look, hon. I’ve got the money for the bill here, but the business account doesn’t cover gratuity.” Of course not. “I feel terrible, so I hope this makes it up to you somewhat.” He handed her a business card. She glanced at it. It was for a car rental place.
“What’s this for?” she asked.
“I manage that rental business. You come by any time and I’ll set you up with a vehicle. No charge for a week. Free gas, too.”
Samantha bit her lip, wanting to tell him where he could shove his free rental. She needed cold hard cash. But she’d never been loud or mouthy, so smiled graciously and took the business card along with the payment for the bill. All that extra work for nothing.
Once free from the restaurant and on the neon-lit downtown stretch, she began her walk to the subway entrance. She mentally examined her life and decided she was sick and tired of the status quo. There had to be more out to life than what she was living.
Although she was too busy for relationships, she was still a woman with wants and needs. Her sexual appetite had recently spiked, which seemed a common phenomenon for women in her age bracket. Sometimes her thoughts even disturbed her. She craved to be mastered, ordered to comply to perform kinky sex acts. With a dominant man controlling her, she could truly let go—no more worries, no more responsibilities, just obedience and satisfaction. Suppressing her sexuality at her peak had to be the blame for all her wayward dreams and desires.
She wasn’t sure if she was normal or a deviant because she wouldn’t dare tell a soul about her fantasies. Even the idea of entering an adult toy store to buy some gadgets for experimentation was out of the question. She wouldn’t be caught dead in a place like that. What would people think of her?
So she contented herself with her lot, trying to stifle her urges, and focus on the daily grind. There wasn’t a real man alive whom she’d trust to fulfill her darkest desires.
* * * *
The next morning, her alarm clock woke her up, buzzing all the way into her dreams. She sat up with a start, her body sweat-glistening, her heart pounding against her ribs. Another dream of being lost in a dark void, unable to escape or call for help. She believed that dreams held secret meanings but didn’t know what this one signified. Maybe because she felt trapped in her life, unable to move on to better things? Whatever it was, it was just a dream, and the alarm signaled her return to reality.
After a quick shower, she had just enough time to sit down and have a light breakfast. Samantha sat at her two-person table and spooned Frosted Flakes into her mouth as she watched big white snowflakes falling outside the window. It hadn’t snowed in ages in the city, and she enjoyed watching the plump, lazy flakes make their way down from the heavens. The sight calmed her but also warned of worse weather to come. The news report playing on her portable kitchen radio described the powerful Alberta Clipper moving across the country, which meant it wouldn’t be long until it arrived in southern
. She’d have to dress extra warm today, just in case.
Before she was finished the one sugary indulgence she allowed herself, the phone rang. It was her supervisor from the restaurant, telling her not to come in for the rest of the week. After she left last night there’d been a grease fire in the main kitchen. The place would be shut down for renovations for at least a week.
A week without tips. A week without income.
Samantha paced her small living room, wondering what to do with her free time and how to manage such a loss of income when the first of the month loomed just around the corner. If a human could self-combust due to worry, she’d be a pile of ash on the floor. She stopped in front of her hall mirror, bracing a hand on either side of the cheap ten-dollar frame.