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Authors: Cheyenne McCray

Fencing You In

BOOK: Fencing You In
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Riding Tall:

Fencing You In

 

Cheyenne McCray

 

 

Copyright © 2012

Fencing You In by Cheyenne McCray

All rights reserved. No part of this e-Book may be reproduced in whole or in part, scanned, photocopied, recorded, distributed in any printed or electronic form, or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or hereafter invented, without express written permission of the publisher, 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, or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

E-book conversion by Bella Media Management.

Published by Pink Zebra Publishing.

13-Digit ISBN: 978-0-9858534-4-0

First Edition e-Book

Chapter 1

 

“I don’t date playboys.” Tess Grady wiped down the bar, shaking her head and trying not to smile as she looked at Gage McBride sitting on the stool in front of her. “Once again, the answer is no.”

“Playboy?” The cowboy raised a brow as he set down his cold mug of beer. “Now I’m a playboy?”

“A cowboy with a girl in every town.” Tess began polishing a glass. “I’ve heard the rumors.”

“You believe everything you hear?” An amused smile curved the corner of his mouth. “Don’t tell me you judge a man based on rumors.”

She shrugged one shoulder. “If the Stetson fits…”

He leaned forward, folding his muscular arms on the bar. Hell, every part of the man appeared muscular. She was loath to admit it, but the thought of undressing such a hot package made her mouth water. “Why don’t you get to know me?” he asked. “Judge for yourself.”

As she polished another glass, she tried to ignore the pull the cowboy had on her. Ever since Nectars had opened, Gage had been coming into the bar and would flirt with her when she wasn’t working in the Hummingbird, the restaurant side of her family’s establishment. Most of the time, she was in the restaurant so she didn’t see Gage often enough for him to corner her like he had now.

When he was near, he set her senses on fire, and she always tried to find a way to get away from the man as fast as possible. Unfortunately, today wasn’t a day she could escape because they were short-staffed in the bar.

She blew a blonde curl out of her eyes. “No thanks,” she said despite the fact that she was so very tempted.

Clear green eyes without a hint of hazel in them studied her. His eyes held the kind of sensuality that caused a woman’s belly to squirm. He had dark hair and just enough stubble on his jaws to add to his rough, sexy appearance.

The tempting thing with Gage was that rough and sexy was natural. He was not some guy trying to look like a hardworking cowboy. She’d been told how successful his water well drilling business was and that he might play hard but he worked even harder. Of course, she’d never let him know she’d been intrigued enough to learn more about him. She found it curious and rather attractive that he never mentioned his business success to lure her in.

“Come on, Tess.” Gage’s sexy drawl was enough to make her toes curl. “One date.”

She opened her mouth to respond when she saw a tall, gorgeous redhead making a beeline through the establishment, headed straight for Gage. A flare of heat was in the woman’s gaze and she looked like she could spit flames.

She came up behind Gage, so angry looking that Tess could imagine the woman’s eyes glowing red. “Well hello, Gage.” The redhead spat the words with venom.

A pained expression crossed his face and Tess thought she might have seen him wince.

Slowly he turned toward the redhead and smiled. “Hi, Nandra.”

“You—” Nandra raised her hand and slapped Gage hard across his left cheek “—
bastard
.” The sound of her hand contacting flesh was loud.

The few patrons in the bar went quiet.

The woman cut her gaze to Tess. “So you’re his little squeeze now? Just don’t get too comfortable.” Nandra spun around and marched out of the bar, her heels clicking on the wood floor.

Gage watched Nandra walk out as he rubbed his jaw while talking resumed. Fortunately, those in the bar all had full drinks and Tess could enjoy Gage’s discomfort.

He looked back at Tess as she was trying to hold back laughter. He picked up his cold beer mug and put it against the side of his face. “She packs some power.”

“You have a way with the ladies.” Tess looked at him with amusement.

“Second time this month.” He gave a rueful smile as he lowered his mug to the bar. “I guess you might as well just slap me now and get it over with.”

Tess did laugh then. “Assuming I’d be foolish enough go out with you to begin with.” She gestured toward the entrance. “And that was not the best endorsement.” She braced her hands on the bar. “I suppose you didn’t deserve that.”

“No, I deserved it.” His admission surprised Tess. “Long story.”

She leaned down and rested her elbow on the bar, her chin in her hand. “The bar is nearly empty. I have time.”

He grinned. “Go out with me and I’ll tell you whatever you want to know.”

She rolled her eyes. “Good try.”

“How about tomorrow night?” His green eyes held hers and she knew exactly what a romance heroine meant when she felt like she was melting. She felt like her bones had gone soft and she was breathing a little faster.

Damn.

She pushed away from the bar and felt like she had to physically break the connection with him to do so. “I’m busy.”

“Is that right?” he said.

“My daughter has a kindergarten open house.” Tess smiled at the thought of Jenny then felt an immediate stab of guilt that she had to work so late when she should be home with her.

Gage started to say something but to Tess’s relief, a crowd of young adults pushed their way into Nectars.

“Excuse me.” She gave Gage a quick smile then moved down the bar to where one of the young men had come up to order. “I’ll need to see your ID,” she said to the guy. He pulled out his driver’s license and handed it to her. The license had the name Hal Johnson on it. When she returned it, she gave a nod in the direction of the two young women and another young man who sat as a nearby table. “Theirs, too, if they’re ordering drinks, Hal.”

Hal looked a little annoyed, but said “All right.”

After checking everyone’s ID and making sure they were at least twenty-one, Tess took their orders and served up beers for them.

When she finished with that group, two separate couples walked through the door. The evening crowd had begun to filter in. She glanced back to where Gage had been sitting and saw that he was gone, and that once again he’d left a generous tip sticking out from beneath his beer mug.

Even though he’d left, she still felt as if she could sense him watching her. Warmth spread over her skin as if he was touching her now. Just thinking about the man was going to drive her crazy. She shook her head. Damn.

There was something about Gage McBride that intrigued her in ways she couldn’t begin to understand. She liked solid, dependable men like the man she’d married. Steve had died from a car accident some time ago and she hadn’t dated anyone since he’d passed away. Pain still squeezed her heart when she thought about him but the pain had faded enough that maybe she should start dating again.

But
not
a sexy cowboy ladies man. That was not smart. Not smart at all.

* * * * *

“I’m home.” Tess shut the garage door behind her as she walked into the house through the laundry room. She headed into the kitchen. “Hi, Mrs. Webb.”

An older woman with skin the color of polished ebony limped into the kitchen. “Hello, Tess dear.”

Tess gave Mrs. Webb a tired smile. “How was everything tonight?” As she spoke, Tess hung her purse by its strap on the same dining room chair she always used. The house was small with the kitchen overlooking the great room that had the dining area on one side, the living room on the other.

“That little girl was full of fire today. Like to have run me ragged.” Mrs. Webb shook her head but didn’t sound upset. Instead she wore a fond expression. It was clear the woman loved Jenny as if the girl was her own granddaughter. “She’s sleeping sound.”

“If she gets to be too much of a handful, you let me know.” Tess hugged the large woman and drew back. “I don’t want her driving you crazy.”

“Jenny is fine.” Mrs. Webb patted Tess on the arm. “You know how much that girl means to me.”

“I know.” Tess ruffled her short blonde curls with one hand. “I just want to make sure she doesn’t get to be too much for you.”

“Pshaw.” Mrs. Webb waved the comment away as she picked up her purse from the end of the breakfast bar. “When I decide to retire, I’ll be sure and let you know.”

Tess followed Mrs. Webb to the front door. “I hope you know just how much we appreciate you and how much you mean to us.”

Mrs. Webb paused with her hand on the doorknob and looked at Tess. She gave Tess a gentle smile. “Believe me, honey, the feeling is mutual.”

Tess hugged the older woman again then watched her as she held onto the rail and took the steps one at a time, the porch light illuminating the way. Tess made sure Mrs. Webb made it to her car, started it, and was pulling out of the drive before she locked the screen and front door behind her.

When all three locks were in place, Tess walked down a short hall to her daughter’s room. She pushed the door open to look in on Jenny and the light from the hallway illuminated the lavender walls. The room was done in light purple with darker purple accents, Jenny’s favorite colors.

Moonlight trickled into the room through the part in the curtains and shone softly on the girl’s face. She looked like a sweet fairy in the silvery glow. Next to her was Bette, a doll that she had carried with her everywhere, up until she started school. Bette stared up at the ceiling with one big blue eye, her other eye having been glued shut with clear nail polish when Jenny was two. Bette’s little blonde ponytail was frizzy from the countless adventures she and Jenny had shared over her young life.

Tess smiled and adjusted the covers on Jenny before she leaned down and gave the girl a soft kiss on her cheek.

Jenny stirred and her eyes slowly blinked open. Her lips turned up in a sleepy smile. “Hi, Mommy. You’re home.”

“Did you have a good day, sweetie?” Tess sat at the edge of the mattress and brushed hair from Jenny’s eyes.

The girl yawned. “Miss Eddie showed us how to make paper flowers. I made one for you but I can’t bring it home yet.”

“I bet it’s beautiful.” Tess’s heart welled with love as she gently stroked her daughter’s hair.

“It’s almost as pretty as you,” Jenny said with sincerity in her eyes. “I can’t wait to show it to you at the open house.”

Tess smiled. “I can’t wait to see it.”

“Me, too.” Jenny beamed.

Tess rested her hand on Jenny’s shoulder. “Sounds like you’ve been having fun.”

“Lots of fun,” Jenny said. “I love school. I wish you could be there.”

“I’ll get to be there tomorrow night,” Tess said. “You have lots of fun with your friends, too, don’t you?”

Jenny nodded. “Katie Sue is my best friend.”

“We’ll have to have her come over for a play date.” Tess paused. “I missed you today.”

“I missed you, too, Mommy.” Jenny’s eyelids started to droop.

“I love you, sweetie.” Tess kissed Jenny’s soft cheek.

“Love you.” Jenny’s words trailed off as her lashes fluttered closed.

Jenny was already asleep as Tess slipped out of the room and closed the door behind her. She paused for a moment and put her fingertips on the door. She hated the nights she missed their evening routine.

With the family businesses, the Hummingbird restaurant and Nectars, both doing so well, extra work hours were always required to keep the place going. One of these days they were going to have to hire a manager who could run the place without Tess and her mother having to look over everyone’s shoulders to give both Tess and her mother much needed breaks.

She ran her fingers through her curls as she turned away and headed toward her bedroom.

 

Chapter 2

 

The long day had left Tess feeling tired to the bone and in need of a shower. When she reached her room, she started stripping, scattering her clothing from her bedroom door to the large master bathroom. After she ran the shower until it was warm, she stepped under the spray.

A sigh of pleasure escaped her as she closed her eyes and the heat of the water pounding on her skin started to relax her. She tipped her head back, letting the spray soak her natural blonde curls. When her hair was wet, she soaped it, massaging her scalp as she worked the shampoo through her curls. She rinsed it out then began to scrub her body with bathing gel.

As she washed herself, her thoughts turned to Gage. She bit her lower lip as images came to her that she couldn’t stop. What would it be like to have his hands on her body? She imagined he was touching her as she soaped her breasts and a little shiver went through her.

BOOK: Fencing You In
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