Fox, Morgan - Discovering Temptation [Texas Stallions 1] (Siren Publishing Allure)

BOOK: Fox, Morgan - Discovering Temptation [Texas Stallions 1] (Siren Publishing Allure)
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Texas Stallions 1

 

Discovering Temptation

 

Abigail Carter arrives in Temptation, Texas, wondering what her recently deceased father was thinking when he left her his prized cattle ranch. Now, as the sole heir of Paradise Ranch, Abby must figure out how to manage and run the day-to-day operations.

 

Luckily, experienced cattle rancher Tyler Boyd steps up to help her with the assistance of his brothers, but Abby’s dreams quickly come crashing down around her as a serial killer marks her for death, stalking her at every turn.

 

The sexy cowboy puts aside his own safety for the alluring Abby and tries to keep her safe from the evil hunting her, but when the killer places him at the top of his hit list, everything they've come to love could end in murder.

 

Can the love of a strong cowboy help her discover her hidden passions and ultimately save her life?

 

Note: There is no sexual relationship or touching for titillation between or among siblings.

 

Genre:
Contemporary, Western/Cowboys
Length:
43,422 words

 

DISCOVERING TEMPTATION

Texas Stallions 1

Morgan Fox

EROTIC ROMANCE

Siren Publishing, Inc.

www.SirenPublishing.com

ABOUT THE E-BOOK YOU HAVE PURCHASED:
Your non-refundable purchase of this e-book allows you to only ONE LEGAL copy for your own personal reading on your own personal computer or device.
You do not have resell or distribution rights without the prior written permission of both the publisher and the copyright owner of this book.
This book cannot be copied in any format, sold, or otherwise transferred from your computer to another through upload to a file sharing peer to peer program, for free or for a fee, or as a prize in any contest. Such action is illegal and in violation of the U.S. Copyright Law. Distribution of this e-book, in whole or in part, online, offline, in print or in any way or any other method currently known or yet to be invented, is forbidden. If you do not want this book anymore, you must delete it from your computer.

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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK

IMPRINT: Erotic Romance

DISCOVERING TEMPTATION

Copyright © 2012 by Morgan Fox

E-book ISBN: 1-61926-500-1

First E-book Publication: April 2012

Cover design by Jinger Heaston

All cover art and logo copyright © 2012 by Siren Publishing, Inc.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED:
This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.

All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

PUBLISHER

Siren Publishing, Inc.

www.SirenPublishing.com

Letter to Readers

 

Dear Readers,

 

If you have purchased this copy of
 
Discovering Temptation
 
by Morgan Fox from BookStrand.com or its official distributors, thank you. Also, thank you for not sharing your copy of this book.

 

 

Regarding E-book Piracy

 

This book is copyrighted intellectual property. No other individual or group has resale rights, auction rights, membership rights, sharing rights, or any kind of rights to sell or to give away a copy of this book.

 

The author and the publisher work very hard to bring our paying readers high-quality reading entertainment.

 

This is Morgan Fox’s livelihood.
 
It’s fair and simple. Please respect Ms. Fox’s right to earn a living from her work.

 

Amanda Hilton, Publisher

www.SirenPublishing.com

www.BookStrand.com

DEDICATION

There is no way to truly thank someone for giving you the world, but I will do my best. Eric, you are the most amazing person I’ve ever known. You are the hero of my dreams and the inspiration for every romantic story within my imagination arsenal. Thank you for standing beside me. My life is forever better for having you as my best friend and lover.

Special thanks to the talented Lydia Mazza and Andrea Ashby. Without you, my stories would be incomplete. Thank you for everything.

I also want to thank my dear friend Sophie Oak for inspiring and guiding me along the journey of writing my first Western romance. I appreciate you so very much.

 

DISCOVERING TEMPTATION

Texas Stallions 1

MORGAN FOX

Copyright © 2012

Chapter One

Abigail Blake stood at the gates of Paradise Ranch and wondered what her recently deceased father was thinking when he left his land to her. Ten years had passed since she’d seen her old man. She didn’t have a clue where to begin with all the necessary attention this piece of family property required.

“Oh, dear Lord,” she said with a heavy sigh, her stomach full of knots, and shoulders stiff with tension. “This place is likely to kill me.”

Duke Blake’s once-prized ranch was a dilapidated heap. With just a quick glance, she’d noted the never-ending sections of broken fence, and the underbrush that seemed to have overtaken most of the perimeter and walkways. She sucked in a breath as she studied the house in the near distance and its desperate need for restoration. Several shutters around the windows had come loose and were barely hanging on. The once-beautiful, rustic cabin was now old and weathered.

She crinkled her brow and pinched the bridge of her nose, remembering the financial disarray she was assuming as the heir to the estate. Before Abby arrived at the ranch, her father’s attorney had shared with her the financial records. First thing she had to do was find someone who would help her make heads or tails of the mess. Record keeping was not her thing, nor was balancing budgets or housekeeping, and certainly not ranching. She barely remembered how to sit on a horse, let alone how to ride one.

Yet now she was the sole owner of over thirteen hundred acres of prime cattle and horse land in the majestic Texas Hill Country.

Kicking open the gate with her dust-covered tennis shoes, Abby trudged her way up to the ranch house, dragging her red designer suitcase behind her. The dirt road was blanketed in hard rocks and white soot. Thick, green brush hid the border of the road, leaving her to walk in the middle.

How had her father been able to live in this predicament for as long as he did, and why had he been so stubborn that he’d never asked for help?

Abby didn’t hate her father. She just didn’t understand how a man who claimed to love her never fought to keep her, or why he hadn’t asked her to return to Paradise to be with him. What he didn’t seem to realize was that it wouldn’t have taken much more than knowing she was needed for her to pack up everything she owned and head back to Paradise Ranch. Sadly, she’d always been waiting, but Duke Blake never came.

Toward the end of his life, she’d heard that he didn’t have the good health needed to maintain the ranch’s upkeep any longer. A fragile man consumed by cancer, Duke never hired more help than he felt he needed, and most of the men he hired were used to tend the livestock. He was the only one who took care of ranch property. Even when she was a child, her father had been that way about the particular duties he assumed on his land.

Swallowing the grit that built up in her throat, Abby shuddered as she realized that responsibility now fell to her. “What have I gotten myself into?” she asked, groaning as she took the first step onto the rickety porch.

Her city-loving mother would shit fire if she could see the state in which Abby planned to live. Estranged from her father since before she was sixteen, Abby spent the last ten years living in Dallas with her debutante mother, Cybil Burnett. Remarrying as fast as she could, her mother jumped headfirst into the glamorous world of city life. Being the wife of a prestigious neurosurgeon was exactly what her mother had always dreamed of being.

How she’d ever ended up marrying Duke Blake, Abby hadn’t the faintest idea. Her mother never wanted to talk about it. She only said that it was the biggest mistake of her life, which led Abby to wonder if she was even happy being a mother at all. Cybil didn’t seem concerned with anything or anyone except herself. However, making sure Abby kept her distance from anything that her father might want for her was a key component in her mother’s life. Cybil fought tooth and nail to protect Abby from being like Duke Blake. If Abby showed interest in anything remotely related to country living, her mother would restrict her from it before she could even blink. Abby couldn’t take horseback riding lessons, couldn’t join the Future Farmers of America, couldn’t attend the Mesquite Rodeo, or venture down to the Fort Worth Stockyards.

The leash Cybil used to keep Abby from living her own life choked her nearly to death, sending her into a teenage rebellion that had her dating boys that she had no business being with. The anger she felt toward her mother was managed through smoking, coming home after curfew, hanging out with people she knew her mother wouldn’t approve of, and doing whatever she could that would infuriate snobby-ass Cybil Burnett.

At one point, pissing off the overbearing woman was all Abby could think about. The worst part of all was that her passion to drive her mother crazy ended up being her own downturn. With a laundry list of bad choices lying at her feet, Abby accepted the opportunity to live at Paradise Ranch in hopes of starting over, away from her mother and Jackson Cole, her most recent ex-boyfriend and biggest mistake.

The six-month, casual relationship she’d had with Jack had become a nightmare of events. Stalking her at every moment, she’d wake up to find a single rose lying on the pillow beside her, but she’d locked her doors and windows and no one but her had the key. Among other things, Jack was a career burglar, and night after night he would break into her apartment to watch her sleep, leaving a rose whenever he left. He’d also call her at all hours of the night to make sure she was home and alone. His jealousy made him a violent and frightening man. She hoped he would finally leave her alone now that she’d moved away from the city and left no trace of where she’d gone.

She hadn’t even told her mother, and that felt good. Finally standing on her own, doing exactly what she wanted to do, felt damn good.

Opening the door to the ranch house, Abby froze. The home interior was nothing like the outside. “Oh, thank God,” she said with a smile in her voice. “Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Stepping further inside, Abby took in the freshly cleaned oak hardwood floors, dark granite counters, and perfectly arranged brown leather sofas and rustic wood coffee and end tables. Everything was dusted and well taken care of. If she knew anything about her father, it was that he would never allow the place he hung his hat to be anything but pristine. That was the main reason she was so shocked by the condition of the ranch property.

Smiling, she whispered, “So maybe he did hire a little help after all.”

Toeing the door closed, she studied the room. A flood of childhood memories raced toward her. The hours she’d spent staring out the window in search of her father appeared more dreamlike to her now.

Then, as if she was listening to the Wicked Witch of the West’s theme song, her mother’s voice slammed into her skull like a fierce wrecking ball and reminded her that she was never allowed to do anything on the ranch that might dirty her hands. Cybil wouldn’t approve of such behavior for a young lady, so that meant she had to remain inside unless her mother felt the urge to go into town.

When she wasn’t in school or studying, Abby spent most of her time daydreaming about a life on the ranch, her long blonde hair blowing in the breeze as she trotted around that vast hill country on the most wild and untamable horse. She pictured a massive, midnight-black beast that only responded to her commands and never permitted anyone else to ride him. Daily she envisioned herself riding beside her father, investigating the property for trespassers, damage done by the frequent storms and whatever adventures she could devise. Every day, she thought about what it would’ve been like if only given the chance to be like her father.

While sitting on the ledge of the front window, every so often she’d spot her father on horseback, looking like a Western movie star as he meandered around the property. He was born to manage these lands, and knowing that so much of her father was still here, Abby couldn’t resist the opportunity to learn more about the man that had given her life, since she’d never had the chance to while he was alive.

As strange as it was, Abby knew that her father was too busy to come up to Dallas to see her, and Cybil would never in a million years give her permission to travel south to see her father. Time is no one’s friend, and before she even realized it, ten years had flown by and her father had suddenly fallen ill and passed away.

Riddled with guilt, Abby wanted so badly to know more about Duke Blake and working these lands, and maintaining this ranch was the best way for her to do it. Sure, it was going to be lots of hard work, but she was strong, only twenty-six, and she believed she was just like her old man. This was her chance to find out, a chance to discover not only who her father was, but who she was as well.

* * * *

Settled in as best she could, Abby stepped out of the house and onto the front porch. To her surprise, she was confronted by her father’s oldest and dearest friend, Jared Durant. He had also been the only person her father trusted to manage the livestock and, judging from his appearance now, she assumed he still was.

She smiled broadly at the man she recognized from her childhood. The soft twinkle in his brown eyes told her he was happy to see her, too. Looking at him now, salt-and-pepper hair and a few deep wrinkles around his eyes and mouth, she wondered if her father had aged as well as he had. “Jared, it’s so nice to see you.”

He tilted his cowboy hat and said, “It’s very nice to see you, too, Ms. Abby. I hope you’re doing well.”

“Yes, I’m doing okay.” She glanced around. “Are you the only one who’s still here?”

Frowning, he nodded. “I’m afraid so. Once your father passed, everyone he had working for him decided to leave. Most folks feared that you wouldn’t come out and manage things like Duke had. They just assumed get out while they could.”

She sighed, understanding the fears presented by change. “Not you, though. You stayed.”

Offering a soft smile, he told her, “I loved your father like a brother, Abby, and I promised I’d stay on board and help out where I could until you got here.”

Her heart nearly stopped as she thought he was telling her he was leaving, too. “Until I got here? You mean you won’t stay?”

“Well, that really depends on you, Ms. Abby. Are you planning on keeping the ranch or selling it?”

“Oh, I’m very much planning on running it. I couldn’t go back to the city, not now anyway.” She couldn’t go back to Dallas without giving the ranch a chance, and she really didn’t want to go back and be forced to live the life her mother would thrust upon her.

He smiled. “Then I’ll be here to help you, if it’s all right with you. I’ll be back early in the morning. I’ve kept things up as well as I could, but we’ll need to get more help when you’re ready.”

“I know,” she said. “I’m on my way to the market, but we can chat more tomorrow if that’s okay.”

“I’ll be here. Just head to the barn and you’ll find me.” He tilted his hat once more, turned, and left in his gray pickup.

Abby was happy to see him and glad she wasn’t starting from scratch. Taking a deep breath, she headed for the local market to pick up some supplies and food. The twenty-minute drive felt more like twenty hours. Everything in the country was incredibly spread out, and another reminder that she wasn’t in the city anymore.

When she pulled into the parking lot, she grabbed hold of a shopping cart with a very squeaky wheel. After checking out a few others, hoping to not draw too much attention to herself, she realized that every cart had an obnoxiously squeaky wheel.

Finding several items she wanted and needed, she headed down the produce aisle in search of some delicious fresh fruit. There was something wonderful about eating a crisp, red apple when the seasons began to change in Texas, and fall just happened to be her favorite time of the year.

“Ms. Blake?” Abby inclined her head in search of the soft voice calling out to her.

Abby glanced over at a petite, bronze-skinned, dark-brown-haired woman. A soft tendril of hair fell over her shoulder. Brows pinched tight, she asked, “Do I know you?”

The woman smiled. “No, but I know who you are. I worked for your father. I’m Sophia.”

BOOK: Fox, Morgan - Discovering Temptation [Texas Stallions 1] (Siren Publishing Allure)
12.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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