Authors: Debbie Gordon
The Secret Cowboy
BWWM Western Romance
All Right Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Heather is a city girl. She is black, beautiful, free-spirted, and at 23, she has really had her fair share of drama. So when she sees an ad for a Texas oil company, as a PA to the company’s owner and CEO, she thinks that this will be the perfect break for her from New York. Also, since it is just a short 3-month contract, she really starts to view it as a working holiday. This is exactly what she needs.
At 44, Channing is wealthy, established, a cowboy at heart. Quipped with hat and Stetsons, he even looks like a cowboy, and he even has a few horses on his sprawling Dallas ranch. When an ad placed by his company for a PA mistakenly finds its way into the New York Times, it isn’t surprising that a New Yorker responds. Channing doesn’t expect Heather though, and he is more than a little intrigued.
They work well together, too well. And soon enough they find themselves in each other’s beds, wrapped up in an affair that, if it got out, would certainly get more than a few people talking. By the end of the 3 months, they both have a little more to deal with than they bargained for, and choices have to be made…
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Note from Author
“I don’t know hey, just feeling a little jaded…” Heather speaks into her cellphone while drying her hair with a large terry towel, the same towel that was just wrapped around her perfect body. She looks at herself in the mirror, looks at her breasts, looking at her perfect thighs that meet to form an even more perfect pussy. Her large almond eyes move over her dark skin, and even though she sees a beautiful woman looking back at her, she doesn’t feel too beautiful.
“That’s okay…but talk to me…Don’t just disappear off the grid for the whole weekend babe…it makes me nervous…” Alex, her best friend is on the other end, calling to find out why Heather didn’t pitch for the Friday afternoon cocktail, and why her phone was off for the whole weekend.
“I know babe, I’m sorry…let me finish up getting ready for work…call you later?” Heather really has no explanation for not pitching. She really just didn’t feel like it. A lot has happened in her personal life over the last while, and work hasn’t been any easier. She really needs to get out of New York for a while.
An hour later she is sitting at her desk, not sure about anything. She really has just been going through the motions for a while now, and this is certainly not her. She is normally a vibrant go-getter, but now just getting out of bed is a mission. Heather really hates that she cannot shake this funk.
Over coffee, she finds herself skimming the classifieds. Not looking for anything in particular, she starts to circle possible jobs. They say that a change is as good as a holiday, and maybe making a career change will help her to forget her recent miscarriage, her boyfriend of two years’ infidelity, the death of her mother, and all the other things that have gone wrong in quick succession. She is only 23, after all, and she should be able to bounce back from anything.
‘PA TO THE CEO OF AN OIL COMPANY-TEXAS’
She passes this ad, but keeps coming back to it. Heather has never even been to Texas, a thoroughbred New Yorker. Besides, aren’t they still racist in Texas? She isn’t sure where she got this, but it seems to make sense to her city-state of mind. The position is for 3 months though, and she is about 4 months leave accumulated over the last three years, so maybe, just maybe, this might be just what she needs.
The morning is spent tweaking her resume, and by lunchtime, she has sent it through. The Dallas Oil Company is a huge concern, from what she can read online, and it would be the perfect place to get lost in, and earn a fairly decent salary in the process. When she leaves the ad agency where she has worked as office manager for the last few years, she finds herself already planning for her move, even though she hasn’t even received acknowledgement of receipt of her resume yet. She is optimistic though.
Getting back to her apartment, she starts to pack it up. Even if she doesn’t get the Texas job, she will get out of the city, for a while at least. Maybe she will go over to the west coast, book herself into a cheap motel, and lose herself to reruns on whatever cable channels the motel has. Maybe she will just spend her days on the beach, reflecting, until her life makes sense again. Whatever happens, she knows she must get away, and the sooner the better.
Heather drafts an email to HR, putting in for her accumulated leave. She knows that they might have a problem with her taking her four months consecutively, but since her miscarriage was an open office secret, she feels like she is well within her rights. After pressing send, she feels anxiety in that place where her baby would have grown. She takes a glass of wine to the bath, and sinks beneath a torrent of bubbles, solidifying her state exit plan.
“Heather Jones?” a woman with a thick Dallas drawl speaks to her on the other end of the telephone.
“Yes, this is she…” Heather knows immediately that she is from the DOC.
“Your resume just landed in my inbox…says you’re from New York?” the woman who has introduced herself as Anne continues.
“Yes that’s right…I am available to move to Dallas though, immediately actually, if I get the job…” Heather realizes that she is being a little presumptuous.
“Well let’s get you down here for an interview and see how it goes…” Anne says, before getting all of Heather’s details so that she can book her flights.
It takes a week for her to wrap up her life in New York, for the next couple of months at least. Yes it is just an interview, but Heather is confident. Even if she doesn’t get the job, she can afford to spend a few weeks in Dallas before making her way to sunny LA. Whatever happens, she is leaving the city. And while she is leaving for another city, it isn’t New York, and so she is sure that the change will be good.
At the airport, she doesn’t make anybody take her to catch her flight. She says goodbye to her friends the day before, and leaves New York alone, which is really how she has felt for the last while. When the plane lands in Dallas it is completely another world. Heather is picked up at the airport and driven to a hotel. Her interview is the next morning at 8AM, and she is suddenly very nervous. The treatment that she is received, from business class flights to five-star hotel accommodation for one night, is really a whole other world. And if this is what the build up to the interview is like, I can only imagine what the actual interview is going to be like.
She arrives at the headquarters of the Dallas Oil Company, and her nerves start to really get to her. At least she has had a few hours of luxury, and so she feels like it really doesn’t matter how this interview goes. On the other hand, she feels compelled to do well, because the DOC has already invested a large amount of money on her. She wonders how many other candidates come from out of town, and whether or not they received to same treatment. They probably did though, so she doesn’t feel so special anymore.
“Heather Jones…” she says, as confidently as she can when she walks into the elaborate reception area. The lady behind the desk seems so organized, so well-put-together, that Heather cannot help but envy her almost immediately.
“Aah, Heather Jones…The New Yorker…We’ve been expecting you…I’m Anne…” Anne speaks like she knows Heather well, and as though she has a deep secret that she wants to share with her, but that only she and Heather are privy to. “Fill this out, you can take a seat over there…” She points the New Yorker in the direction of the foyer, where a few other women are already seated, filling out similar forms.
Heather tries to remember if she has a picture attached to her resume, a detail that she only included for the purpose of this interview so that there were no doubts as to her ethnicity. She still has that nagging feeling in the back of her mind that folk out here were not as liberal as the state she just comes from. Still though, she doesn’t know why, but there really is no time for her to think about this right now. She remembers that she did attach a recent photograph to her resume, and so she is a little more comfortable being here.
She finishes filling in the forms first, despite arriving last, and she goes over to Anne, handing her the clipboard. Anne seems to be impressed with her swiftness, and asks her to follow her down an impressive corridor. “You can wait in here… FYI, the CEO asked us to shortlist you…So don’t mess this up…”
Okay, so that was the secret. Heather is suddenly more nervous than she was when she first walked into the imposing building. She has many questions about who this CEO actually was, and why he would want a New Yorker as a PA. Maybe it is just because of the freshness that this will bring to the office, and to his project. If she gets the job, it will just be for the duration of his most recent experimental energies project, according to the confidentiality clause that she had to sign.
Her palms start to sweat, especially since she is alone in the boardroom, and when she thinks of the forms that she had to fill in, she thinks that the others should be complete by now, and that they should all be seated in the boardroom with her. She eyes the water on the table, but doesn’t dare touch it. Everything in the room seems to have been placed there with real purpose.
“Miss Jones…” a voice says before she can look up to see whom it belongs to.
“Yes,” Heather says, standing and extending a delicate hand. The hand that takes hers is rough, and very large. She manages to shake it firmly though.
“Take a seat Miss Jones, let’s see what you’re made of…” The man doesn’t introduce himself at all, and Heather is immediately intimidated by this. She sits though, and braces herself for this one on one interview. She had expected a panel, but since the position was for a PA, this was obviously not necessary. Could this be the CEO of the company, Channing Barnes, according to her research?
She answers his questions easily, and even laughs at some of the funny things he says. He has a vivacious, infectious laugh too, and as he laughs she suddenly recognizes him as the man in the pictures from the company profile. He looks different in person somehow. Now that the picture of him has come into focus for her, she is glad that she didn’t recognize him instantly, although the Stetsons, cowboy hat and glass-blue eyes should have been a dead giveaway.
By the end of the interview she feels like it has gone well. He seems to think the same thing, because he asks her ‘how soon can you wrap things up in New York,’ as they stand up, shaking hands formally again. She almost cannot believe that she has the job, but when she answers, ‘when do you want me here’, and he lets Anne know that she will be staying in the DOC apartment right opposite headquarters, and that she can send the other applicants away, it starts to sink in.
Two days later she is back in Dallas, ready to resume her duties as PA to the chief executive. She really takes to her new position like a duck to water, and in less than a week, she and Channing are like the same person. She knows what he needs even before he does, and she delivers on every one of these needs. By the second week she has settled comfortably into the Dallas lifestyle, and despite feeling like she is the only ebony key on the piano, which she is, this doesn’t really even bother her that much.
She has been in Dallas a fortnight when Channing springs a doozy on her. “How are you finding Texas,” he asks her casually as they are the only two people left at the table after a late dinner meeting. He seems genuinely interested and this is what takes her by surprise. The last two weeks have been all business, and apart from the jokes he cracked at the interview, she hasn’t once seen him be so casual. It takes her a minute to recover from the shock.
“Very rich,” she responds, not knowing if this was appropriate but since she has already said it, she commits to it, adding casually, “everyone here seems to come from very old money…”
“Hardly…we’re hardworking folk, and hard work pays off, that’s all.” Channing seems to be looking through her almost, now.
“You are all about work…it really is a whole other world…” she continues, suddenly very uncomfortable with the new twist in conversation with her boss.
“Now that’s not true…we know how to have fun, and we know how to create fun for ourselves… What do you do for fun?” Another question that shows a little too much interest in her as a person, so that she isn’t sure how to answer it.
“I work…” she says eventually, trying for a joke herself. This doesn’t work, because Channing is squinting, a ‘really’ look on his face. He doesn’t believe her.
“We should do something to remedy that,” he says, looking a little too long over her breasts so that she pulls her shirt a little tighter over her tits. There really is no need for this however, because her breasts are well-covered.
He orders them another round of drinks, this time making both of theirs alcoholic. Heather sips slowly on hers, not sure what is going on here, if she is just being given an insight into the real Channing Barnes, of if he is just being polite and courteous after knowing that he has kept her too long after office hours. When he orders another set of drinks a third of the way into the ones they are drinking, her guard goes up, especially when the conversation takes on a thick sexual innuendo that she has no idea what to do with. This is really getting a little uncomfortable for the 23-year old.
“Let’s get out of here,” Channing says after their third drink. Heather gets up and is surprised when Channing comes up behind her to pull her chair out of the way. He rubs his hands up and down her arms, and then puts his jacket on her. It isn’t cold enough outside to warrant this gesture, but Heather appreciates it nonetheless. They walk out of the exclusive country club and wait for his car to be brought around by the valet. He opens a door for her, and Heather notices a couple of people looking at them. She wants to say ‘I work for him dammit’, but there is no time for this as she is soon seated in the passenger’s seat of the Escalade, Channing in his own seat, pulling away from the club.
He drives in the direction of headquarters, in the direction of the penthouse apartment that has become Heather’s home for the next few months. She watches him through the side of her eye, studying his face, watching his mouth as he speaks. He really is a very attractive man, in that rugged, western, cowboy sort of way. As the light from the streets fills the cab of the car they are travelling in, she catches glimpses of his eyes, beautifully translucent in the artificial light. Why is she thinking about his lips now, she wonders, as her eyes fall on the fullness of his mouth? White guys aren’t supposed to have lips!
Her eyes move over his whole body now, and she cannot help the thoughts that are creeping up on her like ninjas. She looks at his long legs under the dash, and before she can stop herself, finds herself wondering what his cock looks like. Shit, she shouldn’t be thinking like this about her boss, she knows. But she just cannot help herself. Heather lets these thoughts play around in her head for a little while, and then looks straight ahead again, concentrating on counting the number of streetlights between where they are and where they are going. This does little to free her mind of thoughts of Channing’s cock, though.
“Here we are,” he says as they pull up to the building.
“Yes…Thank you…” she says, although she isn’t sure what exactly she is thanking him for.
“No…thank you…you were a star tonight…” he says, relaxing into his seat and turning off the engine, like he has no intention of going anywhere.
“Thank you,” she says again, not sure if she should open her own door and get out. Channing has been a gentleman for the latter part of this evening, so she almost expects him to come and open the door for her. He seems to have something on his mind though, and without asking him what this is, she just sits there nervously, waiting for him to open his mouth.
“Would you be against me coming up for a coffee?” he asks her eventually. “I’m a little drunk, and it’s a long drive back to the ranch…” He is looking at her in her eyes as he makes this request, and Heather, while thinking that they should really just have had coffee at the country club, thinking that it would be highly inappropriate for her to have her boss in her apartment at 11:30 PM, find herself saying ‘not at all’, before she has had time to fully grasp what he is asking her. He springs to life suddenly, and comes around to open her door. She is still wearing his jacket, and with the time of night, it is suddenly a little more necessary.
They get into the building and into the elevator. Channing is looking at her with an intensity that belies his need for coffee now, and Heather tries in vain not to notice this. She has though, and she starts to work out in her head the best way to allay any advances that might be made towards her. She thinks about where the coffee is in the kitchen, and how she can create as much distance between her and Channing as possible, once they are inside the penthouse. But this is for all intents and purposes his territory, his world, and she is but a small part in it.
She wonders, as she unlocks the penthouse apartment and lets them both in, if this is really what she thinks it is. She could be reading it all wrong, and her boss, the CEO of the DOC could really just want a quick cup of coffee before making the 45-minute drive back to his ranch. But all of her maybes and perhaps go flying out the window when she closes her door and before she has an opportunity to turn on the light Channing’s lips find hers, and he drops the deepest, most sensuous kiss on her mouth. He pulls away for a moment to gauge her response, and when he sees that she is frozen, uses his lips to unfreeze her, waking them into the center of the living room.