Authors: Heather Rainier
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Western, #Erotica, #General
Divine Creek Ranch 5
Spurs and Heels
Ash Peterson falls for her the moment he lays eyes on her. She’s a stereotypical city girl, from her manicure to her high heels.
Judging by the sparks that fly between them, he knows there’s a fire burning deep inside the blue-eyed beauty. But department store manager Juliana Meyers is thrown by her attraction to Ash.
Everything about this quintessential cowboy sets her on edge, from his Stetson and mutton chop sideburns down to his dusty boots and spurs. All he’s gotta do is walk into a room with those damn things jingling and she’s putty in his hands.
When Ash unintentionally injures Juliana, he feels that it’s his responsibility to look after the hoity-toity redheaded workaholic.
He pushes her to reexamine her perfectionist lifestyle, but it’s hard for Juliana because she’s used to doing things her way. Can she learn to relax and let him lead?
Note: This book contains anal sex.
Spurs and Heels
Learn to Trust
Divine Creek Ranch 5
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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E-book ISBN: 1-61034-107-4
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To my sweet, loving husband.
Thank you to Tonya and Lisa for their matchless skills, to Jennifer for her wisdom and hilarious irreverence, and to Christi for her unfailing ability to talk me off a ledge and see the big picture. Your worth is far above rubies.
Thanks also to Kris Cook’s Chatters Group. They are all completely, utterly naughty and totally supportive, and I appreciate them all.
Thank you to all the supportive women and men I’m fortunate enough to have in my life. Your kind words, thoughtful deeds, and shameless cheerleading inspired me to continue this journey.
This book would not exist without the stellar abilities and belief of the talented staff at Siren Publishing. Thank you Diana, Erin, Caroline, Elisa, and Lena—from the bottom of my heart.
Spurs and Heels
Divine Creek Ranch 5
Copyright © 2011
Ash Peterson arched an eyebrow as he stood before Juliana Meyer. He crossed his thick, strong-looking arms over his broad chest as he leaned against the Warner’s back-porch railing.
“Let me get this straight, Miss Meyer. You have a boyfriend, and he’s at his mama’s house in Vermont tonight?”
Juliana had sought a respite from the press of bodies inside the Divine Creek Ranch house, where Grace Warner’s Christmas party was in full swing. Once outside, her quiet moment was interrupted by the big cowboy Grace had introduced her to a few minutes before.
“Yes, that’s right.” It sucked that Lawrence was out of town, but the way this rugged, handsome cowboy said it, it made her boyfriend sound like a jerk and a mama’s boy. Years of working Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas had made her callous toward not taking time off during the holiday, but it was different when she saw her circumstances from someone else’s perspective. It sounded as though Lawrence had deserted her. Technically, he had. He’d scheduled his vacation around the holiday—without her.
“Does he have a good, long visit with his balls while he’s there?”
Juliana sighed. It didn’t make any difference what this man thought. He wasn’t the first or the last to criticize Lawrence for
leaving her over the holiday. It wasn’t like she could join him. She’d spend a large portion of her single day off on a plane.
“Does he at least alternate and spend every other Christmas with you?”
“His mom says once he’s married and has kids and she retires, she’ll start coming to Texas for some of the holidays. Until then, she expects—”
Why in the world am I making excuses?
“Expects? How old is he again?”
“She expects for him to come to her,” she finished, growing more and more irritated with this know-it-all buttinsky. “He’s forty-four.
Do you have a point?”
He put his tanned hands on his narrow, denim-clad hips and cocked his head at her. “He isn’t much of a man if he leaves you alone on Christmas every year.”
Matching his stance, Juliana said, “You don’t know what it’s like to have a relationship with someone who is in retail management during the holidays. For me, it’s like there is no holiday. It’s merely the impetus behind the busiest month of the year, my best opportunity to keep the store in the black for another year. When he goes, he has my blessing. I hardly even have time to—” She pressed her lips together and bit back the rest of her statement.
He cocked his head, his turquoise-blue eyes drilling into hers.
“Have time to what? Miss him?”
Yes, damn it.
Guiltily, she realized she’d hardly given Lawrence a thought tonight before Mr. Peterson had brought him up. However, she had given thought to how handsome Ash was with his big, thick biceps, muscular physique, and incredibly sexy muttonchop sideburns and moustache.
“That’s none of your business.”
“If you were my woman, I’d never leave you alone during Christmas, even if all you had was one day off. I’d make it
.” He said the last word with extra emphasis. Juliana felt a warm blush steal
over her cheeks and hoped he couldn’t see it in the dim light. He’d probably think it was because she was attracted to him, which would only irritate her further.
“Well, I’m not your ‘woman,’” she replied haughtily, even using air quotes around the word as she emphasized it snidely, “and I manage fine.”
“What about your family?”
“I see them at other times of the year. They understand that the holidays aren’t a good time for me to visit.” They were probably all sitting down to eat right now, three hours away in Tillman.
Truth be told, she had not been home at all this year. There was never a good time to take off for a few days. The last time she had a day off was Thanksgiving, and even then she’d worked part of the day in her office while the store was closed. It was less depressing than eating the evening meal alone.
Her phone buzzed in her handbag. Checking caller ID, Juliana said with little sincerity, “Sorry, it’s Lawrence. I need to take this call.”
“Listen, I’m sorry if I offended you—” Ash started to say, and she surprised herself by brusquely turning and taking a few steps away without hearing what else he had to say.
“Hello.” She spoke with false cheer in her voice, thinking her mother would be appalled at her rudeness to that man. She heard the door open and close and assumed he walked back in the house.
“Juliana, we need to talk for a minute.”
No “Merry Christmas.” No inquiries how her day had been. She hadn’t heard from him since the twentieth.
“What’s up?” she asked as she settled in the old glider on Grace’s back porch.
“Mom and I have been talking.”
Her core muscles did an involuntary lockdown. Last time he’d said those words, he’d informed her he was taking his mom on a two
week Caribbean cruise, without her. The cruise had taken place over her birthday, and he didn’t even send her a card.
“What have you and your mom been talking about?”
“I’ve maintained my real estate agent’s license in Vermont all these years, and I’ve been presented with a lucrative opportunity. I’m going to take it.”
Juliana wished she could say that she was stunned. Then she heard a woman’s voice in the background say, “Tell her.”
There was a rustling as if he’d put his hand over the mouthpiece while he carried on a secondary conversation.
“Are you there, Lawrence?” Juliana’s heart was pounding because she knew already what came next. She’d suspected for a while. “Tell me what? Who is there with you?”
“Juliana, it’s over between us. I’ve met someone here. She’s the other reason I’m returning to Vermont.”
She felt strangely numb to what he said, as if she were listening to some stranger’s conversation. “I see. How long?”
“I’ll be back to pack my house the day after tomorrow, and I’ll be returning here immediately. Not long at all.”
“No, you rat bastard. How long have you had a relationship with her?”
There was a long pause, during which she added up all the weekend business trips he’d taken this year and the longer than usual holiday breaks as well. The numbness centered in her chest and spread outward over her limbs.
“Since last year.” His voice was void of any emotion.
Icy chills blanketed her skin. “And I allowed you in my bed, trusted you during that time.”
“I always used condoms with her.”
Juliana grated, “Well, I’m so glad you protected her, you lying, cock-sucking bastard.” This was really going to hurt when she thought this conversation over later in the evening. She could feel it coming.
“I used condoms for your sake as well, Juliana. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, but it never seemed the right time. You were always working. Always busy.”
“Don’t blame this on me. I have responsibilities, and you know that.”
“Yes, you do. I’m sorry to have caused you any distress.”
“You’re sorry for causing me
“I’ll swing by the store with your house key.”
“Just put it in my mailbox. I can’t believe you’re doing this over the phone. No, wait, maybe I should be grateful you didn’t text me with the news,” she added over the lump growing in her throat.
Lawrence was a heavy texter. There was another awkward pause, and then he sighed irritatingly. “You thought about it, though, didn’t you?”
“It would have saved us this unnecessary emotionalism.”
“Unnecessary emotionalism? Lawrence, I’ve been your girlfriend for five years, not a casual fuck. You mean it would have saved you the hassle of talking to me like a human being.”
“There is no need to be coarse.” Lawrence had always disliked her potty mouth, which she’d done her best to minimize around him. “I’ll be by for my things in a couple of days.”
come to my house. I’ll box everything up and put it on your porch.”
“Fine. Well…Merry Christmas. Good-bye.”
“You are a horrible person for saying that and for doing this today, of all days.” Juliana disconnected the call.
She looked at the backlit screen of her cell phone. The call had taken less than five minutes. Five minutes to uproot and discard five years of her life. Hell, who was she kidding? All they’d done was bridge the gaps between work and loneliness for each other. Then there was his mother. Maybe she should call him back and thank him for saving her from having to hear, “Mom and I have been talking,”
Remaining seated in the dark, Juliana drew her calves up under her as Ash sat down on the glider. She didn’t have to look up to know it was him because that was
her luck tonight.
“Here.” He offered her an inch of whiskey in a shot glass.
Chuckling, she took it from him and tossed it back then handed him the glass. Tears welled in her eyes as her throat caught fire.
“You looked like you needed it.”
“Did you hear?” She couldn’t muster any indignation if he had.
“Only part of it. I’m sorry. I looked out here, and you looked upset and…I don’t know. I thought the shot might help whatever was wrong. I didn’t intend to eavesdrop.”
“It’s all right. It doesn’t matter.” She meant it, too. “I suppose it wasn’t the most meaningful relationship in recorded history.”
“Still, it’s hard when someone leaves your life that you count on to be there.” He said it in a kind tone with the hint of a Southern drawl. His voice did tingly things to her insides that were in direct contrast to the emotional storm growing inside her.
“I should go pack his things.” He caught her hand as she rose from the glider and she turned to him. His hands were warm, the palms and fingertips callused. Lawrence’s hands had been smooth, his nails manicured. Ash’s touch shot a bolt of sensation through her body, centering in her rapidly warming core.
“You should stay and have fun. Have a few more drinks with me.”
His thumb stroked over her knuckles, sending repeating tingles up and down her spine, warring with the pain that was burgeoning in her chest. Her body felt at odds with itself, but the pain was starting to win out.
Make it quick, mister, because the clock is ticking down on my
Did he take perverse pleasure in watching her fall apart?
“Because you can’t shut out the world. Those are your friends in there, right? I mean you know a bunch of them, don’t you? And now you know me. Don’t go home and hide.” His tone was soothing but challenging at the same time.
“Thank you for your advice, cowboy, but I know what I need right now. I need to clear him out of my life, out of my house.”
“Tomorrow is soon enough. Stay.” His persuasive voice was hard to ignore.
A lump formed in her throat, and muscles in her chest and shoulders grew tense as reality started to set in. She’d trusted Lawrence, and he’d cheated on her.
She wasn’t sure if the heat in her cheeks was from the whiskey or from her impending emotional breakdown, but she was sure she did not want to be in his presence for it.
“Let me go get Grace for you,” he whispered, patting her shoulder as he rose from the glider.
“No, I need to leave.” Juliana stood and picked up her purse. “If she asks, tell her I’ll call her this week.” She couldn’t even commit to calling her tomorrow because Juliana knew she’d be incredibly busy.
All her friends were used to not hearing from her for days or weeks at a time. She was always busy. “Thanks for the drink, Ash.”