Ten months ago
t had turned out to be an extremely promising evening. Heck, the whole trip to Oklahoma
was going even better than she’d planned. Emma decided she deserved an award for this
one. She envisioned the inscription on the plaque.
Emma Hart—Sister of the Year.
That was her. What in the world would her sister Becca do without Emma to straighten
out her life?
As Emma walked to the rental car in the parking lot of the rodeo arena, she glanced
back to see Becca holding hands with the bull rider they’d met that night. What a
nice, tall drink of water that Tucker Jenkins was. Emma’s main purpose during this
spur of the moment trip to Oklahoma was to get her little sister a new life far away
from all the disappointments Becca had suffered in New York.
It looked as if Emma’s plan was working perfectly.
Step one—get Becca a man.
That part had been easy enough. It seemed the tickets Emma had purchased for tonight’s
rodeo were as good as buying an all-access pass to the hottest men in the state of
Oklahoma, all corralled under one roof. In fact, the ten-dollar tickets had gotten
them a two-for-one deal on hot men, because Becca’s rodeo cowboy came with an equally
sexy sidekick. Being a good sister and wingman—or rather wing-woman—Emma was more
than happy to keep bull rider Jace Mills occupied so Tucker and Becca could get to
know each other better tonight.
Tomorrow would bring the second half of Emma’s plan to right the wrongs in Becca’s
Step two—make sure Becca nailed her interview for the associate professor position
in the English department at Oklahoma State University.
That shouldn’t be a problem. Becca had a doctorate degree. She was qualified for the
job and had the résumé and recommendations to prove it. Equally important as Becca’s
credentials was the crucial choice of the perfect interview outfit, which Emma had
supervised. Her sister was going to shine at this interview and get the job. Emma
felt it down to her bones, and her intuition about things such as this rarely proved
“So I’ll follow you to the bar. You said it’s next to your hotel?” Jace paused next
to a truck bigger than two of Emma’s rental cars put together. Then again, more than
half of the vehicles in the arena lot were humungous pickup trucks.
Didn’t these people know or care about their carbon footprint? People said things
were big in Texas, but Emma had found that so far, Oklahomans were no slouches in
the size department.
Naughty, sex-deprived girl that she was, Emma wondered what else might be oversized
on Jace. Her gaze traveled from the black cowboy hat pulled low over his sandy-colored
hair, all the way to his boots. She suspected there was a pretty nice body hidden
beneath the denim. Hopefully she’d get to find out for sure firsthand tonight.
“The bar is inside the hotel where we’re staying, but it’s got an entrance from the
parking lot. So, yeah, you can follow me, and Tucker and Becca will follow you in
Jace glanced past her and grinned. “Yup. If Tuck ever gets his hands off her long
enough to be able to drive.”
She followed his stare to where Tucker was boosting Becca into the passenger seat
of a truck that was possibly larger than Jace’s. Emma noticed definite hand-to-booty
contact. Perfect. Her plan was progressing just as she’d hoped.
“Ah, sorry about that comment.” Jace cringed. “I shouldn’t have said that with her
being your sister and all.”
“No apology necessary. I want nothing more than for Tucker to take complete advantage
of Becca tonight. Even if it takes all night long.” She caught his expression of surprise.
“Believe me, Jace. Becca needs to let loose a little. I think a night of good old-fashioned
sex with a man like Tucker is perfect.”
His eyes opened wider. “Um, okay.”
Judging by the shock evident on Jace’s face, Emma figured she had better explain.
“Don’t tell Becca I told you this, but she got dumped by both her job and her live-in
boyfriend on the same day.”
“Yeah, it does.” Emma agreed with Jace and continued. “But even before that happened,
Becca was living her life like she was some boring old shut-in. I swear my grandmother
in the rest home has more fun and a better social life than Becca does. Becca needs
someone to turn her world upside down and, you know, maybe clear out the cobwebs down
She made a sweeping gesture in the general region of her own pelvis.
A laugh burst out of Jace as he watched her hand motion and shook his head. “Damn,
woman. I think I could love you.”
Emma smiled. She’d been hoping for some loving for herself tonight, too, and Jace
seemed like just the man to give it to her.
All right, maybe the beer she’d drunk at the arena had ramped up her sexual neediness
a little, and erased her inhibitions. But why should Becca get to have all the fun?
Beer or no beer, Jace would have caught Emma’s eye on any night. A real cowboy, and
a hard-bodied, good-looking one at that, was hard to resist for a native New Yorker
who spent her days surrounded by pale, soft-bodied men.
The men at work at the graphic design firm back in Poughkeepsie didn’t move anything
heavier than a computer mouse. They sure as hell didn’t have the golden skin or big
calloused hands that Jace did. Emma suspected Jace’s healthy glow came from being
outdoors working the ranch or whatever he did when he wasn’t riding bulls in the rodeo.
There was no way Jace’s deep tan was of the spray-on variety. Everything on this man
was God-given, natural, and sexy.
Nope, she’d had enough of metrosexuals and geeks and their smooth hands that had never
seen a day of hard labor. Emma wanted a real man’s hands on her body. Big and rough
hands belonging to a strong, tough man who would grab her and throw her onto a bed
where he’d spread her thighs wide, yank her head back by the hair, and kiss her breathless
while loving her until she was senseless.
Phew. That image had Emma’s insides turning molten hot. She glanced at Jace’s hands.
Emma treated him to her sexiest smile. “Come on, let’s go. The hotel waits. The bar,
With a well-practiced flip of her shoulder-length blond hair, she headed toward her
car. Knowing for sure he would watch her walk away, she put a little extra sway into
her hips. She smiled when, behind her, Jace muttered a soft curse.
The drive from the arena to the hotel was a quick ten minutes. During that time, she
let her mind wander, fantasizing about a romp with the cowboy following her.
The glow of the hotel sign caught her attention just as she’d almost driven past the
exit. More than ready for some sex, Emma needed to forcibly wrestle her attention
back to driving where it belonged or she’d end up in an accident. She flipped on the
turn signal seconds before taking a fast, sharp turn into the parking lot.
Seeing a couple of open spots next to each other, Emma maneuvered the rental car into
one and parked, not quite straight but at least within the painted lines.
Jace pulled the truck into the space next to hers. Before she even had time to check
her reflection in the rearview mirror and grab her purse off the passenger seat, he
was there to open the door for her.
A gentleman. Emma liked that trait in a man, as long as he wasn’t too much of a gentleman
in the bedroom. In the boudoir, she liked a bit of a caveman. A man who took what
he wanted and gave back as good as he got.
“Thank you.” She smiled at him and stepped out of the car.
“My pleasure.” Jace hooked a thumb in the direction of the road. “Tuck got caught
at the red light back there.”
It took Jace pointing it out to her for Emma to notice her sister and Tucker hadn’t
pulled into the lot after them. She hid the cringe at that realization and felt a
little guilty. Apparently, all the blood had left her brain in the presence of a hot
cowboy. She’d forgotten about her younger sister. Emma glanced from the lot’s entrance
to Jace. “I guess we can go on in and get a table. They’ll find us inside.”
“Sounds good.” Jace proved himself a gentleman once again by jogging ahead to pull
the entrance door open for her.
She could get accustomed to this kind of treatment. If Becca got the job at Oklahoma
State and moved to Stillwater, Emma would have to get used to it. She’d be able to
visit Becca and get a cowboy fix whenever she felt the urge. That seemed like an excellent
plan. Emma was feeling some urges right now as she led the way inside.
The hotel bar was buzzing with quite a few patrons gathered on barstools watching
some game on a big screen television, but the place was by no means fully packed.
They had no trouble finding a table with seating for four and a waitress standing
by ready to take their order.
Jace turned to Emma. “What would you like, darlin’? Another beer?”
“I think I’ll switch and have a glass of white wine.” Beer was appropriate for drinking
out of big plastic cups while watching a rodeo, but Emma was a wine drinker at heart.
“White wine for the lady and one of whatever beer you’ve got in a bottle for me.”
The waitress named a few brands and Jace chose one, but Emma was more interested in
wondering what his stubble would feel like when she kissed him than listening to the
After the waitress left to get their order, Jace turned in his chair to face Emma.
He caught her watching him and smiled until his hazel eyes crinkled beneath the brim
of his cowboy hat. “So, you told me that Becca no longer has a boyfriend, but what
“No boyfriend for me either.”
Totally single. Free as a bird and completely available. Hint, hint.
“And you? Girlfriend?”
“Nope. Well, not anymore.” He lifted a shoulder in a half shrug. “I had one for quite
a long while, actually.”
That was an interesting piece of trivia. It made Emma curious. “How long is long?”
“We would have been going on seven years if we hadn’t broken up.” The waitress arrived,
and Jace took the longneck and raised it to his mouth. It gave Emma a moment to digest
that information and think of about a dozen new questions she wanted to ask.
Seven years would be a considerable portion of his adult life. To invest that much
time in a relationship and have it end was a pretty big deal. She tried to judge Jace’s
age. He was probably about thirty, or maybe at the tail end of his twenties. Being
in the sun all the time might have aged him.
“That is a long time. When did you break up?”
He planted the bottle on the table but left his hand wrapped around it. “A few months
Okay. That was probably long enough ago for him to be back in the game. Men were different
from women. They bounced back pretty fast from a breakup. At least she hoped so.
“I’m sorry to hear that.” Not really. Emma was happy he was single.
“Eh, it’s fine.” He took another swig of beer and glanced around the bar, as if he
was avoiding eye contact with her.
Hmm, maybe a few months weren’t long enough, after all.
Jace brought his attention back to her and donned a smile. “So, do you have any other
plans for while you’re here besides turning your sister’s world upside down with my
A blatant change of subject. Good. Emma was more than glad they’d moved on from the
depressing ex-girlfriend talk. “Nope. Although, maybe I wouldn’t mind shaking things
up in my own life a bit.”
“Is that so?” He lifted one sandy brow. “Hmm. Lucky for you, I might know just the
guy to help you do that.”
His gaze captured and held hers. Emma’s chest tightened. She took a gulp of the cold
wine to cool her overheated insides and glanced at the entrance. “Where the hell is
Jace laughed. “Knowing Tuck, they’re—uh, never mind.” “They’re doing what?” Emma frowned.
He looked around, toward the bar, at his beer, pretty much at anything except Emma
before his gaze settled on her. “Nothing. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything.
I don’t know what they’re doing.”
Emma’s eyes opened wide when realization struck, and she figured out what Jace had
assumed was happening between Becca and Tucker. “You think they’re
? In the
“Don’t know. Don’t care. None of my business.” Jace shook his head, leaving no doubt
in Emma’s mind this was a subject he didn’t want to discuss further. That was too
bad for him, because she had no intention of letting the topic go.
“Well, I do care. I’m texting her.” Emma dug through her purse and found her cell
phone. She punched in the message and hit send.
Jace cringed. “What did you say in the text?”
“I just asked if she’s okay and where she is.” Emma hadn’t outright asked if her sister
was having sex with a cowboy in the parking lot, which showed a lot of restraint on
“Okay. I guess we’ll see what she says, won’t we?” He took another sip of beer as
the bottle hid his smile.
The expression on Jace’s face told her that he already knew the answer. Emma could
believe Jace knew Tucker well enough to guess what they were doing, but Jace didn’t
know Becca. She would no more have sex in a truck in a hotel parking lot than book
a seat on the next space shuttle.
The phone buzzed and Emma looked down at the incoming text from Becca.
I’m fine. Don’t wait up.
A winking smiley face followed Becca’s response. Maybe Emma didn’t know her sister
that well after all. Or perhaps it was just the lure of these cowboys making both
city girls want to do all sorts of things they wouldn’t normally do.