Hello, everyone! It’s finally spring and we’re all ready for new beginnings, right? This is the time when people run to their hairdressers and ask for a new style or a hot new color. Is that you? Or we want to change our fashion sense and get out of our comfort zones.
Well I’ve got some new cowboys for you to meet! The Calhouns–Buck, Ryder, Ridge, West, Lane and l’il sister Wynonna. Their family ranch is in trouble so they’ve decided to go full-force into rodeoing in order to win some cash! But in the midst of this, Buck’s fiancee walks out on him–right at the time when a big TV network approaches them for a reality show.
BUCK is out now! Read on for an excerpt…
She opened the door and found trouble standing in front of her, long legs clad in worn denim, a shiny new belt buckle from the Fort Worth rodeo win at his waist and a pristine white T-shirt clinging to his carved muscles.
When she looked at his face, her insides did a tango. She wanted him—bad. How easy would it be to drag him inside, take him to bed and not surface from their problems?
“Buck.” Her voice was too breathy.
“Hi, Channing. Can I come in?” His Oklahoma twang raised a flutter deep in her belly. As soon as she allowed him into her space, she had to fold her hands into fists to keep from touching him.
Sparks flew between their gazes, but that was expected. They had no problem in the attraction department. It was the other stuff getting in the way of their future.
He tore his gaze away and let it trail over the bottle of his shower gel she’d taken from his house. “I see where my body wash went now. I was left to use something with pink Himalayan salt and water lily.” He raised a forearm and sniffed it.
God, he was adorable. But why couldn’t he be more like his brothers—open and generous with things like smiles?
Her heart gave a hard pinch, reminding her of what she’d given up.
“I’m sorry I grabbed your soap by accident. Here you go.” When she lifted the bottle, the ring slid across the surface of the table.
Buck stilled, his attention zeroed in on that ring.
“I…should have given you this back that day in the hotel. Here.” She started to thrust the circle of platinum at him, but he held up a hand.
“No, really, Buck. You take it. Sell it and use the money for—”
“Please, just hear me out.”
Their gazes collided again, and she dropped her hand to her side, the ring clenched so hard in her fist that it must be imprinting itself in her palm.
“Can we sit down and talk?” He waved toward her small seating group. She gave a nod and he moved to sit on the sofa. She took the thrift store chair adjacent to him, too aware of the lines of his body. Everything about Buck called to her. God, she was so in love with him. Why couldn’t he just soften toward her a little bit?
“Things happened quickly back in Fort Worth,” he began. His hat looked a little more battered at the brim, as if he’d been touching it over and over again since they’d been apart.
She nodded. “Is Asher okay?”
“I think so. He’s got Reese in a good place where she can get help. I guess she was trying to get off the paint thinner and went sort of crazy. Luckily, her mom showed up in time to take the kids away. But she couldn’t calm her down and had to call in the authorities.”
Buck nodded. “We all won in Fort Worth and we put half the winnings into an envelope to help Asher pay for the rehab facility.”
“That’s kind of you.” She expected nothing less from the Calhouns. Despite what others in the rodeo circuit said about them, the family stuck by people they cared about.
Tears flooded her eyes and her nose stung as she thought of being outside their ring—farther outside than before.
Buck’s gaze softened as he searched her eyes. “There’s more, Channing.”
Panic rose inside her. “Is it your mother? Or something Ennis has done to begin the oil drilling sooner?” Their bastard cousin was ruthless about taking that land. Sure, he’d given them a few months to vacate it, but he hadn’t wasted a minute calling in land surveyors or consultants about ways to maximize the prime Oklahoma ranch.
“No, no, nothing like that. It’s actually something good.”
She arched a brow, hope rising. He’d come back to beg for her back. He’d come to say he’d made a huge mistake in letting her go. Breathless, she waited.
“After you left with Asher, someone approached us about doing a TV reality show.”
She gaped. “A what?”
“Yeah, it’s hard to wrap your head around but things are moving fast. This network wants to feature the Calhouns in our own reality show called Rope ‘n Ride. Since we’re a rodeo family and all. Well I’m not in love with the idea of people prying into my private life, but how can I say no to the money? In a few months we’ll have enough to buy the ranch off Ennis.”
“I see.” Her throat was bone dry.
“Anyhow, I came here to ask you a favor.”
Her gaze shot to his. A lightning bolt of attraction sizzled between them, striking her square in the chest.
“What is it?” she whispered, though he might not hear her over her thumping heart.
He fidgeted. Toyed with his hat. Then his smoldering brown eyes rested on hers again. “The network knows about you—about our engagement.”
“And it seems they want you in on the deal.”
She jerked. “Me?”
“Yeah, they don’t know about…” He waved between them and his hand ended up pointing at the ring on the table several feet away.
She nodded, waiting for him to make his point.
“Look, there’s no good way for me to ask this, but they want me to be engaged on this show, Channing.”
She stared at him, uncomprehending.
He made a pained noise. “I’m asking you to come back and sign the contract and pretend to be my fiancée.”
“What?” She shot to her feet.
He stood too, towering over her, his big body a beacon to her lost and lonely one. She wanted to curl against his chest and feel his arms around her. To bury her nose against his throat and inhale the pink Himalayan salt and water lily scents clinging to his flesh.
He spread his hands. Wide palms, callused fingers. God, she wanted him to glide those hands all over her naked body.
“It’s a lot to ask and I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t in a hard spot. See, I get a bonus if you sign on.”
Ice water splashed over her, leaving her a blackened, dead coal where seconds before she’d been on fire for Buck. “Are you seriously saying you’re using me to get more money, Buck?”
He had the grace to flush red and shift his feet. “It sounds awful when you say it like that, but you’re right. I’ll get enough to buy the mineral rights away from Ennis too if you sign on, Channing.”
The words fuck off were on the tip of her tongue, but she realized there was more to this.
Keep up with the Calhouns with RYDER, coming in June!
What are y’all doing this spring? Home updates? New landscaping? I’d love to hear from you!
~hardworking heroes–in bed and out~