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by B. A. Tortuga
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: Thanks to her attempt to make it as a freelance writer, Sara McGregor is on a tour of the west, ending it at a Wyoming dude ranch. She's just there to do an interview on the simple life, but things get very complicated when she meets Cal Pearson. He's nothing like the men she knows back in Berkley; he's arrogant, rude, and he calls her darlin', and she sets out to prove to the irritating cowboy that she's not one bit attracted to him. Too bad it isn't true. Sara and Cal fight it out with humor, stubbornness and a healthy dose of lust, finding out that you can make love work if you're just willing to find a little common ground, in or out of the bedroom, and Sara gets the one thing she never thought she'd want. Her very own cowboy.
eBook Publisher: Resplendence Publishing, LLC, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: October 2010
8 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [228 KB]
Reading time: 145-203 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
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The little yellow VW Bug coughed and sputtered, almost growling at her as it crawled up a little road in the midst of the Bighorn Mountains. Sara patted the dashboard, unwilling to admit that the sick, scared feeling in the pit of her stomach wasn't exhaustion and a reaction to the altitude.
"Come on, baby. Up this hill, one more hill. Then I'll interview Mr. and Mrs. Callahan, spend a day or two taking pictures and we're gold. Goodbye Wyoming, hello California." Seven months she'd been on the road, visiting one ranch after another. Sara had been so excited when her agent, Anna, had called in February as she was having breakfast with her folks in the house they shared in Berkeley.
"Sara, lovely, have I got a deal for you. A travelogue. Dude ranches, cattle ranches, cowboys and horses and cows. True romance."
Sara shoved her dark hair from in front of her face. Romance. Right. Dust and heat. Filthy animals and lizards and bugs--oh, God, the bugs. Still, she needed the money and the book and all she had to do was finished it and maybe--just maybe--Mom wouldn't be on the cell phone every seventeen seconds trying to convince her that she needed to head home right now and go back to school.
She just didn't want to spend her life in the classroom.
The dust kicked up, made both her and the Bug cough, and she rolled up the window. Of course, she didn't want to spend her life in the boonies either.
It wasn't that the area wasn't beautiful--the summer was faded, the evergreens mixing with the changing leaves to make things colorful and bright. The mountains were stunning, a welcome change to the vast desert in Arizona, the flat Oklahoma prairies, the bleak Texas plains.
Still, Sara missed the easy pace of Berkeley. The ocean, the coffee shops, the people who actually seemed to be living in the modern world and not following some ancient cowboy code. Decent vegan restaurants.
Oh, what she wouldn't give for a nice falafel wrap...
The Bug made it, sputtering and dying in the parking lot, a wisp of white steam leaking out which Sara resolutely ignored. She'd let it cool down, get her interviews and notes and pictures and maybe a night or two of good sleep. Then she'd baby the old yellow car home. Dad could park it in the garage and she could buy a nice fuel-friendly Toyota with the money from her book.
"Looks like that old bomb needs some work, honey."
The voice was deep and gravelly, and the man attached to it was tall, broad and bowlegged, face and eyes shadowed by a gray felt hat.
Sara couldn't decide whether to be more offended by the honey or the old bomb and she rolled her eyes, grabbing her briefcase from the back seat, cotton shirt trying to pull free from her slacks. "Thank you for the observation. I don't suppose you could direct me to where I might find Mr. Callahan?"
"Sure. He'd be up at the main house. I'll walk you up." The hat got pushed back far enough she could see a weathered face with blue eyes and almost white brows. And a measuring look. "If you're a guest, you sure ain't dressed for it."
She resisted the urge to smooth her blouse, check to see if her little black heeled sandals--and thank goodness she was heading home soon because it was getting seriously chilly for sandals and her good boots were still in the closet at home--had avoided the dust. "I'm not here to play cowboy, no. I'm doing research for a book and the Callahans have agreed to allow me to interview them, photograph the house."
She got a good look at what she assumed was the main house as she turned. It was breath-taking--natural wood and stone, huge windows, a vast, inviting porch with fans and cozy seats and what looked like a hand-carved rail all the way around. It was nestled right into the side of the mountain, the afternoon sun turning everything to a warm gold.
"No kiddin'? Well, they sure are nice folks." The man's tone implied that the Callahans would have to be nice to do an interview with her and maybe that she was nuts. Of course, maybe that offensive drawl was his normal mode of communication. The man held the door for her on her way in and pointed her to a little reception area.
"If they're expectin' you, just tell Sally there and she'll get you set up. Enjoy, honey."
She rolled her eyes, held out her hand. "Sara McGregor. Thanks."
There, she'd introduced herself to tall, broad and laconic.
"Cal Pearson." The man's big hand swallowed hers as they shook. "Pleased. Now I ought to go on back to work. Enjoy."
The words were pleasant enough, but the look that accompanied them made her grit her teeth. It was slow and somehow appreciative and insolent at the same time.
Shaking off the frown and the growl, Sara made her way up to the little wooden desk, smiling at the too-cute-for-reality-TV little blond in a pink western shirt, pink ice pendant resting in the hollow of the perfectly tanned throat. Were these people for real?
She got a smile. "Hey there, darlin'. Welcome to Broke Ridge Ranch. My name's Ginny; how can I help you?"
"Sara McGregor. I'm here to speak with Mr. and Mrs. Callahan? We have an interview scheduled?"
"Oh. Oh, you're the reporter-writer lady? They told me about you. They've had to go down to Cheyenne to speak with some government people, but they said you'd planned to stay a day or two, just do your pictures first, they'll be back Sunday."
"Oh." She bit the inside of her bottom lip. She'd so hoped to be headed home by then. "Did they arrange a place for me to sleep?"
"You bet. They booked you on the two day trail ride. You even get to ride herd a bit. They said that was the best way to see the ranch. And you don't even have that many other people on the ride. It's getting on to fall, getting cooler, you know?"
That blonde head tilted, bright eyes just twinkling at her. "Can I ask you a personal question?"
Trail ride? Like on a horse? Her? But horses were...big. Sara blinked, staring at Ginny who was obviously waiting on her to speak. Oh. Right. Personal question. "Uh... Sure. What?"
"Are you married? Because that Cal? He's a real ladies' man. So hot."
"Who? No. No, I'm not--married, that is." She had a guy back home, sort of. Kyle was sweet and gentle, hands soft, dark hair perfect, nice enough, and Dad liked him. One day they might decide to join their households and form a union, but not now.
"I'm not looking for a partner, thanks." Especially not with a man who felt it's appropriate to call a woman by diminutives without knowing her. She? Would kick Kyle's butt for doing that.
"A partner? Oh, are you gay, honey? I'm sorry. I never thought. I just think Cal's dreamy. And since he'll be your guide..."
She blinked over, more than a little tempted to just say yes, yes she was. Way into women. Of course, that's not what came out of her mouth. "No. No, I'm just not looking right now. You...you should go after him yourself, if you're interested."
Dreamy? Did people say dreamy?
"Me? Go after Cal?" Ginny laughed and laughed. "Oh, honey. I think he's a doll, but I've known him my whole life. It would be like dating my brother. Now, I know your stay is on the house, but I just need you to sign right here. It's just a waiver, in case you get kicked by a horse or something."
The girl winked at her. "Of course, Cal is good at first aid, too."
Sara signed her name, shaking her head the entire time, the balled-up hair at the back of her neck trying to come loose from the elastic, tugging, pulling and making her head ache. "I... I wasn't aware I'd be participating. I'm not really sure this is the best idea."
In fact, she was fairly sure that the mixture of her and a horse? Definitely not good.
"Well, like I said, since the Callahans aren't here for a few days they figured you might oughta go ahead and jump in with both feet." She got a bright grin, Ginny showing not just teeth, but gums. "Now, I'll go ahead and call Sally up and she can set you up a room for tonight and you can head out with Cal and that nice couple from Vermont in the morning. If you need outfitting we have loaner boots and new Levis."
If Ginny wasn't so sweet, Sara thought she might just be vaguely terrifying. It was a close thing as it stood. "I have jeans, but I'll need boots. I've been traveling since February and packing light."
Light, yeah. Her old little purple suitcase with her clothes and a backpack for everything else. Man, when she got home? Grown up luggage.
Grown up luggage and a new car.
She met Ginny's too-bright-to-be-real eyes and smiled, the matching pink earrings and necklace blending with shirt and lipstick and stunning her for just a second.
She bet Ginny'd like her suitcase.
"Okay. I'll have Sally take you for a fitting after you get settled."
Sally, or someone she assumed to be Sally, bustled up just then. She was short and wide with iron gray hair and a lined, tanned face. She smelled distinctly of cigarette smoke. "Hi there. I'll take it from here, Ginny. You need boots fitted, huh? You look tuckered out, too. I bet you need feeding up."
The woman took her arm and turned her about. "Let's go to your room. If you want, my husband Jose can go get your bag out of your car."
"No, that's fine. I'll go get it later." She was sort of hustled back out the big wood door and down the steps, shivering a little as the wind picked up. "I'll have to dig around and find a sweatshirt or two."
Sally chuckled and nodded. "Folks don't think about how chilly it can get. Where you from, girl?"
"Northern California, but I've been traveling for a while."
"California, huh? Some nice wine country out that way. We'll hunt you up a coat, you don't have one. Mornings and nights get right down cold."
They crossed the yard and headed for what she assumed was one of the guest wings. There were cabins, too, set up above the house among the tress, but it didn't look like she'd be unlucky enough to get one of those. "Now, hope you didn't let Ginny worry you about Cal. You've got a nice family of three scheduled on your trip, too. Momma, Papa and a seven year old girl, horse crazy and sweet as can be."
"I'm not worried; Ginny was just being..." Pushy. Nosy. "Nice."
Sally opened the door for her, handed her the key. The room was more than nice--big old four-poster bed, two wing-backed chairs beside a little table. There was even a fireplace with a huge deer head staring at her--oh, poor thing. God, let it be fake. The whole room was done in deep greens and a rich red, the feel a mixture of decadence and hunting lodge.
"She's a sweet girl, but if she was a cat, she'd've lost a good many lives to her nosiness. Now, if you need anything you just pick up the phone and call the desk. Dinner is at six in the main house, and if you need to know more about your overnight trip you just dial 06 on the phone. That's the tours number." Sally smiled at her. "And when you're ready to be fitted for boots and a coat you call me. I'm listed in the little phone book on the nightstand."
And with a pat on her arm, Sally bustled out, leaving her alone.
Sara locked the door and turned on all the lights, taking a handful of pictures of the room, the bed, before pulling out her one decent skirt and hanging it up, just in case dinner was something better than jeans. Of course, this was cowboy country, so she doubted it. Hell, she'd only had to wear it once in Houston.
The room was cozy, but the bathroom? Oh, man. That was sweet. A huge stand-alone shower, a whirlpool tub, a huge set of windows set way up high so you got sky and you'd have to be way up on the mountain to see in. There were bath beads and bubbles and shampoos in glass bottles. Glass. Even a little pillow on the edge and a detachable faucet. Heaven. Sheer heaven. Sighing, Sara pulled the scrunchie and barrettes out of her hair, letting the dark mass down.
This was what she needed. A long, hot bath.
Sara ran the water as hot as she could stand it, smelling each bottle of oil and settling on one that was a little minty and one that was a little musky, the steam filling the air with a luscious scent. Her shoes were tossed into the other room, slacks and blouse draped over the door along with her bra.
She left her little black lace panties on, the sight of herself in the big mirror surprisingly sexy. She wasn't a lingerie type of girl, but she'd made friends with this girl in Harlingen who'd sold stuff--sort of a Tupperware party but with teddies and bras and panties--and she'd bought a pack of three little lace things--black, white and red.
Sara leaned against the bathroom wall, stretching, eyes on herself. Hell, if she squinted she almost looked like one of those underwear models. She pinched her nipples, pushing her breasts into her hands so they looked smaller. Yeah. Right. She snorted, stepping out of the panties and into the water.
Sinking into the water was the most sensual thing she'd felt in months, hands sliding over her own skin, over the inside of her thighs. It had been days since she'd been able to do this, to close her eyes and think about someone's mouth on her skin, a soft touch to her clit.
It was what she needed, wanted. Hands on her hips, fingers pushing deep, lips tugging on her nipples. Kyle could spend hours touching her, fingers feather-light on her skin, cock sliding inside her while he stroked her clit, the orgasms like hot waves of water, soft kisses making her twist and shudder, making her wet, making her need.
So gentle, he made her feel good, an equal in their desire.
She shifted, fingers sliding in lazy circles around her clit, free hand working her nipples, rolling them between her fingers and pulling just a little, just enough for a jolt of electricity to shoot from her chest to her pussy, hips jerking, making the water splash.
It felt so good--from the slide of her ass on the bottom of the tub to the way the hot water made her skin pink--it had been too long since she just got herself off, luxuriated in her own touch and imagined it was someone else's. Someone male. Someone...
Of course, Dr. Marls from "Learning Your Body: A Seminar on the Feminist View of Masturbation" had said a successful woman in control shouldn't have to think about someone else, should focus on her hands, her body, her needs. Sara'd tried it, but...
She groaned and sighed at herself. But she'd ended up just like now--overthinking and not coming and that sucked.
Big hairy monkey balls.
Which were also not sexy. Although they did fit right in with the murdered animal decor in the room, poor things...
Sara rolled her eyes and grabbed the detachable faucet, crouching down to wash her hair, ass in the air.
Obviously she didn't need it bad enough.