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by Missy Lyons
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: Taming the Wild West--Or taming wild men? Neither should be left to young virgins. After Barbara Lane inherits a gold mine, she travels to California, only to find she has an unwanted partner waiting for her. Vincent is the kind of bad boy she knew to stay away from. Instinctively, Barbara knows if she stays, she won't be innocent for long. Vincent was no gentleman, and he had no intention of changing for any woman, let alone the spitfire who moved in and made herself at home. He wasn't about to give up his whoring, or his gambling, and definitely not his bed. If Barbara wanted to stay, she would have to learn to share. What will Barbara do to win his heart? Or perhaps the question should be what wouldn't she do...
eBook Publisher: Phaze, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: May 2008
13 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [141 KB]
Reading time: 90-127 min.
Vincent woke to a warm female body next to his. Soft, long legs intertwined with his. Her skin carried the clean scent of honey and lavender. He was tempted to touch her and pull her into his body, but thought the better of such wicked ideas.
She would be hell to live with if she thought he had taken advantage of her, and right now it was more like she was taking advantage of him. He grinned, nuzzling his face into her soft hair. She was the one who sought out his body heat in the night. She was the one who kicked her skirts up, and she was the one who made the decision to sleep in the same bed. So, it was her fault their legs were now intertwined, and their bodies were so very close.
Last night he thought about being the gentleman and giving up his bed to her, but he was damned if he was going to let some female into his life and turn his world upside down. It was his bed, damn it. She came in here demanding he give up his house and when she asked him for the bed there was no way he was about to give it to her. Not after the condescending way she treated him. She could sulk all she wanted, but a man had limits. Buster and he had been able to share the full-size bed, and he was fine with it. Barbara could act like an adult about it, too. It wasn't like he planned on seducing her or anything.
She had fallen asleep long after him. Now he was taking advantage, savoring a slow perusal of her body when she still had an angelic look on her face from her dreams, not those pursed lips and devilish tongue that lashed out at him. She didn't have that constant frown on her face and she wasn't glaring at him for once. Instead, soft eyelashes brushed her skin. Her full chest rose and fell in gentle even breaths.
God, and what a delicious chest it was. Full, ripe, womanly breasts that were generously overflowing her chemise. She could get a job with the saloon in town as soon as they took one look at those beauties. She had assets that would draw a crowd, and keep business coming back for more. He would certainly pay to have her. Although, bringing her to Annie's Saloon wasn't something he wanted to do anytime soon. Sharing her with another man didn't appeal to him, and Vincent was a frequent visitor to the saloon. Barbara wasn't the type of lady who would understand about his dalliances.
He frowned at that thought. It wasn't like he planned on changing his life around for her, but sure enough, the changes had already started. He was going to have to not do the things that could offend a delicate woman. Which meant too many changes in his life.
No more whoring.
No more gambling.
She probably would try to put an end to his drinking, too.
Damn women always want to change a man.
Which was a very good reason not to have just one woman in his life.
Women complicated things.
She murmured in her sleep, nestling into the crook of his arm, and he stopped resisting the temptation to put his arm around her. He cradled her with his other arm. Damn, but she was a tempting wench. Such a soft delicate flower would be snatched up in no time if any of the men from town knew she was here. Especially if she did not have a husband.
That thought put a foul taste in his mouth. Somehow he didn't want to believe that she was another man's wife. Certainly a husband wouldn't allow such a woman to go unaccompanied into the west? No, she could not possibly be married. A snake of worry worked itself into his stomach, twisting his gut.
Not that he should be concerned about that. Where had that thought come from? He was not a jealous man. He had no intention of marrying her or anyone else. Marrying was the end of a man's freedom, and he intended to be free as long as possible. He chuckled softly to himself. That was when the sleeping angel turned into the hellion he met last night.
Her eyes flew open and he watched the emotions cross her face, reading them as plain as any book.
First there was alarm, then shock, then she had to be remembering what passed between them last night, because finally the only expression left on her face was that same evil glare he remembered from the night before.
Wild and untamed.
Those were the words that came to his mind to describe her. Her hair fell softly around her face, like a golden halo, and her angelic face hardened into the perfect seraphim, God's warrior. Her fair features, stood out as perfect as those of a doll. Although her blue eyes were icy, and her lips pursed shut, she was still too beautiful to resist.
He felt an intense need to tame that wild spirit of hers. He wanted to kiss her. Break her like a wild horse. He doubted that any man had tamed her.
Only an innocent would blush at the sight of seeing a man's naked chest. Or wake up indignant to find herself wrapped up in his arms, when she put herself there. One side of his mouth kicked up as he entertained the delightful thought of teaching her what it meant to submit to him.
"How dare you!" she hissed.
He grinned at her, amused at her sudden viciousness. "Good morning, sugar. Just when I thought there may have been a nice side to you--you go and spoil it."
"You--you--you irritating man!" She attempted to wriggle out of his legs and free herself, but he locked his legs together tighter, denying her any escape. She pushed at his chest, her hands splaying in his chest hair as she cried out, "Let me go!"
"Maybe if you tried asking nicely."
"You don't deserve to be asked nicely." She stilled her wrestling for a moment before gritting out the word, "Please."
Suddenly he released her and she darted up off the bed, muttering under breath, "You are such a horse's ass."
"Now that doesn't sound very much like the polished young lady I imagined you to be." He sat up slightly on one elbow.
She turned around to glare at him, ignoring his laughter.
"Well, if you were a gentleman, you would have given up the bed last night as I requested." Her hands went to her hips, defiantly.
"I would have. If it was to a lady."
She was silent at first, registering the insult.
She responded a little late, but in kind. "I am a lady. Pig." She turned her back in a huff and stomped over to the kitchen table and chairs. She sat down with a flurry of skirts and put her elbows on the table so she could hold her head in her hands.
This was never going to work if they couldn't get along. Vincent threw the bedcovers aside and walked across the room in his shorts to get his pants. He pulled them on, one leg at a time. Not quite sure of what to say, or if it was even possible to start over.
He knew enough women over the years to know that women could hold grudges forever, and this one seemed to be prone to temper tantrums. Another reason things could never work out between them. She was too immature for him.
"Look, I'm sorry that we got off on the wrong foot."
She glared back up at him. "Wrong foot? We are way beyond that. How can I trust you if I am going to wake up with your hands all over me in the morning?" A crimson blush spread across her face and then down her neck.
"You can trust me. I didn't touch you, did I? You still have your innocence," he said in frustration.
"You mean you didn't? And that we didn't ... Thank God!"
"No. You can be sure that you would remember it in the morning if we did, sugar. You would still be feeling it," he said in a cocky voice.
"Well that will never happen," she said arrogantly.
"Never say never, sugar. You could learn a few things from me." He smiled. He would enjoy teaching her all the lessons of being a lover. It would be a challenge to raise her passions to a frenzied level of desire. To hear her begging him to fuck her. He shifted in his seat, spreading his legs a little as he felt himself swell at the thought.
Perhaps he should be seducing her. He looked at her as if for the first time. Watching as she backed up a step, acting suddenly nervous at the direction the conversation had taken. The predator in him surfaced too quickly.
Vincent didn't want to upset her any further. So he tried another tactic. His voice was suddenly kind, his manner less threatening. "I am sorry about you losing your father, by the way."
"Don't be. I really didn't know him. He left my mother when she was pregnant." Her biting tone denoted a wound that had never healed.
Christ. He wanted to give her a hug. His chest was tight as he watched her shift uncomfortably in her seat, avoiding his gaze. She was still hurting inside after the man who did this to her was long dead.
"Buster wasn't a bad guy. He always talked about how when he made it big he was going to take care of you."
"Well, he never did. All he did was chase a pipe dream. And you," she motioned towards Vincent, "are just as bad. What kind of life is this? Do you want to be digging in a mine your entire life?"
"It's not a bad life, sugar, and your father wasn't a bad man." He padded across the floor to the kitchen area. Loading up the stove with some wood, he prepared the fire to make breakfast. He pulled a ceramic bowl off a shelf and a wooden spoon off a hook on the wall to make the biscuits.
* * * *
Observing him prepare the morning breakfast had to be the strangest thing she'd ever seen. Most men she knew wouldn't survive long without a woman to take care of his house and feed his stomach. Clearly, Vincent had been looking after himself for a long time. Long enough to learn how to fend for himself and how to cook.
Barbara looked on in amazement as he used the spoon to drop blobs of dough onto the iron skillet before shoving the pan in the oven. The smell of sizzling bacon filled up the small cabin. Suddenly she realized how hungry she was. She had not eaten anything since yesterday morning. Saliva pooled in her mouth; her hunger made her feel a little friendlier towards him.
"That smells wonderful."
"Thanks," he replied, keeping his attention on the cooking. It wasn't long before he slid a plate in front of her. Biscuits and gravy never looked so good, but she had never been this hungry.
Greedily she dug her fork in and took a bite of her breakfast. The biscuits seemed to just melt in her mouth. "Thank you for breakfast, Mr. Waverly."
Vincent smiled, watching her eat. "Call me Vincent. If we are going to be partners, we may as well become friends."
"Partners? I think you, are mistaken. I am not looking for a partner. I just want to sell my share of the claim and get out of here."
"Honey, you aren't selling your share unless you sell my share too."
"Then I will buy you out so I can sell. How much do you want?"
His gaze raked her over, suggesting his price would mean more than money. "You couldn't afford my price. You best just get used to the idea that we will be working together, and you will continue to work as long as you want to eat around here." He cocked his head slightly, "You ever worked panning for gold before?"
"No, but how hard can it be?"
Vincent didn't answer her question, and the way he was looking at her ... It made her feel like a hungry wolf was watching her. It did something to the pit of her stomach that she wasn't sure that she liked.
"I'll show you how to work the mine and afterwards we can go visit your father's grave if you like."
"That is, if you want to. I figure you would like to say your goodbyes."
"Sure. My goodbyes. Maybe we can schedule another time to go to the grave, but I don't want to go right now." Barbara wasn't sure she wanted to see his grave. She still felt so angry with the man that called himself her father. Hated him for what he had done, and even seeing him dead wouldn't make her feel any better about him.
"All right, if that is the way you feel about it, we will do it another time." His voice was quiet and reserved, as if he didn't want to drop the subject but knew it would be a good time to let it go.
She finished the last bit of food on her plate, breaking the awkward silence with a compliment. "I have heard that a man's stomach is the way to his heart, but I think perhaps it may be the same for a woman."