Chasin' Eight [Rough Riders, Book 11]
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by Lorelei James
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: She wants it. He's got it. And the chase is on? Rough Riders, Book 11 Bull rider Chase McKay has finally landed in a pile too big to charm his way out of. Caught with his pants down, he finds himself bucked right off the PBR tour until he can get his act together. Hollywood actress Ava Cooper became the tabloids' favorite target when her longtime boyfriend was outed as gay. Now she wants a place to lay low and a chance to prove to herself that she can satisfy a red-blooded man between the sheets. The sexy, rugged cowboy she finds holed up in her Wyoming hideaway seems like the answer to her every fantasy. But Chase has sworn off women. Forever. Or at least a month. Whichever comes first. When they take to the road to get Chase more hands-on bull riding experience, they have every intention of keeping their hands off each other. But the two headstrong stars quickly end up riding a hot and heady rodeo circuit all their own--until the press gets wind of their affair. When the dust clears and the lights of the paparazzi fade, are they ready to give up chasing the dream for a chance of finding forever? Warning: Strap in, another hot McKay is about to bust out of the gate and this bull rider knows a thing or two about riding hard...
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: July 2011
26 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [526 KB]
Reading time: 320-448 min.
Kane McKay answered the phone with a brusque, "Chase? Why're you callin' me?"
"Nice to hear your voice too, cuz."
"Sorry. Lack of sleep makes me cranky. What's up?"
"I need a favor. And it's gonna sound really freakin' weird, so just hear me out."
"I need a place to crash. I don't want anyone--and yeah, by anyone I mean my folks, my brothers and the rest of the assorted McKays--to know I'm in Wyoming."
Silence. "Ya ain't killed someone and are on the run from the law or anything?"
"No. I was suspended from the PBR. Mostly because of bullshit politics--" Still in denial, buddy? "--but I need time to figure out my next move. I can't do it with my family hovering."
"So it'd just be you?" Kane asked skeptically.
"I've sworn off women."
"Again? What is that? The fourth time this year?"
"You're fuckin' hilarious. That's another reason I need to get away. Too many temptations of the female flesh around me, and I'm willing to admit I'm a weak, weak man."
"So is anyone living in your old trailer?"
"Nope. Me'n Red hang out there occasionally when we need a break from the kids. I'll ask Ginger--"
"That's the other thing. Can we keep it strictly between us?"
A sigh. "I ain't gonna lie to my wife. I'll do this much. I won't tell Ginger you're comin', but once you're here, I'll let her know. If she suspects someone's squatting in our love shack, she'll call Cam. Wouldn't want our cousin to shoot ya on accident."
"That'll work. Thanks."
"Happy to help. Though, I'll point out your folks and brothers will be pissed if they hear you're around and hiding from them. So if it comes up, you keep me out of it. We just straightened out the last of the family drama."
"Quinn and Ben tell me the new arrangement is workin' great." The older generation had officially retired the last few months, forcing changes in the way McKay Ranches were run, leaving his brothers and cousins in charge for the first time.
"So far," Kane said.
"No fistfights yet?"
"Oh, I wouldn't say that."
Once again Chase was glad he'd cashed out his portion of the McKay Ranch with the change in ownership. The financial windfall provided him options and freedom. Yet...he half-wondered if not having a burning need for that prize money contributed to him slacking off on tour.
"When do you plan on bein' here?" Kane asked.
"I don't know. I'll call you after I get in."
"Fair enough. There's a key under the bottom porch step."
"Thanks, Kane, I really appreciate it."
"Glad to help. Drive safe."
* * * *
"Ava! Over here!"
Ava Cooper ignored the photographers snapping pictures as she waited for the valet to bring her Mazerati around.
"Come on," the photographer cajoled. "Give us something. Anything."
She recognized the fat, balding man, the most aggressive of the paparazzi. In the not-too-distant past she would've given him a sound bite. Now they circled her, waiting to swoop in and pick off the remaining bits of her dignity.
"Ava. Open up to us. You know our readers are on your side. Don't you have anything to say to your fans?"
Her black sports car rumbled at the curb. She skirted the back end, colliding with the valet. "Pardon me, Miss Cooper."
"No problem. I'm ready to get the hell out of here." Ava peeled out, burning rubber before she even buckled her seat belt.
The traffic was light on the freeway this time of day as she headed...where? Home? Most paparazzi were on to fresher stories, but a couple persistent buggers detailed her comings and goings on a Twitter feed. If she didn't leave her house for a few days, rumors would fly she was too depressed, too drunk, too emotionally eviscerated to be seen in public. If she ran errands, or met with her agent, or visited her friends and family, or dined out, she'd put on a brave face through her personal heartache.
Ava wasn't sure when the ridiculousness of the situation occurred to her. She was a B-list actress. Why would anyone give a shit about her?
Because in the last month, her life, as she'd known it, had been turned upside down, and everyone gawked at a train wreck. She hadn't been in a state of denial as much as shock. It wasn't every day a woman found out via press conference that the man she'd been involved with for months was in a relationship...with another man.
Fucking Jake Vasquez. Talk about a double whammy--he'd betrayed her on both a personal and professional level.
They'd met while filming a low-budget independent romantic comedy in which they'd been cast in the lead roles. Jake was the most exquisite man she'd ever seen. Dark black hair, dreamy golden eyes, a killer body comprised of sinewy muscle beneath an expanse of luminescent olive-toned skin. Their attraction was instantaneous, and by the end of the film shoot, they were lovers. After the movie wrapped, the fall TV taping season started. Jake's popular TV show was filmed in Vancouver; hers was filmed in LA. But never during those months they maintained a long-distance relationship had she suspected Jake preferred men in bed.
The suspicion didn't even kick in the night Jake showed up at her place, half-liquored up, with his new friend Decker. Jake's increasing sexual aggressiveness with her in front of his buddy had gotten Decker all hot and bothered, so Jake spontaneously suggested a threesome.
Growing up in California, Ava had seen plenty of kinky things and even experimented with a few. But she'd shied away from a menage, mostly because men wanted girl-on-girl action. The thought of kissing and touching another woman did nothing for her.
But two guys catering to her? That'd been a no-brainer. The three of them had spent all night and part of the following day in bed. Even now, Ava overheated recalling the erotic hedonism. Sandwiched between two hot men, bodies slick with sweat and pressed tightly together as they fucked to exhaustion.
At the time, she'd been blown away by Jake's willingness to cede control to another man. To do anything and everything Decker suggested. Or demanded. Watching Jake's beautiful face lost in pleasure as Decker fucked him. Seeing how expertly Jake sucked Decker off. Finding their stamina as arousing as their unexpected tenderness in the aftermath of such aggressiveness. In retrospect, she should've known Jake and Decker were too well attuned to each other.
The fact the paparazzi had caught Jake and Decker together in a full-body clinch at a gay club late one night in LA should've warranted a warning phone call from Jake. But no.
Before either of their publicity teams were informed, Jake held a press conference, admitting he could no longer lie about his true sexual orientation. Then he'd claimed both the movie studio and Ava had known their relationship was a sham to build buzz for the movie--which was a total lie.
She'd been completely blindsided. The movie studio scrapped the entire publicity campaign for the movie a mere month from release. The movie tanked. Her phone rang off the hook with requests for interviews. Paparazzi camped out around her house, forcing her to hire security guards to keep the press off her private stretch of beach.
How did she bounce back from this? Did she even want to? The brutal truth was she'd been frustrated in recent years with her acting career. Every role was supposed to be the vehicle for landing her a "big" breakout role. Hadn't happened. Now her years of hard work were overshadowed by events beyond her control. With the scandal simmering in the backs of directors' and producers' minds, she'd have to work twice as hard to prove herself.
Her parents had never gauged her worth by her public success; they believed pursuing an acting career was a waste. As an heiress to the Cooper fortune, which included a string of hotels, a tire manufacturing business and a line of power tools, her mother had hoped Ava would join the family business. But Ava knew being a bottom-line businesswoman would stifle her creativity, regardless of the avenue she followed after this latest debacle blew over.
Maybe she should run away and join the circus.
As she waited in traffic, she happened to catch a glimpse of herself in the rearview mirror. Ugh. She looked like dog shit. She dialed her go-to guy for hair and makeup, cajoling him into squeezing her in immediately.
Hours later, when Ava exited the salon, she had an extra spring in her step because no one had recognized her.
Keeping up with her fab idea to run away, she needed to find someplace outside her normal haunts. Someplace nobody would ever think to look for her. Someplace remote. Unpopulated.
Ava waited while the secretary patched her through to her long-time friend, the one person she'd always been able to count on to help her out of a jam.
"This is Ginger Paulson."
"I thought you were going by Ginger McKay?"
"Ava! I was just thinking about you. I'm Ginger Paulson while I'm at Paulson Law Office. But when it's me, Kane and the kids at home, I'm...ah, hell, I'm just mama. A frazzled mama."
"How are the McKay kiddos?"
"Hayden has developed a love of ranch work and has forgotten about his X-Box. Paul crawls as fast as a cockroach. Maddie is an angel, if you can overlook the death metal scream she's debuted in the last week."
Ava laughed. "You love it. And how is that smokin' hot hubby of yours?"
Ginger sighed. "Amazing. He can do physical labor all day, come home, diaper and care for two babies, help Hayden with school projects, play cards with my dad and still keep me purring like a contented kitten. So, amazing doesn't begin to cover how fabulous my Kane is. Anyway, what's up with you? 'Cause, sweetie, you rarely call me out of the blue anymore."
"Sorry." She slipped out the patio door and gazed across the turbulent ocean. "I'm... I need to clear my head, Ginger. I thought this mess would blow over. It mostly has, but there's enough of it lingering I can't even have lunch in this town without being tracked down by the press. Which is why I need a break."
Ginger was quiet for just a beat too long.
"Just thinking back to when your punkish seventeen-year-old self swaggered into my office. You had your career path all laid out. You couldn't wait to be the focus of the paparazzi."
Ava tilted her head to better catch the salty ocean breeze. "I was so cocky." She grimaced with bitter remembrance. "And I had no reason to be. No experience. Nothing but a solid belief in myself. If I'd known then what I know now..."
"You might've listened to your parents and gone into one of the family businesses?" Ginger supplied with syrupy sarcasm.
"Come on, Ava. It hasn't turned out so badly for you. You've been in a critically acclaimed TV show and in a few movies. You've done it mostly on your own. You should be proud."
"But?" Ava prompted.
"But the smart, savvy girl I met had ambitions of being more than a mere actress. You were writing screenplays, studying directing and cinematography, planning to start a production company to showcase projects you loved."
"True. So what happened to me?"
"Sweetie. You got lazy. Rather than letting the money from the acting gigs fund those aspirations, using it as a stepping stone for bigger things, the last few years you've allowed complacency to wedge you into a place you don't want to be."
Ginger's ability to get to the heart of the matter was exactly what Ava needed. "Well, letting an in-the-closet actor come out and annihilate my career is a stepping stone I would've loved to skip."
Ginger laughed. "Sometimes what seems like the worst turn of events can turn into the best. And yes, I'm speaking from experience, as you well know."
"That's what I'm saying. I need new experiences. I need a change. I need to live something real." Ava breathed in the familiar scent of wet sand and exhaled slowly. "I want to come to Wyoming. I know your life is beyond busy, and I'd never presume to crash at your place. But a change of scenery will force me out of complacency. I need to stop being Ava Cooper for a while. Figure out who Ava Dumond is."
"I agree with you, but no matter what name you use, you are a celebrity. You will be recognized even in the small burg of Sundance, Wyoming."
"That's where you're wrong. Without makeup, designer clothes and my snazzy sports car, I doubt anyone would recognize me." She turned, checking out her reflection in the picture window. "My stylist reverted my hair to its original brown today. If his assistant didn't recognize me, and I've dealt with him for years, I'm pretty confident no one else will recognize me either. Besides, I'm not being snobby when I say I don't want to mingle with the Sundance locals. Luckily, Kane's old trailer is out in the middle of nowhere. Have you rented it yet?"
"No. Finding adult alone time in a house with three kids and my dad is impossible sometimes. And Kane and I need a place to connect."
"Could you put your libido on hold for like a week and lend me your love lair?"
"Let me talk to Kane--"
"No! I mean, I don't even want Kane to know I'm there."
"Why not?" Ginger demanded.
"Because your gentleman hubby would fuss over me, stopping by every day to see if I needed anything. I'd rather not put him in that position of feeling obligated."
"What am I supposed to tell him, Ava? I won't lie to him."
She'd forgotten cajoling didn't work on Ginger. "Don't tell him I'm coming, but once I'm there, I'll swing by your place and let him know I'm hanging out in Wyoming for a bit."
"I didn't want to play this card, but you're leaving me no choice. You and Kane spent your honeymoon at my house for one entire week. You owe me a week in Wyoming."
"You shoulda gone to law school. Fine. I'll put away the spanking bench and the ceiling restraints before you get here. Which is...when exactly?"
Ava wasn't sure if Ginger was kidding about the marital aids. "I'm planning to fly into Denver and rent a car to drive the Wyoming leg. I'll call you when I arrive."
"All right. I'll make sure the trailer is unlocked that morning. And if you really don't want anyone to know you're there, park in the barn."
Ava sagged against the weathered siding. "This is exactly what I need. Thank you."
"Glad I can help. I know you'll figure it out, Ava. See you soon."