Guess what’s in the bookstores today?!!
If the excerpts haven’t been enough to convince you, if the scenery doesn’t tempt you, then I’ll have to keep trying. Enjoy meeting Adam Youngblood!
Oh! And you’ll have to read to the end to find today’s winner!
Cass sat at her desk finishing up reports left from the previous day—or rather, trying to. She clicked on save, closed her computer, and then tilted her coffee cup, noting its half-empty state. She shoved away from her desk with a deep sigh. Truthfully, she’d have used any excuse not to sit there another minute.
She’d been unbearably “itchy”—so restless she’d started planning a new bouldering excursion for her next day off. Physical exhaustion seemed the only relief from what really bothered her.
Adam hadn’t relented. Not once. He hadn’t called. He hadn’t even used one of his flimsy “complaint session” excuses to stop by the headquarters. Apparently, he didn’t intend to collect his “pound of flesh.”
She sighed, acknowledging she was one pathetic creature when she’d settle for a man taking his revenge for the simple joy of seeing him.
Cass refilled her cup at the community pot and headed to the information desk and Mavis.
The lobby was empty except for the elderly, gray-haired woman who was busy stocking the brochure rack with a fresh batch of trail maps.
“Things always slow this time of day?” Cass asked, making conversation.
Mavis continued sliding the pamphlets in their slots. “Most folks settle in the shade about this time. Days are gettin’ hotter.”
“Gonna be a long summer,” Cass murmured.
The older woman shot her a wry glance. “We gonna talk about the weather or what’s really on your mind? You haven’t said a word about what happened the other day on the cliff.”
Cass grimaced. “Nothing happened. He tossed me a rope and took me home.”
Mavis set the brochures on the counter. Her soft blue gaze studied Cass’s face. “Haven’t seen him around here since. Something happened.”
Cass released her breath, deciding to confide because she needed someone to talk to. “I think I blew it, Mavis,” she said softly. “The night before the storm Adam caught me in the parking lot at The Stone Pony…kissing Johnny.” At Mavis’s sigh, Cass’s cheeks heated. “I know. Not smart. But it happened, and now he won’t talk to me.”
Mavis’s soft, dewy fingers pressed against Cass’s as she stood stock-still clutching her coffee cup. “I don’t know if there’s any way to fix that, hon. Adam doesn’t give his trust easy, and he and Johnny are so competitive…have been since they were boys.”
Which only confirmed Cass’s assessment of the situation. Deflated, she forced a smile. “At least he won’t be coming around every other day to complain about hikers crossing his fence.” She dragged in a fortifying breath and reached for a stack of trail maps. “I’ll take some of these with me to hand out. Better head out on patrol and make sure things stay quiet.”
Mavis gave her a pinched smile and circled the counter of the information desk. Cass strode slowly back to her desk to retrieve her radio and clipped it to her belt.
As she walked back toward Mavis to say goodbye the glass doors at the entrance swooshed open behind her.
Mavis’s eyes widened slightly, and she whispered, “Brace yourself.”
Cass lifted both brows in question, but noted the smile Mavis quickly flashed and the two bright spots of color that filled the older woman’s cheeks.
Cass glanced over her shoulder then stiffened at the sight of the tall glass of firewater that sauntered into the building.
So tall his shadow stretched from the door to the tips of her hiking boots, Adam never failed to make her feel like a little girl in play clothes although at five foot four she was barely petite. Broad across the shoulders, his frame narrowed neatly at the waist before flaring slightly over massive thighs.
Dressed today in a long-sleeved shirt with the cuffs turned to bare his thick wrists, blue jeans and boots, he looked the quintessential cowboy—except for the long, black ponytail that fell across one shoulder when he removed his straw cowboy hat—and the plastic grocery bag he carried.
Completely, thigh-clenchingly masculine, he never failed to take her breath away. “Thanks for the warning, Mavis,” she muttered.
Mavis chuckled softly as the attractive Indian crossed the floor, making in beeline straight for them.
“Adam Youngblood,” Mavis called out cheerily. “What can we do for you, sir?”
He halted in front of the desk, scanned Cass with a quick, impersonal glance, and then turned his attention to Mavis. He leaned over the counter and pressed a kiss against Mavis’s papery cheek. “How’s my girl?”
Mavis blushed. “What’s got your back up today, handsome?”
“More hikers crossed my fence.”
While irritation prickled because he seemed set on ignoring her, Cass still shivered at the gravel roughening his voice.
“Sorry, to hear that,” Mavis murmured. “Did they cut the wire this time?”
“Yeah, and I have proof they came from the park. They left this next to the hole they dug.” He slapped the plastic grocery bag of trash on her desk. “Do you recognize the brochure?” he asked, pointing to a crumpled trail map at the top of the heap of soda cans and energy bar wrappers.
Although she wished she could remain as impersonal him, and even though part of Cass’s training had included units on public relations and role-playing exercises where she’d practiced how to diffuse aggression from unhappy park visitors, she raised one eyebrow and broke in, answering innocently, “Looks like one of our brochures. The latest printing, actually. You can tell from the pricing for the campsites. They just went up.”
His glance cut downward, catching on her slight smile. His eyes narrowed. “I found it inside my fence,” he bit out, “next to a freshly buried Batman lunch box with a fishing lure inside it.”
A GPS hiker’s cache-box, Cass guessed. “Seems you’ve got a new lure and a lunchbox, Robin. Congratulations.”
He blinked, and then his face was suffused with ruddy color beneath his darkly tanned skin.
Cass wondered if she’d been a little too glib, but he’d pissed her off by ignoring her. “I take it you’re here to make a complaint?”
He eyed her and let out a short, dubious grunt. “My boys have better things to do than pick up trash, fill in holes or fix fences when a hiker decides it’s too much bother to climb. And we damn sure don’t have time to rescue them when they run out of water. What are you going to do about it?”
Cass smiled sweetly, pretending he was a stranger. “Since this seems to be a common occurrence for you, sir, I’m sure you’re aware we aren’t responsible for visitors’ actions outside the park. Have you posted sufficient signage to alert people they’re entering private property?”
His nostrils flared around a sharply indrawn breath.
Mavis muttered something under her breath and eased away from the counter.
“I’m also assuming your property borders the park,” Cass continued as though she hadn’t noted his deepening glower. “GPS hikers tend to take the most direct route to their destinations, regardless of whether they’re trespassing.”
Another deep breath and a sharp-edged glance told her she was pushing him to the end of his patience, but she couldn’t resist one more jab at his arrogance. “You know, there is a solution. You could simply deed that section of land to the park. It’d save you the headaches and be a great tax write off.”
His black scowl, while intimidating, caused a ripple of pure heated excitement that raised goose flesh on her skin. She couldn’t help wondering for the thousandth time what all that dark intensity would feel like up close and personal.
He clamped his hat on his head and turned to Mavis. “This isn’t over.” Then he strode to the door, thrusting it open with so much force he rattled the glass surrounding it.
“I’ll make sure to enter your concerns in my report,” Cass called after him.
Shaking his head, he stomped out of the building.
“You tryin’ to piss him off?” Mavis said wryly.
Cass felt a smile stretch her lips. For the first time in days righteous anger and an electric thrill of arousal warmed her whole body. “Tell me I’m good,” she murmured, her gaze never leaving him as he swung open the door of his pickup.
His glance met hers through the glass and narrowed.
Quick as a fire licking at dry buffalo grass, her anger sparked hotter and she strode quickly to the door.
“Do you think that’s smart?” Mavis’s quavering voice called after her.
“I don’t give a damn about smart. I’m pissed.”
She shoved through the doors and flew down the steps to approach him as he stepped onto the running board and slid into the cab of his truck.
“What’d you mean, it’s not over?” she asked.
Adam’s black brows lowered. “You’re blocking my door.”
Cass held his glare with one of her own. “I’ll move when I’m good and ready.”
“You aren’t big enough or mean enough to keep me if I wanna go.”
“I’m an ex-cop and I’ve taken down men your size before.”
His lips twitched once then flattened. “What is it you want, Officer McIntyre?”
Cass stepped up onto the running board, not caring who might see. She leaned close and whispered harshly, “For fuck sake. I was drunk. I wanted you. It was dark—he looked like you. I closed my eyes and let it happen. I’ve apologized. Be a man and suck it up.”
Adam’s jaw tightened. “Not too good at taking hints, are you?”
“You know we have something,” she continued, anger starting to make her shake. “You’re just too damn stubborn or stupid to admit it.”
His eyelids dipped, and his expression made a subtle shift, from obstinate to calculating.
Encouraged, she came closer.
Adam’s eyes flicked over her, and then came back up to lock with hers. “I don’t think anyone’s ever talked to me that way before,” he said softly.
“Shocking,” she whispered, near enough now to catch the scent of his skin and hair—soap and his particular brand of musk teasing her nostrils.
His glance cut away. “I need to show you something. You have to see the damage they’ve done this time.”
It was on the tip of her tongue to remind him again that the park wasn’t responsible, but she caught herself, realizing this might just be his way of starting a conversation with her.
“Let me tell Mavis—”
“Just give her a wave. She knows,” he drawled, nodding toward the glass doors where Mavis stood staring out at them.
Today’s lucky winner gets an autographed copy of Tempted by a Cowboy! And that winner is…Jody F!