About the book
Re-released in a second edition with a prologue and three new chapters.
Two cowboys looking for love…
Jack Barnes and Sam Fleetwood met in foster care. Over the years, they’ve become best friends and partners. They share a business as cattle ranchers and a house. There’s only one thing missing: a woman to share. The men are sure they’ve found that woman when Abigail Moore arrives in their small town, Willow Fork, TX.
A woman trying to find her place in the world…
Abby left her hometown twenty years before under a cloud of scandal. She’s raised a daughter, forged a new life for herself, and is ready for the next phase when she meets the handsome cowboys.
One small town that’s ready to explode…
They’re a dream come true—Jack is the sexy Dom, and Sam the playful lover. It’s everything she’s ever fantasized about. There’s only one problem. She’s still not welcome in Willow Fork, and someone is willing to kill to keep her away.
Sam pulled up behind the old sedan that was parked in front of Christa Wade’s three-bedroom ranch house. She lived in town, a few blocks off of the square where her diner was located. The front yard was littered with kids’ bikes, proving this was probably the place where all the kiddos liked to spend their afternoon.
He could believe that. Christa was a nice lady and her husband Mike was just about his best friend, outside of Jack, of course.
His cell phone trilled and Sam picked it up. “Hey, Jack.”
“Hey, when you grab the order from the hardware store, could you run by the grocer? Benita says we’re out of olive oil. She’s texting you a list.”
“Sure thing.” He wasn’t sure what they would do without Benita Wells. She’d been their housekeeper since two weeks after they’d moved into the ranch house and figured out that while they were pretty good with cattle, neither one of them could cook for shit. They’d put an ad out but one of the ranch hands had come forward, offering for his wife to take the job while they looked for a permanent solution.
Benita was the solution and now her husband was their foreman.
“Tell her I’ll be back well before din… Holy shit.”
Sam stopped, the phone suddenly not important at all as that crap-ass sedan’s door opened up and the single most luscious thing he’d ever seen in his life stepped out.
She had vibrant auburn hair that ran like a waterfall down her back. So much hair. And that wasn’t the only thing that hot honey had been blessed with. She wore a V-necked T-shirt and jeans that clung to her body the way he clung to a cold beer after a long day.
She bounced out of the car, proving those amazing breasts were real.
He could feel them in his hands, practically see her nipples tightening under his gaze.
Lust hit him hard and fast and in a way he’d never really known before. Not that he hadn’t wanted a woman at first sight before. Hell, men were wired that way, but this one…oh, this one was damn near perfect.
Damn it. He picked the phone back up. “Sorry, Jack. I’m going to have to call you back. I’ll get the oil. Hey, why am I going to the grocery store for oil? I can get some from Mike. He’s gotta have a couple of quarts in his garage.”
He kind of halfway listened to Jack as he watched the luscious redhead run into Christa Wade’s arms. Those could be his arms. The world seemed to slow and she did that Baywatch bounce of a run. He could see himself as Christa, opening his arms and welcoming her into them. Sure, Christa kissed her sweet cheek and he would have his tongue halfway down her throat, but it was somewhat the same. Except that he would also pick that pretty girl up and haul her into the bedroom for some sweet, sweet double penetration, and he was fairly certain Christa wasn’t planning to do that.
Why did he have a phone in the first place? “Yeah, Jack?”
“Are you drunk or did you see a woman?”
He felt his lips curl. At least Jack knew him well. “The most gorgeous woman I’ve ever seen. She seems to be some sort of friend of Christa’s since they’re doing that thing when women friends haven’t seen each other in a long time.”
“Were they doing that thing where they jump up and down and their boobs touch?” Jack asked.
He prayed he wasn’t drooling. They were still hugging, but they’d both bent backward a bit so they could talk to each other. Redhead had the most gorgeous lips. She smiled and the whole fucking world seemed to light up.
“Okay, you need to take a deep breath. How about you go to the hardware store now and come back to Christa’s later?” Jack suggested. “Or perhaps skip Christa’s altogether. We don’t have to have her out to dinner. It’s probably better that we don’t. We’ve got a shit ton of work to do. We don’t have time to socialize.”
Damn it. If he left it to Jack, they wouldn’t have a damn social life at all. They would spend all their time with cows and people who worked for them. Jack was a workaholic. “Nope. I’m going to talk to her.”
“Do you even know who ‘her’ is?”
“Doesn’t matter.” He was going in. She was probably some friend of Christa’s from out of town and she would likely be married because if some man hadn’t claimed that woman, the universe was out of alignment.
“Sam, think about this,” Jack warned. “You remember what happened last time.”
He felt his eyes roll. Jack often took things way too seriously. “Last time I nearly got my ass kicked by someone’s husband. But it all turned out okay. We ended the discussion with a round of beers or two.” Or ten. “And she wasn’t half as gorgeous as this one. This one would be worth a beating. I’ll get the oil that’s not motor oil. I promise. Bye, Jack.”
He hung up because there was no talking him out of meeting her. Jack would try to be all logical and stuff, but Sam preferred to let his dick take over in cases like this.
He slid out of his truck. The good news was he’d taken a shower before coming into town. He was sweet smelling and ready to take down a lady or two. He pointedly slammed the truck door, trying to get the attention of the women.
They paid him absolutely no mind.
“I can’t believe you’re here,” Christa was saying. “I thought it would never happen. You’re standing on my lawn.”
“It was never your lawn I had a problem with,” Red said.
Red had a husky voice that went straight to his cock. Damn. He needed to get a grip or he would scare her off.
Christa hugged her tight again. “I missed you. I know we talk all the time, but I missed you.”
Whoa. There was only one person in the world Christa Wade would talk to like that. “Abigail Moore?”
She was a legend in these parts. Ever since he and Jack had moved here, they’d heard stories of her wild teen days. Her adventures were toasted in bars and whispered about in the churches of the town. Even twenty years later there were still members of the small town who considered her a siren leading young men to sin. She was a cautionary tale. She was a legend.
Damn straight she was. That woman could lead him into sin any time she liked.
“Sam?” Christa took a step back, wiping at her eyes. “Hey, what are you doing here?”
A kernel of guilt sparked. He’d interrupted something important, but it was quelled by getting his first real look at Abby Moore as the redhead turned toward him, an amused look on her face.
“Looks like my reputation precedes me,” she said with a shake of her head. “That one is not originally from Willow Fork. I know because I would remember him.”
She had a gorgeous hourglass figure made for fucking. Her hips were womanly, and though she was petite, there was nothing delicate about her. She’d been made to please a man in bed, and Sam didn’t see why that man couldn’t be him.
As for her reputation that was merely a plus in his mind. Abby must be in her late thirties now, but he had a hard time imagining that she’d been sexier as a teenager.
Christa’s head swung slightly between the two of them as though she was trying to figure something out. “Abby, this is Sam Fleetwood. He and his partner, Jack Barnes, moved to Willow Fork about ten years ago. They own what used to be the old Jones spread outside of town.”
A laugh huffed out of Abby’s mouth. “Well, naturally they do.” She shook her head and held out her hand. “Mr. Fleetwood, it’s nice to meet you. Please excuse my casual state of dress. I drove straight here from Fort Worth. I have a few boxes I’m going to store in Christa and Mike’s garage. My momma’s trailer doesn’t have much room, you see.”
He took her hand in his and a vision of her between him and Jack smashed through his senses. She would be so small between them. They would turn her this way or that, taking turns kissing her and touching her.
He gently squeezed her hand. “Please call me Sam. I’m not one to stand on formalities. And I’d really like to call you Abby.”
Her smile wavered, but not in a bad way. No. That high-voltage smile had briefly dimmed, as though she’d become very, very aware of him. It was something Jack had taught him to look for. It was important to read the signs a woman gave off, and Abigail Moore had enjoyed touching his hand. It was over in a second and she was right back to smiling brilliantly. “Abby is my name. And how long have you been with your partner? I think Christa called him Jack.”
He reluctantly let her hand go. “Hell, Jack and I have been together so long it’s hard to remember a time we weren’t.”
“That’s nice to hear,” Abby said. She glanced Christa’s way. “How about some coffee and then I’ll put this fine young man to work. You look like you can handle some boxes. Only if you have time. The moving van was about thirty minutes behind me.”
He needed to get back out to the ranch, but there was no way he wasn’t going to stay. “Of course. I’m here to help.”
And find a way in because there was no way he was letting that lady go.
* * * *
Abby took the coffee from Christa and wished the world was a fairer place. Here she was for the first time in her adult life without a child or husband to worry about. She was free and clear to have some crazy times and the hottest man she’d ever met in her life was right in front of her.
And naturally he was gay.
The van had already come and gone and she’d watched that hot-as-hell cowboy move her boxes into Christa’s garage. He’d done it all without breaking a sweat, which was sad because if he had he might have taken off his shirt.
She was getting to be a dirty old lady. He had to be ten years younger than she was.
She wondered what Sam Fleetwood’s partner looked like.
“So, you bought the old Jones spread?” She was curious. She tried not to be. Not about Willow Fork. But years had softened her and she had to admit she’d had her share of good times in this old town. “Did his son not want to run the ranch?”
Christa shook her head as she joined Abby on the couch. “Kyle left for college. He’s a lawyer in New Orleans now. Mr. Jones had a heart attack and couldn’t work anymore. He died two years back.”
There was the tragedy of the small town. Too many young people left and there was no one to run the traditional businesses. The Jones spread had been a small cattle ranch that had struggled the whole time she’d been growing up. It was a hard life. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
Even though old man Jones had been one of the men to stand behind Ruby Echols. Abby had tried to get a job at one of the few restaurants in town, and she’d been told Jones wouldn’t sell his beef to anyone who employed her.
She took a long sip of coffee, trying to let the old worries go. Her mom needed her and twenty years had passed. It would be different this time around. It had to be since she was sitting here in ultra-conservative Willow Fork talking to a gay cowboy.
When she thought about it, it was kind of amazing.
If only he weren’t the first man in forever who made her hormones perk up and sing.
“But Jack and Sam have reinvigorated the whole ranch,” Christa said with a smile. “They rebuilt those nasty old stables.”
“Hey, our horses deserve the best,” Sam said with a sunny smile.
Oh, that’s what he was. Sunshine. He seemed so light and fun. A breath of fresh air after years of clouds. She was going with the flow. So what if he wasn’t crazy-mad affair material. He was fun and she could use a friend.
She would be here for a few months, most likely. If she could have some fun, it would make the time pass more quickly while she decided what to do with the rest of her life.
Her baby girl was grown. She was moving to Austin to go to college. It was time to start a new chapter in her life.
“What brings you back to Willow Fork, Abby?” Sam asked politely.
“My mom recently had surgery,” she explained. “I’m a registered nurse so I’m going to help her through the worst parts. She’s coming out of the hospital tomorrow. She’s a fighter. She’ll be on her feet in no time at all.”
Her momma. It was going to be odd to live with her mom after all this time.
“A nurse?” Sam asked.
“Abby’s a terrific nurse,” Christa explained. “Graduated top of her class and went straight for the good stuff.”
That made her laugh. “She means straight for the crazy stuff. I worked as a trauma nurse for years at John Peter Smith in downtown Fort Worth. Oh, I could tell you some stories.”
Sam leaned forward. “I want to hear them all.”
Such a sweetheart.
The door rattled as someone pounded a fist on it.
“Well, aren’t we busy today?” Christa stood up. “I think it must have gotten around town that Mike made a brisket for supper.”
Christa stepped out of the living room to open the door.
“I think we’ll have to welcome you properly to town, Abby,” Sam began. “You’ll have to visit us at the ranch. I was coming here to invite Christa and Mike out to dinner next week. We’re having a barbecue for some friends and our hands. We’d love to have you.”
She felt her whole body flush at the idea of him having her. Yep, she was going to have to watch it so she didn’t make a fool of herself around this golden god of a man. “I’ll check my very busy schedule.”
“You do that,” he replied with a steady smile.
“Sam,” a deep voice began.
Abby looked up and felt her jaw damn near drop open. Standing in the middle of Christa’s frilly living room was Sam’s exact opposite. Where Sam was sunny and light, this man was dark and decadent.
Like one of the characters in her favorite romance novels had walked off the pages.
Six foot two, with jet-black hair and eyes the color of emeralds.
Abby hoped she wasn’t drooling.
Sam sat back in his chair, crossing one leg over the other. “Jack, meet Abigail Moore. Abby, sweetheart, this is my partner, Jack Barnes.”
Jack Barnes turned toward her, his eyes narrowed, and for a moment she wondered what she’d done to piss this man off. For a second it was as if she was seventeen again and she was up against the judgmental authorities of the town. Except he would be even harder to stand up to. This was a man who would get what he wanted, and if he wanted her out of town, she would go or he would ensure that she regretted it.
And then it was gone as though that dark look had never existed. His whole face softened and he held out a hand.
“Ms. Abigail, forgive me for the intrusion. I thought Sam was causing trouble where he shouldn’t,” he admitted.
“Trouble?” She couldn’t imagine Sam causing trouble, though admittedly she’d only recently met him. He seemed super sweet. If he came into her ER, she would immediately put him in the easy-patient category.
Not so Jack Barnes. He would be stubborn as hell if he thought he wasn’t getting the right care.
“Sometimes Sam forgets where he’s supposed to be,” Jack said with a frown.
“Sometimes Sam finds a new place that he’s excited to be in,” Sam returned smoothly. “Sometimes Jack forgets what it means to be spontaneous and to have fun.”
“Sometimes Sam forgets he’s got a job to do,” Jack replied.
“Oh, I never forget that Jack. It’s just sometimes you don’t like how I do my job,” Sam replied with a silky smile.
Wow, they had some issues. She stood up, hating the fact that she’d already caused trouble. “Mr. Barnes, please let me apologize. I asked Sam to help me with moving some boxes and then Christa offered him some iced tea. It’s my fault if he’s late to work.”
Jack Barnes looked her over. “Yes, I can see that.”
Sam didn’t miss a beat. “Abby is from Fort Worth. She’s a nurse and unfortunately she lost her husband a few years back. She’s been on her own since then. She’s in town for a few months to help her momma recover from surgery. You can see why I offered her some help with her boxes. She’s not going back to Fort Worth. She’s not sure where she’s going next.”
“I’m in transition.” She didn’t know why but she felt a need to explain herself to the dark-haired man. “I think it’s time for a change, but I haven’t figured out what that means yet.”
He shook his head and released a long breath. When he looked back up, he was charming and held out a hand. “Ms. Abigail, please forgive my temper. We’ve had two hands down with the flu and I’m on edge, but I should never take that out on a lady. I’m glad Sam could help. Please feel free to call on either one of us if you need anything at all.”
His hand enveloped hers as she took it. He covered her with his other hand, encircling her with warmth. She had to remember to breathe for a moment. He was so big and…solid. That was the word.
This was a man she could count on if he liked her. This was a man who would do anything for someone he cared about and anything to his enemies.
And it was very obvious he was jealous of his boyfriend’s time.
“Thank you for that, Mr. Barnes,” she replied, gently removing her hand. “But I think you’ll find I’m a very independent woman. Boxes aside. I’m here for a few weeks, month and a half tops, and I intend to be very quiet about my stay. I doubt you’ll even notice I’m here.”
“I don’t think noticing you is going to be a problem,” he replied.
She flashed him what she hoped was a carefree smile. “Well, I better get on over to my momma’s place. Christa, I’ll take you up on that job while I’m here. I can start tomorrow if you’ve got a shift in the morning. Mom doesn’t come home until tomorrow night.”
Christa hugged her tight. “I’ll have a uniform waiting and ready. I love it. You and me against the world. It’s high school all over again.”
Sam stood up, frowning. “Maybe I should follow you over to your mom’s. In case you need any help.”
She shook her head and grabbed her purse. “No, but thank you so much.” She glanced up at Jack, trying to let him know she wasn’t going to come between him and Sam. She’d been happy to make a friend. The last thing she needed was to cause trouble. “Like I said, I’m very independent. Y’all have a good night.”
Abby stepped outside before she could start a fight between them. She was sure Mr. Jack Barnes had heard the rumors about her and hustled over to save his boyfriend from getting mired in her problems. She couldn’t blame him.
Well, she could, but it wouldn’t change a thing. She’d meant what she said. She was here for a brief time and then she would move on again.
Because the last thing she would do was stay in this nasty old town. No matter how hot the cowboys were.
She got into her sedan and was grateful when the damn thing turned over.
Head held high, she drove away, not looking back once. That was a lesson she’d learned the hard way.
Copyright 2017 Lexi Blake