Tuesday, June 30, 2015
© Felice Fox 2014
When Talia Iverson’s never-ending search for love takes a desperate turn, she skips out on her Hollywood starlet clientele hoping to disappear on her uncle’s ranch in western Montana. Training livestock guard dogs seems the perfect diversion—protect the wolf pack living on Iverson Ranch, and her uncle’s cattle. But when a son of their neighboring ranch suspiciously offers to help her track and ID the wolf pack, Talia discovers what it really means to tangle with a predator.
Rancher Abel Cameron is the most dangerous kind of bad boy—when he’s wicked, he means it. Convinced the shared, open relationship he’s in is the only kind that will tolerate his dark sexual needs, Abel knows he won’t ever be the primary man in any woman’s life. But when Talia Iverson shows up to protect the wolf pack denned up on his neighbor’s ranch, he sees her for who she is—a lost soul who could break open his cold, jammed up heart. And he’s just reckless enough to show her how to do it.
. . . . .
The rodeo competition ended and, as they pulled away from the fence, Marcie paused and Talia did too, not giving much thought to why or what was next on the agenda. She was here to follow, mimic someone else’s healthy behaviors for a while.
Marcie caught her eye and they smiled knowingly at each other. It was good to just be together.
A couple headed toward them. The man had a sexy swagger, golden-brown eyes and a killer smile he was aiming right at Talia.
Whoa. Her eyes slid from those hunky shoulders down to the fingers entwined with another person’s. Thank goodness he was holding hands with someone already. And wedding rings too. Way off-limits.
“You must be Talia,” the woman said, beaming at her, arms wide for a hug. “I’m Holly and this is my husband Gavin.”
Talia accepted the hug with her shoulders bowed forward, then pulled away. Gavin tipped his hat. Didn’t try to touch her. Not even a handshake. Good. Better not to touch him. She wasn’t ready for that challenge. She shoved her hands into her jeans pockets and squinted down at her toes.
“Nice to meet you.”
“Brody did pretty good out there,” Marcie said.
Holly laughed. “That’s what Gav’ tells me. I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on.”
“So you’re saying this is your first rodeo.”
Holly rolled her eyes at Marcie and the warmth passing between them settled Talia. Something about her was actually comforting. She was lovely. She was the kind of girl men would stick around for. She—
Talia stopped herself. She recognized this line of thinking and knew it wasn’t going anywhere good. She’d start to compare herself to Holly and her own self-esteem would plummet. Then she’d start hating Holly for absolutely no good reason. Holly was her own person and no threat. Talia had spent too many years comparing herself to other women, seeing them as the competition.
Lost in her thoughts, Talia had not heard the other man approach, but she felt Marcie stiffen beside her and looked up into a face she wished she hadn’t seen. A treacherous beauty of a man, six-two or taller, with ruffled black hair just visible under his cowboy hat. He was stunning, appearing out of nowhere, looming behind Gavin, a presence that would have made Talia stumble had she been in motion.
Marcie looked away. No one else acknowledged him. After a few long moments, Talia wondered if he was a phantom only she could see, the physical embodiment of the thing she was running from, the thing she feared most.
But a moment later Holly reached back and touched his shoulder, running her fingers down the back of his arm, to briefly lace his hand in hers and bring him forward. He moved stiffly into their small circle and Talia moved back.
“Talia, this is Abel Cameron, one of Gavin’s many brothers.”
She felt, rather than saw, her cousin watching her. Talia pressed her heels into the dirt and nodded. She didn’t want to show any reaction to him whatsoever but, when her gaze finally met his, she swallowed hard.
Ice blue eyes shifted down the side of her neck and lingered, and Talia lost her grip. Abel Cameron sensed what she was; his kind could smell her. She thought she’d scrubbed herself clean of all sensual expression—no make-up, no tight clothing—so as to avoid this kind of attention, but no. Here it was before her, temptation like a demon gatekeeper that would not let her pass easily into another kind of life.
He licked his lips, as if he knew how good they tasted, and drew his eyes slowly back up to hers, nodded, then looked away.
Raven hair. Wicked mouth.
No, no, no! It’s just black. Plain old black. And a regular old mouth she had no need to kiss.
“You two want to come back to our place for supper?” Gavin asked.
“No—” Marcie and Talia said at once, a little too fast and hard. Their gazes snapped together like magnets.
“What we mean is, thank you but no, Mom is waiting on us. Been cooking an all-day roast and I don’t want to miss it.”
Relieved, Talia’s shoulders dropped and she took a deep breath. Good ol’ Marcie and her little white lies. Talia knew she’d come to the right place. She wasn’t ready for so many new people, not to mention being at a table with—well goodness knows how many more brothers there were at home. She’d spend the evening staring into her dinner plate, trying not to fantasize about stealing Gavin away from his wife.
Or this one. Abel. Even his name was a warning.
It was a test she wasn’t ready to take. Not yet anyway. She was like an alcoholic newly sober, keeping to the other side of the street, away from the bar.
It was all too easy to fall for another guy. And another. And another. Endlessly and without genuine love.
Talia’s sense of weakness twisted her gut. She raised the backs of her fingers to the side of her neck, absently brushing them over the tingle and burn where Abel’s eyes had grazed her. She looked up at him and, catching his smirk, quickly lowered her hand and raised her chin.
She wouldn’t let him catch her again.
. . . . .
ABOUT FELICE FOX
Felice is a big fan of bluegrass and country music, and a lover of all things wild, woodsy and romantic. She wears bad girl boots and was twice mistaken for a roller derby queen. Hold Me Together, the first Cameron Ranch story, was an Amazon #1 bestseller and Hot New Release. It has been described as a “danger to panties everywhere” (Herding Cats & Burning Soup) and “not for the faint of heart” (Fresh Fiction). Her fiction debut, Take Me for Longing, has been an Amazon bestseller since it’s release in 2012 and her second title, It’s Just Sext, became an instant Amazon #1 bestseller. Felice lives, loves and frequently sends out naughty text messages from Silver Lake, California.
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE