Kissing the sexy soldier was a dare she couldn’t resist…
Kissing the sexy soldier was a dare she couldn’t resist…
By-the-book event planner Beth Brannigan’s best friend dared her to kiss a cowboy. She should have said no. Instead, she said please…again and again. If her brother finds out she’s dating—okay, kissing—okay, sleeping with—one of his military buddies, he’ll kill her. Assuming he doesn’t kill his friend first.
Former Army Ranger Brick Mitchum isn’t a relationship kind of guy. But then he meets Beth and starts to wonder if maybe it’s time he settled down. She’s mysterious. Unpredictable. Curvy in every way he needs… And hiding something. He’s just got to figure out what.
All afternoon Beth found it hard to concentrate. A first.
Normally, she lived and breathed work, and took great joy in the planning and execution of events. And this one was personal. It was her best friend’s wedding.
Still, she found herself reliving those incredible kisses she’s shared with Brick at the fair. In front of Rachel.
Heat rushed into her cheeks at the thought of what they must’ve looked like devouring each other in public. At least, she’d felt devoured. And wanted. Oh man, she certainly wanted more, but she kind of always had the impression he was a bit of a Casanova.
So when he’d actually asked her out to dinner, her mind completely blanked.
“Earth to Beth.” Fingers snapped in front of her face, bringing her mind to the present and the fact it was late afternoon and they were sitting in Rachel’s kitchen, drinking iced tea. “There you are. Although, I’m pretty sure I know where you were. Back in that cowboy’s arms. You two were hot.” Rachel pulled out her phone. “See?”
She gasped. “You took a photo?” She swiped the cell from her friend’s outstretched hand then sucked in another breath at the picture of her and Brick melting into each other. “Damn.”
“I know, right? You two sure heated up that fairway. It’s a good thing Cord hadn’t shown up.”
“Oh my God.” She closed her eyes and shook her head. “Can you imagine?”
Beth knew the reason Cord had always given her dates the third degree was because he’d taken it upon himself to fill in for their father, who’d died when she was ten. But it hadn’t lessened her frustration. Even during Skype chats while on deployment he’d always inquired about her social life. Eventually Beth refrained from dating, because she didn’t want him worrying about her while he was out there putting his life in danger.
Her focus changed. She’d started working and saving money to take some online courses. Money was too tight for her to go to college, although she’d never admit it to Cord. The guy was sacrificing enough for the family, sending his checks home, never spending money or going on vacations when he was back on leave.
“The fists would’ve flown, for sure.” Rachel grinned, stirring her iced tea. “Although I don’t think it would’ve been as easy to pull this kisser off you. He was full of hard muscle, wasn’t he?”
She nodded. Brick lived up to his name. He was ripped, and she suspected, former military. The way he carried himself reminded her of her brother. Confident. Sure. And the way the sexy cowboy walked with a lethal agility made her hot and bothered. Then there was the tattoo on his arm. An eagle with other symbols she refused to look at closely and deliberately didn’t acknowledge. Last thing she needed was verbal confirmation Brick was in the military. With her luck, her brother probably knew the guy.
God…was it really wise to go out on another date?
Her gaze dropped to the photo on the phone in her hand, and her heart literally skipped a beat. Yes…yes, it was wise. And wonderful, new, and addicting.
And if she didn’t get a move on, she was going to be late.
“I’ve got to go.” She slid the phone across the table to her friend then rose to her feet to take her empty glass to the sink.
“Call me first thing tomorrow morning and let me know how it went,” Rachel said, joining her by the sink. “Or better yet, tonight if he leaves. But I hope he stays. He kind of looked like a guy with mega stamina. You could use an all-nighter.”
“Rachel!” She turned to stare at her grinning friend who had no clue how right she was about Brick’s stamina. Although he hadn’t stayed the whole night. Yet.
“What?” Rachel quirked a brow. “I know you agree. I can see it in your eyes.”
Lordy, she didn’t need her friend to see anything else. She walked to the table to grab her purse and forced memories of a naked, ripped, Brick and his mega stamina from her mind. “Talk to your fiancé about the new menu choices the caterer gave us today. And don’t forget to find out about guests with food allergies.”
“I will.” Rachel pointed to the clock on the wall. “You are officially done today. No more work. Go have fun with your sexy cowboy.”
Beth saluted her. “Yes, ma’am.”
Eight minutes later, she parked behind the hotel in front of her room, and some common sense returned with her. Seeing this guy was foolish. She wasn’t a fling kind of girl, and her life wasn’t in Braxton. She lived over two hours away.
With a sigh, she pulled her cell from her purse and brought up his number. Secret Cowboy. A smile tugged her lips. She really liked his sense of humor. Among other things.
All the more reason to hit call and cancel the date. Get out now before her heart got as involved as her body—which refused to tap the dang screen.
She was still waging the inner battle when a truck pulled in next to her and her secret cowboy unfolded from the cab.
Shoot. Too late.
Shoving the phone back in her purse, she took a deep breath and then opened the door. She’d just have to cancel in person.
“Hey, angel.” His sexy drawl sent shivers of awareness down her body, with extra emphasis on her good parts. Parts he knew how to make feel real good. “Just get back?”
She nodded, trying to find the right words and the courage to say them as he rounded his truck and drew near, looking sexier than he had a right to in a charcoal gray button-down shirt, black pants, Stetson, and boots. He’d changed. Holy crow, he looked absolutely delicious.
Didn’t matter. It was best if she said her piece. By the time she got her mouth to open, he was in front of her, cupping her face with his big hands and bringing her lips to his in a kiss that curled her toes.
How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
Right from the birth of The Men of At-Ease Ranch series concept, I knew from discussing with my editor that the heroine in the second book, Her Secret Ranger, was going to be the sister to one of the other heroes. The mistaken identity trope went into play, because the hero would never “knowingly” mess with another Ranger’s sister. It made for a little bit of fun trying to keep the two men from meeting.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I enjoyed writing all of it. I really did. The characters practically wrote the book themselves. It was every author’s dream type book. They were funny and sweet, hot and hardheaded, and then I got to revisit the characters from the first book, including Lula Belle. Yep, this was one of my all-time favorite books to write. I wish they were all this fun and easy.
Name three things on your desk right now.
Three things on my desk, besides my laptop and mouse, are:
1. Halo, my cat. She’s half on my lap, half on my laptop desk. Bless her. She’s been diagnosed with inoperable cancer, so if she wants to lay on my work, I let her, I just have to try to type around her, like I am doing now. J
- Coffee mug with the phrase: Writer’s Block: When your imaginary friends stop talking to you.
- My phone so I can keep up with the messages from authors about parties I’ve agreed to do, and of course, texts from my kids.
What are some books that you enjoyed recently?
Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis. I’m so freaking excited it’s going to be made into a movie!! I love all her books. Can’t get enough of Jill!
What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
When I’m not writing, if I have some me-time, I’ll either read or watch TV. I have a lot of shows I usually have to catch up on once I meet my deadline. Halo likes this too, because she gets to have my lap unobstructed by the computer.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I just finished writing book 3, tentatively titled: The Right Ranger. In it, I got to have fun causing a little chaos to Cord Brannigan who is Beth’s brother and Brick’s best friend. He’s been kind of quiet, unsmiling, and a little controlling in the first two books, so it was fun to dig into why and give him a heroine who is a bit independent.
Today bestselling author of Romaginative fiction. Her hot, humorous, and heartwarming stories include cowboys, men in uniform, and some sexy, primal alphas. With a husband in the military fulltime, and a household of nine, she never runs out of material to write, and has rightfully earned the nickname
Lucy…and sometimes Ethel. From short to epic, her books entertain readers across a variety of sub-genres, and one has even being hand drawn into a Japanese translation. Now, if only she could read it.