Authors: Myla Jackson
Tags: #cowboy;alpha hero;Texas;Ugly Stick Saloon
In cahoots to break up a romance…they wind up rekindling their own.
Ugly Stick Saloon
, Book 11
Colin McFarlan’s back is against the wall. Two brothers have caved to their mother’s threat to sell the ranch if they don’t get married and give her grandkids—now it’s his turn. Too bad the only woman he’s ever loved is the one who came between him and his brother Brody.
When Fancy returns to Temptation, he’s determined to steer clear of the gorgeous real estate agent, who looks good whether dressed up in a pencil skirt or dressed down in cowboy boots.
Fancy Wilson made mistakes. Getting engaged to Brody was the first. Weeping in Colin’s arms—and falling into his bed—on the night she and Brody broke up was the second. She’s not adding to her sins by falling for Colin all over again. She’s had enough heartache.
Yet when Colin asks her to help break up a romance between his mother and the notorious town heartbreaker, she can’t resist. But soon they’re scrambling to undo the damage they’ve done…before it destroys their last chance for happiness.
Warning: Breaking up is hard to do, but reunion sex can be oh,
Boots and the Heartbreaker
For all those people who have ever suffered a broken heart.
Colin McFarlan stared into his beer. The pressure was on.
“It’s your turn.” His brother Angus nudged him in the side. “I’ve got Gwen and Dalton. Brody has Jessie. There’s only three weeks left in Mom’s ultimatum.”
“Tell me about it.” He lifted his long neck bottle and swiveled on the bar stool at the Ugly Stick Saloon.
The usual Friday night crowd did nothing to boost his spirits. Sure, there were ladies in the bar, but half of them were already taken.
“What about the Banks twins?” Brody nodded toward the gorgeous blond-haired, blue-eyed identical twins giggling at something Sam Whitefeather was telling them.
“I don’t know.” Colin cringed. “They’re so young.”
“Young?” Angus snorted. “Since when does that bother you? Besides they’re both twenty-two and legal, freshly home from college.”
Colin took a long swig of his beer and rolled it around in his mouth before swallowing. “I’m just not feeling it.”
“What’s to feel?” Angus asked. “You find a woman, get engaged and be done with it. Mom will be happy, she’ll stop making insane threats of selling off the ranch, and we can all get back to work without worrying about having our home sold out from under us.”
“Yeah, what’s keeping you?” Brody, the middle brother sat on the other side of Colin. “You’ve always loved women.”
“Right. Women. Plural of woman.” Colin pushed a hand through his hair. He’d always played the field, dating a woman for no more than three dates before cutting her loose. He’d always found something not quite right about the fit, and didn’t want any clingy goodbyes.
No single woman had captured his attention and kept it. Except one. Fancy Wilson.
No sooner had he thought of her, the woman on his mind walked through the entrance, smiling up at Dusty Cramer, the local sheriff’s deputy on a rare Friday night off duty.
Damn. There went Colin’s evening. He had just about talked himself into asking one of the Banks twins to dance. Now, all desire to dance with Hayley or Alexis fled. How could he dance with them when all he could think about was how beautiful Fancy looked in a tight, blue jean skirt and cowboy boots?
The real estate agent, who usually wore a pencil skirt and suit jacket, and made them look sexy as hell, appeared even more amazing in the casual attire. She reminded him of that one night eight years ago that had changed his life.
The night she’d called off her engagement to his brother Brody.
The same night she’d cried in Colin’s arms and they’d made love.
He’d gone from happy-go-lucky to destroying his brother’s trust and losing the girl he’d fallen for. Brody moved to the west end of the country and refused to come home.
It had taken eight years and his mother’s ultimatum to bring Brody back.
Fancy had left town not long after Brody, moving to Dallas to start over.
Colin knew that because he’d heard through his mother’s grapevine. Not only had she started over, she’d done pretty well for herself selling real estate. Why she’d decided to return to Temptation was beyond Colin’s comprehension. She could make so much more money in Dallas, and marry the high-powered man of her dreams. A small town girl making it in the big D.
A fuckin’ Cinderella story.
Colin’s gaze captured Fancy’s for a moment. Then she turned to Dusty and laughed up at him, her smile wide, green eyes twinkling. Since she’d been back in Temptation, she’d dyed her hair back from auburn to her natural blond. The woman would look good in black, brown, auburn or blond hair. Hell, she’d probably look good bald and with half her teeth, just to make Colin more miserable.
“What’s wrong, Colin?” Angus leaned close. “You look like you ate a lemon. Are the Banks girls really all that bad?”
Colin straightened and set the beer bottle on the bar. “Not at all. I think I’ll ask them to dance.”
“Both of them?” Brody laughed. “Might be a little hard to do in a two-step.”
“Not a problem. They’re playing ‘Cotton-eyed Joe’.” Colin pushed to his feet and strode across the floor, refusing to glance Fancy’s way, although he could see her in his peripheral vision.
He stopped in front of Hayley. Or was it Alexis? It didn’t matter. “Would you two care to dance?”
The two young women squealed delightedly and jumped to their feet. “Of course we would,” they said in unison.
Oh good, he’d get matching comments in stereo. Colin’s jaw tightened to keep from saying anything disparaging to the women. He just wasn’t in the mood for any of this.
He led them onto the dance floor, spun them both out and back into the curve of his arms. They giggled and settled into the dance, kicking their heels, backing up then moving forward, shouting “bullshit!” when it came to that part in the song.
An accomplished dancer, Colin could do the moves with his eyes closed and was tempted to do just that to avoid making eye contact with Fancy.
If having his old flame in the saloon wasn’t hard enough on Colin’s nerves, Fancy and Dusty stepped onto the dance floor as the song transitioned into a waltz.
“I’ll just sit this one out,” Alexis said.
“Thanks, dear.” Hayley molded her body against Colin’s and pressed her cheek to his chest. “Umm. You feel amazing.”
Colin muttered something, not even aware of the woman in his arms, his entire attention on how low Dusty’s hand was on the small of Fancy’s back.
Anger simmered below the surface and Colin’s muscles tensed. If Dusty’s hand drifted any lower…
“Colin, sweetie, I didn’t know you and the boys would be here tonight.” Maggie McFarlan, Colin’s mother, danced by in Carl Landers’s arms. Dressed in a flirty white dress that came down to her knees and some brand-spanking-new red cowboy boots, she looked half her age.
What the hell?
Colin danced Hayley—or was it Alexis—around faster to catch up to the older couple whirling around the dance floor.
He caught up when Carl swung his mother way out and back in, dipping her low in his arms.
“Mom? What are you doing here?” Colin demanded.
His mother smiled up at him, deep in the dip, Carl holding her effortlessly. “Why, I think it would be obvious. I’m dancing!” She laughed as Carl drew her up in his arms and whirled her around again.
Colin whipped Hayley-Alexis around and practically ran to keep up with Carl. “I thought we talked about this.”
“You talked. I ignored.” She glared at him. “Now stop interrupting this lovely dance.”
Stopping in the middle of the floor, with Hayley-Alexis frowning in his arms, his mother dancing with Temptation’s infamous heartbreaker and Fancy so close to Dusty they might as well be having sex on the dance floor, Colin didn’t know whether to throw his hands in the air, or throw a punch.
“If you don’t want to dance, just say so.” Hayley-Alexis smiled up at him. “We can sit this one out. Maybe have a drink and just talk.”
“What?” He stared down at the woman he’d asked to dance. “I’m sorry. I need to sit this one out.” Colin walked her back to the table where her sister bounced to her feet.
“Is it my turn?” the other twin asked.
Colin didn’t stop to answer, weaving his way through the tables to the bar.
“What can I get for you?” Libby the bartender asked.
“Give me a whiskey,” he said and took the stool beside Angus. “Hell, make it a double.”
Angus sat with his back to the bar. “I don’t know what she sees in him.”
With his focus on Libby and the whiskey she poured into a tumbler, Colin responded. “He’s not right for her.”
“Got that right.” Brody tipped is beer and drank a swallow before pointing the mug at the dance floor. “He’s too suave. You know. He’s got city slicker written all over him.”
“I wouldn’t call him suave.” Colin grabbed the whiskey from Libby’s hand and tossed back half the glass before swiveling to face the dancers. “And he’s no city slicker.”
“You don’t think so?” Angus shook his head. “He’s holding her so close you’d have to use a pry bar to break them up. Doesn’t it make you want to punch his lights out?”
Colin threw back the rest of the whiskey and pushed to his feet. “Damn right it does.”
Brody reached out and grabbed Colin’s arm. “You’re not going to hit him, are you?”
“No. Hitting an officer of the law isn’t something I’m willing to spend time in jail for.”
Angus’s brows twisted. “Since when is Landers an officer of the law?”
Colin stared at his older brother like he’d stepped out of another world. “What are you talking about?”
“Landers and Mom.” Augus laughed.
“Landers and Mom?” Colin shifted his gaze to the older couple in a clench that would embarrass his grandmother. “Holy hell. Has he no morals? That’s our mother he’s holding like…like… Well, hell!”
“That’s who I was talking about.” Angus stared at Colin. “Who has your chaps in a twist?”
“No one.” Colin didn’t want to admit the woman who’d come between him and Brody, was still heavy on his mind. “I’m going to dance.”
“Not like that, you aren’t.” Angus grinned.
“What do you mean?”
“You look mad enough to spit nails. You’ll scare the women away with that face.”
“Thanks. But I don’t need advice on how to charm women.”
Angus held up his hands in surrender. “Just sayin’. You might want to tone down the madder-than-a-wet-hen look.”
Colin strode through the crowded barroom, angling for the Banks twins. He’d be damned if he’d let Fancy ruin his evening of wife hunting. Three weeks. Three damn weeks before his mother followed through on her threat to sell the ranch if he and his brothers didn’t have fiancées and the promise of weddings and children.
The twins were laughing at something Sam Whitefeather was saying again.
Colin didn’t care. There were two Banks sisters. Sam could have one, Colin could take the other. Which one he got really didn’t matter. They were interchangeable in Colin’s mind.
He held out his hand to the one farthest from Sam. “Alexis, you wanna dance?”
The twin glanced up at him and frowned. “I’m Hayley. And no.”
The other twin smiled up at him. “I’m Alexis, and if Sam isn’t going to ask me to dance, I’d love to dance with you.”
Hayley leaned over to her sister and muttered, “You won’t be saying that for long.”
Alexis shot her sister a quick frown and smiled at Sam. “Well?”
“I’ll sit this one out,” he said. “I’m better at riding horses than dancing.”
“I’m a good teacher,” Alexis offered.
“Nah.” He nodded toward Colin. “Dance with McFarlan. He’s the ladies’ man.”
Colin’s gaze strayed to the dance floor where Fancy leaned against Dusty, her cheek resting on his chest.
“I guess that leaves you.” Alexis extended a hand. When Colin didn’t take it, she pulled it back. “Already on the dance floor before you get there, cowboy?”
Hayley mumbled, “I told you.”
Not to be deterred, Alexis grabbed Colin’s hand. “Come on. At least I’ll get to dance, even if your mind is on another woman.”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” Colin grumbled.
“I’m not blind.” Alexis smiled through gritted teeth. “You’ve been watching the blonde with Dusty since you were dancing with my sister.”
Colin’s gaze slipped from Fancy to Alexis and back.
Damn. She was right. He had to get a grip. Fancy had been off limits since they’d made love eight years ago. She’d gone so far as to leave Temptation, dye her hair and start a new life in Dallas. Why the hell had she come back? And worse, why had she gone back to being the blonde she was eight years ago?
“Thank you for dancing with me, Dusty,” Fancy said. “I know this was supposed to be a business meeting. And I really do have a lot of properties I want to show you, but seeing Colin again just made me crazy. Thank you for agreeing to run interference.”
“I don’t mind playing the part of your new boyfriend.” He winked. “It means I get to dance with a pretty girl. What have you got against Colin, anyway?”
“I can’t be with a man who treats every relationship so callously. I want someone who’s going to stick around, be stable and not chase after every skirt as soon as he gets bored.”
“You want a boring man. Like me.”
Fancy gave him a twisted smile. “You’re a nice man, Dusty. I don’t deserve you as a friend. I just want Colin to know that I’m over him. Hopefully, when he sees me with you, he’ll get the message. Then I can get on with my life.”
Dusty sighed. “Must be nice to have a girl go crazy over you.” He shook his head. “Can’t say as I’ve ever had that happen. Seems I’m always the guy the girls use to make their boyfriends…” he raised his hand when Fancy opened her mouth to protest the word boyfriend in conjunction with Colin, “…ex-boyfriends or potential boyfriends jealous. Not that you’re doing that, since you’re over Colin, but whatever the case, I always end up the decoy.”
Fancy glanced at the man whose arms held her lightly as they waltzed around the dance floor. “I’m sorry. You deserve better than that.”
“I tell myself the same, but I’ve yet to find someone for me.” Dusty raised a hand again. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a pity case. I have a woman I visit in Hole in the Wall once a month. I satisfy my needs and she occasionally has me rescue her cat from a tree. It works.” He shrugged. “For now.”
“You need to find a woman who can appreciate what a wonderful man you are.”
“Problem is, there are plenty of eligible bachelors in the tri-county area and fewer women.”
Fancy’s brows pulled together. “There’s always someone for everyone. But you’re right. You might have to date someone outside this area. Have you thought of spending your off time in Dallas or Austin?”
He shook his head. “Working for the sheriff’s department, I work every shift at some time or another. It makes it hard to get to those places on a weekend, when most people have time off.”
“You are in between a rock and a hard place.” Out of the corner of her eye, Fancy could see Colin headed for the dance floor, a pretty young blonde in tow. “Smile, Dusty. As my fake date, you need to look like you’re having a good time.” Fancy tilted back her head and forced a laugh. “Dusty, you are so funny.”
Colin swung Alexis out and back, and then danced away from Dusty and Fancy and toward his mother.