Authors: Honor James
Grinding his teeth, he let out a breath.
“I told you to forget about it, Ms. Hunter,
and I meant it.
I’ll deal with it when I
have time to.
Thank you for the
considerate offer, but I will have to decline.
Now, if there was nothing else, I should probably hang up before the
sheriff spots me and decides to throw me in jail for merely existing.”
Yes, he did, in fact, have a hate-hate
relationship with the sheriff.
when the guy had made your life a living hell all through school, and then you
got the quarterback position over him because of his poor attitude, it was kind
That and the fact he was an
asshole, straight up, no question about it, asshole.
“God, he’s such an ass,” she said without
“The sheriff has a serious
hate on for me.
Asshat thinks he’s a
gift to women and is pissed off at me because I had to decline his oh-so-amazing
He could hear the eye roll in
She then sighed.
Whatever you say, Mr.
Be well,” she murmured
and hung up.
Shrugging, he tossed the phone onto the
But she was right about
one thing—Bradley Fitzgerald definitely thought he was God’s gift to
How he hadn’t been arrested for
some of the shit he’d pulled with the so-called fairer gender, Grant would
never truly know.
He reached the town’s
edge and, after checking his speed because he knew that asshole too, he cruised
past the lurking speed trap at exactly the posted speed limit.
Only when he was far enough away did he flip
the deputy the bird.
Anyone who worked
for Bradley deserved nothing less.
Leaning into the wind, Grant pushed his cowboy
hat down farther on his head, trying to keep the damned thing from taking
Squinting from the wind, he eyed
Weatherman was predicting a
snowstorm and, if the temperature was anything to go by, the man was right.
It was fucking cold!
He had to get the horses in and bunked down;
the cattle would be fine and given it was only February, nothing in the fields
to cry over, just some weeds.
toward the last paddock where his stallion was kept, a moody beast and an
animal that hated pretty much anyone that was human.
Got along with every animal on the ranch, but
hated the hands.
On a good day, Grant could ride him, and he’d
On a bad day, he’d have to
duck a few kicks and hope to get the halter before the beast landed one.
Reaching the paddock, he watched Mercury give
him a sneer and stamp his front hooves.
Apparently it was going to be a bad day with the stallion.
Grant adjusted his collar to keep the wind
out, went over the rails, and headed for the horse.
Mercury wasn’t the only one in a pissy
freezing your nuts off while protecting the stock to put a man in a cranky
“All right, Merc, this is how it’s going to
I’m going to grab your halter, and
you are going to come with me peacefully.
Then I’m going to go into town and get some more supplies while you stay
nice and warm in the barn.
Sounds like a
good plan, doesn’t it?”
The horse went up on his hind legs and kicked
out the front ones before coming down to earth with enough force to wake the
Yup, the fucking horse was going
to be an asshole today.
Like that was
really any surprise.
Narrowing his eyes, Grant began the dance to
catch the mangy, cantankerous, and downright ornery animal.
He was running out of daylight, and the storm
clouds rolling in were cutting it even shorter.
He did not want to be on the road when the squall hit.
He planned to be back in the ranch house, sitting
before the fire and enjoying a nice fifteen-year-old scotch while he caught up
on some reading.
“Come here, you fucking pain in my ass!” he
yelled, making another lunge while rolling away from the hooves trying to crack
his skull like a walnut.
selling your mangy ass to the glue factory, no jokes, Merc. This time you’ve
really pissed me off.”
Another attempt, this one earning him a
glancing blow to his ribs.
Okay, now he was pissed right the hell
Holding his side, he watched the
, for all intents and purposes, appeared
to be laughing his ass off.
A crack of
sound caught the stallion’s attention, and Grant used it to his advantage,
leaping in and grabbing the halter.
Yanking Mercury’s head down, he glared into the stallion’s eyes.
“You are the world’s biggest fucking douche
Come on, let’s get you somewhere
warm,” he said,
proceeded to walk the suddenly
placid and compliant animal to the barn.
Jackie had been weighing her options on what
to do with Grant Franklyn.
horrible for hurting his damn truck, but more than that she kept thinking of
freaking Dawn’s comment.
Why have you never jumped that fine hunk of
And that damn phrase was stuck
in Jackie’s mind.
Damn that woman for bringing up that man to
Jackie had been fighting an attraction to the damn man for the last twenty
Clenching her hands tightly on the steering
wheel, she forced her mind from that moment when she met the man for the first
She couldn’t think about when she
had tripped over her own stupid feet and fallen at his blasted toes.
The asshole had picked her up, brushed her
off, and then grumpily told her to watch her damn step next time, then went off
with his friends laughing at the gangly girl with braces and glasses.
So, she was being an idiot, driving out to his
freaking ranch in the middle of a storm to give him a check to cover the cost
of repairs on his vehicle.
such a damn idiot.
She should just mail
it to him, but she was a masochist and wanted to see the damn man again.
Goodness, she was a fool.
And an idiot.
She saw Grant’s truck outside the barn, so she
pulled up next to it and got out.
pulled the hood of her coat over her head and trudged into the barn.
“Mr. Franklyn?” she called and felt like an
They had known each other
practically their whole freaking lives, and she called him
A man she didn’t know stuck his head out of
the barn and raised his eyebrows at her.
“Ma’am, you shouldn’t be out in this weather.
Don’t you know we have a freak snowstorm
inbound?” he asked as he dusted his hands off on his jeans.
“Yes, I’m well aware of that,” she said
through gritted teeth.
“Where is Grant
Franklyn? I need to talk to him, and then I promise you I will be off this land
and on my way home, out of your hair.”
“Bart,” a voice came from the bowels of the
“Get on home now.
Marcus just called from the cabin and he’s
already being hit by the storm.
maybe twenty minutes, so leave whatever you’re doing and go.
You should make it with about two minutes to
“Uh, yes, boss,” Bart said, looking back and
forth between her and the barn.
there’s a lady here to see you.”
his Stetson to her, he headed toward one of the two vehicles next to her
last hand to leave.
probably bunked on the land.
Then she forgot all about him as Grant
Franklyn appeared in the open door and came to a rocking halt, wiping his hands
with a cloth that he quickly stuffed into a back pocket.
He eyed her from head to toe and back
“To what do I owe the pleasure of
this visit on the worst possible day to be out and about, Ms. Hunter?”
“When I left the house, it wasn’t crappy.
It was a nice winter day,” she said, defending
“I came to give you something.”
She pulled an envelope out of her purse and pushed it toward him.
“I know you don’t have a lot of time but
after talking to my friend he said that this should cover it all,” she assured
“So please, take it and I will get
out of your hair?” Good Lord, he was imposing, and damn his grumpy ass, he was
as beautiful as the day was long.
He looked to the envelope and then back at
He didn’t take it, instead crossing
his arms over his chest and rocking back on his heels.
“I seem to recall, Ms. Hunter, that I told
you to forget it.
about that did you not
understand?” he asked.
Just then the
first white flake drifted down between them, soon followed by a second.
“I guess the fact that I can’t forget it.
You might not remember my momma and daddy
before they left for Hawaii, but they taught me to always pay my debts, and
this is one of them.
I owe you, Mr.
Franklyn, so please, just take it so I can go home and drink some lovely brandy
that I’ve been saving for a cold day.”
Shaking his head, he turned and pulled the
barn doors closed, dropping the crossbar into place to hold them shut.
“Go home, Ms. Hunter, and take that envelope
You owe me nothing,” he told
her, walking toward the house.
drive fast if I were you.
That storm is
moving in faster than predicted.”
“Why are you such an ass?” she asked and
quickly followed after him.
the blasted money, Mr. Franklyn.
care what you do with it, but it will help me feel better about damaging your
Just please, take it?” she
asked and stepped up onto his porch with him.
“Just take the damn check.
He rolled his eyes; she couldn’t believe that
he actually rolled his eyes.
home,” he said.
Then he yanked open the
screen door, which ended up about an inch from her nose, pushed open the inner
door and went through, the screen door snapping shut on his heels.
She counted once again.
To ten, back to zero and to ten again.
She was ready to kill the man.
She didn’t know why he affected her as he
did, but he did.
Shoving the check into
her purse she called out, “Fine, don’t take it, asshat.
I will make a donation in your name to the
She walked through
the falling snow to her vehicle.
the hell had it begun to snow?
Grant watched through the open door as
Jacqueline Hunter stormed her way back through the yard to her truck.
He caught snippets of her words, all directed
at him and his hard head and other not-so-kind things, as the wind pushed them
toward the house.
He had to admit, when she wasn’t being a total
pain in his ass, she was quite adorable.
He remembered her from school.
Really well actually, so well she’d likely be stunned and maybe a little
He remembered breaking her
fall and, if he hadn’t been with his so-called friends, he likely would have
But he’d been a
teenage boy with rampantly running hormones and all that fun stuff, and he’d
pressure in the moment.
But what she probably didn’t know was that
he’d watched her growing up into the gorgeous woman she was now.
Or rather, he’d seen the promise of what
she’d one day become.
after high school he’d gone to college for a few years before coming back to
take over the family ranch.
Between that and getting the ranch back in the black, he hadn’t really
paid her or any other female a hell of a lot of attention.