Authors: Stacey Espino
Ride ‘em Hard 3
Hogtying the Cowgirl
Angel Garner is a young, spoiled cowgirl used to getting her own way. When Clay Roberts wins the stallion she covets at an auction, she's determined to make him sell the horse back. The only problem is the cowboy has no plans of humoring her.
Landon Wilder has had a crush on his friend's sister since before he can remember. He tries to help her get back her horse, but soon learns a trick or two from the man she claims to hate. Their sexual games soon inspire real emotion, complicating their ménage a trois. For them to have a lasting future together, it'll take two determined cowboys to properly break the stubborn, blonde filly.
Contemporary, Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Western/Cowboys
HOGTYING THE COWGIRL
Ride ‘em Hard 3
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Ménage Amour
HOGTYING THE COWGIRL
Copyright © 2011 by Stacey Espino
E-book ISBN: 1-61926-114-6
First E-book Publication: November 2011
Cover design by Jinger Heaston
All cover art and logo copyright © 2011 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED:
This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
Siren Publishing, Inc.
Letter to Readers
If you have purchased this copy of
Hogtying the Cowgirl
by Stacey Espino from BookStrand.com or its official distributors, thank you. Also, thank you for not sharing your copy of this book.
Regarding E-book Piracy
This book is copyrighted intellectual property. No other individual or group has resale rights, auction rights, membership rights, sharing rights, or any kind of rights to sell or to give away a copy of this book.
The author and the publisher work very hard to bring our paying readers high-quality reading entertainment.
This is Stacey Espino’s livelihood.
It’s fair and simple. Please respect Ms. Espino’s right to earn a living from her work.
Amanda Hilton, Publisher
This book is dedicated to two of my loyal readers who won my Name the Cowboy Contest.
Thank you to Laura-Mae Bowles for choosing Clay, and Chele Blades for choosing Landon.
Ride ’em Hard 3
Copyright © 2011
Grant and Matthew had been branding cattle for the better part of the morning. She’d been demanding they take her into town for days, but they all but ignored her. Life on the farm was different since Chase got married and moved south to his own ranch. He usually humored her, gave her anything she asked for. Her other two brothers were much less obliging.
Clouds were rolling in from the east, making the cattle antsy. The earth trembled as the animals passed through one holding paddock to the next.
“Grant!” she called out from the top rung of the wooden fence. He tilted the rim of his Stetson up to look in her direction but shook his head and continued branding the calf under his arm. “Matthew!”
At least her other brother answered her, but he only pissed her off. “Go back in the house and help Ma! You’re like a splinter, Angel.”
If they wouldn’t help her, she’d head into town herself. She’d saved for over a year, but was still far off from having enough to buy the stallion she wanted. When Chase left home, he gave her the last two thousand she needed. The horse she wanted would be on auction this week and may already be sold. She’d seen him at the Cooper ranch, drooled over him, and dreamed about breaking the beast. He was a look-alike to her prized horse she received on her sixteenth birthday. Everyone had wanted him, but they were like two peas in a pod—until she had to give him up. The mare she had now was a good horse but aging and not as energetic as she used to be. The stallion she coveted was wild and untamed, young and spirited.
Angel backed one of the pickup trucks in front of the four-stall horse trailer. She slipped out of the driver’s seat and hitched up, making short work of the hardware and wiring. Nobody would hear her with the clamor of hooves disguising her getaway. Her brothers would kill her if they knew she’d taken the new trailer.
She hit the dirt road, billows of dust rising up around the truck. The trailer banged and leapt, pulling the truck to the side as she sped around curves in her path. She unrolled the window when she got into town, savoring the warm breeze fluttering her hair. It felt good getting away from the ranch, and seeing people other than her dumb brothers.
The parking lot to the auction house was packed. Certainly no room for the truck and trailer. She had to drive two blocks up the road and park along a side street lined with mature oaks. As she walked back to the livestock building, cowboys hooted and hollered at her. A group of four or five was leaning against the tailgate of an old truck, giving her the once-over. When she was with her brothers, men never gave her a lick of trouble. She gave these winners the middle finger and added a little extra wiggle in her step as she walked away. With three older brothers, she was used to witnessing the antics of oversexed cowboys.
She pushed open the double main doors. The scent of hay and manure was strong, a smell she’d grown up with. With the dim interior lighting it took her eyes a minute to adjust. She saw some familiar faces and many she’d never seen before. When she’d come to auction with her father or brothers, she just tagged along, looked at the horses, and never really paid attention to the surroundings. Now that she was here alone, she wasn’t sure where to go or what to do. She palmed her front pocket where she’d stashed her roll of cash in a small coin purse—five thousand and five hundred dollars. Even though Chase had given her the last two thousand, she’d earned the rest on her own. She sold eggs and veggies for her mother on the roadside stand near town nearly every weekend, fixed neighbors’ vehicles and farm equipment, and even babysat a few dogs while the owners went on vacation.
She couldn’t get a
job. As her parents said, her real job was working the family ranch, and there really was a ton to do each and every day. Rather than pay hired hands, she did the same work for free.
“Can I help you, sweet thing?” A middle-aged cowboy moved in for the kill. She wasn’t born yesterday, but she did need directions.
“Do you know where the horse auctions are being held?”
“I’ll be happy to show you.” He held out his elbow for her.
“Would you be so kind to point in the general direction? My brothers don’t take kindly to me speaking with strange men.”
He smiled, unconvinced. “I’m sure they wouldn’t mind me helping you, now, little miss. Who’re your brothers? Maybe I know them.”
“That’s right, everyone knows the Garner brothers.”
“You’re not Chase’s little sister?” He actually took a step back as if she’d grown another head. “Chase Garner’s?”
“Yes, sir. Now which direction did you say the horses were at?”
For once she was happy to mention her brothers. She followed the path he’d pointed out. After walking past a riding ring and then another long aisle of single stalls, she heard the auctioneer’s voice. She never could keep up with the gibberish the old man muttered, like her father or brothers could. There was a thick crowd gathered, and she couldn’t even see the animal on auction.
Angel fought for space, shoving her way through the throng of people, mostly cowboys reeking of body odor and horse shit. The ocean of flannel nearly blinded her, making her dizzy. When she emerged on the periphery of the event, she gasped for breath, brushing her hair behind her ears. The current auction was for a pair of mustangs. They were beauties, but then again, Angel had a passion for horses. Still, they weren’t what she came for.
She listened to the bids coming from all around the crowd and tried her best to study the auctioneer’s voice, decipher whatever secret code he seemed to use. Angel wanted to ask someone if her stallion was still available, but the noise was deafening, and the crowd focused on the current bids.
“Sold for seven thousand dollars!”
Seven thousand for two mustangs? She had way more than enough for one horse, which made her confident she’d have more than enough to buy her horse, with money to spare. With whatever she had left, she’d buy some new tack.
After three more auctions, her horse was led into the clearing. He was spirited, testing the handler at every turn. God, she’d love to break him, teach him to love and trust her. Watching him was like a flashback into the past, both good and bad memories colliding. The decision she was forced to make still haunted her.
She was so enraptured by the animal and her roving thoughts that she hadn’t realized the bidding had started. Her heart began to race. Everything happened so fast, their loud voices buzzing in her ears.
Finally she dared to raise her hand, which drew all attention to her for those few seconds until the next bid was declared. She had to win, would win, even if she had to spend every last cent of her money.
“Two thousand,” she called out.
Beat that, suckers.
She was shoved to the side, nearly losing balance. When she glanced to see who’d pushed her, she had to look up, up, up. There weren’t many men as tall and built as her brothers, but this cowboy actually had them beat. He wore a well-loved black Stetson, his face rough with stubble around the jawline. “Twenty-five hundred,” he said in a deep, smooth voice. He wasn’t hyped up and juvenile like some of the men frantically bidding and dealing. The cowboy was calm, nonchalant, and exuded an air of confidence.
The fact he’d outbid her made him her enemy. She became determined, focused. Angel scowled at the side of the man’s face, and then returned her attention back to the black beauty, now attempting to rear up in the confined space. The handlers didn’t understand him, but she did. The stallion needed his space, needed to feel safe before he could trust—so much like her. She’d give him the respect he deserved.
“Three thousand, two hundred,” she said after two other bids. She still had a couple thousand left, and this was just one horse. It had to end soon.
Then, as if suddenly noticing her, the cowboy beside her looked down and winked before outbidding her.
Once they hit the four thousand mark, it was just her and the mystery man left bidding. She broke out in a sheen of sweat. The way he kept glancing at her with his wicked, dark eyes made her certain he was toying with her. Was he actually outbidding her to prove something? Some stupid cowboy pissing contest? She may be the only woman bidding, but she was no city girl. Folks around town respected her for her skills as a mechanic and horse handler. She had nothing to prove, just wanted to buy the horse her heart already deemed as her own.
“Five thousand dollars,” he said, raising a hand. His arm brushed hers as he lowered it. Her heartbeat was deafening, rivaling the chaos around her.
“Five thousand, five hundred,” she said, barely heard above the crowd. Her heart stopped. This was it. She had no more money left and was still in shock it had gone this far.
When the cowboy raised the bid by five hundred dollars, her body slunk as if all her bones had dissolved. She swallowed hard, tears pricking the backs of her eyes as she watched them lead the stallion away. How had this happened?
“Sorry, little lady.” The man actually patted her on the head and then disappeared into the crowd. He didn’t look much older than Chase, the patronizing sack of shit. Once she regained her bearings, she attempted to follow the man through the impossibly large crowd. She lost sight of him but hoped to find him when she cleared the mob.
No sign of him or his black Stetson. He’d have to return to collect his prize, so she made a wide arch around the interior of the building to where they stored the auction animals. She slipped into the barred aisle and sought her horse. He was easy to find, restless in his stall, neighing and stomping. The lighting was minimal here. The handlers were up front near the crowd as they auctioned off the next animal.
“Hey, big guy,” she cooed. He was all strength and muscle, his eyes full of knowledge. The stallion was her chance to undo the past and start fresh. He’d never replace the horse she lost, but she’d love him just as well. She reached into her pocket and pulled out two sugar cubes and held them out on a flat palm. He was hesitant, eyeing the treat and waiting for her to deceive him. Knowing he’d probably been abused, had all trust ripped from him, made her more desperate to own him. “Come on…” She tried to coax the great beast, but she wouldn’t push him. She stayed still, patient, and savored each time he’d inch closer. “That’s a boy…”
A body pressed up behind her, and an arm came around from either side of her body. “You’re doing it all wrong, darlin’. The horse needs a firm hand, an owner who’s in control.” He reached out, placing his palm under hers, steadying her. It was the new owner. He clucked his tongue and the horse responded, stepping closer.
“I beg to differ. He needs love and trust, both not easy to come by in this godforsaken world.”
“Control doesn’t eliminate love and trust. In fact, it demands it.”
She pulled her hand away, spooking the stallion. “That’s your opinion.” Angel ducked out of his embrace and stood her ground.
“Who’s more skittish? You or the horse?” His eyes roamed down the length of her body, undressing her as so many men felt they had the right to do.
“I’m Angel Garner. I don’t do skittish.” She was hoping he’d recognize her family name. She couldn’t even count the number of times she used it as a weapon to inspire fear into unwanted suitors.
“Pretty name, darlin’, but you’re as timid as a prairie mouse under all that bravado. Maybe you need taming more than my new acquisition.”
She grit her teeth, tempted to stomp her foot and toss out a few unladylike curses. “I’ll ignore that for now because I want to offer you cash to buy this stallion.”
“But I just bought him, baby-doll. It’s a done deal. You should have outbid me if you’re so interested.”
“I only had fifty five hundred. But I can barter my services.”
He cocked an eyebrow. It took her a full minute before she realized his mind was in the gutter. “I’m a mechanic, a damn good one. Surely you have something that needs fixin’—cars, trucks, equipment?”
After tilting his Stetson, he began to walk away. He called over his shoulder dismissively, “I’ll have to pass on your offer.”
This wasn’t over, couldn’t be over. Not when she knew that horse was meant to be hers. Like he’d said, he’d be a controlling owner. A horrible owner compared to her.
“Ma’am, you can’t be back here.” One of the staff members for the auction must have heard her yelling and came back to check what was going on. “Winning bidders only.”