Read Her Dream Cowboy Online

Authors: Emily Silva,Samantha Holt

Her Dream Cowboy

BOOK: Her Dream Cowboy
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Her Dream Cowboy

 

Emily Silva

 

Copyright 2013 ©Emily Silva

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organisations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

 

Sophie eyed the ranch as she stepped out the cab and her feet hit the dusty ground. It was bigger than she’d expected. She kind of anticipated a small cabin or something…not this huge wood-paneled building with wide, modern windows and a large green roof. A balcony ran across the front and looked perfect for sitting out and enjoying a nice drink.

Not that she’d be doing that. She gulped. She had come to trek across the wilderness. Whatever the heck that meant. Well, she knew what it meant. Sophie just wasn’t quite sure she was up to it. Her best friend—maybe make that ex-best friend by the end of this—had talked her into it. Beth loved adventure, whereas Sophie always played it safe.

And look where that had gotten her. Divorced, jobless. Starting again at twenty-nine. Maybe marrying the boss straight out of college hadn’t been the best of ideas…

The driver passed over her suitcase, and Sophie set it on its wheels, muttering a “thank you” as she took another deep breath and started toward the building. Of course the website said it was suited for a group of up to eighteen people, so she should have known the ranch would be big.

For the hundredth time that day she cursed Beth. On her way to the airport, Beth had called to let her know she was really sorry but she couldn’t make it. Something had come up at work. So now Sophie was stuck in the middle of Nevada on a ranch about to do some real cowboy stuff.

What the hell had she let herself in for?

The front door opened, and an honest to goodness cowboy stepped out. Sophie blinked, wondering if the heat had gotten to her. England was freezing at this time of year. Perhaps she hadn’t acclimatized properly.

Wearing a blue flannel shirt, a hat—
a Stetson, right?—
boots and worn jeans, the man embodied just about everything she’d ever pictured in a cowboy. Even from a distance, she saw his muscles flex with each movement as he strolled casually toward her. She couldn’t quite see the color of his hair yet, but his skin was a deep tan, making her acutely aware of her pale English rose coloring.

He stopped in front of her, his frame towering over her. And she was hardly short. Wide shoulders spread out before her, a V of flesh almost in her eye-line, and her mouth dried. She glanced up to be greeted by pale gray eyes set into a chiseled face. Christ, this guy was no metrosexual, unlike the London city boys she was used to.

Creases around his eyes suggested he laughed a lot, and his strong nose had a slight bump in the bridge, implying he’d broken it once. A tiny white scar skimmed the top of it, and Sophie concluded he must have either taken a punch to the face or fallen on it. With muscles like those, she went for fighting but he didn’t look aggressive.

“Sophie Duncan?”

Oh God, he
drawled
. Her knees shook as she extended a hand. “Y-yes, that’s me. A pleasure to meet you.” What was it about foreign accents that made her sound even more like the Queen? She sounded ridiculous!

“Luke Harper. Nice to meet you. Can I take that?”

“Uh…” Before she could respond, he took her suitcase and led her into the ranch, stepping back to hold the door open.

“We’re just winding down from tourist season,” he said as he set down the suitcase and stepped behind the counter to grab a set of keys, “so it’s a little quiet. There was a group of four that joined us yesterday but they’ve gone out already.” He glanced at something on the desk and frowned. “Wasn’t there meant to be two of you? Didn’t you book a second person on the trip?”

Sophie drew her gaze from her surroundings to nod. “Yeah, my friend kind of bailed on me. So it’s just me.” She tried to grin, but it probably came out as a nervous smile.

His eyes twinkled when he removed his hat and dropped it on the counter.

Blond. Dark golden blond. And ridiculously touchable-looking. Sophie bent her hand into a fist to prevent herself from launching at him and thrusting her fingers into his hair. It curled at his nape and looked as if it needed a good cut, but it was beautiful compared to the carefully styled look of her ex-husband, David.

“Guess it will just be the two of us then,” he said with a flash of white teeth.

“T-two of us?”

“Yeah, I’ll be taking you out. Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of you.”

Sophie blinked, wondering if she’d imagined the mischievous tone to his words. Glancing around the interior, she took a moment to steady her thoughts. The two flights and long drive here must have sent her delirious. It was her imagination that had sparks of chemistry shooting between them.

The inside proved to be a little more like what she had expected. Wood everywhere and lots of leather chairs but none of the sweet homeliness she thought she’d find. Elm Creek Ranch was definitely a business and not just a fully working ranch.

“Here you go.” Luke grabbed her hand, making her jump, and pressed a key into her palm. The callused touch made her arm prickle, and she jerked away in surprise. Luke’s brows rose but he didn’t comment as he stepped around the counter and took her suitcase once more. “Your room is just up the stairs, though you’ll only be in it for one night. Tomorrow we hit the trail.”

“I can take my case,” she said as he ambled over to the steps and she scurried to catch up.

“Now, ma’am, you’re a guest here, so I’ll be taking your case, thank you.”

Well that told her. Dropping back, she used the moment to admire the curve of his ass against his jeans as they ascended the stairs. God, what was wrong with her? Lusting after a cowboy? And she still had five days of his company to deal with. They were going to be five very long, very frustrating days.

~* * *~

Luke smirked when he closed the door behind him, their guest safely installed in her room. Now if anyone needed some time in the saddle, that woman did. He was used to Brits visiting the ranch, so he couldn’t put it down to their infamous stiff upper lip. No, Sophie just needed to learn how to take it easy. Definitely a control freak there. She hadn’t even wanted him to help with her suitcase.

Damn if he didn’t find that posh little accent enticing though. Teamed with a long, lithe figure and perky breasts as well as a cute face, Luke’s body responded to her in ways he didn’t even want to think about. Long chocolate-colored hair, messy from her travels, begged for his touch, and a dainty mouth longed to be covered by his.

He scowled as his jeans grew tight. This was going to be a long five days. But he didn’t have any choice. The rest of the guys were already out with their other guests, and the end of the season never normally warranted many of them on hand. So it was him or no one.

Stomping down the stairs, he snatched his hat from the counter and stepped outside, drawing in a deep gulp of air. He looked forward to taking her out, showing what the wilderness had to offer. It had been a while since he’d personally taken anyone out, but it was about time.

Straightening his hat, he sighed. He would be the perfect gentleman, he told himself. No need to get involved with another tourist. Eve hadn’t been English but they were all the same. They loved the
idea
of a cowboy but not the reality. He’d certainly sparked some interest in Sophie—he recognized that much—but interest was all it would be. At thirty-three, he needed to settle down, not be a quick fling for someone looking for a dream guy. Soon she’d be back in England and would have forgotten all about him.

Luke made his way over to the stables to check the horses and make sure he had everything they needed. Five days in the wilderness called for decent supplies.

He recalled Sophie’s dark eyes flaring with interest and grimaced.

And plenty of self-control.

~* * *~

After a quiet breakfast, Sophie packed her belongings into her travel pack and made her way to the stables as Luke had requested of her earlier that morning. His efficient manner disappointed her slightly, but she knew she should be grateful he wasn’t flirting with her any more.

Hopefully the ride through the countryside would wake her up. In spite of a comfortable room, dreams of a certain sexy cowboy had haunted her. She really didn’t need a fling. Life was already messy as it was. And just because she had a crush on him, didn’t mean he was remotely interested in her. Gorgeous man that he was, he probably dealt with love-sick tourists constantly.

It didn’t stop her from admiring the snug fit of his jeans while he readied the horse though.

Luke glanced over his shoulder at her and flashed her a grin. Her heart skipped a beat, and a flush of heat rolled through her.

“Have you got everything?”

“I think so.” She lifted her bag, and he took it from her and hooked it onto the saddle.

“Say hello to Rocky.”

“Hello, Rocky.” She put out a hand, and Rocky put her silver muzzle to it. Sophie giggled as the horse snuffled and pressed against her. It had been too long since she’d ridden.

Glancing at Luke, she flushed as a curious expression came across his face. Gray eyes softened while he watched her with Rocky. And then…

And then he moved behind her.
Oh God.
The scent of soap surrounded her, and she felt the heat of his body traverse the gap between them. It took all her strength not to lean back into those strong arms.

“You need a hand?”

Sophie nodded dumbly. She probably didn’t, but right now her legs barely worked. Hands on her hips, he lifted her as she hooked a foot into the stirrup and put her leg over. The sensation of his fingers on her body lingered and she peeked down at her jeans, half expecting them to have singe marks.

She observed him mount his own buckskin horse, admiring the ease with which he moved. The man was made to ride a horse, she concluded, and then realized her stupidity. He had probably ridden for just about forever,
of course
he was made to ride a horse.

He motioned her to follow as he set the pace, and she came up beside him.

“You ok?” Luke asked.

“Yes, just getting used to it again.”

“Your info said you were an experienced rider.”

“I was—I mean I am—but it’s been a while. I kind of lost custody of my horse.”

“Lost custody?”

“Divorce,” she stated simply.

“Ah. Sorry to hear that. No children then?”

“No.”

Another bone of contention between her and David. She wanted them, he didn’t. Thank goodness they hadn’t had any though. Bad enough they fought over their belongings and the horses—she couldn’t imagine how it would have been if she’d had to fight him for children too. Thankfully she’d come away with enough money to keep her going for quite a while, but losing the house still stung.

“Sorry,” he murmured again. “I didn’t mean to make you sad.”

Sophie peered at the cowboy in surprise. Pretty perceptive for a man. She thought she hid her emotions fairly well after nearly a decade of disguising them.

She offered him a smile. “It’s ok, I’m not sad really. Not about the divorce anyway. Just the time wasted, you know?”

“Yeah, I get it. I feel like that sometimes.”

“You’re divorced?” Sophie failed to hide the astonishment from her voice. How could anyone leave the sexy cowboy? If he were hers, she’d do everything to keep hold of him.
If he was mine?
What was she thinking?

“No, though I wasted plenty of time in dead-end relationships too. This place took a lot of work to build up and I guess I neglected my relationships. My last girlfriend couldn’t cope with me spending weeks on the trail with clients.”

“Guess absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder then,” she teased. “I didn’t realize you owned the ranch,” she added. She suspected there was a lot more to Luke than just a way with horses…and women probably.

“Yeah, been in the family for a long time. But times are hard and turning it into a tourist attraction seemed to be the best way to keep it going.”

“Well, you’ve done an amazing job. The place is fantastic.”

He shrugged, but Sophie saw the pride in his eyes. “Thanks.”

They led the horses farther along the trail, and Sophie glanced back to see the ranch vanishing into the distance. Rugged mountains and great forests of pine and aspen surrounded them, so different from the green rolling hills of England, and she became lost in the scenery. Everywhere she looked there was a new sight to be seen.

Before she knew it, it was lunchtime and Luke helped her down from her horse. She winced, stretched her muscles and scowled as he took a step back and grinned.

“Sore?”

“Yes,” she ground out, trying to hide her own smile.

Something about Luke’s company made her want to smile. He was so easy-going, so fun to talk to. She’d envisioned a tense five-day ride with a stranger, but instead it felt like a real adventure. And for once she didn’t even worry about what would happen next. Luke took care of everything. She was just there for the ride.

What she wouldn’t give to have him take care of her in other ways…

Bloody hell, she needed to stop thinking like that.

Settling on the ground beside him, her body clenched as his knee brushed hers. He handed her a snack bar and a bottle of water.

BOOK: Her Dream Cowboy
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