Sarah Halliday returns to Wyoming to save the reputation of the man she left behind. She offers the sexy cowboy a deal—she'll pretend to come back to him until the talk dies down, then she'll be on her way.
Rafe Halliday plans to rope his runaway bride to him with bonds of love and sex. He thinks he's cooked up the perfect scheme to get Sarah back where he wants her—in his bed permanently. He isn't above telling a few white lies to achieve his objective.
Sarah opened her eyes, her expression brightening. "Such as?"
He held up one finger. "First, if you're going to give me back my reputation, it's got to look real."
She nodded. "Of course, within reason."
Rafe eyed her sourly. "Word spread when you ran off screaming on our wedding night. People started speculating on what kind of kinky things I might have tried on you. A few even wondered whether I was over-endowed. Some tried to find out."
Sarah's mouth kicked up in a startled grin as she thought of other men trying to sneak peeks at him in the men's room. She bit her lip but a giggle escaped. "After three weeks, I'm sure the talk must have died down."
"Not in a small town like Shelbyville, especially with you coming back. The telephone lines are probably buzzing."
"I never thought of that." She let out a dismayed sigh.
Rafe nodded. "I did. Like I said, it's got to look real."
Her eyes narrowed. "How real?"
"Here's the deal. You move in with me for the rest of the summer. By then the talk will have died down. That should also give you plenty of time to complete your series." Rafe tilted his head, studying her reaction.
"Three months is a heck of a lot longer than I was counting on." Sarah scooted back on the desk. "I can't spend the rest of the summer here. I do have a life of my own, you know." She sighed then said resignedly, "I guess this isn't going to work..."
"Ever hear of a little thing called grand theft auto?" Rafe asked dryly.
"What do you mean?" Sarah's head shot up and she gazed at him warily.
Rafe smiled grimly. "You stole my truck when you ran off."
"That old rattle trap wasn't worth a grand." She scowled up at him. "The thing is held together with bailing wire and string. I just borrowed it to get to the airport. And besides, you got it back, didn't you? I saw it standing out in the yard."
Rafe shrugged. "That's not how the sheriff saw it when I reported it missing that night."
She gasped. "You called the cops on me. I can't believe you would do such a dastardly thing."
"I wasn't exactly in a sweet, understanding mood." A nerve pulsed in his jaw as he gazed at her. "That night I would have done anything to retrieve you."
Sarah frowned up at him her chin rising with defiance. "It's a good thing there's been some cooling off time in the interim."
"You're darned right it's a good thing," Rafe said firmly. "Otherwise I might be tempted to turn you over my knee."
Sarah snorted. "Mr. Halliday, sexist remarks like that aren't going to win my good will."
He shrugged. "That's what you get for picking an unenlightened rancher like me for a husband. Now shall I call the sheriff, or are you staying?"
Sarah bit her lip. "You wouldn't call him."
"You win, but you don't play fair, cowboy," she said sourly while glaring at him.
Rafe turned away saying, "I don't play at all."
"So when do you want to begin this great deception?"
He turned back. "There's no time like the present."
Sarah raised an eyebrow. "Just how am I supposed to convince people we're a real couple?"
Rafe smiled triumphantly. "For starters, you're going to be a perfect ranch wife. Or at least as perfect as you can be with your limited abilities. You're also going to act like I'm the hottest thing in pants you've ever seen."
"That's a stretch." Sarah ignored Rafe's disapproving glower and stood up.
"That brings me to item number two," he said. "You owe me a wedding night. I intend to collect."
Sarah poked his chest with her index finger. "No way. There is absolutely no way I'm going to sleep with you!"
Rafe smiled back at Sarah like a cat with a bowl of cream. "Sure you are, sweet Sarah. You want me as much as I want you. You won't be able to resist the temptation."