Her Dream Cowboy by Samantha Holt
part of the Buckle Down anthology
erotic contemporary cowboy romance
Release Date: 01/30/2014
Cover Art by Winterheart Design
Talked into experiencing ranch life for herself by her best friend, Sophie comes all the way from England to Nevada, alone. But while her friend may have abandoned her, her guide for the week promises to stick close to her side.
A guide who just happens to be an honest to goodness, sexy cowboy.
Luke Harper is a busy man. He’s dedicated years to turning his ranch into a successful holiday business and he’s yet to find a woman who can deal with the realities of dating a cowboy. In his experience, they’re all after a dream. But Sophie proves too tempting for her own good and Luke can’t help wondering if the gorgeous woman would be willing to give him a chance.
Or is she just looking for a dream cowboy too?
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.
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.