Last week I shared a snippet from my book, MONTANA COWGIRL. Today, you’ll be happy to see snippets from my co-authors, Melissa McClone and Alissa Callen. If you’re a NOOK reader, here’s your chance to grab three heart-warming stories for under a buck apiece! If you don’t have a Nook, you can still buy these books individually from the vendor of your choice (just not in a bundle). See below.
From CHERISH ME, COWBOY:
“Come on, who says I don’t ever have any fun?”
Payton’s eyes shone with such golden life, her smile contained such uninhibited joy, all Cordell could do was nod and follow. Getting wet was a small price to pay for stealing a few brief minutes with the cowgirl in a swirling and surreal world. When the clouds parted and the rain stopped, reality would return. He’d have a promise to keep and a city existence to return to.
Within seconds, he was saturated. Water seeped through his cotton T-shirt and ran down the back of his neck. But as cold as the water was, the feel of Patyon’s fingers entwined with his, heated his blood. Thunder boomed followed by an almost instantaneous lightning flash. The storm was almost directly overhead. Knowing the wind would steal his words, he tugged her toward the porch. Again, she shook her head. Baxter, his tail between his legs, fled to the safety of his dry kennel.
Thunder again roared. Cordell snagged Payton’s slender waist and slung her over his shoulder. He reached the porch just before a jagged bolt splintered the sky.
Chest heaving, he firmed his hold on the back of her knees as he readied himself to return her to the ground. Cool air brushed his lower back and stomach. Payton must have gripped the bottom of his T-shirt to balance herself and had pulled it midway up his torso. He carefully took her weight and lowered her to the porch floorboards. But as he did so her full breasts pressed against his chest and her bare skin slid against his. He bit back a groan. The wet friction between the cotton of his shirt and her tank top had caused her own shirt hem to ride upward. There was now nothing between their naked midriffs but the wet lick of water.
His hands moved to her waist to steady her as her feet touched the ground. Beneath the pads of his fingers, he could feel the jut of her hips and the ripple of goosebumps over her soft skin. He fought for control. She’d be mad at being slung over his shoulder like a sack of grain. It would be okay. She’d tell him off and step away before he did something they’d both regret.
She didn’t move.
The soundtrack of the storm’s fury dulled to a whisper.
Every breath she took pushed her chest closer to his. Every breath he took threatened to shatter his self-control. When had she laced her hands around his neck? Another three seconds, and he’d be finishing what they’d started in his parked truck.
He didn’t even make it to two.
His mouth covered hers. She tasted of rain and sweetness and smelt of summer and mountain wildflowers. As she stood on tip-toe to match his hunger, the sky could have caved in over him and he wouldn’t have cared.
As much as she took, he gave. And as much as he asked for, she granted.
Her hands unclasped from behind his neck and slid over his water-slicked abs and under his T-shirt. He shuddered, knowing he was exposed but powerless to hide how she moved him and what she made him feel.
“Payton,” he groaned as they came up for air. “I can’t hurt you. I can’t stay.”
“I know,” she said, before again fusing her mouth with his.
His hands found the neat curve of her butt and pulled her even closer. This time she was the one who spoke as they drew apart to breathe.
“Please, tell me you’re feeling.”
“Oh, I’m feeling all right,” he growled as he plundered the delicate line of her soft throat.
“Good, because if you’re feeling, as per our talk the other night, that means I need to learn to accept help.” He’d never seen her eyes so luminous or heard her voice so breathless. She jumped and he caught her as she wrapped her slim legs around his waist. “And I think I’ll start by you helping me get out of these wet clothes.”
I’m so excited to be part of this great Mother’s Day Bundle from Tule Publishing. If you–or MOM–is a NOOK reader, here’s your chance to grab three heart-warming stories for under a buck apiece!
I’m a big fan of forgiveness and second chances. Most people would give Paul and Bailey ZERO chance of making up for past hurts and heartbreak, but, sometimes, love can beat the odds.
From MONTANA COWGIRL:
She opened the door and carefully lowered her good foot to the ground. The ache in her ankle was back, but she’d be damned if she’d play the cripple in front of Paul.
“I can take one of those,” she said, meeting him at the tailgate of the truck.
He pulled the bigger of the two out first, setting it on the sidewalk. His muscles really were quite impressive, she realized. Wishing she had some reason to touch him.
The idea unnerved her. When he suggested she let him make two trips, she didn’t argue. She needed some distance, a little down time. Right now.
“Do you have the key?” Paul called out as he dashed up the ramp, the first of her giant suitcases in tow.
“I don’t think Mom’s ever locked the door in my entire life.”
He tested the handle. Sure enough, it swung inward. He wrestled the ungainly, soft-sided suitcase across the threshold then dashed past her for its mate.
She’d barely stepped inside when her phone rang. Mom.
“Hi. We just got here.”
“Wonderful. I have more good news. Oscar’s doctor is letting him go home today. The discharge papers will probably take an hour or two, we’ll be there in time to have dinner together.”
“You should invite Paul to join us. To thank him for picking you up.”
“Really, Mom? Do you think that’s a good idea? Dad’s first night out of the hospital? He and I haven’t seen each other in a couple of years. Maybe we should keep it family for awhile.”
“Oh, of course. You’re right. What was I thinking? We’ll do something nice for Paul later on. I have to go. The nurse wants Oscar to shower before he leaves since we don’t have that kind of equipment at home yet. See you soon, honey. I’m so glad you’re here.”
A few seconds later, Paul lugged her other ridiculously over-weight bag across the threshold.
“We have rocks in Montana, Bailey. You didn’t have to bring your own from California.”
She tried to smile, but the erratic thudding of her heart interfered with normal reactions.
Paul cocked his head. “What’s up?”
She shoved her phone in her bag. “OC is being released today. They’ll be here soon.”
She took a step, planning to make some effort to appear the gracious hostess. Unfortunately, her ankle locked and she lunged off balance, grazing her hip on the side of her father’s worn leather recliner.
Paul pivoted as precisely as Daz “heeling” in the arena. He caught her elbow and stepped in to help her regain her balance.
Close enough to smell his cologne and see the tiny strips of facial hair his razor missed. Close enough to kiss the lips that looked more familiar than they should have.
What the hell was wrong with her? This man hated her, cursed her, and she dropped into his arms like some stupid damsel in distress?
Rancher Brent Ashton is back in small town Marietta but haunted by the death of his father he’s determined to resist rekindling the romance with the only girl he’s ever loved. But Kendall is no longer shy and uncertain, she wants Brent and will do anything to make sure he won’t ever walk away again. Even if that means dressing up in a little red dress and breaking down his self-control.
At the kitchen doorway Kendall paused to tug down the short hem of her fitted red dress. Tension tightened her neck and she rolled her shoulders. She was no longer the shy and insecure girl who’d no idea what to do once she’d caught Brent’s attention. Life had ensured she now possessed the self-confidence that would enable her to walk into the kitchen, head high, and go after what, and who, she wanted.
She pushed open the door. Dressed in jeans, a black tee, hair tousled and shower-damp, Brent leaned against the kitchen bench. Coffee in his hand, he stared at the fresh roses in the center of the table she’d picked from her town garden yesterday. Expression grim, he lifted his coffee mug to take a swallow. Then he saw her. His mug stopped halfway to his mouth.
“Hey,” she said, tone light as she sat her jacket and purse on a kitchen chair. “I was hoping I’d catch you. Your dinner’s in the oven and Ruth’s gone to bed early to read.”
She headed for a cupboard and stretched to collect a glass. All the while she felt the heat of his hooded gaze tracking her.
“Going to meet Izzy?” he asked, voice low.
Kendall nodded as she walked past to the sink to fill her glass with water. His words were casual but the huskiness of his tone gave her hope his self-control had taken a hit. “Yes. We’ll go to Grey’s for a drink and then out for a late dinner somewhere … maybe Rocco’s.”
“It’s Friday night, town will be busy.”
Kendall took a sip of water. “It will be.”
He twisted to set his coffee on the bench behind him. He faced her again and folded his arms.
“I guess the cowboy you were talking to at Big Z’s will be at Grey’s too?”
“Digby? Probably. His fiancée, Holly, lives in the new part of town so they could be.”
Kendall couldn’t be sure but she thought relief eased the grooves beside Brent’s mouth.
“Say hi to Izzy and enjoy yourself.” He turned to collect his coffee.
Kendall’s hope deflated. She may as well be dressed in a paper bag. Not once had his attention dipped below her collarbones. His iron-control appeared unbreakable. “I will. Why don’t you come too?”
Brent’s tanned throat rippled as he swallowed a mouthful of coffee. “Thanks, but I’ll stay and keep Mom company. I’ve got bookwork to do.”
Now was the point where she said good-bye, gathered her purse and jacket and left. But if their conversation ended now, the only place she’d be going to was Izzy’s for a big tub of toffee ice cream and she was determined that wasn’t going to happen.
She sat her half-full water glass on the sink. “You did a good thing bringing Ruth home. She’s eating more and getting stronger. Every day she walks a little further into the garden.”
Brent stared into his coffee cup. “Yes, she’s doing much better.”
“She’s just happy you’re home … and so am I”
Brent shot her a quick look and in the intensity of his eyes she glimpsed every emotion she’d ever hoped to see. Pain, longing, hunger. But then he pushed himself away from the bench and turned to pour his coffee down the sink.
“Kendall.” He spoke quietly over his shoulder, not looking at her. “Don’t go there. Please.”
Pulses racing, she stepped closer and breathed in the clean scent of soap on his skin.
“Why. We can’t keep ignoring the elephant in the room.”
He slowly faced her, his face stony and set as though chiseled out of Copper Mountain granite. “You’re right, we can’t. I’m sorry I hurt you by not staying in touch. Things happen. People … change.”
Kendall had wanted him to talk, but now that he was, she focused not on his words but on what his body said. Brent had two tells. He dragged his hand through his hair when on edge, but he also stood intensely still when he wasn’t telling the whole truth. Like now.
Things did happen. Loved ones were no longer with them. People did change. But that’s not what had happened with them. Brent’s feelings for her hadn’t withered and died. The reason why he now fought what he felt and why he kept her at arm’s length had to be connected with why he’d stayed away. But for now, she’d follow her instincts that said she needed to dismantle the wall between them. While ever it remained, Brent’s emotions and words would stay hidden.
“Some things don’t change.” She moved in close to touch her fingers to his clean-shaven jaw. He didn’t pull away. His gaze briefly dipped to where the red pendant hung low around her neck.
“You’re always so in control, always so honorable. I’m not the only one who thinks of others first or who goes out of their way to make people happy.” She stood on tiptoe. Her breasts brushed against his chest, the pendant filling the tiny space between their bodies. Still he didn’t move. “But sometimes,” she whispered, her breath tracing the path her fingertips had travelled, “The person we need to make happy is ourself.”
For a moment she’d thought she’d never reach him. His control was impenetrable. Then she felt him shudder. His fingers tangled in her hair and his mouth claimed hers. Hot, urgent and out of control, he demanded, consumed and gave. This was no sweet and gentle kiss like they’d shared at the rodeo. This kiss was raw, untamed and … perfect.
She moaned as he angled her head to deepen their kiss. She had no idea when she’d wrapped her arms around his neck or when her fingers had dug into the soft, damp hair at his nape. All she knew was that kissing Brent was like coming home. She fitted her body to his. And the only place she truly belonged was in his arms.
When Alissa Callen isn’t writing she plays traffic controller to four children, three dogs, two horses and one renegade cow who really does believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Once a teacher and a counselor, she remains interested in the life journeys that people take and her books are characteristically heart-warming, emotional and character driven. She currently lives in rural Australia.