Tempt Me, Cowboy

By: Megan Crane

(Copper Mountain Rodeo #1)


1.





She was exactly the kind of trouble he didn’t need.

Jasper Flint could see the woman from halfway down the block, like a shot of bright color against the weathered old brick of his newest acquisition. She hadn’t been there when he’d left the railway depot earlier that morning for a run around the outskirts of Marietta, Montana, his brand new home. There’d been nothing but the crisp blue dawn, the hint of the coming winter already there in the chill of the late September morning while Copper Mountain stood high above the town, a sleepy blue and purple giant slouching in the distance.

And the quiet. The blessed quiet and more of the same on the wind. A far cry from the noisy, frantic, nonstop life he’d left behind in Dallas.

An hour and a leisurely five miles later, Jasper was more than ready to face a long day of renovations, the current highlight of the best decision he’d ever made: his early retirement at thirty-five. He was ready to lose himself in the simple joy of making instead of taking, the sheer, hard won happiness in transforming something old into something new. He wasn’t ready for whatever trouble this woman had brought with her, the storm of it swirling around her despite the early morning sunlight and the clear fall day, practically casting the whole street in her shadow.

It was there in the way she stood waiting for him, impatient hands on her sweet hips and her chin tilted up—belligerent and scrappy, like she wanted to exchange a few punches right there in the street. It made him smile. He wouldn’t mind getting his hands on her, blonde and cute and with legs that could inspire a man to wax a little poetic even in the blandly conservative clothes she wore, and preferably before she opened her mouth and ruined the perfectly decent fantasy he already had going on.

But he knew her type. Prissy and disapproving, spring-loaded way too tight and, unless he misread that downturned mouth of hers and the glare she aimed at him like she already knew him, constitutionally unhappy.

Not—it went without saying—the sort of woman he usually found hanging around, waiting for him to show up. Not enough cleavage, for one thing. And definitely not enough teased hair. He liked his women cheap and obvious and all but flashing neon signs above their heads to shout out their availability.

This woman looked like trouble. Expensive trouble and a whole lot of work. He was in the market for neither.

Jasper slowed to a stroll as he drew near, eyeing her not-nearly-tight-enough pants and definitely-not-slinky-enough top, that thick blonde hair twisted back from her face in a way that shouted sensible, with something uncomfortably close to regret. He wondered what it would be like to have a woman like this—her figure concealed by her outfit instead of starkly presented to him like a Vegas buffet—throw herself at him the way the bimbos did so easily. But that was the paradox, of course. The good girls had steered well clear of him even before he’d had money, like he had darkness grafted onto his very bones and they could scent it in the wind.

He’d learned to live with cheap and calculating. He’d even have said he liked it, the predictability and the ease of that kind of woman, the uncomplicated nature of such mercenary transactions, until now.

“Sorry,” he said when he was close, letting his Texas roots have their way with his drawl, and surprised to discover he meant it. “You’re not really my type.”

She blinked, her lips parting slightly, which drew his attention to what might have been the most carnal mouth in the whole of the West. It hit him like a hammer, pounding an impossible lust through his body to pool in his sex.

What the hell?

“I—what?”

It was like she could read his mind, and it made her stammer.

“I like easy and sleazy.” He grinned slightly, imagining that mouth of hers engaged in practices that would fall under both headings. “I’m afraid I’m true to my redneck roots.” He flipped the bottom of his ratty green Stars t-shirt up to wipe at his face, and when he lowered it, was more delighted than he should have been to find her staring at his abdomen with a look on her face that suggested he’d smacked her over the head with a hammer of his own. His grin widened. “I don’t really go for the disapproving schoolmarm thing. But I sure do appreciate the thought.”

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