Kiss A Cowboy
|Cover Design: Tugboat Design|
(Kiss A Cowboy Series, Book One)
Sometimes fate steps in and changes everything...
Andi Stevens drives away from her home town of Seattle and says goodbye to her sister to begin a new life with her fiancé in Buffalo, New York. When her car breaks down in the mountains of Montana, she reluctantly knocks on the door of a cabin for help. What she finds is Luke Brennan, the most handsome man she's ever met, who appears annoyed by her bothering him and is also downright rude. He takes her up to the main ranch house where his mother welcomes her warmly, opening their home to her for as long as she needs to stay. Andi quickly falls in love with the ranch and its occupants, and the beauty of Montana. And no matter how hard they fight it, she and the brooding cowboy form a bond that becomes stronger by the day. Andi soon finds herself struggling with her promise to marry one man and the attraction she feels for another.
Luke Brennan isn't interested in having his heart broken again. He's loved and lost once, and he's hardened his heart against ever falling in love again. But when a beautiful woman with the most tantalizing green eyes shows up at his door one night, he is taken by surprise. As hard as he tries to stay away from Andi, he finds himself drawn to her time and time again. But she's a city girl, and engaged to another man. She's off limits. Yet, he finds his heart slowly giving itself away to this woman. Should he bet against all odds and tell her how he feels before it's too late?
Does fate hold all the cards for the cowboy and the city girl, or will they choose their own destinies?
Contemporary Women's Fiction
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Read the First Chapter
Andi Stevens drove along highway I-90 East in Montana on a warm, July afternoon, marveling at the lush, mountain scenery all around her. She'd left her hometown of Seattle, Washington, that morning with a small portion of her life packed into her 2001 Ford Escape and the rest of her things waiting to be shipped to her destination, Buffalo, NY, where her fiancé awaited her arrival.
The first few hours of driving, Andi had seen mostly fields of dry grass in the eastern part of Washington, but since driving through the beautiful town of Couer d'Alene, Idaho, the terrain had change to mountain roads and pine trees for as far as the eye could see. Even now, miles from Couer d'Alene, the road continued to rise and fall and the landscape was filled with greenery so beautiful, it took her breath away. Andi wished she could stop by the side of the road and sketch the beauty all around her, but she knew that wasn't a smart idea since she was traveling alone. Her fiancé, Derek Hensley, would have been horrified if he'd known she'd even thought of it. So, Andi had to satisfy herself with a few quick photos taken from safe, populated, roadside stops instead.
Andi sighed as she thought about leaving her younger sister, Carly, behind this morning. True, Carly was twenty-four years old, was a college graduate, and had a good job managing the art gallery where Andi sold her paintings and sketches. She was capable of taking care of herself now. But after years of caring for Carly, it was hard for Andi to say goodbye. The two girls had been inseparable since the day Carly was born and four-year-old Andi had claimed her baby sister as her own. They'd become even closer after the tragic death of their parents in a car accident when Andi was eighteen and Carly was only fourteen. From that time on, Andi had become Carly's main guardian and caretaker, and although they'd had their ups and downs, their relationship was steadfast.
Andi knew Carly had tried being brave when she said goodbye that morning. "Your future is with Derek now," Carly had said. "It's your time to be happy. I'll be fine." Carly had been putting up a front to make her feel better about leaving. Yet, Carly was right. Andi's future lie ahead of her in Buffalo, where Derek had been sent by the national bank chain he worked for to become a manager and to eventually work his way to a Manhattan, New York, branch. At thirty-years old, he was a rising star in his company, and he had the ambition and ability to go as far as he wanted. Andi marveled every day at the fact that this intelligent, hard-working man wanted her, a simple artist, by his side as he rose to the top of the banking industry. Derek and she had been dating seriously for almost three years when he announced to her that not only was he getting a promotion, but he wanted her to share his life with him. Andi had been dumbstruck. She'd always thought of herself as a Seattle girl, so she was uneasy about moving to New York. But Derek was a good man and she would have been crazy to say no to his proposal. So, here she was, in the mountains of Montana, driving toward her future.
Of course, Derek hadn't been thrilled by her form of transportation to Buffalo. In fact, he'd told her she was crazy to want to drive across country in her old Ford when she could just ship her things and fly out with him. Andi had insisted, though. She wanted to keep her car. She wanted her most cherished possessions with her on her journey, and most of all, she wanted to see the country between the two cities. While she'd traveled up and down the west coast from Seattle to San Diego over her lifetime, she'd never been east, and that was something she wanted to experience. Derek did not believe in car travel. He was always in too much of a hurry and flew everywhere he went. Andi knew this would be her only chance to see this part of the country before she became immersed in Derek's up and coming lifestyle.
As Andi's car began climbing yet another incline on the mountain road, it felt like the vehicle was struggling. Andi held her breath until she reached the top and began the descent. Driving across country in an old car probably wasn't such a smart idea, but Andi loved her car and she hadn't wanted to give it up just yet. Derek told her that as soon as she came to Buffalo, he wanted her to trade it in for a new car. Andi knew that eventually, she had to give her old beater up, just not yet. After all she'd been through since the death of her parents, she'd had very few things to depend upon. One was Carly, the other was her car. And now, of course, steadfast, reliable Derek.
Andi glanced at the dashboard clock as she entered the town of Superior. It was a little after seven o'clock in evening. For a moment, she wondered if she should stop for the night, then decided against it. The larger town of Missoula was only another hour away and she felt she could easily make it there and find a nice motel before sunset. With that in mind, she breezed through the small town and continued on, looking forward to a good meal and a nice warm bed once she reached her destination.
Luke Brennan pulled his pick-up truck beside his log cabin home, parked, and stepped out. He stood a moment, gazing out to the west, watching the sun slowly drop behind the mountain. He lifted his dusty, black cowboy hat off his head and ran his hand through his wavy, dark hair. He both loved and hated this time of day. Work was done and his belly was full from a warm supper served at the main house. He was tired and should be looking forward to falling into his bed for a good night's sleep, but instead, he always hesitated for a moment before entering his home. Alone.
With a sigh, Luke turned on the heel of his boot and walked up the steps of the front porch. He thought for a moment about starting up the generator for lights, but then decided against it. He'd only be awake for a short time and maybe read a book. He preferred the light of the old oil lamp to the brightness of electric lights. The soft glow of the oil lamp made him feel less alone in the empty cabin.
At only thirty-two years old, Luke was an old soul who preferred the past to the present.
The cabin was growing dark inside as Luke entered. He slipped off his boots and set them beside the bench by the door and then hung his hat by the others on one of the hooks. Slipping off his flannel shirt, he shook it out and hung it beside his hat before walking into the living room and lighting an oil lamp.
The lamp came to life, leaving a soft glow on the walls and furniture in the room. Walking through the living room, past the island, and into the kitchen, Luke opened the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of beer. It was still cold, even though he hadn't run the generator since this morning. Cold enough for him. He opened the bottle, took a swig, and then set it on the counter before walking to the back of the house where the two bedrooms and bathroom were located.
It had been a hot July day, even in this mountain terrain. He'd worked all day cleaning out the horse barn and laying clean straw on the floor, so he knew he smelled of sweat and manure. He went into the bathroom and stripped off his T-shirt, ran what was left of the water into the sink, and cleaned off as best he could. Tomorrow, he'd turn on the generator and take a hot shower. Tonight, he was too tired, and there was no one around who'd know the difference anyway.
Luke dried off and went into his bedroom to retrieve a clean T-shirt, then walked back out into the living room. He reclaimed his bottle of beer, picked up the mystery book he was reading from the oversized, walnut coffee table, and stretched out on the soft, leather sofa next to where the lamp was lit. He figured he'd drink his beer, read a few pages of his book, and relax before heading off to bed.
The sun was fading as Andi drove up yet another incline on the mountain road when suddenly her car started acting strange. No matter how far down she pushed on the gas pedal, the car lost power. Andi's heart raced. She looked at the column to make sure the car hadn't somehow fallen out of drive, but it was right there, set on the big D. The car continued to slow, and when Andi hit the gas, all it did was rev the engine, but not go faster. As the car started to crawl up to the top of the incline, Andi pulled it over to the side of the four-lane highway. Finally, it came to a complete stop.
"Oh, my God. Now what?" Andi said aloud. She put the car in park and turned it off. Then she turned it on again and the engine came to life. Hopeful, she shoved the gear into drive and pressed on the gas pedal. Nothing. The engine just revved noisily, but the car didn't move.
Andi picked up her cell phone and turned it on. There was only one bar for reception. She pulled her wallet from her purse for her roadside assistance card and tried calling with that one bar. The call wouldn't go through.
Andi locked her doors, turned on the hazard lights, and sat there, assessing her situation. Even though I-90 was a main interstate, she had seen few cars pass her over the last hour. She'd driven by a gas station/bar/restaurant about a mile or two back, but that was all she'd seen for miles. There was no way she was going to walk down the highway alone, back to the gas station.
Andi sat another moment, thinking that maybe a local sheriff or highway patrol might drive by and find her. But daylight was fading fast and if none came soon, she'd have to spend the night in the car. That thought didn't settle well with her. What if a stranger came by and offered to help? Could she trust a stranger around here? Her big-city girl upbringing said no. What was she going to do?
Andi started scanning the land around her to see if there was any sign of life other than the cattle and horses grazing in the fields. Her eyes caught sight of a small light in the distance. She saw the outline of a house, or maybe it was a cabin, she couldn't tell. It wasn't lit up too brightly, but there was a light on in the window. She looked past that and saw an even bigger shadow in the distance that looked like a larger home with lights on in several windows. Andi took a deep breath, trying to decide what she should do. She needed to get to a phone, and she needed to do it before the sun went completely down. Her choices were limited. Trust a stranger driving by or a stranger in a house. Neither one sounded safe, but she had no choice.
Grabbing her keys, phone, fleece jacket, and purse, Andi stepped out of the car and locked it before walking over to the side of the road. The air was cooling fast and she felt chilled after being in the warm car, so she slipped on her jacket. Pushing her thick, dark red hair away from her face, she stood there, deciding how far to go. The cabin was the closest, so that was the obvious choice. As she began her trek down the side of the road toward the cabin's driveway, she prayed that the person inside the cabin was trustworthy and that he—or she—had a landline phone.
It took Andi longer to walk to the cabin than she'd first thought and the sun was almost down when she stepped up on to the wooden porch and knocked softly on the door. When no one answered, she knocked louder, hoping someone was home. There was a Dodge pick-up truck in the driveway and a soft light in the window, so someone must be there. Just as she raised her hand to pound on the door one last time, it swung open and a man filled the doorframe.
Andi took a step back in surprise. The man was tall, well over six feet, with long, jean-clad legs and a white T-shirt stretching over a muscular chest. His arms were bare, showing off sculptured biceps and forearms. He stared at her, looking confused, as if she'd awoken him from a deep sleep. What stunned Andi the most was his square, chiseled face and deep blue eyes. His face, hair, and body were so perfect, he looked like a male model from a Calvin Klein underwear commercial. Andi felt the heat of a blush rise on her face at that thought as she stood there, mute, before him.
Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome ran his hand through his hair and shook his head, seemingly to clear it before those blue eyes zeroed in on Andi. "Who are you?" he asked, his voice deeply male.
Andi blinked. Never had she been so startled by a person before. He just seemed too perfect looking to be out here in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. She swallowed hard, then tried to stand as tall as her five foot, seven inch frame would allow. Her green eyes met his. "I'm sorry to bother you," she said. "My car broke down on the highway and your house was the closest. There's no cell service here, so I couldn't call for help. May I use your phone?"
The male model frowned at her, as if trying to understand what she was saying. Andi glanced around him and saw that the cabin was lit only by an oil lamp. She wondered if he even had electricity. Crap. I picked a house with no power and probably no phone.
"Where's your car?" the man asked her, looking past her toward the highway. It was too dark now to see the highway or the car.
Andi pointed in the direction of the road. "Out there. It just died. I didn't know what to do."
The man shook his head, turned, and started pulling on a pair of western boots. He slipped on a flannel shirt that had been hanging by the door and placed a hat on his head. Andi just stood there, watching him, wondering if he'd let her in to use the phone or not. Without a word, Mr. Perfect turned and walked to the back of the house. Andi's eyes followed him, wondering where he'd gone. She surveyed the room he'd just walked through. The floors were a light, shiny oak and there was a large, river rock fireplace on the wall in front of a leather sofa. Beyond that she saw a kitchen, but it was too dark to see it clearly. The cabin looked clean, though, and very cozy. She told herself that he couldn't be too bad of a person if he lived in a place like this. At least she hoped that was true.
He strode back into the living room and blew out the oil lamp. For a second, Andi stood in complete darkness, but then he turned on a flashlight he had in his hand.
"Come along," he said, walking out the door and closing it behind him. He strode right past her and down the porch steps, his boot heels clicking on the wood.
Andi was startled. "Where are we going?"
The cowboy stopped and turned to look at her, practically shining the flashlight in her eyes. "You need a phone, don't you? I don't have one. I'll take you to the main house." He turned and headed to the truck she'd seen in the driveway earlier.
Andi hesitated. She needed help, but should she get into a truck with a complete stranger? He hadn't been friendly, which didn't help to raise her opinion of him. He may be good looking, but that didn't mean he wasn't a serial killer.
"You coming?" the cowboy asked from the driver's side of the truck.
Andi closed her eyes. Please let this be safe. Please let this be safe. She finally made one foot step in front of the other, walked over to the pick-up, and climbed in.
Hot Cowboy turned over the engine and put the truck in drive. With the headlights on, Andi saw that his driveway snaked all the way up to the other house. She supposed he was a ranch hand and the ranch owners lived in the bigger house. As the truck crushed gravel under its tires, Andi sat there in silence, wondering if he'd ever speak. He didn't.
"I appreciate you taking me to a phone," Andi said, trying to sound normal despite her heart pounding in her chest. "My name is Andi, by the way."
The cowboy just kept driving, looking straight ahead.
Andi bit her lip. "I didn't catch your name," she said, trying hard to be friendly.
"That's because I didn't tell you it," the cowboy said, not even looking in her direction.
Andi's mouth dropped open. She couldn't believe how rude he was. A sharp retort about unfriendly cowboys came to mind, but she held her tongue. After all, she'd probably awoken him and now he was going out of his way to drive her to a phone. It was best if she just stayed quiet.