Three city girls from Seattle are enjoying a night out at a chic coffee house in downtown Missoula, Montana, the heart of the old West. When a gang of cowboys mosey in looking for trouble, they find trouble of the best kind… and these boys are primed and ready to ride. There’s Gabe, a hard-bodied rancher who’s discovered some imaginative new uses for rope. Chet, a rodeo cowboy who’s charmed the pants off more than a few country girls and vows to remain a bachelor for life. And Reuben, a former Army ranger with a taste for edgy sexual games. As the couples embark on a scorching night of passion and play, they experience the most exquisite pleasure—and discover kinky new thrills they never dared to imagine. Because when it comes to knocking boots, cowboys do it best…
By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this page.
Copyright 2007 Charlene Teglia
St. Martin’s Press, Aug. 7 2007
All rights reserved
Crazy from the heat, thought Willow.
Lemon Espresso wasn’t air conditioned and the ceiling fans only did so much. She’d left her bra off and worn her loosest, coolest shirt for tonight’s reading and she still felt sweat trickling between her breasts. But the summer heat didn’t explain why she’d taken one look at a tall, quiet cowboy with hazel eyes and sandy hair and felt her body go hot and tight.
She wasn’t the only one, either. Jolie had gone off with the blonde, blue-eyed cowboy, wearing his hat. She hadn’t wasted any time making good on her vow to go wild before summer ended and she had to sit for the bar exam, cover up her tattoo with suits and bury her high spirits in legal briefs. By now his boots were probably under her bed.
Unless they hadn’t made it further than his pickup truck. Willow imagined the two of them entwined, half-naked, not even taking the time to finish undressing before satisfying that hot aching need, and felt her sex clench with want.
Even Laura, Lemon Espresso’s hard-working owner who never flirted with customers, had let that third cowboy with eyes and hair so dark they were nearly the color of espresso lift a bag of coffee beans down for her and practically rub his cock into her ass in the process. She’d relaxed back against him like she wanted him to.
All three of them were suffering from the heat and an unwanted stretch of celibacy and it was turning their brains, because for some reason the only men around who even looked like the right gender were those three Montana natives who’d come into the espresso house tonight looking like raw, hard sex in well-worn leather boots and sweat stained cowboy hats.
The two cowboys who seemed to have laid claim to Jolie and Laura had been in several times before, but the one Willow had locked eyes with was new.
She could have sworn her cowboy wouldn’t get up and read when she’d asked, but she hadn’t been able to stop herself from asking. And then he’d surprised her completely. He didn’t look like the type of man who read poetry, let alone went around with whole verses memorized. But he obviously was.
He’d recited every line of a classic poem straight at her. Then he’d touched the brim of his hat, nodded, and left.
Leaving her irritable, overheated, and envious.
Jolie was off making up for the long grind of law school that left no time for fun, let alone relationships. Laura was starting to do the tasks that led up to closing her business for the night with a very good reason to close early watching her work. She was making a success of the venture but she worked long hours. It looked like the man waiting for her to finish up planned to help her unwind.
Dammit. She didn’t begrudge her friends their good fortune, but they were getting lucky while her cowboy had left without a word and she was going home alone to a cold shower or a long masturbation session. Or both.
What she wouldn’t give to be going home to a man who would whisper in her ear all the naughty, forbidden things he was going to do to her. And then do them. One by one. All night long.
She bit her lip to keep from groaning out loud.
It was too hot inside. She couldn’t wait to be outside the confines of the building, feeling the cooling night air on her skin. Time to take her bad mood and her unfulfilled desires and go home.
“Good night, Laura,” she said as she stood up to gather her purse and keys.
“You’re leaving?” Laura brushed back the curtain of straight brown hair that had fallen into her eyes.
“Yes, it’s getting late. We had a good turn-out, though.”
As usual. From the time she first opened the doors, Laura had planned a series of events that included readings from famous authors in the area on vacation, local authors, a broad range of talents and genres and literary affiliations.
She also alternated with other types of events like tarot card readers and displayed artwork by local painters and photographers, rotating to feature a new artist each month as an added attraction to the coffee shop. The result was a brisk business.
Willow had been scheduled for several readings over the course of the summer. She’d come to look forward to them. Whenever she had an appearance at Lemon Espresso, it was well organized, well attended, and Laura made her feel comfortable and at home.
She’d gotten to know the owner and her assistant, Jolie, as the weeks and the heat of summer wore on. Usually the three of them had a good round of girl talk at the end of the night. But tonight, the last thing Laura needed was her loitering when there was a man she clearly wanted to be alone with.
And the last thing Willow needed was to be around other people right now. She wasn’t fit company for anybody.
It wasn’t just the heat, or the lack of male companionship, although she was ridiculously disappointed that the one man who’d captured her interest in longer than she cared to think about had left without another word.
Her residency was coming to an end. So was the leave of absence she’d taken from her job. A job she wanted less, in a place she had less desire to ever go back to, with each day she spent in Missoula. But quitting meant taking an enormous risk. Keeping her job was safer. Smarter. Willow was so tired of doing the safe, smart thing.
She was leaving Montana in two weeks and going back home, though. She’d already started packing. Tonight had been her last reading for the poet in residence program and soon her Missoula experience would be over completely.
Outside the coffee shop, she took a deep breath of night air and felt instantly better. The wide open sky glittered with stars, more than she could see in a big city even on the darkest nights.
What she didn’t expect to find outside, leaning against the building smoking a cigarette, was the man who’d recited Byron to her. She thought her heart actually skipped a beat at the sight of him. He wasn’t gone, after all.
“Where you waiting for me?” Willow asked. Then wished she could take the words back. Dumb question, he was probably waiting for his friend.
“Yes.” He put out his cigarette, field-stripped it and tucked the butt into his pocket. No littering, no risk of fire. The movements were the clear result of long-standing habit from a man who spent a lot of time outdoors and took care to leave nature as he found it.
For some reason, that careful habit struck her as significant.
“I’m Willow,” she said. He already knew that, but she didn’t know what else to say.
“I heard. I’m Gabe Wilson.” He walked towards her and stopped inches away, close enough for her to imagine that the heat from his body was warming her skin. “That was some poem you read tonight.”
Oh. Yes. She swallowed, thinking of what she’d written and how it might sound. Somehow it seemed a lot more suggestive with him around than it had before. Graphic, even. An outright erotic invitation. Maybe he wanted to take her up on it.
She should be so lucky.
“I’m glad you liked it,” she said, figuring a neutral answer was probably best.
“It made me want to ask you a question,” he said.
Oh, Lord, Willow prayed, don’t let this man ask me if I believe free verse is real poetry, or how it can be a poem if it doesn’t rhyme.
“Go ahead,” she said.
“Do you just want words, or do you want a man who can back them up?”
Her prayer was answered. Along with her every erotic dream, maybe. Willow felt her pulse kick up and felt a low throb between her legs at the possibility. She had to lick suddenly dry lips before she could answer him. “I want a man who can back them up.”
In a burst of uncharacteristic daring, she lifted her hand and placed her palm against his chest, feeling the heat of his body through the thin fabric of his shirt and the work-hardened muscles underneath and went on, “Can you?”
He could. She was certain of that. The real question was, did he want to?
The words shouldn’t have sounded erotic. It should have sounded like he was talking to somebody’s grandmother. It didn’t. It sounded like a sexual promise made by a man who knew exactly how to deliver and was confident in his abilities.
It would be reckless to go off with a stranger for a night of hot sex. Getting to know him first or saying no would be the mature, responsible thing to do. Willow thought of the mature, responsible, safe choices that seemed to be strangling her life and her increasing desire to rebel against them, do something else, welled up.
Start with a small rebellion here? Say yes to this man who commanded her attention with his mere presence. Say yes to her own wants and desires and too-long unfulfilled needs.
She didn’t have time to get to know him, anyway.
“I’m leaving in two weeks,” Willow said, wanting to make sure he didn’t misunderstand what she wanted. They didn’t have a future but that didn’t mean they couldn’t have tonight.
“Then we’d better not waste time.” Gabe lifted a hand to cover hers, keeping it against his chest, and continued, “I believe the next question is, your place or mine?”
Willow thought about it. Where did she want to go? Her place? His?
She was curious about where he lived, what it would tell her about who he was. She might not get another chance to find out. He wasn’t promising her forever or even a string of dates. Even if he had been, there wasn’t time.
He was promising to fulfill her sexual desires. And there was a certain appeal to the idea of being in unfamiliar masculine surroundings while he told her what he was going to do to every inch of her body and then did it.
“Your place,” she said.
His hand was warm, strong. His heartbeat under her hand was steady and solid. She swayed a little closer to him.
“I’d better warn you,” Gabe told her, “I intend to take my time and be thorough.”
That throbbing sensation between her legs wasn’t alleviated by this warning in the least. She could feel herself growing damp and slick in anticipation of his touch. His hands. His mouth. All of him.
“I’ll consider myself warned,” Willow answered.
A group of people coming down the sidewalk made her realize they weren’t alone yet. Gabe put his free hand on her waist and guided her to the side, letting the group pass. His hand felt so good there, and at the same time she felt impatient for it to slide up her ribcage to cup one full, aching breast. Or to slide down her hip to cup her sex in the palm of his hand.
“You want me to drive?” Gabe asked.
He was making sure she considered her choices, Willow realized. Letting her choose where they’d go. How they’d get there. If she wanted to drive her car, he’d agree. He was being careful not to rush her or put her in a position that made her uncomfortable.
That made her feel confident in letting him do the driving. In more ways than one. He was letting her establish the boundaries, set the limits. That told her that she could put herself in his hands safely.
“Yes,” Willow said. “I want you to drive.”
Gabe turned her in the right direction, guiding her with light pressure on her waist. He released her hand and walked beside her, keeping his arm around her and his hand against her waist. He was as relaxed and natural as if he’d known her for years and it was the way they always walked.
She, on the other hand, was very aware that a stranger was touching her and leading her away. It didn’t alarm her. It excited her. Every step made her thighs brush together, making her very aware of the throbbing ache between them. That light pressure combined with anticipation made the simple act of walking with him arousing.
He stopped her beside a recent model Ford pickup. It had an extended cab, she noted. Four doors. Two seats. Big enough to accommodate anything that might come up. The long truck bed was empty and she wondered what it would be like to fill it with blankets and lay under the starry night back there with him.
Gabe opened the passenger door for her and helped her in. His hands supported her waist as she climbed up to the unaccustomed height, slid down her hips to guide her in, and then withdrew as he closed the door.
Willow wanted to tell him to keep touching her, but she’d been warned. He was going to take his time.
She sat back on the seat, drew the seatbelt over her shoulder, and buckled it out of habit. Although if they had an accident before she got to experience Gabe taking his time, the universe was a crueler place than she could imagine.