Vance was the oldest of the hands on Sebastian Osborne’s ranch, but it was his stoic nature and gentle voice that drew me to him every time I visited Denver. I liked Vance, trouble was, he showed no interest in me. But I didn’t care, I just liked being around him when the world became too much to deal with. A model’s life isn’t always a bed of roses.
Anyway, I’d come to accept a high maintenance kind of woman, like me, just didn’t fit his simple needs. Though I was well aware, that same fact sure didn’t stop the younger cowboys from strutting their wares in a contest to see who could rope the city slicker first.
“I said no.” I slipped out from under Cody’s arms. He’d braced his hands against the barn’s siding on each side of my head, thinking that would hold me in. Little did he know, the city boys knew that same move, and I was well practiced in maneuvering out of that hold. But the greenhorn was swift and caught me by the wrist, keeping me from totally escaping him.
“Are ya saying ya too good for me?” His tone carried a bit of arrogance that nursed an ego I was guilty of wounding.
“No. I said-”
“She might not be saying that about you Cody, but I am.” Vance’s deep voice broke through the darkness in the barn. His large hands grabbed the young cowboy by the scruff of the neck and tossed him to the ground.
It all happened so fast I could only stand there in shock as I watched Vance tower over the man.
“I hired you to attend to the cows, not Mister Osborne’s guests. I catch your hide anywhere near Ms. Havens again, I’ll give you an new set of teeth.” He yanked the cowboy off the ground, going nose to nose to finish. “You best be catching my drift, cowboy, or there will be a bow-whip waiting to meet the flesh on your back the next time.”
“Yes, Sir.” He jerked out of Vance grip and grabbed his fallen Stetson as he stomped out of the barn.
I was about to sigh a breath of relief when Vance gripped my arm and dragged me from the barn as well. “Mind tell me what you think you’re doing in that barn at this time at night, Ms Havens?”
“I-It seemed like a nice night for a ride.”
He dragged me toward the house. “Maybe so, but you should be asking me to get your horse ready, not entering a barn alone with a bunch of cowboys hanging around with nothing to do on a Saturday night.”
“Well seeing that I was on Sebastian’s ranch, I didn’t think I’d be in danger.”
He tilted his black cowboy hat to the back of his head. “Ma’am, this here’s a working ranch. I take on hands during the season for the extra help I need. After that, I don’t see hide nor hair from those long riders again. Most of them have spent some kind of time with the man.”
I gulped. “You mean in jail?”
He exhaled and looked sideways before looking back at me with disbelief in his sexy, steel blue eyes. “Well I ain’t talk religion. You should have told me what you wanted and I would have escorted you on your night ride as well.”
I shrugged as we rounded the corner of the house and spotted three other cow-hands sitting on the porch, all spiffed up like they were going to church. Vance released me and yanked his hat off his head and tossed it on the ground. “Get your asses off that porch!”
He bellowed so loud I jumped. All three men leap up like their pants were on fire.
“Jimmy, you and Bobby-Joe are supposed to be riding fences! And Elmer you’re supposed to be visiting your sick mother tonight. So…would one of you three idiots explain to me why I’m standing here looking at your ugly faces?”
Vance stood there stroking his chin as he watched all three of those cowboys high tail it out of there muttering one thing or another. As the dust from the escaping truck’s wheels settled, Vance heaved a sigh and took my elbow as I walked up the stairs to the front door.
“Thank you.” I looked up into his gentle eyes and wished he’d see me ‘the woman’ instead of the untouchable model. “I’m sorry to be such trouble.”
With an agreeing grunt, he tilted his hat and turned to leave, then hesitated. “There’s a latch on that door…use it.”
Not wanting to let him go, I said, “Perhaps you should come in and check out the house before I find myself locked in with a few more of your men.”
Vance stopped his descent of the stairs and turned to face me. My heart fluttered. From his pocket, he pulled out a piece of paper and a pouch as his smokey eyes ranked down my blonde highlights to the tips of my painted hot pink toenails. As I waited for him to speak, he poured a small amount of sweet smelling tobacco onto the paper and with his teeth pulled the string that would tighten the pouch closed. I watched transfixed as he licked the edge of the paper with gentle laps and imagined how his tongue would feel on my pussy. His left eye squinted and his brows pressed together as if he knew what I was picturing.
Guilty, I cleared my throat I said, “They make electric ones you know.”
He smirked, “City smokers.” Skillfully, he rolled the paper with his long sexy fingers. Fingers I could see tweaking my nipple to a very hard peak.
“Well, if it’ll make you feel safer…” He indicated with a tilt of his head that he was talking about the house. “I’ll take a gander.”
The minute we entered he wandered through the house, with that slow, easy stride all confident cowboys seemed to have. I followed right behind him. I knew the house was empty but it gave me a chance check out his cute ass. When he stopped abruptly I plowed right into him and got a frown. “All seems fine, Ms Havens.”
“Call me Houston.” I batted my lashes.
He took a long draw on his cigarette. “You got something in your eye?”
So much for subtle hints. “Would you like something to drink?”
He silently made his way toward the door, and my heart fell with disappointment. When he reached it he turned and tipped his hat. “Have a nice evening, Ma’am.”
Damn this man, what does it take? “What about my ride?”
I smiled suggestively. “My ride…I felt like riding tonight.”
“I think you best save that for in the morning ma’am, don’t you?” He glanced around the room. “Isn’t there something else you can do.”
I gave him my most innocent look. “Why now that I think of it, there is.”
“Good.” He cut me short as if he was in a hurry to leave.
“But…” My words stopped him from opening the door. “I’ll need your assistance.”
“It won’t take long. Promise!” I rushed over and grabbed his arm. The smell of him assailed my senses, causing my pulse to race. He smelled like leather, tobacco and the great outdoors. I loved all three of those smells, especially on him. I pulled him over to the sofa in the living room. “I have a print job to do for a top magazine after I leave here. I’d like to get your opinion on the outfit the photographer wants me to wear.”
“Ma’am, I don’t know much about stuff like that. I-”
“It’s okay, I just want a man’s opinion about it. Wait here.” I scurried off to my room to find something sexy. Damn, I hadn’t brought anything sexy? I spun around and raided my jewelry box, finding an old rhinestone necklace. That’ll do it!
Stripping my clothes, I looped the jewelry around my waist. It hung perfectly over my hips. I pulled the end of the necklace through my legs and hooked all the ends together with a pink hair ribbon; tied into a nice small bow. A quick glance in the mirror told me I’d done it. I’d managed to make it look like I had on rhinestone panties. “Watch out Cowboy…I’m about to rope you in.” I murmured as I made a quick swipe of hot pink lipstick across my lips and a finger tossed my hair for that oh so sexy bedroom look. Now I was ready to seduce Vance.
Slipping into my satin robe and clear heeled Marabou bedroom slippers I sauntered into the living room.
Vance sat there whiskey in hand. He must have heard my heels clicking on the wooden floors because he hadn’t looked up when he said, “I helped myself to some of your whiskey. I hope you don’t min–” His mouth fell slightly open the second he looked up. “Ma’am, what are you up to?”
“Why not a thing, Vance.” I turned my ass toward him and lowered my robe to reveal my naked back, but didn’t let it fall below my pink bow surprise. Looking back over my shoulder I said in the sexiest voice I could muster, “This…” I dropped the robe, keeping my pouty-lipped, glance over the shoulder, sexy backside pose. “…outfit will be for the magazine’s main story photo for a real estate mogul’s interview.”
Excitement raced through me when I noticed Vance’s eyes traced over the rhinestone panties then narrowed as his gaze followed the curves of my ass. I wiggled my butt. “Well?”
He downed the rest of his whiskey.
My heart was pounding so hard I felt faint. “What do you think, cowboy?” I turned around and walked toward him. His eyes fell to my rhinestones then up to take in my breasts. He swallowed hard as I sauntered toward him, stopping just in front of him. I stood there in silence.
He drew a deep breath as he smashed his cigarette out. He was anything but calm, I could see his chest pumping beneath his cool exterior.
I was getting nervous. Why wasn’t he reacting like I thought he would? “Do you like it?”
“I got one question for you, Mz Havens?”
Oh my god…the man was about to reject me. “Shoot.” I gulped fearing the worst.
“Do you want to take that ride now or in the morning?”