Cowboy take me away, p.57
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       Cowboy Take Me Away, p.57

         Part #16 of Rough Riders series by Lorelei James
 

  Rough Riders

  Long Hard Ride

  Rode Hard, Put Up Wet

  Cowgirl Up and Ride

  Tied Up, Tied Down

  Rough, Raw, and Ready

  Branded As Trouble

  Shoulda Been A Cowboy

  All Jacked Up

  Raising Kane

  Slow Ride

  Cowgirls Don’t Cry

  Chasin’ Eight

  Cowboy Casanova

  Kissin’ Tell

  Gone Country

  Redneck Romeo

  Cowboy Take Me Away

  Wild West Boys

  Mistress Christmas

  Miss Firecracker

  Anthologies

  Wild Ride: Strong, Silent Type

  Three’s Company: Wicked Garden

  Two to Tango: Ballroom Blitz

  Dirty Deeds

  The last McKay standing is knocked to his knees…

  Redneck Romeo

  © 2013 Lorelei James

  Rough Riders, Book 15

  Three years ago, Dalton McKay looked across the altar and saw the woman he knew he’d love for the rest of his life…only it wasn’t his bride. That’s when he took the McKays’ love-’em-and-leave-’em reputation to new heights—fleeing the ceremony and Wyoming.

  Now a family issue has brought Dalton back to Sundance, giving him a chance to prove to everyone—especially the woman he thought he lost—that he’s a changed man.

  Aurora “Rory” Wetzler has fallen for cowboy hottie Dalton’s smooth-talkin’ ways too many times. So he’s determined to convince her he’s playing for keeps this go around? Fine. She’ll call that bluff—she can’t ignore their intense chemistry or resist smokin’ hot sex, but she’s not willing to gamble her heart again.

  Dalton has plenty of fences to mend with the McKays, but his biggest fear is that Rory doesn’t believe they have a future. He’ll have to pull out all the stops to show her they belong together for the long haul.

  Warning: Contains a sexy cowboy who tames his sassy lady love with his romantic and his kinky side. In explicit detail.

  Enjoy the following excerpt for Redneck Romeo:

  “Rory, can I get two Bud Light drafts and a cherry Coke?”

  “Coming right up.” She pulled the tap and dumped cherry juice over ice, aiming a stream of cola at the glass and swapping the full beer mug for an empty one. She lined the order on the bar top, then wandered to help a new customer.

  Ten minutes later, she poured herself a Coke and leaned against the counter. Old man Duffy grinned at her.

  “You’re scaring me, Duff. What’s that look for?”

  “Missed you last week. Where were you?”

  “At a two-day conference in Rock Springs.”

  “Huh. I thought you mighta bailed on us. Can’t for the life of me understand why you’re still slinging drinks at the Twin Pines.”

  “My job with the state is part-time. So while I’m waiting for a fulltime position to open up or a decent job in my field to magically become available, I’m working here to make ends meet.” Rory chomped on a piece of ice.

  “It’s a waste. A gorgeous blonde amazon woman like you oughta be home every night, bein’ spoiled rotten by a man who appreciates and worships you.”

  She laughed. “Now there’s a fantasy.”

  “If I was fifty years younger…”

  “I’d take you up on it.” And she would, no lie. Her love life—for lack of a better term—was a joke. She’d had one date in the last six months since she’d returned to Sundance. A pity date from the plumber who installed a new toilet at the Wyoming Natural Resources Council office where she worked.

  She’d jumped out of the dating pool for almost a year when she’d been with Dillon. While she had no regrets about breaking off their engagement, she was lonely. She missed the companionship, even when that companionship was what had driven her away.

  Rory kept telling herself that it was better to be dateless and alone than married to the wrong man. Some days it empowered her. Other days it depressed her.

  Her love life wasn’t the only source of melancholy. Twenty-eight years old, with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, and she was still slinging drinks for tips. She was still living in the same small hometown in the same small cabin she’d grown up in.

  The more things changed the more they stayed the same.

  But she’d had a full, exciting life in college, which made it worse, living in Dullsville, USA again. She’d joined several exchange programs during grad school, which had added almost two years to the time it took to earn her degree. But it’d been worth it, seeing the world outside of Wyoming. She’d spent half a year in South America studying tropical land conservation practices. She’d lived on a large cattle ranch on the big island of Hawaii. She’d mapped wildlife habitats and migration patterns in Alaska and Canada.

  After graduation she’d interned for a year with the Wyoming State Parks Department. But the hiring freeze meant she didn’t land a permanent job after the internship ended. Her relationship with Dillon, her boss in the WSPD office in Cheyenne, had hit the skids at the same time, so taking a part-time position with the WNRC in Moorcroft had been a no brainer. Her living expenses were next to nothing. Working part-time gave her time to apply for jobs all over the country, with every agency under the sun.

  Pity she hadn’t bothered sending off any applications in the past month—she could only take so much rejection. Maybe that was another sign of depression? Or boredom? She knew it wasn’t a sign of contentment.

  At least her mom seemed happy to have her around, although she and her husband, Gavin, were joined at the hip and lips when they weren’t traveling across the country. Most of her friends in the area were married or in a steady relationship. Even her stepsister Sierra was all grown up and living in Arizona while she attended ASU. Rory got a little misty-eyed thinking about when Sierra had shown up at the Twin Pines with her dad and Rory’s mom on her twenty-first birthday so Rory could make her first legal drink. She missed that sweet little brat.

  “Rory? You are a sight for my tired old eyes today.”

  She looked up at a new customer and grinned. “If it isn’t Donald, my favorite bald man. What’s up?”

  “The wind for one thing. Getting cold out there.” He rubbed his hands together.

  “You want the usual?”

  “Nope. I’m feeling daring tonight. How about you add an extra kick to my red beer? A couple slices of jalapeños, some of them peppers and a handful of olives.”

  “You got it.” Just like that her mood brightened. Hard to pity yourself when faced with a cancer survivor who’d been through chemotherapy hell. But Donald was always upbeat. Her favorite part of bartending was talking to customers. If she was totally honest, she hadn’t taken the bartending gig because she needed money, but to stave off loneliness. Hard to believe she could be lonely in her hometown, but she did spend many of her nonworking hours by herself. At least slinging drinks gave her some social interactions.

  Rory slid the drink in front of Donald. “Taste it. If it’s too spicy I’ll dump it out and start fresh.”

  He sipped. Smacked his lips and grinned. “Perfect. Your talent is wasted here, Rory girl. You oughta be in New York City, making killer tips as head mixologist or whatever fancy name they’re calling bartenders these days.”

  “I’ll take the compliment, but I’m too much of a bumpkin to ever work with sophisticated clientele and booze.”

  “How’re things going at the day job? You been out massaging black-footed ferrets’ poor tired feet and polishing the horns on the horn-billed prairie grouse?”

  She laughed. Like most lifelong Ag men, Donald poked fun at state wildlife and conservation agencies’ policies. But unlike other men she’d run across, he meant it tongue-in-cheek. “I can always hope that’s on my to-do list at the office tomorrow.”

  “If you catch one, let me know. My wife’s got a killer recipe for poached grouse.”


  Rory groaned at his pun.

  An hour later the crowd had dwindled. She asked Naomi, the manager, to watch the bar so she could take a break.

  As she left the bathroom, a hulking guy barreled toward her. His hair was as unkempt as his scraggly beard. She flattened herself against the wall to let him pass, but he boxed her in. At six foot one, she was used to towering over most men. But this ZZ Top impersonator topped her by two inches.

  Then he was in her face.

  “Look, buddy, I don’t know what you want, but I don’t have any cash on me and if you don’t back off, I’ll—”

  “Rory.”

  She froze. That deep voice. The way he said her name reminded her of… No. Couldn’t be him. He’d just up and disappeared from her life three years ago without a word and as far as she knew, no one knew where he’d gone.

  “Sweet Jesus. You’re even prettier than I remembered.” He ran his knuckles down her jawline.

  “Stop it.” Rory jerked her head away. “I don’t know who you think you are—”

  “You really don’t know who I am, do you?”

  She had a split second of recognition right before he said, “It’s me. Dalton.”

  And then he kissed her.

 
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