Hello my darlings! It’s time for another hot cowboy from Shadow Maverick Ranch!
Thank you to all the readers who’ve given my guys at Shadow Maverick a home. In appreciation, I’ve written a bonus short story, White Collar Wedding, that will be available for $0.99, exclusively from Amazon for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. Stay tuned for the cover reveal, and the wedding is November 18th!
In the meantime, how about a little hotness from the ranch? Here’s a sample of what you can expect from Clayton Mathis in Cowboy Redeemed.
The Texas sun was in full force by the time Ainsley finished in the barn. Her clothes were soaked with sweat. She smelled like a horse and probably had hay sticking out of her hair like a scarecrow. And she felt fantastic.
Her muscles ached, but in the deeply satisfied way only achieved through physical exertion. Not the physical activity she’d hoped for once Clay had shown up unexpectedly this morning, but her work in the barn had done the trick in burning off her libido and filling her with a sense of accomplishment.
Using the hose, Ainsley rinsed off her arms and shook the excess water from her hands. She locked the paddock gate behind her and started the walk back to the house. Her grumbling stomach convinced her to swing by the kitchen long enough to make a sandwich before she headed into the garden.
As she neared the house, a soft bang sounded.
Ainsley stopped, cocked her head, and listened. Nothing. She resumed her walk, only to stumble three steps later when the sound echoed again.
What in the world?
Ainsley took off running. When she rounded the house, she came to a dead halt.
The place where her porch had been was now a mangled mess of discarded, rotted lumber. The steps were gone. The path to the front door? Yeah, gone.
And there on his hands and knees, shirtless and glistening with sweat, was Clay Mathis. All tanned, bulging biceps, and ropes of muscle undulating as he swung the hammer in his hand.
Bang, bang, riiiip.
Another board went flying.
Ainsley was stunned. A truck bed filled with lumber was parked next to the house. Panic threatened. She’d have to dip into the operational account to pay for that kind of purchase, which meant less money to pay what little help she’d managed to keep.
Bang, bang, riiiip.
“What the hell are you doing?”
Clay straightened his back. His mouth curled into a sexy smile when he saw her. “What’s it look like? I’m fixing your porch.”
“I didn’t ask you to fix anything. Put it back the way you found it.”
He wiped his hands down the front of his jeans and stood. “No can do. Jesus, Ainsley. You’re lucky you haven’t hurt yourself. Some of the boards disintegrated the minute I touched them. Even if they hadn’t, there’s no way I’d put it back. Damn thing was a death trap.”
“So you just decided to take it upon yourself to fix it? Without asking me?” From the looks of it, he’d been at it for a while.
“Pretty much, yep.”
Beyond irritated, she snapped. “And how much is all of this going to cost me?”
His eyes darkened as he looked her over, head to boots and back again. Ainsley’s cheeks heated as she waited for him to come out and say what was clear from his expression. The arrogant bastard wanted sex for fixing her porch.
Ainsley’s stomach flipped. She wanted him, but sleeping with him to resolve a debt came too close to whore territory. No thank you.
He jumped down, his long legs eating the distance between them in no time. “Hey, it’s okay.” He ducked his head to capture her gaze. “It’s not going to cost you a thing, Ainsley.”
“Then what was that look about?”
“Damn, you’re suspicious. I was just enjoying the view, darlin’. You look mighty pretty with dirt on your cheeks and straw in your hair.” He reached up and pulled a stray piece from her hair and let it drift to the ground. “What’cha been doing to get so dirty?”
Her nipples tightened.
How does he do that?
“I cleaned out the barn. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile, but hadn’t gotten around to.” She stepped back, needing distance while they talked. “I won’t let you pay to fix my porch, Clay.” As much as it would set her back, she’d make it right.
He waved an arm toward the truck. “The lumber didn’t cost anything. It’s left over from a deck my brother and I built a few years back. I kept the leftovers for a project I don’t have time for. Honestly, by using the lumber to fix your decrepit porch, you’re saving me the guilt of having an unfinished project hanging over my head.”
“I can’t let you do this for nothing. If you won’t let me pay for the lumber, then I’ll pay for your time.” She wouldn’t be indebted to him. Not in any way.
He seemed to consider that for a minute. “You know how to cook?”
Ainsley puffed out a laugh at his unexpected question. “Yes.”
“Then my fee is dinner.” He patted his flat stomach. “And don’t laugh. I’m a hearty eater. It’ll take me a few more hours to shore up the frame and add the new decking. I’ll need a shower when I get finished, but if you don’t mind me using yours—it’ll save me the drive home and back—we can eat before nightfall.”
The image of Clay in her shower hit her. With his height, he’d have to bend his knees to accommodate the showerhead. She imagined him, rivulets of water racing over his muscular body, the scent of her soap on his skin. Would he stroke his length to full erection and picture it was her hand instead of his own? Would he want her to join him?
Ainsley shifted. “And this is how you wanted to spend your Sunday?” She doubted it as much as she doubted his story about the lumber. He’d said his interest in her had nothing to do with his brother’s attempts to convince her to sell. Did she believe him? Or was this another attempt to gain her compliance? Improving the house added to the value, didn’t it? If Clay were in cahoots with his brother, he could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. Add value to the house while endearing her to him with the gesture.
“The scenery is better here than at my place.” His voice turned thick, husky. “And we have some unfinished business to explore.”
“So, how about it?” He stuck his hand out. “Have we got a deal?”
Ainsley studied his tanned face. The sharp angle of his jaw, the curve of his nose, eyes dark as coffee. He stared at her with a mixture of interest and amusement. There was no indication he was anything but sincere.
No sense fighting the inevitable. She’d started them down this path when she’d tried to pick him up last night. They were adults. And she wanted him.
“I planned to make spaghetti tonight.”
“None of that store-bought crap. I make my own sauce from ingredients out of my garden.”
“Even better.” He twitched his hand. “You gonna leave me hanging?”
Her sex clenched. Oh no, she wouldn’t leave him hanging. Not now, not later. She placed her hand in his and gave it a shake. “You’ve got a deal, but this is the last time you pull a stunt like this. If I need something fixed, I’ll take care of it. This ranch, this house—both are my responsibility. Got it?”
Even as she scolded him, a strange sense of satisfaction settled in her chest. She would take care of him tonight, in more ways than one. Her hands would create something to sustain him, while later, those same hands would give him relief—a massage for his strained muscles—and release—while she stroked him.
Ainsley wasn’t a girly-girl, but the innately feminine part of her purred at the knowledge she’d know him intimately before the day was through.
Clay jerked her against him, brows lifted. “What’re you thinking about, Ains? ’Cause I gotta tell you, the sexy expression on your face has me intrigued.”
The way he shortened her name made her heart flutter. She curled her arms around his neck and went up on her toes. “I’m thinking I’ve got a half-naked, sweaty cowboy all to my little ole self.”
The arrogant, panty-melting smirk made a reappearance. “That right? What’re you gonna do about it?”
Ainsley didn’t wait for him to take the lead. She dove in, lips first, and took the kiss she craved.
Clay didn’t disappoint. She half expected him to wrestle her for control. He didn’t. Instead, he kept his hold on her firm, but not pushy. His mouth opened at her insistence, and he seemed content to let her explore—his teeth, his tongue, his lips—to her heart’s content.
And explore she did. Not only with her mouth. She speared her fingers through his sweat-soaked hair and massaged his scalp with her fingertips. She traced the curve of his ear, tugging slightly when she reached the lobe. His broad shoulders were slick and hard. The light smattering of dark chest hair tickled her palms as she moved over the curves of his pecs. She took her time, learned what he liked by the rumble in his chest.
When she swiped a thumb over the flat disc of his nipple, his breath hitched. He stilled her roaming hands, nipped her bottom lip, and pulled away.
“Unless you’re prepared for me to fuck you right here in the dirt, your clever little hands better take a rest.”
She blinked. “What if I said I wanted you to fuck me right here in the dirt?”
He groaned and dropped his forehead to hers. “I’d say you’re an evil woman. I’d say give me the word and I’ll have you on your hands and knees. I’ll yank your shorts down and shove my dick so far inside you, you’ll feel me for a week. And I won’t give a shit if anyone sees us.”
Cowboy Redeemed is available now!
Until next time…