Release date: June/2014
College life away from home is perfect until the people she believes to be her friends turn on her. With lies and rumors threatening to suffocate her, Bia turns to her only freedom. Riding.
But one thing gets in the way of her escape. Garrett Blackwell and his bad cowboy attitude. Working at the ranch is his obligation, bugging Bia is his newfound hobby. His thick skin and easy grin don’t hide what Bia already knows—this misunderstood and lonely cowboy fights his own demons. Brushing horses’ coats and mucking out stalls shouldn’t be this sexy, and it isn’t long before he becomes a part of her distraction.
However, escaping won’t solve her problems, and it’s up to Bia to break down the fences around her and prove her strength—not to her family and friends, but to herself … and for Garrett. Because standing on her own doesn’t have to mean standing alone.
(cover linked to Goodreads)
“Time’s up,” Garrett shouted.
I pulled the reins and slowed Midnight, steering him toward the men.
I leaned over the horse and patted his neck. “Good boy.” I stopped him in front of Garrett and smiled. “He’s amazing.”
Garrett nodded, his face serious, and Tom looked at me with a frown.
I was about to ask them what happened when Garrett’s cell phone beeped. He glanced at it and sighed.
“Delilah will be here in ten minutes,” he said, jumping off the fence. “Can you cool him down, please?”
“Yeah,” I said. He stalked off and I glanced at Tom. “Something wrong?”
“When isn’t something wrong?” Tom answered before following Garrett inside the stables.
What the hell?
Midnight nickered, bringing my attention back to him. “All right, big boy.” I slipped off him. “Let’s get you cooled down for your practice.”
I didn’t take him inside to a wash stall since he would be out here again in a few minutes. I just tied his reins to a fence post, took off his saddle, and turned on the hose on the outside of the stable.
As soon as the cold water hit his hot coat, he advanced on me, in a happy gait. I laughed and got out of his way. To let him play, I untied his reins and held them in my left hand, while I hosed him with the right one.
He nipped at my shirt, biting the edge, and pulled me closer.
I laughed. “Hey. Are you trying to get me wet too?”
He nickered and I laughed louder. He tried nipping at me again and I stepped aside, turning around to escape him, and saw Garrett leaning in the stable’s doorway, watching us with his arms crossed.
That caught me by surprised, and I came to an abrupt halt, facing him. He held my stare, his expression impassive. I didn’t get him. Half an hour earlier, I could swear he was flirting with me, and now he was distant and looking at me as if I had stolen something from him.
Midnight poked his muzzle on my waist, tickling me, and I laughed again. I pushed Garrett out of my mind and turned to the horse.
We played with the water for a while, and he did manage to get my legs soaked. Droga, I didn’t have any other jeans with me. Next time, I would bring a couple of extra pants, boots, and tops.
I was about to turn off the hose when Midnight bit my shirt again and pulled me back, away from the faucet.
I laughed. “Come on, big boy. We have to get you ready.”
“What’s going on?”
A chill wave rushed through me. Midnight let go of me and neighed.
I turned around and found Delilah tapping her foot on the ground, her hands on her waist, and her blue eyes about to murder me.
“I asked, what’s going on? What are you doing with my horse?”
“I was helping Garrett. He asked me to cool Midnight down before your practice.” I walked to her, pulling the horse with me. He snorted, not wanting to come, but I jerked the reins with force. I offered her the reins. “Here. He’s all yours.”
She took the reins, still looking at me as if she was going to jump at my throat at any moment.
“Excuse me.” She took a step closer, expecting me to move from her away. Oh, there was plenty of space by my sides. I jutted my chin out and didn’t move.
With a huff, Delilah walked around me, keeping her eyes on mine until she couldn’t turn her neck any farther.
I watched as she marched to the other side of the arena, fighting with Midnight all the way. He didn’t want to go with her, but she pulled him hard and hissed at him. That was no way to treat a horse.
Garrett was going after her, but before walking on, he paused by my side and offered me a hand towel.
“You’ve got some balls,” he said, his lips turned up.
I smiled, using the towel to dry a little of my pants. “I rather think I don’t.”
He chuckled low, and I swear he almost smiled. Shaking his head, he said, “Gotta make sure the princess is well attended.” He tipped his hat and followed his half-sister to where the jumping poles were set up.