In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from my book:
A loud crack sounded behind her as the rodeo gates flew open. She turned, wondering if she looked like a mouse waiting for a lion in a gladiator fight… or was this a bull? Would Nash really send a bull out to save her from singing “The Star Spangled Banner” by crushing her to death?
She stepped back.
A horse charged from the gates, a wild one by the looks of things. Nash whipped the reins from side to side, galloping straight for her.
Her breath came back to her in a deep whoosh, filling her lungs as effectively as if he’d done CPR on her. Once again, he sure had succeeded at distracting her. Everyone else, too! The crowd cheered in expectation of what was going to happen to Little Miss Emily Mackenzie.
Nash rode for her with the fury of a thousand suns. Once he reached her, he pulled back on the reins. The horse reared up. This was either a show horse or one used for saddle bronc, but Nash was a cowboy through and through. He knew what he was doing. He held out his hand to her. “Get on.”
She couldn’t just ride away from here, could she?
He beckoned her toward him again. His smile broadened, showing the full devilish mischief that she’d seen on Nash’s face plenty of times before, like he didn’t care what any one of these people thought of this strange spectacle. “Trust me. Get on.”
She reached for him. His larger hand closed over hers, and he dragged her up onto the saddle in front of him, just as easily as he’d done to her with his motorcycle. The cheers were earsplitting now. He pressed his lips against her hair to find her ear. “You ready for me to destroy that prissy reputation?”
Before she could argue, he plunged his heels into the horse’s flanks and headed straight for her banner to the sound of raucous cheers. These people wanted a show, and he gave them that and more. He burst through the banner and snatched at the ends, carrying it sailing through the air behind them as he took her to the middle of the arena.
That’s when the fireworks exploded over them.
Pulling back on the reins, he leaned into her. She twisted to meet his eyes. They glittered under the flashing fireworks above them. Something in his expression mesmerized her. She felt his hands in her hair next, though this time, he stole her hat. He used the large brim to shield their faces from the spectators. His heavy breath crashed with hers. “Kiss me,” he said.
Her heart shot to her throat. Her gaze slid to his lips and the familiarity of that cocky lift at the edges with a part smile, part expectation. His other hand found her waist. Oh! She wanted to kiss him so bad.
“Kiss me,” he repeated, softer this time, more urgently.
Her lips needed to only travel a breath before they met his. Throwing out her reservations, she closed her eyes, surrendering to the pull between them. She felt his soft mouth over hers. Sparks shot through her at his touch.
She was in deep trouble.
Did he feel that current of attraction running through them, too? Her hand somehow found his widow’s peak before her fingers slid into his thick hair. It was cut shorter than his twin’s, but there was still enough to hold on to as he gave her the kiss of a lifetime. She would’ve fallen through the floor had she been standing.
She knew the moment that he’d taken away the cowboy hat from their faces because the crowd gasped, then cheered. She recognized the sound of cameras going off.
Her face felt flushed, not to mention her raw cheek felt the brunt of his facial hair. She grinned. And yeah, this might be a fake exhibition for the naysayers out there to see, but wow! That moment sure felt real to her. She liked every second of kissing Nash. He knew what he was doing. Too much.
“You’re making rescuing me into a habit,” she whispered to him.
“You call this rescuing you?” he asked. “If that’s the case, Emily, I’m here for you whenever you need me.”
A microphone was pushed up at them. An older cowboy had made his way over with a cordless mic and now he held it out to her, like it was all part of the plan. Her heart didn’t seem to crawl inside itself like it had the first time. It was too wrapped up in Nash.
She took the microphone.
Nash surprised her by kissing her again. She responded to his demanding lips with a building fire that ran through her, almost as powerful as the adrenaline pouring through her at the upcoming performance.
He pulled back, his chest heaving with his breaths. “Girl, save that for the Fourth of July!”
Did he mean that he meant to kiss her then, too?
The crowd sure seemed to think so! She couldn’t really see them, but what she could hear was supportive. Nash ran his fingers down her back and nodded encouragingly to her.
Taking a deep breath, she brought the mic to her mouth and just went for it. She belted out the notes to “The Star Spangled Banner.” Her fingers clutched tightly to his. Her back rested securely against his chest in a protective cocoon of him. She wouldn’t mind performing this way every time.
Anyone would excuse her breathlessness as coming from his kisses, and in all honesty, that might be why she was sounding a little husky.
She realized as she finished that she’d felt a lot of excitement, but hardly any fear. How could she? This just felt like a dream. She whipped around to study Nash, to really see him. He grinned.
“You did great, songbird!”
Nash was very proud of himself. He was the reason she’d been able to let go. A rush of affection overcame her, and she squeezed his fingers entwined with hers. And before she could take it back, she agreed to their reckless plan. “Yes,” she breathed out.
“Yes what?” He turned the horse around to take them back to Mia waiting in the sidelines. She noticed that he was smirking.
She laughed in return. “You know what I’m talking about!”
“I just want to hear it from you.”
She bit down her smile as the older cowboy ran after them to take the microphone. As soon as he did, she nudged Nash. “I want to um… be with you more.” He was right. Mia was, too. Faking a relationship would help her gain some footing with her audience, and maybe that might help her find her confidence, just like she had tonight.
“I thought you’d never ask.” She heard the laughter behind his voice.
All pretend… never mind that she’d never felt anything more real in her life. But she could enjoy what they had. This was Nash—he’d make sure that she did.
She gulped. Maybe this was playing with fire.
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