Cole Dawson really should grab his bags and get on that Greyhound tomorrow. 3 weeks as Tabby Grey’s prop cowboy and pseudo-bodyguard on her western book-signing tour has just about done him in. She’s smart, focused – and beautiful. In body and in spirit, and he just can’t get enough.
And man, can she write! Well, he’s been lugging around the boxes of her best-selling cowboy erotica book all this time – wasn’t he entitled to a peek? Or to devour the whole damn thing? If she really can do all that…
The cowboy and Canadian army reservist needs to head home to the family ranch, his military duties and GET HER OUT OF HIS HEAD.
Cole Dawson is Tabitha Grey’s dream come true. Hands down. Stalwart, strong and sexy – and surprisingly, not a jerk. Decent, kind…
…and gawd. OH SO LICKABLE.
A lickable cowboy. Damn it. Just what she needs.
He’s been driving her crazy. And the tour is over tomorrow – then it’s ba-bye. Forever.
She should make a move. Plant one on those handsome lips. Sidle closer. Anything.
But Tabby Grey is hiding a secret. One she can’t bear for the man she’s head over cowboy boot heels in love with to find out. It would simply do her in.
Because if he knew – what would he do about it?
Holy Hell. Walking into the wrong motel room had never looked like this before.
Tabby Grey stood in the darkened bedroom and stared straight ahead as the pulse from her hammering heart threatened to jump through the skin at the base of her throat.
In the bathroom, in front of the vanity. Sliding those faded blue jeans off solid thighs. The dusting of black hair above his navel arrowing to disappear beneath those black briefs.
Cole Dawson. In the flesh.
Her tongue. Had she swallowed it?
Common sense assailed her. She should turn around now, get the hell out of there as fast as her legs could carry her.
The jeans slipped lower. The guy she’d spent three weeks fantasizing about—the prop cowboy her editor had hired to accompany her on her book tour throughout the western areas of the US and Canada, for a ‘touch of authenticity’—kicked off his dusty blues.
She couldn’t move, even though her brain and every sense of fair play and propriety told her to run. His cock was beautifully outlined in those snug briefs. Ample, she’d say, if she was writing about it.
Her hand threatened to strangle the life out of her day bag’s strap.
Was she really standing here ogling Cole Dawson?
Not only was she impinging on his privacy, but did she really need that to moon over for the rest of her life?
While she knew men like Cole existed — she’d drooled over the photos online, quickly clicked them off when she realized she was spending way too much time eyeing and far too little time putting words on the page—she also knew there’d never been a specimen as fine so close to her in her whole work-centered life.
And since the abrupt changes in her life two years ago, there never would be, either.
The worst part of it was Cole was decent to boot. Not some fly-by-night dude, full of what he was going to accomplish in life, ignoring others. Cole Dawson was dependable. Thoughtful. A rancher and a cowboy, and a Canadian army reservist to boot.
Despite his rugged good looks and hard physique, the man was not full of himself.
And Lord, would she like to be full of him…
She hauled herself back harshly from that precipice. There was no good to be had flinging herself off that particular mountain top.
Only misery, heartbreak, and two really well-used fingers.
Her brain told her to move. Escape through the motel door, let the soundless outside door hush closed. If he looked up and saw her staring at him, she’d lose every bit of respectability she’d worked so hard to attain with him.
But hell, she couldn’t.
Didn’t matter that her cowboy erotica novel—penned while she’d been in recovery for a year—had surprised everyone, most of all herself, by being the crazy breakout sex book of the year.
Tabitha Grey, newcomer at twenty-five, takes erotica to new heights, Publisher’s Weekly had said.
And take that, she’d mouthed to her loser ex-fiancé, who’d dumped her after the accident.
But the success hadn’t changed the fabric of her life. At all. The sad truth was that for all her stories of hot and imaginative encounters, she hadn’t had a real encounter of her own for way too long.
And there he was. The perfect cowboy.
Literally in the flesh.
A deep desire surfaced in her. If only everything that had happened since the accident wasn’t carved stone-hard in her life. A painful fact.
Wearing only his trademark Stetson and those skin-molding briefs, Cole now leaned over the tub, yanked the flimsy curtain aside, and she vaguely registered the noise of the water pounding in the tub as the steam built and started filling the room.
Or was that the blood pounding in her ears?
Those powerful thighs working even with so simple an action as bending over made her drool. His ass, normally wrapped in worn blue jeans, was front and center, the knit fabric hugging it lovingly.
And muscles. Skin glistened from the tiny water droplets that clung to them, and she couldn’t yank her gaze away.
She’d spent most every hot July night thinking of what that man would look like naked. How he might use his considerable talents to take care of the one thing she longed for the most. The one thing she knew no matter how much money or fame she got from the sale of that book, she’d never have.
While that was certainly a mind-blowing prospect with him, it still wasn’t the whole enchilada. No, sex, sadly, was easy, if you weren’t overly fussy. She got offers all the time from all kinds of losers since The Book had released and, crazily, become a best-seller.
But none of the guys appealed. Hell, she was just barely over twenty-five, and yet her personal life was already over. Sex – sure, she’d had sex.
But the fire that every woman longed for, deep down, from eighteen to eighty—that was a different story. Real heat, based on actual connection with someone who really cared, and who’d be there through thick and thin—that wasn’t so easy to come by.
That particular item had never come her way, even though she’d tried to tell herself she’d had it with her loser ex. And ever since the accident…
Cole let the curtain fall closed, ran his fingers over the waistband of the briefs. Slipped his fingers in under and pulled. Down.
God. Did he know she was watching?
No matter. She couldn’t pull her gaze away now. His cock came into full view. Sprang erect, unfettered. Long.
And now she really was frozen. She stood there and longing slammed into her. Desire. Need.
Horror. He stepped aside, out of the briefs, and she registered a woman, mouth unattractively open, staring at her from the vanity mirror behind him.
He started to raise his head, a slight grin on his face, the five-o’clock shadow making his jaw oh so lickable. He turned, a wisp of a degree towards her.
Shock slammed through her.
She couldn’t end the tour, just before their last day together, like this—as a sex-starved voyeur.
The practicality she’d been known for her entire life suddenly made an appearance like a tornado rushing through her. She moved faster than a woman determined to not ruin the one thing she had left in the whole wide world—her pride—and got the freakin’ hell out of there.
A REAL MAN (A series opener novella)
REAL MEN #1