Authors: Joanna Wylde
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An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Catherine’s Awakening Copyright © 2008 Joanna Wylde
Edited by Briana St. James.
Cover art by Willo.
Electronic book Publication December 2008
The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of Ellora’s Cave Publishing.
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.
This book is dedicated to Lori, who helped me find the Oxford English Dictionary.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the
following workmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:
Levi’s: Levis Strauss & Co.
Near Forth Worth, Texas, 1867
“Dammit all to hell, hold the horse steady!”
Wade’s profane shout burned Catherine’s ears.
, she thought, disgusted. But
not her problem, at least for the moment. Putting him out of her mind, she resumed her
stalking through the hayloft, hunting for the newest batch of kittens. From below a
horse whinnied loudly and she froze. It sounded like Ginger, her mare. Catherine ran
over to the hayloft window, standing on her toes to see, and looked out across the
paddock. Sure enough, there was Ginger. Catherine’s brother-in-law, Wade Masters,
had her on a lead, steadying her as one of the ranch hands ran across the dusty ground
toward the gate. Two others stood by in the dust, watching. In the background she
heard a stallion trumpet.
What was Wade doing with Ginger?
She studied him, which was a mistake. His tall form was covered in dust and sweat,
but even from the hayloft he looked better than any man should. The thin fabric of his
shirt clung to his work-toughened body, outlining his every feature. Work-hardened,
strong as the horses he loved so much, unwilling to compromise. Everything about him
called to her, and she hated him for it. Wade made her gut twist with longing, and
watching the play of his body as he held the horse firm didn’t help. Ginger reared up,
and his broad-rimmed hat flew off his head. He steadied her, speaking in gentle,
soothing tones that ran right along Catherine’s spine, making her wonder just how
good he might sound next to a woman in the middle of the night.
She shook her head, warding off the thoughts. She might be a widow, but it still
wasn’t decent, the way she sometimes dreamed about Wade. No good woman would
spend her meals studying his firm, full lips across the dinner table. And a prudent
woman wouldn’t take an extra ten minutes every time she trimmed his sun-streaked
brown hair in the kitchen, running her fingers through the soft locks and imagining
them against her stomach.
The ranch hand swung open the gate and led Wade’s stallion, Baron, into the
fenced area. Suddenly she realized what was going on down there—Wade was going to
breed Ginger to Baron. Catherine’s eyes narrowed in anger.
“Wade Masters, you stop that right now!” she yelled out the window without a
second thought. The men looked up at her, startled, and then a slow grin stole across
Wade’s handsome face.
“You want to help breed the horses, Cat?” he called back, his tone taunting. “I
didn’t know ladies liked to watch these things, but we can use the help.”
Anger washed through Catherine and she gritted her teeth, even as she felt a hot
blush rising across her face. Women didn’t talk about horse breeding. But Wade knew
exactly how she felt about Ginger. They’d discussed it last week. She didn’t want the
mare bred this season. She needed time to recover from her last foal. Not to mention
that Catherine wanted Ginger in good riding condition. If she got that teaching job in
town, she’d need her. She hadn’t mentioned teaching to Wade just yet, but that didn’t
mean she had to just sit back and let Wade wreck everything by getting her mare
pregnant. Catherine stormed across the loft to the ladder, only to find Wade climbing
up toward her.
“What’s happening with Ginger?” she asked, toying with the idea of kicking him
back down to the barn floor if she didn’t like the answer. Perhaps her intentions showed
in her face, because he didn’t answer her until he’d pulled himself up into the loft.
“Go to the window and see for yourself,” he said, nodding toward the opening.
She shot him a suspicious look, then headed back to the window. José, another of
the hands, had taken Wade’s place holding Ginger’s lead, clicking at her as the other
hand brought in Baron.
“Wade, you have to tell them to stop,” Catherine said, whirling around to confront
him, too angry to feel embarrassed. He’d come up behind her, though, and she found
herself face-to-face with him, far too close for comfort.
“It’s too late, he already has her scent,” Wade said. His voice was low and smooth,
holding just a touch of condescending exasperation. She hated that tone. Bully. The man
was as full of himself now as he’d been as a ten-year-old taunting her,
“Here, kitty Cat,
before catching her and pulling her braids. But soon she’d be rid of him. The
teacher’s job came with a
“She’s fine, look for yourself,” he continued, and something in his tone caught her
attention. She looked up at him, really looking this time, and realized her studied her
far too closely. His face was hard, brown from years of sun, his eyes cold with the
shadows they’d held since coming home from the war. Their green color startled her, as
they always did. He focused on her face so intently it was uncomfortable. And he was
too tall, looming over her, making her feel small and powerless.
To avoid facing him, she turned back toward to the window to watch her mare. The
gentle female had gone still as Baron sidled up next to her, intently sniffing, nudging
her with his nose. The ranch hands continued holding the leads, but they kept them
loose, allowing the horses some space. Baron reared up just a little, and Catherine saw
the mare twitch her tail to one side. They were about to mate, right in front of her, and
while she’d seen animals breeding before, she wasn’t prepared to witness it with Wade.
Dear heavens, they had too much tension between them already.
But Wade stepped closer to her, putting one hand on the window frame on either
side of her head, trapping her. She felt his hot breath on the back of her neck as he
leaned forward to speak low and soft.
“Ginger knows what she wants,” he said. “She’s not afraid of Baron. You don’t
need to worry about her, Cat. She’s doing what she was designed to do.”
The words sent a shiver right down her spine, tickling her all the way to her toes.
Enough was enough, she shouldn’t stay here and watch. It wasn’t proper. Ginger
squealed again, and then Baron reared up and covered her. Catherine’s eyes widened as
she saw the dark length of the stallion’s enormous penis lengthen.
“I can’t believe how big it is,” she said softly, and blushed fiercely, damning her
stupid tongue. Why did she always blurt out what she was thinking? Other girls never
said foolish things like that, yet she’d been doing it all her life. Wade chuckled in her
ear, and moved closer in, crowding her body against the wall. She felt the heat of him
against her back, and in that moment her worst suspicions were confirmed.
Wade wanted her, the way a man wants a woman.
The way Catherine wanted him too.
The length of his body was hot against her, all too easy to feel through the thin
fabric of her work clothes. Her mama had always warned her that leaving off her corset
and petticoats would cause her trouble. But who could bear wearing the hot garments
doing chores around the ranch? She’d planned to put them back on after returning to
the ranch house. After all, respectable teachers always wore their stays… And now
would be a real good time to head home and put them on, she thought. She pushed
back against Wade, trying to free herself. Instead of giving, he moved closer, and the
unmistakable feel of his hard erection pushing against her butt grew so prominent that
she couldn’t pretend not to feel it.
“You don’t need to worry about her,” Wade said. Catherine glanced down at the
stallion as he reared up over her mare, then closed her eyes resolutely.
“Ladies don’t see things like this,” she said, hoping it would go quickly. He gave a