Cocky Cowboy: A Second Chance Romance (Cocker Brothers of Atlanta Book 3)

BOOK: Cocky Cowboy: A Second Chance Romance (Cocker Brothers of Atlanta Book 3)
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Cocky Cowboy
A Second Chance Romance
Faleena Hopkins
Hop Hop Publications

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the express written permission of the publisher. Reasonable portions may be quoted for review purposes.

Cover Image licensed from Shutterstock.com

Cover Designed by Faleena Hopkins

Published by Hop Hop Publications

Copyright © 2016 Faleena Hopkins

All rights reserved.

Cocky Cowboy

A
dd Jaxson’s
Cocky Cowboy
to Goodreads via his hot pic. And at the end of this exciting love story is a link to join my list for free bonus scenes to this book. See you there!

Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.

William Shakespeare

Rachel

A
s we stroll past
a tented farmers market stand overflowing with vibrant vegetables of every color, Ryan too loudly says, “Bullshit way to charge more money for fucking broccoli.”  

I glance away from a shiny, violet-colored eggplant I was admiring to the hand-written sign Ryan’s pointing at:
Organic Or Bust. 

I roll my eyes. 

At my boyfriend, not the veggies.  

His expression glints with elitism as he mutters, “
Organic’s
a crock. Just a new way to get people’s money using scare tactics.

He moves on and I follow, itching to remind him of the scientific studies as well as the logic that back up the claim humans should not be ingesting poison that kills bugs. Or that kills anything else for that matter. Pretty sure killing-agents shouldn’t be lightly sprinkled over food I plan to put in my stomach. 

I could then suggest he’d never see himself sucking on a roach motel, right? Just nibbling away while shouting at the latest episode of Shark Tank? 

But I’m not in the mood for a debate. 

Instead I just smile and mark the secret, invisible scorecard I’ve begun to keep during this weekend trip to Atlanta. 

I will zip my trap and bite my tongue while finding solace here in this lovely, sweet-smelling, sun-splashed outdoor market. It’s peaceful. People are here to sell things they love to make and grow. It calms my soul to watch them. 

Usually when I come to these, even in New York, I realize I’m breathing more deeply than I have in weeks. 

Hell, maybe months.

That’s what I’m looking forward to. Breathing deeply. Relaxing. Not wanting to punch my boyfriend in the face.

It started when he called my parents’ new house they just bought in a lovely upscale neighborhood in Atlanta a ‘suburban jail cell.’ He did that as the Lyft driver dropped us off. I took the handle of my suitcase and started rolling away without a word, trying to ignore his comment. 

I’m very protective of my mom and dad…and of this city, so the scorecard appeared albeit uninvited.

At first my mother beamed at my handsome, lawyer boyfriend like he was a god. “Mom, this is Ryan.” 

“Well, hellloooooo!”  

“Mrs. Sawyer, I can see where Rachel gets her beauty.”

Even though only Dad has the Georgian accent, Mom drawled, “Oh, aren’t you sweet.” She chose that moment to adopt one.

And there I was proudly basking in the successful introduction and tucking my scorecard away for good. Or so I thought. 

When they asked why he’d never driven to upstate New York with me to meet them when they lived there, he said, “If it’s not in Manhattan I don’t go.” As they stared at him, in a home in another state altogether (which made no sense under his argument) he dryly added, “Besides, who has a car?” 

“You could rent one,” my father offered.

“Meh.” 

I was used to him acting that way, but seeing their faces, I was mortified. Meh???

The evening maintained its downward trajectory. 

  • He didn’t open my car door when my dad held Mom’s. 
  • Answered his phone right at the table while I pretended it didn’t bother me. 
  • Checked his work emails about a hundred times, sometimes swearing under his breath and never once apologizing as conversation was suspended.
  • Cut me off when I was talking, but didn’t notice as my mom’s eyes went dead in response. 
  • Didn’t offer to help pay at dinner, which was very weird and awkward on many levels. I started to pull out my card and at my Mom’s face, I slipped it back away. 

All things he normally does that I never notice, mind you, save for paying for the bill.
That
he always does when we’re alone. I’m guessing his parents buy the meal when he goes out with them. But to my parents he just looked cheap.

To watch my Mom’s opinion of him disintegrate was painful, and there was nothing I could do about it. With each infraction she shot me aggravated looks that grew less subtle over time until she was flat out rolling her eyes and strumming on the table while my father just glared at the top of Ryan’s head since it was once again buried into his phone.

My spirits sunk. 

Once your eyes open it’s very difficult to shut them. Believe me, I've been trying.

He’s at minus twenty-three points now, and it’s only Saturday morning. It’s not looking good.

However, it’s a new day. I have a lot to be thankful for, and can put last night behind us. Ryan and I have a good thing. Every one of our friends in Manhattan thinks so. Until this trip, so did I. 

I will enjoy this beautiful market and let all my anger and disappointment slide away like water off a duck. That’s the plan as we make our way deeper into the market.

The appetizing sizzles of Crepe Masters get skimmed over by my disinterested man. 

So does the sweet aroma of Indigo Bath & Body. 

I point to a blacksmith’s stand selling abandoned Georgia Railroad nails found and twisted into the coolest bottle openers with his furnaces and tools, photographs of the process pinned to the tent’s walls.

“Those look like keys to a fantasy world,” I smile.

“No they don’t,” Ryan mutters, finally spotting something he wants – Banjo Cold Brew Coffee. His sharp brown eyes light up and with a tug of my hand he guides me to the small umbrella-covered cart, our fingers loosely held together. 

Pulling out his Bottega Veneta wallet he asks me, “Want one?” 

“No, thank you.” A breeze picks up a stray lock of my sandy-brown hair, and I tuck it behind my ear. 

Distracted by the smiling hipster asking if he wants cream, Ryan turns around, declines, takes the cup then mutters, “I doubt this’ll be as good as New York coffee,” heading off like he didn’t just insult the guy to his face. 

Minus twenty-four points now. Dammit. 

I grab a packet of sugar and follow him, irritated to the point where I have to say something. On a forced laugh I mumble, “Baby, you can be a real jerk sometimes.” 

Laugh or no, there may have been a detectable pinch of resentment in there. 

He side-eyeballs me. “What’d I do?” 

“Rye, you insulted that coffee guy. And the people with the veggie stand.” Off his surprised look, I hastily add, “I get it. I’m a snob, too, but I don’t broadcast it.” 

He chuckles and takes a careful sip, blowing on it first. “Then you’re duplicitous.” 

“Says the lawyer,” I smile with a shake of the sugar packet before handing it to him. 

His chuckle shifts to full-blown laughter, partly because he loves that I remembered his sweet tooth. 

He leans over and kisses me long and slow before taking the sugar.

Now that kiss was a surprise. 

Maybe all we needed was for me to call him on his crap.

As he empties the raw crystals into his paper cup, Ryan smiles his winning grin I fell in love with. “Rachel, the sooner we get back to Manhattan the better. This place, it’s too fucking charming for me. I miss the grime.”

I smile in an effort to release my mood. “We leave tomorrow evening. It’s only one more night here.” 

“Can’t we just go home today?” 

From the look on his face he’d eat the cost and jump on a plane if I said yes.

I’m considering it. I’m having a shit time and want to go home, too. But only because of him. 

Being back in the city I grew up in is very nostalgic for me and if I were here alone, I’d be having the best visit. Mom and I would be together at this market buying up everything and anything and laughing a lot. I would have had those crepes, for example. I can still smell them. The strawberries and cream beckoned to me and I let them slip by.

After he comes in for another kiss, slipping his arm around my waist, the coffee held away from my Kate Spade dress, I sigh, “Maybe we
should
go home.”

“Yeah?” 

“But my parents wouldn’t appreciate it.” 

He tempts me, “Who cares what they think,” his voice low and husky. 

Why the hell not? I feel like something’s coming between he and I…or ending. I don’t like seeing him how I do now. Part of me wants to rush to the airport and stick us back in New York where we were almost living happily ever after, especially by city standards. Most of our friends are single. 

His iPhone beeps. As Ryan steps to the left to read the incoming email, the subject is put on hold. 

I look away from him and in the distance, straight ahead, discover I’m being watched. 

An incredibly sexy man is intently staring at me from within a neatly laid-out market stand filled with artisan cheeses. 

He looks out of place in this city, like he'd be better suited on a ranch somewhere. He’s dressed in a denim button-up shirt over equally faded blue jeans held up with a large, horseshoe belt buckle. It's visible only because a small section of his shirt is accidentally tucked in. The sun dances across his striking and ruggedly tan features, the kind of golden skin that only comes from working daily in the sun. 

I cock my head trying to figure out where I know him from. 

It’s like he’s daring me to remember. 

He crosses his arms and keeps right on staring at me. As milliseconds pass his lips tighten, framed by several days worth of stubble. Emerald green eyes narrow as I hold his gaze. 

My heart stops cold.

It can’t be him.

No way.

He looks so different now I almost couldn’t place him.

But yes.

It’s him. 

Oh my God.

Ryan swears at his phone as he types a reply with one thumb, but I don’t see that because an invisible rope is slowly pulling me toward the man from my past. 

An older white-haired lady is ignored as she asks him a question about his specialized product. She turns to see what’s arrested his attention so completely and when she spots me in the same daze he’s in, she moves to leave. 

Neither of us noticed she was ever there. 

After all these years… 

Staring in wonder I breathe deeply in and whisper, “Jaxson Cocker.”

BOOK: Cocky Cowboy: A Second Chance Romance (Cocker Brothers of Atlanta Book 3)
3.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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