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Authors: Rachel Gibson

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BOOK: Crazy on You
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Always a bridesmaid. Never a bride
. That’s how everyone would see her. Everyone in her family and everyone in town. They’d pity her, and she hated that. Hated that she still gave a damn. Hated that she didn’t currently have a boyfriend to take her. Hated it so much she’d actually given some thought to renting a date. The biggest, best-looking stud she could find. Just to shut everyone up. Just so she wouldn’t have to hear the whispers and see the sideway glances, or have to explain her current manless life, but the logistics of renting a man in one state and transporting him to another hadn’t been real feasible. The ethics didn’t trouble Sadie. Men rented women all the time.

Ten miles outside Lovett, a weather vane and a part of an old fence broke up the brown-on-brown scenery. A barbed wire fence ran along the highway to the rough log-and-wrought-iron entry to the JH Ranch. Everything was as familiar as if she’d never left. Everything but the black truck on the side of the road. A man leaned one hip into the rear fender, his black clothing blending into the black paint, a ball cap shading his face beneath the bright Texas sunlight.

Sadie slowed and prepared to turn up the road to her father’s ranch. She supposed she should stop and ask if he needed help. The raised hood on the truck was a big clue that he did, but she was a lone woman on a deserted highway and he looked really big.

He straightened and pushed away from the truck. A black T-shirt fit tight across his chest and around his big biceps. Someone else would come along.

Eventually.

She turned onto the dirt road and drove through the gate. Or he could walk to town. Lovett was ten miles down the highway. She glanced in her rearview mirror as he shoved his hands on his hips and looked after her taillights.

“Damn.” She stepped on the brake. In the state only a couple of hours and already the Texas in her reared its hospitable head. It was after six. Most people would be home from work by now, and it could be minutes or hours before someone else drove by.

But . . . people had cell phones. Right? He’d probably already called someone. Through the mirror, he raised one hand from his hip and held it palm up. Maybe he was in a dead zone. She checked to make sure her doors were locked and put the car into reverse. The early evening sunlight poured through the back window as she reversed out onto the highway, then drove up alongside the road toward the big truck.

The warm light bathed the side of his face as the man moved toward her. He was the kind of guy who made Sadie a little uncomfortable. The kind who wore leather and drank beer and crushed empties on their foreheads. The kind who made her stand a little straighter. The kind she avoided like a hot fudge brownie because both were bad news for her thighs.

She stopped and hit the power button on her door handle. The window slowly lowered halfway, and she looked up. Way up past the hard muscle beneath his tight black T-shirt, his wide shoulders and thick neck. It was an hour past his five o’clock shadow, and dark whiskers shaded the bottom half of his face and his square jaw. “Trouble?”

“Yeah.” His voice came from someplace deep. Like it was dragged up from his soul.

“How long have you been stuck out here?”

“About an hour.”

“Run out of gas?”

“No,” he answered, sounding annoyed that he might be confused for the kind of guy who’d run out of gas. Like that somehow insulted his masculinity. “It’s either the alternator or timing belt.”

“Could be your fuel pump.”

One corner of his mouth twitched up. “It’s getting fuel. No power.”

“Where you headed?”

“Lovett.”

She’d figured that since there wasn’t much else down the road. Not that Lovett was much. “I’ll call you a tow truck.”

He raised his gaze and looked down the highway. “I’d appreciate it.”

She punched the number to information and got connected with B.J. Henderson’s garage. She’d gone to school with B.J.’s son, B.J. Junior, who everyone called Boner. Yeah, Boner. The last she’d heard, Boner worked for his dad. The answering machine picked up and she glanced at the clock in her dash. It was five minutes after six. She hung up and didn’t bother to call another garage. It was an hour and five minutes past Lone Star time, and Boner and the other mechanics in town were either at home or holding down a barstool.

She looked up at the man, past that amazing chest, and figured she had two choices. She could take the stranger to her daddy’s ranch and have one of her father’s men take him into town, or take him herself. Driving to the ranch would take ten minutes up the dirt road. It would take twenty to twenty-five to take him into town.

She stared into the shadow cast over his profile. She’d rather a stranger didn’t know where she lived. “I have a stun gun.” It was a lie, but she’d always wanted one.

He looked back down at her. “Excuse me?”

“I have a stun gun and I’ve been trained to use it.” He took a step back from the car and she smiled. “I’m deadly.”

“A stun gun isn’t a deadly weapon.”

“What if I set it really high?”

“Can’t set it high enough to kill unless there is a preexisting condition. I don’t have a preexisting condition.”

“How do you know all that?”

“I used to be in security.”

Oh. “Well, it will hurt like hell if I have to zap your ass.”

“I don’t want my ass zapped, lady. I just need a tow into town.”

“Garages are all closed.” She tossed her phone in the cup holder. “I’ll drive you into Lovett, but you have to show me some identification first.”

Annoyance pulled one corner of his mouth as he reached into the back pocket of his Levi’s, and for the first time, her gaze dropped to his five-button fly.

Good Lord
.

Without a word, he pulled out a driver’s license and passed it through the window.

Sadie might have cause to feel a little pervy about staring at his impressive package if it hadn’t been sort of framed in her window. “Great.” She punched up a few numbers on her cell and waited for Renee to pick up. “Hi, Renee. It’s Sadie again. Gotta pen?” She looked at the hunk of man junk in front of her and waited. “I’m giving a stranded guy a ride into town. So, write this down.” She gave her friend the Washington driver’s license number and added, “Vincent James Haven. 4389 North Central Avenue, Kent, Washington. Hair: brown. Eyes: green. Six foot and a hundred and ninety pounds. Got it? Great. If you don’t hear from me in an hour, call the Potter County sheriff’s office in Texas and tell them I’ve been abducted and you fear for my life. Give them the information that I just gave you.” She shut the phone and handed the ID through the window. “Get in. I’ll drop you off in Lovett.” She looked up into the shadow of his hat. “And don’t make me use my stun gun on you.”

“No ma’am.” One corner of his mouth slid up as he took his driver’s license and slid it back into his wallet. “I’ll just get a duffel.”

Her gaze dropped to the back pockets of his jeans as he turned and shoved his wallet inside. Nice chest. Great butt, handsome face. If there was one thing she knew about men, one thing she’d learned from being single all these years, it was that there were several different types of men. Gentlemen, regular guys, charming dogs, and dirty dogs. The only true gentlemen in the world were purebred nerds who were gentlemen in the hopes of someday getting laid. The man grabbing a duffel from the cab of his truck was too good-looking to be a purebred anything. He was likely one of those tricky hybrids.

She hit the door locks, then he tossed a green military duffel into the backseat. He got in the front, and set off the seat belt alarm, filling up the Saab with his broad shoulders and the annoying
bong bong bong
of the belt alarm.

She put the car into drive, then pulled a U-turn out onto the highway. “Ever been to Lovett, Vincent?”

“No.”

“You’re in for a treat.” She pulled on a pair of sunglasses and stepped on the gas. “Put on your seat belt, please.”

“Are you going to zap me with your stun gun if I don’t?”

“Possibly. Depends on how annoyed I get by the seat belt alarm between here and town.” She adjusted the gold aviators on the bridge of her nose. “And I should warn you in advance, I’ve been driving all day, so I’m already annoyed.”

He chuckled and belted himself in. “You headed to Lovett yourself?”

“Unfortunately.” She glanced at him out of the corners of her eyes. “I was born and raised here but I escaped when I was eighteen.”

He pushed up the bill of his hat and looked across his shoulder at her. His driver’s license had stated that his eyes were green and they were. A light green that wasn’t quite spooky. More unsettling, as he stared back at her from that very masculine face. “What brings you back?” he asked.

“Wedding.” Unsettling in a way that made a girl want to twist her hair and put on some red lip gloss. “My cousin’s getting married.” Her younger cousin. “I’m a bridesmaid.” No doubt the other bridesmaids were younger, too. They’d probably arrive with a date. She’d be the only single one. Old and single. A “Welcome to Lovett, Texas, Y’all” sign marked the city limits. It had been painted a bright blue since the last time she’d been home.

“You don’t look happy about it.”

She’d been out of Texas too long if her “uglies” were showing. According to her mother, “uglies” were any emotions that weren’t pretty. A girl could have them. Just not show them. “The dress is meant for someone ten years younger than me and is the color of Bubble Yum.” She glanced out the driver’s side window. “What brings you to Lovett?”

“Pardon?”

She glanced at him as they passed a used car lot and a Mucho Taco. “What brings you to Lovett?”

“Family.”

“Who’re your people?”

“Person.” He pointed to the Gas and Go across the street. “You can drop me off there.”

She cut across two lanes and pulled into the parking lot. “Girlfriend? Wife?”

“Neither.” He squinted and looked out the windshield at the convenience store. “Why don’t you go ahead and call your friend Renee, and tell her you’re still in one piece.”

She pulled to a stop in an empty slot next to a white pickup and reached into the cup holder. “Don’t want the sheriff knocking on your door?”

“Not on my first night.” He unbuckled the belt and opened the passenger door. His feet hit the pavement and he stood.

She could practically smell the popcorn from the Gas and Go as she punched in Renee’s number. Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” played in her ear until her assistant answered. “I’m not dead.” Sadie pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head. “I’ll see you in the office on Monday.”

The rear door opened and he pulled out his duffel. He dumped it on the curb, then closed the door. He placed his hands on the roof of the car, then leaned down and looked through the car at her. “Thanks for the ride. I appreciate it. If there’s any way I can repay you, let me know.”

It was the kind of thing people said and never meant. Like asking, “How are you?” when no one really gave a crap. She looked across at him, into his light green eyes and dark masculine face. Everyone in town had always said she had more nerve than sense. “Well, there is one thing.”

 

And if you want to read about Lily’s sister, Daisy,

don’t miss DAISY’S BACK IN TOWN

Available from Avon Books

 

A
BOUT THE
A
UTHOR

 

RACHEL GIBSON lives in Idaho with her husband, three kids, two cats, and a dog of mysterious origin. She began her fiction career at age 16, when she ran her car into the side of a hill, retrieved the bumper, and drove to a parking lot, where she strategically scattered the car’s broken glass all about. She told her parents she’d been the victim of a hit-and-run and they believed her. She’s been making up stories ever since, although she gets paid better for them nowadays.

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A
LSO BY
R
ACHEL
G
IBSON

 

Rescue Me

Any Man of Mine

Nothing But Trouble

True Love and Other Disasters

Not Another Bad Date

Tangled Up In You

I’m In No Mood For Love

Sex, Lies, and Online Dating

The Trouble With Valentine’s Day

Daisy’s Back in Town

See Jane Score

Lola Carlyle Reveals All

True Confessions

It Must Be Love

Truly Madly Yours

Simply Irresistible

BOOK: Crazy on You
13.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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