Authors: Tawny Taylor
Jerk: A Bad Boy Romance
Published by Pub Yourself Press, 2016.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
JERK: A BAD BOY ROMANCE
First edition. February 19, 2016.
Copyright © 2016 Tawny Taylor.
Written by Tawny Taylor.
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lay Walker is the bane of my existance. Ever since I was five, he has gone out of his way to make my life a living hell. He even tricked me into letting him punch my v-card.
I thought when I graduated from high school, I was saying goodbye and good riddance to him forever.
I was wrong.
When my aunt died, she left her ranch to me, forcing me to move back home. And guess who's been running the ranch for the past four years?
You guessed it.
He's every bit as panty-melting hot as the last time I saw him. Not only that, he has learned new ways of tormenting me... wicked, deliciously naughty ways.
The sexual tension that we create is turning into a battle, not only for my body, but also my heart. And if I lose, I could lose
- my self-respect, my pride, and maybe even my aunt's estate.
But if it's a battle he wants, it's a battle he's going to get. And I won't take it lying down. This time I'm going to come out on top.
Clay Walker, you jerk,
this is war!
he western sky was aflame, much like my body. At the horizon clouds stained brilliant salmony pink and dusty lavender arched overhead as my skin simmered, a blush creeping up my neck and over my face.
Clay’s kiss was a natural force, as dangerous as the wild, thrashing Colorado river. As wicked and powerful as a category five Texas tornado. And as beautiful as a Hawaiian sunset.
His kiss made me forget. It made me surrender.
My body grew heavy and warm. My knees wobbled. I flung my arms around his neck. I had to or I’d fall to the ground... or spin off into outer space. The world around us vanished. And then it was just us. Male and female. Two bodies, entwined.
He left my mouth to nip the sensitive skin of my neck and I shivered. Goose bumps prickled my arms, shoulders, chest and back. I tightened my hold on him as my knees buckled. Together we sank to the ground... or did we fly to the clouds? I didn’t know. I didn’t care. All I knew was I was in his arms and he was in mine and I was burning and gasping and trembling.
“Please,” I whispered, not even sure what I was asking for. Did I want him to stop? Did I want him to kiss me again? Yes. And yes.
“Damn, I love that sweet little voice of yours. I’ve missed it since the day you left...”
y life was over.
That was my future.
Anyone would be jealous, am I right?
The days of sprinting across campus to class, making out with drunk strangers at parties, pulling all-nighters to cram for exams, and stuffing my face full of pizza with friends were done. Over. Kaput.
I missed them already.
I missed my friends. I missed the stench of stale beer. I missed the pounding pulse of bass thrumming through my body at parties. I missed it all.
This was my life now.
Trees and more trees.
Cows and more cows.
Where were the bars? The restaurants? The people?
I couldn’t live like this for five whole years. I simply couldn’t. I needed at least the basics. A Walmart. At least one decent restaurant.
Oh, and, of course indoor plumbing.
My car rattled and bumped down the pitted gravel. Out here, in Nowheresville, better known as Dawson, Wyoming, (population, 202 people and 20,000 cattle) they didn’t even have real roads. They had dirt trails they called roads.
Okay, I knew I had no right to complain. None at all. I’d inherited a huge ranch from an aunt I hadn’t seen in years. And it was worth a lot of money...like, millions of dollars. Not every girl was so lucky.
When I was a kid I used to spend half my summer at Aunt Sandee’s ranch. Mom had said it was important I get to know my dad’s side of the family, since my dad had died when I was a baby. But that wasn’t why she’d packed me up and sent me to stay with my father’s older sister. By the time I was in seventh grade, I had figured out the real reason. She just wanted me out of her hair for a month and a half so she could live it up. But hey, I couldn’t blame her. She was young and hot and stuck with me for forty-six weeks out of the year. Those six weeks were gold.
And, to tell the truth, I didn’t mind it much. Not until I was in high school and all my friends were planning trips to the beach, parties, and bonfires, but I couldn’t be there because I had to go shovel shit at Aunt Sandee’s.
And here I was. Once again waving goodbye to all the things I had hoped to enjoy after graduation. But this time it was different. It wasn’t six weeks; it was five
. I had to stay for a minimum of five years. Then, and only then, would I inherit the rest of her estate.
Boo hoo for me, right?
Pity party over.
I turned my piece of shit car into the driveway and it rattled over the washboard ruts, clunking to a stop at the end.
Everything looked smaller than I remembered. Smaller and shittier. I shifted into park and killed the engine. As I opened the door, a gust of wind sent a thick cloud of dust into my car. My eyes filled with grit.
Thanks, Wyoming, for the warm welcome.
Wiping at the tears streaming from my burning eyes, I slammed my door, creating another dust storm and stomped up to the house,
house. The storm door was hanging open—one gentle breeze away from falling off its hinges. I unlocked the front door and stepped inside, carefully pulling the storm door shut behind me.
What a shithole.
Ratty furniture lined the smoke-stained living room walls, every horizontal surface covered in a thick blanket of grime. Dust bunnies the size of elephants congregated in every corner of every room. The air was stagnant, hot and stale. It smelled like no one had opened a window or door in months—probably because nobody had, not since Aunt Sandee died in February. The place had been waiting for me to finish school. Empty. Abandoned.
In just a few steps, I was in the kitchen, with its ancient vinyl floor, gnarly old cabinets and circa 1970-something matching gold stove and refrigerator. Thankfully someone had cleaned in here after Aunt Sandee died. To my relief I found no moldy food in the fridge, no dirty dishes stacked in the grungy sink. I checked the pantry. It was full of home-canned pickles. Nothing else. I was going to have to make a trip to a grocery store for some real food. Pronto.
Leaving behind the depressing kitchen, I turned down the hallway leading to the bedrooms. The bathroom at the front was in semi-working shape. The sink, toilet, and shower all sported a rust stain from the nasty well water. And I recognized that rotten-egg odor.
I mentally added bottled water to my grocery list.
My bedroom, the one I’d used when I’d visited the summer after my senior year in high school, hadn’t changed at all. Same butt-ugly flowered wallpaper and orange shag carpet. Same nondescript twin bed and dresser. I opened the closet and discovered it was empty. The clothes that used to hang in it were gone.
Aunt Sandee was gone.
The realization hit me like a sucker punch.
Old Aunt Sandee was really gone.
The house still smelled like her—the caustic twang of her cigarettes, coupled with the smell of seared onions. Aunt Sandee was like no woman I’d ever met. She was scrawny, her face wrinkled leather, her fingernails tar stained from decades of smoking, and her mouth as dirty as any sailor’s, but she had the biggest heart in the world. And I’d loved her dearly. Although, regrettably, I’d been too young and stupid to let her know it.
If only I could tell her now.
“I love you, Aunt Sandee. You were the only person who really loved me. Who didn’t see me as some kind of pain-in-the-ass responsibility that needed to be dumped at the first chance. I’m going to miss you.”
A knock sounded on the front door, and I jumped, startled. It was pretty late for any of the employees to be working. I glanced at the little clock sitting on my nightstand. It was after seven in the evening. I hadn’t seen any trucks when I’d pulled in. And nobody would come to the house to visit, since everyone in Dawson had to know it was empty by now. In this town, news of a death spread faster than a wildfire.
So, it was probably someone who knew I was coming.
I threaded my way through the cramped house to the front door. Through the screen I saw a face but I couldn’t make out the features. I pushed open the door, and wham, the past smacked me between the eyes.
I was too stunned to move. Or speak. I wanted to turn around, duck back inside the house, and slam the door in his irritatingly gorgeous face. But instead I just stood there, staring in disbelief.
What the hell was
doing here? When I’d left Dawson the last time, I’d prayed I would never see that smug jerk’s face again.
“Oh, hell,” I blurted.
“Good to see you too.” The unwelcome blast-from-the-past winked.
I threw up a little. Then my heart did a somersault, which made me mad. Why would my heart do that? Why? Clay Walker was a jerk. A huge jerk. A jerk I’d never wanted to see again. “What do you want?”
Clay grinned. God, how I despised that cocky smirk. Though it did make his eyes twinkle.
I gave myself a mental head slap.
To hell with his eye twinkles! And the rest of him.
“Well, I think we both know what
want,” he said, his gaze meandering down my body. “But that’s not why I’m here.”
Steam blew out my ears. Really? Cheesy pickup lines? Already?
I took a giant step back and folded my arms over myself, even though parts of my body were tingling at the look of male appreciation spreading over his face. He liked what he saw. He liked it a lot.
But I didn’t care.
No really, I didn’t.
“You’d better get to the point,” I said, making sure my tone was as chilly as an arctic winter. “Or I’m going to slam the door in your face.”
“Easy, babe.” He lifted his hands, holding them palm out, and instantly a memory of those hands flooded my mind. Fingertips tracing a line down the center of my stomach, teasing the sensitive skin just above my public bone, tickling my inner thigh...
“I’m not going to force you or anything. You know I’m not the kind,” he boasted.
“Asshole.” I grabbed the doorknob.
“Okay, I just came to let you know I’m leaving for the night.” He stuffed his hand into his jeans pocket and pulled out a scrap of paper. “My number, in case you need anything.” He offered it to me but I didn’t take it.
“Why would I need your phone number?” I asked, totally confused. What was he doing here? And why would he think I would call him?
“Because I’m the ranch foreman,” he offered.
My heart literally stopped.
He was my employee?
No. Couldn’t be.
He was pulling my leg. Like he used to. All the time.
Lying. Always lying.
“You liar.” I poked his chest. “You said the last thing you would ever do was stay in Dawson and work on a ranch,” I reminded the lying dirtbag with the stupid twinkly eyes and panty-melting smile.
“Yeah, well. Here I am. Check the books. You’ll see my name on the payroll.” He grabbed my hand, flipped it palm up, and smacked the paper into it then ran a finger along my jaw. An honest-to-God quiver of lust raced up my spine. Of course, I made sure jerkoff did know it.
“It’s good to see you, kitten. It’s been too long,” he murmured.
Not long enough. Not by a long shot.
“Don’t touch me or you’ll find yourself
the payroll.” I smacked his hand away and crumpled the paper. God help me if I ever needed to ask this neanderthal for a favor. I would never live it down.