“Motherfucking asshole.” While I said the words under my breath, there were at least two cowboys who’d heard my nasty exclamation.
And they were laughing at me.
As they usually did.
The raven-haired cowboy was known as the roughest, meanest, and most dominating bull rider on the circuit.
I stood with my hands on my hips, glaring out at the arena. The stands were full for the rodeo, hundreds of people in attendance, and I’d been ceremoniously pushed out of the competition. Yeah, okay, so my trial hadn’t gone as planned, only staying on the bull for a mere five point three seconds, but there’d been assorted… complications. My first score had been decent. Hell, I’d managed to stay on the damn savage beast for a full and required eight seconds. My form had been excellent, and the score one of the top eight.
Sighing, I gripped the railing, moving to stand on the second rung.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the arena… the one… the only…”
I hated the grandstanding bullshit with a passion, but the crowd went wild, waiting for their hometown hero and the man affectionately—although not in my book—known as the ‘Cobra.’ You bet I’d made all kinds of nasty insinuations given that nickname.
Thick, hard cock.
Able to withstand hours of brutal fucking.
Demanding his women surrender in every manner.
“Montana… Cobalt!” The announcer rumbled the words, further igniting the crowd.
Grousing wasn’t going to do me any good. I gazed over at the bucking chute, unable to stop admiring the sexy as fuck man at least for a few seconds. No matter how much I hated him, or at least his surly attitude, he was damn good at bull riding. The man ready to take on the crowd was as arrogant as they came, nasty to everyone, including those trying to make a name for themselves on the rodeo circuit.
Yes, Montana was the sexiest and most eligible bachelor in town with his six-pack abs, luxurious dark hair meant to run your fingers through on a long winter’s night, and the kind of dimpled smile that made every girl’s panties wet. And those dreamy blue eyes, penetrating in a way that clawed into your very soul.
But so what?
He didn’t have to be an asshole all the time.
We’d sparred on several occasions, much to the delight of the crowd and the chagrin of our trainer. Our rows had even made the news more than once.
We’d been coined enemies, allowing for juicy gossip and more than a few cowboys hinting Montana should ‘fuck me like a thoroughbred.’
The man had even insinuated that I needed harsh discipline.
I had a prime view as his gloved hands wrapped around the braided rope, patting the bull’s flanks as if the huge animal was his buddy. I rolled my eyes not once but twice when he raised his arm, ready to give the signal.
The entire crowd was eerily quiet, all sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting for the master to rule.
Everything to me was in slow motion as he roared out of the gate, one pissed-off bull doing everything he could to toss his rider. I tried, as I always did, to study Montana’s maneuvering techniques, not blinking the entire time, but it was impossible.
I stole a quick glance at the clock.
Six point five.
Damn him. The jerk was going to make it.
“And folks, that’s eight point two seconds! Looks like our boy just might take the trophy!” The announcer was as happy as a pig in shit.
I slumped back, dropping my head. Meanwhile, I had mixed feelings. Our team would likely snatch all the trophies, but I wouldn’t be on the leader board for a damn thing. Hell, I’d spent years living with my aunt and uncle in Colorado, learning everything about rodeos. What good had it done me? I had one more night to make an impression. If I didn’t at least stay on the bull the allotted time, my shot at grabbing any standing in the ranks would be as extinct as the dinosaurs. And there wouldn’t be another rodeo in my future.
I stood back for a few seconds, watching the adoring crowd shouting out his name like a mantra. Hometown hero all right. The man had become a legend in only three years. My nemesis. I sucked in my pride and walked closer to the bucking chute, forced to stand behind a crowd of reporters and all those sweet little women who wanted to fawn over him.
I wasn’t one of those. Nope. I just wanted to learn more about his technique. Not that he was willing to share.
A few seconds later Montana appeared, wiping sweat from his brow using one of the scarves a buxom blonde had given him. I could hear her squeals all the way past the din of the crowd. Disgusting. How could women flaunt themselves in front of such a basic man?
Everything remained in slow motion as he ceremoniously removed his shirt, dragging it over his head. I didn’t want to stare at him like the rest of the groupies, but every chiseled muscle, carved out of the finest stone, was difficult not to look at.
He was the reason God created man in the first place.
Even his jeans, laden with filth and perspiration, had decided that he was the poster child for skintight material, leaving no doubt as to the present underneath the well-wrapped package.
“He’s not so bad, you know.”
I snickered hearing my trainer’s voice. Dan Marks had taken me on, unfazed by my limited rodeo experience. I knew he simply wanted a woman to win a competition or two to put him on the map. I’d gladly taken his advice and expertise, learning a hell of a lot since starting to work with him.
“He’s an asshole and you know it.”
Dan laughed and patted me on the back. “Just be nice to him. He might just surprise you.”
“Will he share his winning technique with me?”
He winked as he walked in front of me, likely heading to his favorite boy to share in the glory. “Now why would he do that?”
Good sportsmanship? Being nice?
Yeah, the dude wasn’t required to share anything, but after our first meeting and the almost… kiss, I thought maybe Montana would take me under his wing. I’d been a fool.
I stood watching, waiting as he signed autographs, even kissing a damn baby. Who did that any longer? A solid twenty minutes later, Montana pushed his way through the crowd, headed in my direction. The smirk on his face was one I wanted to wipe off.
Why did he have to look particularly sexy with dirt covering his face and his shirt wet from perspiration? And why in God’s name were my nipples hard from looking at him? Disgusted, I pulled out my tee shirt, fanning my face given the excessive heat.
Montana did dart a glance in my direction, tipping his cowboy hat and giving me a longing look before turning his attention to his adoring harem.
Not a chance, buster. I’m not one of your girls.
“You got a minute?” I asked after shoving my way through his fan group, almost daring myself to do so.
He stopped, tipping his head in a way that highlighted the dimple even more. “For you? Why not, sugar?” He swaggered closer, still keeping the hero persona, a grin on his face. “What can I do for you, sweetheart?”
I reined in the claws, refusing to allow him to see me irritated. My smile was just as sweet as his. “I was wondering…” I allowed the words to hang. “If there’s anything I can do to get you to teach me how you do it? You know, staying on a bull that long, making him your bitch.”
The words surprised him, the laugh sultry, sensuous. I tingled all over, hating myself for doing so.
He leaned over the railing, pretending to stare out at the crowd for a couple of minutes. “I tell you what. I’ll make a deal with you.”
“A deal?” I kept the practiced smile, clenching my fist and pushing my hand against my jeans.
“Yeah.” He inched closer. “You have dinner with me, sweetheart, and I’ll consider doing just about anything you want. Within reason, of course.”
The claws were ready, sharp and the aim was within my reach. I inched closer until our lips were almost touching. “Over my dead ass body and I’m not your sweetheart.” With that, I turned, walking away from him with my head held high.
“You’re missing out, Holland. Trust me. But you definitely need a long, hard lesson in riding.”
I was one lucky girl. I made it to the outside of the arena before smashing my fist against a wall instead of into his face.
How many times had I issued the phrase? Too many. Montana just managed to get under my skin, searing my blood. I eased out of my truck, moving away from the trees and staring at the ranch-style house. I knew the boy toy was off celebrating his win. While he wouldn’t be back for hours, my stomach was still in knots. What I was about to do was against everything I believed in.
But… I’d knew exactly what and how to get away with what I was planning. I could be in and out within ten minutes. As long as I got exactly what I wanted.
Montana was close to the best, his day job keeping him from riding the entire rodeo circuit. Some townsfolk said he was dedicated. I had other choice words and thoughts.
I scanned the perimeter, searching for any activity. There was nothing but the sound of horses in his barn. As I crept forward, my heart was racing, adrenaline pumping wildly. This was by far one of the stupidest things I’d ever done, but if I could learn anything, it was worth the danger.
The man was all talk and no action. That much I knew.
I walked onto the porch, still listening for any sounds. His big Dodge Ram, for the boy with the little dick syndrome, wasn’t in the driveway so I knew he wasn’t home, but a girl could never be too careful. I stood a foot away from the front door for a full minute before finding the courage to tug the tools from my back pocket. They were one of the few items I’d brought with me. You never knew when you needed to break into a house.
Tonight seemed like the perfect opportunity to utilize my skills.
I held my breath as I eased the pick into the lock, shifting only twice before the metal piece engaged. Sighing, I slipped everything back into my pocket before trying the handle. I already knew I’d succeeded.
Once inside, I stood drinking in the sweet smells of leather and what had to be his cologne. Musky. Laced with hints of the forest. Just like him. The man. The cowboy.
I snarled and took two steps forward, allowing my eyes to get used to the darkness. He had to have a computer somewhere. My only hope was that he didn’t have it locked down with passwords. That I wouldn’t be able to crack. I moved through the house, finding what appeared to be an office at the end of a long hallway.
I dared allow myself to turn on the light sitting on the desk. The warm glow highlighted the man’s taste. Far too country bumpkin for me, but the pictures of cowboys in the wild were certainly befitting a man of his stature. The computer was exactly where I hoped, the laptop open and the screensaver giving off brilliant colors.
One tap and I almost jumped for joy. He hadn’t bothered with forcing a password. What a stupid thing for the man to do. Too trusting. Where I came from, that would never fly. Still, I couldn’t look good fortune in the mouth.
I sat down in the big chair, another massive piece as if the man was trying to hide something about himself. The leather was far too plush and comfy, giving me a pause. I was here for one thing and one thing only.
Finding his training videos.
He’d remarked or maybe I should say bragged about the fact he had them, even considering selling them one day when he was too old to ride.
I was damn good with using a computer, finding certain files with ease. My fingers flew over the keyboard and when I found what I was looking for, I couldn’t help but give a little squeal. Nirvana.
I shifted to the first video, hunkering down as his smiling face appeared. Even hearing his voice, rugged and full of that same testosterone that allowed him to win almost every contest was enough to make my panties damp. I held my breath as I watched, moving the cursor and watching several parts of the video again. He could be damn good as a trainer, enough so that I learned a hell of a lot in…
I took a glance at my watch. Fuck! I’d been here over thirty minutes poring over his work. Far too long. I’d always heard that someone in my position needed to be in and out in twenty minutes or less or my ass could be fried.
One more minute.
I moved the cursor again, enlarging one of the pictures. I could almost tell why he was called the Cobra. His technique was unheard of, something that I doubted any of the experts had any idea about. The fucker. He should be…
“Well. Well. What do we have here?”
I froze instantly, the hair on the back of my neck standing up, my eyes shifting away from the computer. The voice. The stance. The look.
Montana stood in the doorway, his arm on the doorjamb, his feet crossed and the most amused look on his face.
“I can explain.” I knew the words were weak. A stupid little girl had been caught in the act of breaking and entering. Fuck. Me. I was toast.
“Oh, I’m certain you can and guess what? You’re going to do just that, sweetheart.”
I shifted backward, moving to a standing position. “I’m sorry, Montana. I shouldn’t be here. I was just…”
“Hell, no! I’m no thief, for God’s sake.” Now I was incensed.
He raked his eyes over every inch of me, hunger in them. “Then exactly what were you doing?”
“I was looking. Okay? I wanted to see your training videos. I did ask you and you refused. Remember?”
“I remember a hell of a lot of things, including your arrogance. I didn’t give you permission to break into my house.”
No. He didn’t. “This was all just a misunderstanding. Okay? I’ll just go.” I eased around the desk, giving him my sweetest smile.
“I don’t think so. Not going to be that easy.” His voice dripped of innuendos.
“What the hell does that mean?”
He moved in front of me, glancing over at his computer. “That means that you have a choice to make.”
“What choice?” I stood taller, planting my hand on my hip. “I didn’t do anything.”
“Uh-huh. The way I see it, you were breaking the law.” He tilted his head, his eyes glistening with heightened levels of lust as well as the same smug expression I’d been forced to endure every time I saw him.
“Fine. What do you want?”
“Well, we can call the sheriff and you can explain to him what you were doing and why. Now, I must admit, I know the man. He doesn’t take kindly to criminals breaking into his friends’ homes. He’s very strict, if you know what I mean.”
I was mortified at the thought. I could lose my license to practice and my livelihood, maybe even go to jail. After that, my entire world would be thrown straight into hell. Swallowing, I nodded several times. “And the second idea?”
“We can deal with this the old-fashioned way. The cowboy way.”
“What in the hell does that mean?”
He took a step around me, moving toward his desk and looking down at the screen. “You really do want to learn the tricks. Don’t you?”
“I’ve told you that at least a hundred times but you didn’t seem to give a shit. You’re an arrogant asshole.” Maybe I was being a bit ridiculous.
Montana lifted a single eyebrow. “I don’t think you’re in the place to have an opinion about much of anything at this point.”
“So get to it. What do you want?”
He lowered the lid on his computer before walking back in my direction. “As I said, around these parts we deal with infractions a certain way.”
“Go the fuck on.”
“That mouth of yours. We might have to deal with that as well.”
I shifted from one foot to the other, growing antsy. “Just tell me!”
He leaned closer, until his hot breath shifted across my naked skin. “A good old-fashioned spanking for a very bad little girl.”