Sydney Thomas may be the newest Rodeo Queen on the circuit but she’s more than just a pretty face and fabulous horseback rider. If only her new boss could see it! But the frustrating, bossy, drop-dead gorgeous man seems bent on pushing her away at every chance he gets.
Scott Chandler learned at an early age that he needed to “cowboy up” and take care of his family. The one time he let his guard down, his heart got trampled and he’s not about to let that happen again. He knows Sydney’s type, Rodeo Queens who hide their manipulative ways behind good looks, tight jeans, and glittery tiaras.
But just as Scott and Sydney are finally realizing there might be more to their fiery relationship than scorching kisses and passionate nights. Secrets from their pasts come back to haunt them. Will the Cowboy and the Rodeo Queen ever be able to ride off into the sunset together?
Excerpt : Cooling Off
“Damn!” Sydney heard a voice just before something clattered to the floor. “Crap!”
Sydney opened her eyes and raised herself onto her elbow to see what the commotion was about. She could only see Scott at the sink, but it sounded like he’d dropped every pot and pan at least twice. She slipped from the blankets and made her way to the doorway between the kitchen area and bedroom. In no way was she prepared for the sight that met her eyes.
Scott stood in the middle of the small trailer covered in milk and eggs. The small sink was filled with dirty dishes. The entire counter and some of the floor were covered with egg shells, raw egg, and milk. On the stove, smoke was pouring from a lump that looked as if it could have once been bacon. Scott was waving a towel, trying to push the smoke to an open window, so he didn’t seem to have heard her approach.
Sydney stifled a laugh, but Scott heard it and turned her way, giving her a murderous glare. It might have been enough to end the humor of the moment if he hadn’t already used the towel to wipe up some of his mess. He flipped the towel and raw egg yolk flung backward, landing on his forehead and slipping down, dropping from the end of his nose to land at his feet. At his look of utter distaste, Sydney’s giggles exploded into outright gales of laughter.
“Are you going to keep laughing all day?” he asked as he turned off the stove and wiped the mess from his face. “Or do I need to drag you down here to help me?” His irritation only made her laugh harder. Scott glared at her, his black eyes flashing.
“Okay,” she finally managed between spurts of laughter. “I’ll help.”
She had barely cleared the stairs when Scott pulled her into his arms, his body pressing fully against her own. “So,” he growled. “You think this is pretty funny?” Sydney was sure her smile belied the negative shake of her head. “What am I going to do with you?” Scott asked as he maneuvered her toward the counter.
Her pulse raced wildly as he held her wrists behind her back. She was completely at his mercy but she knew his playful mood was only dangerous to her heart. “You could let me go,” she suggested, trying to appear nonchalant.
Scott released her wrists and circled her waist with one arm, molding her body to his. He leaned closer, brushing his lips across her check to her earlobe. She closed her eyes in anticipation of his kiss, surrendering to the desire coursing through her. She’d dreamt about his kiss when sleep had finally claimed her in the early morning hours.
“I have something much more enjoyable in mind,” he whispered, his lips brushing her earlobe, sending shivers down her spine.
Scott pulled back and looked her in the eye, his eyes as dark as she’d ever seen them but almost sparkling with wicked charm. Sydney was confused when he gave her the same smile she’d seen so often from her brother when he’d just pulled off a prank. She quickly realized she’d been had. She followed his gaze to his hand, raised in the air just above her head, just in time to see him crack an egg against the cabinet above. She squealed and tried to squirm away from him as the wet, slimy mess landed on her forehead.
“Bull’s-eye.” Scott’s deep laughter rumbled through the trailer. “Now we’re even.”
“Ugh!” Sydney groaned as the egg yolk slid down her face and into her t-shirt.
“Need some help cleaning that up?” he teased, raising an eyebrow impishly, his eyes gleaming dangerously.
Sydney looked down to see her shirt clinging to her breasts and felt the egg yolk slide down her stomach. She spun away from him, reaching for the towel on the sink, and began to wipe the mess from under her shirt.
“You sure you don’t want an extra hand?” Scott chuckled.
Sydney spotted the soapy water, complete with bits of cooked eggs floating on top. With her back still to him, she silently scooped up water in a dirty glass. “Actually, maybe you can help.” She spun to face him, her hands around the glass of water.
“Don’t,” he warned.
“I think you need to cool off a bit,” she threatened. He surprised her, moving quickly to disarm her of the glass, but she had quicker reflexes than he’d assumed. Sydney pitched the water at him, feeling satisfied as it connected squarely on his chest and splashed water in his face, momentarily blinding him.
Scott yelled in surprise, giving her a moment to scoot away from his grasp in the confined space.
“There!” she said, triumphant. “Now, we are even.”
“Oh, sweetheart, we aren’t even close.” Scott’s voice was too calm as he made his way toward her, and she realized exactly how a kitten must feel when it teases a snake, awakening danger it didn’t expect.
She quickly searched the area for any sort of weapon. Grabbing a handful of cold scrambled eggs, she whirled to confront her attacker. “One more step and you’ll be wearing these, too.” Scott regarded her with an amused smile and took another step toward her. “I mean it, pal.”
Scott dodged the eggs flung toward him. He wasn’t as lucky, however, when a well-aimed handful of what had once been hash browns immediately followed and hit the side of his head. Sydney realized her folly too late and ran for the door, hoping to seek refuge outside. She flew out the door, leaping off the top stair just in time to see Jake walking toward the trailer, a worried frown creasing his brow.
“Jake,” Sydney screamed, laughing again, trying to run toward the confused man.
“Oh, no you don’t.” Scott grabbed her by the waist and swung her over his shoulder like a sack of grain.
“Jake, help!” she screamed, pounding helplessly on Scott’s solid back.
“Oh no, honey,” Jake chuckled. “He’s my boss. I’m staying out of this.”
She cast him an evil glare but didn’t think it had any effect with her hanging upside down. Jake was quickly forgotten when she realized that Scott was heading toward the water trough.
“Scott, don’t you dare!”
“Well, Sydney, you seem to like water. Maybe you need to cool off.” He stopped directly in front of the trough. She could see the leaves of alfalfa floating on top. “You did say you might need help cleaning up your shirt. I’m just being helpful, the way you were.”
Begging for forgiveness wasn’t usually her style, but then again neither was sitting in an icy water trough at seven am in a deserted rodeo arena. She had to try. “Scott, I’m really sorry that I threw that water at you.”
“And . . . ?” he encouraged.
“And, um, I’m sorry I laughed at your attempt to make breakfast.” He didn’t move, and she wondered how long a person could hang upside down with all of the blood rushing to her head. “Well?” She was getting anxious to have her feet on solid ground again.
“You apologize real pretty-like, honey.” Scott mimicked Jake’s drawl.
“So, can you put me down now?”
“’Course,” he agreed amiably.
Before she knew it she was flipped upright, waiting for her feet to hit ground that never arrived. Suddenly, water splashed overhead and she found herself seated in the livestock trough.
“Now, that would make a fun picture.” Scott stood with his fists firmly planted on his hips, not even trying to contain his laughter as she swiped wet curls from her eyes. He reached down to pluck a piece of alfalfa from her hair and she swatted at his hand.
“Ass,” she muttered under her breath.
“Is that any way for a lady to talk?” Scott leaned close and grasped her hands, helping her out of the water. “Besides, you’re repeating your insults.”
She glared at him as she stepped out before shoving him out the way, ignoring his laughter as he walked behind her back to the trailer. Jake led the way and stepped through the doorway, but stopped so suddenly that Sydney ran into his immobile form. He let out a low whistle as he looked inside the trailer.
He turned and faced them both. “Does this mean I’m heading out to pick up breakfast?”
Sydney’s eyes met Scott’s, and neither bothered to contain the laughter that burst from within.
T. J. Kline was raised competing in rodeos and Rodeo Queen competitions since the age of 14 and has thorough knowledge of the sport as well as the culture involved. She has written several articles about rodeo for small periodicals, as well as a more recent how-to article for RevWriter, and has published a nonfiction health book and two inspirational fiction titles under the name Tina Klinesmith. She is also an avid reader and book reviewer for both Tyndale and Multnomah. In her spare time, she can be found laughing hysterically with her husband, children, and their menagerie of pets in Northern California.
Sydney is a tough cowgirl- She is only using the "Rodeo Queen" crown to open doors. Her and Scott get off to a bang up start but there's no denying there are sparks between them. The more they fight to be together the more things seem to force them apart. Scott has been burned bad and refused to really believe what he feels for Sydney is actually love. If he can't get past those walls he built he will loose Sydney forever. A few hot steamy sex scenes. Lots and lots of drama. Fantastic ending.