USA Today Bestselling Author
Heather Cobbler has dedicated her life to the love and care of the horses at Whiskey Ranch. Having been born and raised on the land, her loyalty runs thick and deep. So, when horses start getting sick on her watch, Heather will stop at nothing to find out who is harming these glorious creatures and why.
Even if that means teaming up with the veterinarian who has been hitting on her for nearly ten years and doesn’t know how to take no for an answer.
Not much happened in the sleepy little town of Buhl, Idaho and that’s exactly why Detective Crew Irvin had moved there from the big city. So, when it appears a horse is murdered out on the Whiskey Ranch, Crew wants to wrap it up neatly, and quickly. That means slapping the cuffs on the super sexy ranch hand, Heather Cobbler.
Crew’s detective skills might be rusty, but he didn’t have cobwebs for brains and Heather was about as guilty as the sky was pink.
Only he couldn’t prove it without putting himself in the line of fire.
The vet Jim Casey has wanted more than friendship with the Whiskey Ranch’s head trainer Heather Cobbler for many years. Unfortunately for him, she doesn’t feel the same. Now the new detective on the Buhl PD. Crew Irvin is a different story all together.
A night out with friends turns into a challenge one that is a bit embarrassing for Heather. She’s going to ask Crew out on a date. This does get interrupted by Jim though.
This is a favorite scene.
He wiped a hand over his face, trying to cover his smile. “I’m curious as to what brought you to my table like a nervous cat because the few times we’ve crossed paths, you’re always quite confident.”
“I usually am, but this is an unusual circumstance and I’m about to put you in an awkward position.”
“I doubt that,” he said, waving the waitress over. “Could you please bring the lady a drink?”
She glanced up. “Oh. A glass of the house red is fine.”
The waitress nodded and scurried away.
“You didn’t have to do that,” Heather said, going back to playing with her hair. “But thank you.”
“My pleasure. Now tell me about this strange position you’re putting me in.”
“You know Doc James Casey, right?”
“I do.” Crew nodded. “He takes care of my dogs.”
“You seem like the big dog kind of person. What kind do you have?” Heather smiled that bright grin that made her eyes sparkle like the ocean dancing under the sun. It reminded him of a hot summer morning at the beach, just him, the water tickling his toes, and the salty air awakening his senses.
Christ. Crew needed to get a grip. Heather wasn’t for him. No woman was for him. He couldn’t ever be with someone he cared about again.
It would kill him.
“I have a couple of mutts, actually. They look like they could be maybe a Lab-shepherd mix, but not sure. However, you’re changing the subject.”
The waitress quietly and quickly set a glass of wine in front of Heather before taking off for a different table.
“He and I are friends, but as of late, he’s been putting the pressure on. I didn’t see it and my sister and my friend over there are pushing me to ask you out in order to get him off my back.”
“God, that sounded awful. I mean, I meant to ask you out, but I thought it only fair to tell you about Jim and… shit. I’m just making it worse. Now, I’m acting like my sister, Alyssa. Shit. I’m really sorry.”
“Don’t be. I’m flattered.” He rested his elbows on the table. “But in order for something like that to really work, for him to really get the hint, we should probably go out on a proper date and not just have this one little drink where I’m on duty and I’m going to have to leave as soon as my check comes.” Nothing like having diarrhea of the mouth. Hopefully, she’d turn him down, believing this would be enough.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jim leave his group of friends and meander across the patio.
“That’s really sweet of you, but I’m not trying to make Jim jealous or anything. I can handle Jim. I mean, we’re friends. Pretty good friends, actually. He’s not a bad guy.”
Why the hell was this woman rambling on about another man? “I’m confused. Do you like Jim and want to go out with him?”
“Oh God. No. I’m trying to keep my friends from coming over here, fixing us up, and telling Jim you and I are going out or something, making this even weirder.” She smacked her palm against her forehead. “This is not going how I expected it to. I think a glass of wine before I had food wasn’t a good idea.”
“Relax,” Crew said with a slight laugh. “I’d love to go out on a date, but I’d like to know if Jim is actually my competition.”
“We’re just friends,” she said with a bright smile. “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m—”
“My, my,” Jim said as he tapped his finger on the table. “Detective Irvin. How are you this evening? How are Duke and Daisy?”
“They’re both doing well, thank you.” Crew had seen Jim go chat up the girls about a half hour ago and now that Jim was standing at his table, Crew wondered what game Heather was really playing.
The make a man jealous game?
Or get rid of a man game?
Either way, he shouldn’t be playing. Dating wasn’t something he was prepared to bring back into his wheelhouse. Not even for Heather.
“I see you’re wearing your badge and gun belt,” Jim pointed out. “Does that mean you’re on duty?”
“I’m on my dinner break.” Crew didn’t need to explain anything to Jim, especially since Crew didn’t keep the same hours as a beat cop. Technically, he was the only detective on the payroll, so he was always on duty, but he currently was punching the clock. As in, he should probably be in uniform, but he’d gotten away with not wearing one since he rode into town and he hoped to keep it that way.
Jim held his hands up. “No judgment here. I was just hoping my taxpayer dollars weren’t paying for a date or something.”
Heather arched a brow and opened her mouth, but Crew cut her off.
“I was about to ask Heather here out to dinner, but you interrupted me,” Crew said.
“Actually, you did ask. I just hadn’t had the chance to accept.” She smiled. “And I’d love to. How about Friday night?”
“I’m technically off tomorrow, so that works. As long as I don’t get called in, we should be good.” Crew nodded.
“Heather, can I speak to you for a moment?” Jim asked. “Um, well, I was going to walk Crew to his car,” Heather said.
“I’ll wait,” Jim said.
Crew stood, taking Heather by the hand. “Have a good night.” He led her through the crowd, stopping at the bar and settling his bill before pushing open the front door. “Well, that was interesting.”
“You don’t have to take me out if you don’t want to.” She ran her hand through her hair.
“This is the last time I’m going to ask this. Did you want to go out with Jim?” Crew scratched his jaw. “I’m asking because now I’m really confused.”
“So am I.” She let out a long breath. “My sister and Zuri warned me that Jim wanted more, but I didn’t see it and I don’t want to use you.”
He reached out and curled his fingers around her biceps. “Do you want to go out with me? Because I definitely want to go out with you. To be honest, I’ve thought about asking you out the last couple of times I’ve seen you, but I’m a bit of a loner for reasons we can talk about another time.”
“So I’ve noticed.” Heather leaned against his patrol car.
“You haven’t answered my question.”
“Yeah. I’d like to have dinner with you.” She smiled.
“Good.” He pulled out one of his cards. “This is my personal cell. Don’t hesitate to call me. Day or night.”
She took it between her fingertips.
“Why don’t you text me now so I can put your number in my contacts, and I will text you with the details for our date.” His heart pounded in his chest. He couldn’t tell if he was nervous, or if it was something else.
No. He knew it wasn’t guilt, only he wished it was because that would make it easier.
His mother told him a desire to start over would eventually kick in. That was unless he returned to the dark place and even he didn’t want to go back to living with one foot in the grave. His precious Darla and sweet little Gypsy wouldn’t appreciate that. He needed to at least do what they’d want him to do— expect him to do— and go about the business of living and doing the right thing.
He could do that in small-town Idaho.
“Why do you look like you really don’t want to go out with me?” Crew took her hand and ran his thumb over the soft, tender skin of her wrist.
Her cheeks turned a pretty pink. “It’s not that. I just don’t have a lot of room in my life for dating and I feel weird about this. About how it all came about.”
He leaned in and pressed his lips over hers in a gentle kiss. It was short, and not necessarily romantic, but he did let them linger more than a few seconds.
A slight moan tickled the back of her throat. Without thinking, she gripped his shoulders, leaning into his strong frame.
He wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her close to his chest, keeping the kiss going. He tasted like strawberries dipped in chocolate milk. His tongue twisted and twirled around hers in an exotic dance.
She blinked as he pulled back.
“That was unexpected,” she whispered.
Jen Talty. Whiskey Cobbler: It’s All In The Whiskey Book 6 (Kindle Locations 300-369). Jupiter Press.
Now of course in the way of small towns gossip starts, but it’s the sudden incriminating things that start happening on Whiskey Ranch that are far more disturbing.
The fact that Jim is one of those fueling that fire hurts as well. Fortunately Heather has a very qualified ally in Crew.
Intrigue with a few twists and turns and a romance that is both sizzling and healing.
5 Contented Purrs for Jen!
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Welcome to my World! I’m a USA Today Bestseller of Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance, and Paranormal Romance.
I first started writing while carting my kids to one hockey rink after the other, averaging 170 games per year between 3 kids in 2 countries and 5 states. My first book, IN TWO WEEKS was originally published in 2007. In 2010 I helped form a publishing company (Cool Gus Publishing) with NY Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer where I ran the technical side of the business through 2016.
I’m currently enjoying the next phase of my life…the empty NESTER! My husband and I spend our winters in Jupiter, Florida and our summers in Rochester, NY. We have three amazing children who have all gone off to carve out their places in the world, while I continue to craft stories that I hope will make you readers feel good and put a smile on your face.