Rhonda Lee Carver
Two stubborn firefighters are faced with an uncontainable blaze inside their hearts. Can they withstand the heat?
What’s a woman to do to get over a lying, cheating ex-husband? She finds a cowboy-firefighter like Luke “Mug” Foster to salve her open wounds. He’s exactly what the “heart” doctor ordered. He was tall, dark, handsome, and eager to stoke her fire. But what happens when Jady Pierce starts to have feelings for him? She runs before she loses herself to another heartbreak. People couldn’t be trusted, and she’d learned that lesson through a long list of men who’d done her dirty.
Jady was back in Cooper’s Hawk. Last year, she’d swept in, turned Mug inside out, then disappeared without a word. Story of his life. He wouldn’t lose himself in her again, yet there was something about her that challenged and excited him. To get to the “real” Jady, he’d have to chisel through some tough layers. She was carrying around a lot of pain…and not just from a cheating ex and a bum childhood. So what made her tick? What made her hurt?
She’d be sticking around town for a while when she accepted the Sheriff duties, but how would she keep her feelings for Mug in check? He had a hold over her and she could feel her walls crumbling.
An abandoned baby, an unveiling of secrets from the past, and Mug will have Jady slowly gaining trust as she finds peace, emotion and joy in the small town that she’d once hated. However, she isn’t the only one with a few demons to exterminate.
Jady Pierce is back in Cooper’s Hawk to settle her father’s affairs. The property she didn’t know he owned needed to be sold to pay off his medical bills but needed work first.
Luke ‘Mug’ Foster has been looking for property to buy since he decided to take the fire chief position. Hank Hawke is the one who lets him know about Jady’s property. He’s not sure about seeing Jady but he certainly would like to get a bid in on the property before it hits the market. That doesn’t stop him from stopping by the property at night, her light was on after all.
This is a favorite scene.
Traveling from place to place has lost its enticement. I like it here. I enjoy volunteering at the Landing Search and Rescue. I’ve also been taken on as Chief at the firehouse. I’ve even made some good friends. It’s time I planted some roots.”
“I’m happy for you.” Their gazes met.
“What about you? Cooper’s Hawk ain’t a bad place.”
“So are you trying to convince me to sell you Mags Farm or that I should stay?” Her laugh sounded weak.
“I’d like to buy.” He pressed his boot on a loose plank in the floor. He already had a ton of ideas on how to make the place better. “I just wondered if you had any emotional connections to the place.”
“Do you know how my father came to own this place?” She sank her brush in the paint again and stepped back over to the wall to start painting along the taped-off trim.
“Something about a poker game?” She looked over her shoulder at him. “I imagine someone would have to be drunker than my father to make that mistake.”
“Drunk or desperate to win the game.”
“Two of Bobby Sinclaire’s greatest achievements in life. Poker and liquor.” She went back to focusing on the wall. “He definitely did have a knack for card games. He’d spent more time in basement gambling clubs than he ever did at home. For that, I’m grateful.”
A familiar twinge developed in the center of his chest. He wasn’t a stranger to family turmoil.
Shrugging out of his jacket, he tossed it over a plastic covered chair and picked up the new roller.
“What are you doing?” she asked. “Helping. I’ve used a paint roller once or twice over the years.”
“Aren’t you tired? If you’ve been out on the mountain doing a search—”
“No. We were just out training a couple of horses. Anyway, I might as well do something to keep myself busy. I won’t be able to get to sleep for hours.”
“I don’t need any help—”
“Jady…” He wanted to be distant with her because she’d kicked him to the curb, but the last thing he wanted to carry around on his shoulders was anger when it wouldn’t add up to a bag of beans. Cooper’s Hawk, and the people in it, had taught him a lot about himself and what he wanted, and needed, not only for the present but also for his future. Each day he grappled with his troubles, but each day he also made amazing strides to recovery. “This isn’t for you as much as it is an ulterior motive. Maybe it’ll sway you to sell to me.” He rolled the sponge into the paint and made a wide W on the wall.
“Are you putting pressure on me, Cowboy? I’ve a had a few inquiries, just so you know.” She turned her back to him.
“Have you thought about all the work this place will need?”
“Well, obviously it hasn’t been a functioning farm for years. Your pa might have won it in a game of poker, but farming wasn’t his business. The fields will need a bush hog. The outbuildings will need reconstructed, possibly a few torn down. And the house,” he swung his gaze around, “will need more than a layer of paint or two. Or three. I’m willing to pay a fair price. I thought you’d be happy to get out of dodge.”
“This wouldn’t be my pick of places.”
“I think the townsfolk of Cooper’s Hawk would have their feelings hurt at a statement like that.” He dipped his dry roller, glancing over at her. She did a little bounce as she attempted to reach the highest point of the wall. “Here, let me take care of that” He grabbed the ladder and set it up close to the wall. “Even tall women need a little help to reach places sometimes.”
Their gazes met for a fleeting second before she turned away. He skimmed his gaze up her long, toned legs to the hem of the shorts, feeling a tug in places he needed to shut off. Clearing his throat, he grabbed up his roller and focused on finishing up the last bit of wall. “Do you have someone you need to get home to?” He shouldn’t ask, but a curious man couldn’t hold his tongue.
After a tense hesitation, she answered, “No. How about you? Do you have someone who might be wondering where you are tonight?”
His chuckle vibrated off the bare walls. “If I did, I wouldn’t be here.”
“Well good.” She stepped down from the ladder and dropped her brush in a bucket of water. “I wouldn’t want to be in the middle of any drama. I know how folks around these parts can talk.”
There was that look again, a sadness that consumed the brightness in her eyes.
“Why did you do it, Jady?” He needed an explanation. “Do what?”
“Leave like you did last year. You disappeared.” He shifted in his boots. Seeing her expression, he wished he’d kept his mouth shut but that couldn’t happen. “It was a pretty shitty thing to do.”
“Why are you bringing this up? Can’t we leave the past where it belongs?”
“Hell if I know. I didn’t come here tonight to exchange tidbits about what we shared. I guess the curiosity overcame me.” He moaned. “Damn, forget I asked.” He didn’t want to expose too much of his raw emotions. It didn’t matter anyway. She’d leave town soon enough.
“You don’t seem like the type to get your feelings hurt so easily.”
“And I didn’t think you were the type to bail out so callously. Sometimes we’re wrong about a person.” He dropped his roller into the water bucket. As if an invisible force took control of him, he crossed the short distance between them. He saw her eyes widen as he bent and kissed her. It couldn’t have been described as a passionate kiss, but one of pent-up energy and closure. When he pulled away, he explored her expression, humored by the flecks of twinkles in her eyes and the quiver in her bottom lip. She stood there and stared as if she couldn’t wrap her brain around what had just happened. “There. Now that’s a proper goodbye in my book. Or hello. Either way, I got that out of my system, so I think we’re good.” He swallowed the giant cotton ball feeling in his throat then reached for his jacket and swung it over his shoulder. “You have a nice night, ma’am, and welcome to Cooper’s Hawk, for however long as you’ll be here.” He strolled out and inhaled a needed dose of oxygen. His body screamed for more of the kiss, but logic warned him he’d left things on a good note so leave it at that.
Smiling, he climbed into his truck, turned up the music, and drove home. He had a feeling he’d be out like a light once his head hit the pillow.
Rhonda Carver. CowboyLuke.FinalTOC1 (Kindle Locations 386-437). Kindle Edition.
Jady has a lot of decisions to make, but one of the easiest is to let Mug buy the farm. The other took some consideration but she also agreed to be the acting sheriff while Sheriff Conley was away on personal business.
That one leads to quite a few interesting encounters.
The more time Mug and Jady spend together the more the attraction ramps up. These two are definitely meant to be together, but her past just keeps getting in her way.
Fun, tension, surprises and a romance that sparks then flares to life.
5 Contented Purrs for Rhonda!
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Rhonda Lee Carver is a published book writer with a collection of print and eBooks under her wing. She is also a freelance editor. Her first book was published with Wild Rose Press in 2010.
She writes everything from contemporary to steamy to paranormal to suspense…you name it, she’s written it. Her specialty is writing men who love to get their hands dirty—hardworking, blue collar, heroes in everyday life.
When Rhonda isn’t crafting edge-of-your-seat, sizzling novels, you’ll find her with her children and husband watching soccer, watching a breathtaking movie, traveling to exotic places (with Bora Bora on her bucket list), doing (or trying) yoga, saving cats and dogs, and finding new ways to keep life interesting.
Rhonda thrives on making her readers happy. She believes life can be a challenge, but reading is a place where fantasy comes to life. Her motto: “Everyone deserves romance—one page at a time.“