Rawhide and Roses

Rawhide and Roses


She's all roses...

Playing good sport to appease her best friend was one thing, but sophisticated Kim Martin was hardly equipped for a Colorado camping trip. Especially when their mountain guide was a rough-edged cowboy who was as untamed as the wilderness. His outdoors style might jump-start some women but a strictly indoors woman like Kim found him - almost resistible.

He's rough-and-ready rawhide...

Thad Winchester's patience for city women was wearing as thin as the seat of his jeans. But there was something about Kim that was putting his hard-and-fast don't-touch rule to the test. The plucky blonde was just the woman to share his Flying W. Ranch. All Thad had to do was bring out the wildflower in the refined beauty, and convince her that he was her man. Bar nothing.

Chapter One

This all boils down to one thing—cowboy lust, pure and simple.

Kim Martin squinted, staring ahead at the string of horses leading up the mountain. She didn’t see the pines, or the azure sky, the big white puffy clouds, or the snow-topped Rockies in the background. No, all she saw in front of her was a bunch of horse’s asses—and cowboys. Which may, or may not, be one in the same.

“Of all the things I thought I’d be doing this summer,” she muttered, “spending two hours staring at a horse’s butt certainly wasn’t on the list.”

She leaned down to pat her mount on the neck, hoping that if she was nice to the old nag, she would be nice to her. She grimaced and cooed encouraging words to the huge roan mare—

Or were they to herself?

“Just keep your sweet nose in that horse’s tail, honey, and everything will be just fine.”

“What?”

Kim glanced one horse up to her best friend Jillie, and tossed her a fake smile. “Just talking to good ol’ Rosie here. We’re becoming fast friends.”

“Good.”
 
Jillie smiled and turned to face the string of horses. “See, I told you it would be easy,” she threw over her shoulder. “They’re like robots. Nose-to-tail, down the trail.”

Kim made a face. Jillie was an accomplished horsewoman; she’d learned from her father who exercised thoroughbreds back in Kentucky. Kim didn’t know diddly-squat about horses. She was more accustomed to betting on thoroughbreds at Keeneland, or handing out trophies at the Junior League horse show, than sitting on the back of one of the beasts and actually riding. How did she get talked into this?

How in the world had they gone from high school teachers to cowgirl wannabes all in the same afternoon?

The teacher’s conference. The reason they’d come to Colorado. Where they should be right now. But Jillie had this thing for horses, not to mention cowboys....

Kim couldn’t care less about any old cowboy. She was a born-and-bred city girl. One used to the finer points in life. And she liked her men the same way. Civilized.

She sucked in a cleansing breath. She’d made it this far, certainly the rest couldn’t be that bad. Glancing at her watch, she realized the corral was only fifteen minutes behind them. But the ride was two hours long! Two long, insufferable hours on the back of this piece of smelly horseflesh. She sneered at Jillie, who was totally at home on her horse’s back.

Kim felt ridiculously out of place.

Her chin length blonde bob fluttered about her face. Risking letting go of the tight grip she had on the reins, she tucked each side behind an ear.

How did I get into this? Bribery, pure and simple. And cowboy lust.

Kim loved Jillie dearly. In short, she’d do just about anything for her. Jillie had whined the entire evening before about a trail ride and Kim? Well, she’d caved.

Big time.

Rosie lifted her head and impatiently shook it back and forth. A burst of adrenaline shot through her. Muffin, Jillie’s horse, had picked up a little speed and put several feet between them. Rosie’s sonar kicked in and she loped toward Muffin’s tail. Kim bounced nervously in the saddle and tightened her grip on the reins as Rosie sped forward.

She wished she hadn’t lied about having ridden a horse before.

“Speak of the devil,” she mumbled as the cowboy she’d lied to rode closer. Kim hoped he wasn’t the one who’d put a hand to her rear, helping her into the saddle as she struggled to get a foothold in the stirrup. She’d nearly sailed over to the other side. Jillie had laughed hysterically. Kim’s cheeks grew hot at the memory.

She really hadn’t thought it funny.

The cowboy tipped his hat to Jillie, then glanced back at Kim. “Everything all right back here, ladies?”
She eyed him curiously as Jillie struck up conversation. Casual, friendly, familiar conversation… Jillie laughed out loud, shaking Kim out of a momentary trance. She looked into her friend’s face.

Something’s fishy, here.