Crazy Little Thing Called Love- Book 2 Gambling Hearts
Take two stubborn fools, mix with a touch of fate, stir in some desire, and you have the recipe for a crazy little thing called love.
Sophia Shaughnessy left her beloved home in order to prove once and for all to her family and ex-boyfriend, Tony, that she was more than a pretty face. Trouble was, it backfired. When her grandmother needed her most, she wasn’t there.
Tony Morrison had been in love with the youngest Shaughnessy for almost as long as he’d been employed at her family’s ranch. Trouble was, he had secrets. Things he couldn’t tell anyone, especially the beautiful Sophia. So, he’d let her go.
But now she’d returned, bringing the winds of change to the Texas ranch, and Tony wasn’t sure he could protect her from the fallout.
Sophia lightly flirted with Rico—as they’d done all their lives—and pretended not to watch every move Tony made. She absolutely didn’t notice his tough farm hands closing into fists when Rico grasped her waist, or sense the tension emanating from his powerful body as he watched the two of them acting like frisky colts. She’d feel guilty, except the big jerk should know there hadn’t been anyone but him for her since she’d reached puberty.
“I thought I’d take Cleopatra out for a ride,” she said to Rico, making a conscious effort to ignore Tony’s glower. “Do you have time to join me?”
“Sure.” Rico nodded. “Just give me a few minutes to finish these stalls, bueno?”
“Weren’t you supposed to exercise the yearlings today?” Tony growled. “Just because the princess deigned to visit, doesn’t mean the ranch is on holiday. Get to work, Juarez.”
Rico bristled. “I can do that later, they aren’t going anywhere.”
Tony took an aggressive step forward and Sophia hurried to step between the two men. “Stop it,” she hissed. “It’s my fault, I wasn’t thinking.”
She turned and forced a smile for Rico. “I’ll meet you later and we’ll catch up. It’s been too long.” She squeezed his arm in reassurance. “See you at dinner?”
Rico glared at his boss, then gave a slow shrug and dragged his attention back to her. “Yeah, sure. It’ll be like old times, sí?”
Sophia saw his intentions in the mischievous glint of his eyes. She braced herself for the fallout as he leaned in and gave her a big, smacking kiss on the lips before jauntily wandering away with a tip of his hat. She’d get even with him, the tease.
She glanced up at Tony and cleared her throat, subduing the instinct to rub suddenly sweaty palms on her pants. “I didn’t mean to create problems, I know this is a working ranch.” That much was true, anyway. She’d tried so many times to insert herself into the business, to be a valued member of the team, but her ideas were brushed aside as the dreams of a young idealist. After a while, she’d given up trying.
Tony met her gaze and sighed. “I probably overreacted. I tend to do that a lot around you,” he admitted. Sophia didn’t have time to enjoy the warm glow his words wrought, before he added, “But you should know better than to come down to the barns dressed like that. You’re distracting my men.”
She wasn’t sure which rose faster, outrage or pleasure. She went with outrage, it was safer. “I’m wearing blue jeans, they’re hardly haute couture. And most of your men have known me since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, you’re exaggerating my appeal. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to see my horse. At least she doesn’t judge me.”
She’d stomped past three stalls, the horses within staring at her with inquisitive eyes, before Tony caught up to her. “It’s been a long time since you’ve been on much of a ride, I don’t like the idea of you going out alone.”
Sophia huffed out a strangled laugh. “I was born on this ranch, I’m pretty sure I know my way around it. Besides, it’s your own fault I don’t have a companion, you got rid of him, remember?”
Tony grabbed a couple of bridles on their way past the tack room. “That idiot would be too damn busy showing off to protect you,” he snapped. “And I wasn’t worried about you getting lost so much as getting bucked off and, if you were lucky, landing on that delectable keister. I’ll go with you.”
“No.” She swung around to face him. “I want a fun, relaxing ride. You’ll just mess with my Zen.”
“You want to go, princess, then I go too. End of story.” He opened the stall for his bay and entered, mumbling sweet nothings to the horse while he swung the bridle over the gelding’s head.
I love the romantic suspense genre and Navy SEALs (who doesn’t? :)) and wanted to combine the two with another favorite, motorcycle clubs.
The premise of this story is that a woman disappears and her shy, geeky sister seeks help from the only man she thinks will be invested in her case- Reed McLaughlin.
Emma Stone knew the moment she entered the Twisted Sister it was a mistake. The biker bar was as rough on the inside as it was intimidating on the outside. If she weren’t so desperate she would’ve turned around and gone home the moment she saw the long line of bikes parked in front of the dilapidated building.
The noise from cheap speakers pumped way higher than their tweeters could take competed with rowdy laughter, the slap of pool cues striking balls, and the stench of unwashed bodies blending with spilled beer.
Em stood just inside the doorway, blinking like a lost owl. The scene in front of her bemused eyes was like something out of one of those thriller novels her sister enjoyed. She prayed Rose hadn’t ended up like one of those victims.
A burly guy in a leather vest covered in badges bumped into her, almost knocking her out with his breath. Hope he didn’t plan on driving.
“Well, looky here,” he slurred. “Aren’t you in the wrong church, sister?” He stuck his head back and roared, thoroughly amused at his obvious wit. Emma ducked her head and wished herself back home curled up on the sofa with her tortoiseshell cat, Thomas. He slung a beefy arm around her neck and tugged her under his armpit. “Sugar, what’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?”
Emma’s heart beat frantically as she pushed ineffectually against his chest. “Let me go. I need to find a man.” The words barely left her lips before she cringed.
He grinned down at her with teeth stained from tobacco and Lord knows what else. “Lucky you, you found one.” His moist lips puckered and his head lowered and Emma did the only thing she could—lifted her knee and caught him square between the legs.
His arms loosened, his face turned an alarming shade of green, and he dropped like a sack of potatoes.
Emma was feeling a little woozy herself. She’d seen it done on TV, but the women there stood over their fallen assailants with satisfied expressions and handcuffs. She had no cuffs and was terrified. What if his friends noticed? They’d probably shoot her on the spot.
A quick glance around showed her no one was paying them any attention. Relieved, she edged around the groaning mound and inched her way through the crowd up to the bar. A busty brunette in a too-short jean skirt and a black t-shirt with the words, I Really Feel Like Going for A Ride, emblazoned across her chest gave Emma the onceover before grabbing a couple of longneck bottles of beer dripping condensation from the counter.
“You’re in the wrong bar, honey,” she muttered, slipping off the high stool. “You better leave—while you can.” She sauntered over to a table in the corner. Emma could just make out a set of masculine jean clad legs stretched out and crossed at the ankle. The moment the woman got within range, arms, one covered in a sleeve of tattoos, reached out and tugged her onto his lap. She shrieked, but not in fear as Emma had done. This was more of a hello, baby, proven when she buried her lips against the stranger’s neck.
Embarrassed, Em turned away. It wasn’t that she was a prude, it’s just that there was a time and a place and public displays were neither. In her opinion romantic encounters belonged behind closed doors. Some people—her ex-boyfriend for one—would say it was an antiquated ideal, and maybe they were right. But, there weren’t half as many divorces in the days of courtship as there was now with the modern generation’s loose morals.
It took forever before the bartender noticed her. He made sure everyone was happy then worked his way down, laughing and chatting with the locals. He wiped his hands on a surprisingly white apron tied around a lean waist and leaned an elbow on the counter, arm bunching with impressive muscle. His bald head and a gold hoop dangling from his ear gleamed under the fluorescents. A tattoo of an eagle’s talons peeked out from the arm of his shirt.
“What’ll ya have?” he asked, eyeing her like she was an anomaly. Which she probably was, around here anyway.
“I’m, ah… looking for someone. Reed McLaughlin.” Emma caught the quick glance over her shoulder. She turned, but no one was there. “Do you know him?” she asked, not sure why the name would elicit that suspicious look she was now receiving from the previously friendly bartender.
“Maybe. What do you want him for?” He straightened and crossed his arms over a rock hard chest.
This was such a bad idea.
“I have a proposition,” she whispered.
He cocked his head. The earring flashed, mocking her. “Speak up, missy. This is a bar, and I can’t hear on the best of days.”
Emma twisted her hands, then grabbed deep for some courage. “I said, I have a proposition for Mr. McLaughlin.” The words rang loud and clear into the silence between one song and the next ear-splitting tune.
Someone laughed, and then the catcalls and wolf whistles began. Emma groaned, her face flaming as only a redhead’s could. She looked to the barkeeper for help, but his face was stoic. Despair brought a tear that she wiped viciously away. These people didn’t need to see her misery. No one cared.
She swung around to blindly head for the door, and practically rammed her nose into a man’s chest. Her distraught gaze climbed to an uncompromising jaw, firm, yet supple lips—her heart fluttered—a nose with a slight bump on the side like it had been broken at one time, and eyes that glittered almost black in this lighting.
Her knees gave out, but before she could slide to the ground in an ignominious heap a firm male hand gripped her arm and held her upright.
“My place or yours?” A voice like a cat’s contented purr rumbled in her ear.
So there really was a devil, and he was in Cincinnati.