Monday, May 18, 2015

Can't Resist a Cowboy

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By Elizabeth Otto
A Paint River Ranch Novel

  He’s always been her weakness…
Injured and discharged, Marine Levi Haywood has returned to his family’s ranch to heal and start a new life. After all, once a cowboy, always a cowboy. The only problem? Life at the ranch has moved on since he joined the service, and suddenly his role in the family business is much less clear. And things get a lot more confusing when the woman he left behind returns home.

Carrie Lynn Waite has never known a time when she didn’t love Levi. They were childhood sweethearts, but because of her health, she was forced to move to the city, away from the ranching life. Now Carrie’s come home only to learn her family’s ranch is in trouble and Levi is back, along with an undeniable attraction she can’t resist. But some things never change, forcing Carrie to choose the future laid out before her…or the cowboy she could never resist.

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Excerpt #1
Time had given the lines and edges of his face a maturity that heightened his masculine appeal. And no doubt, the military had provided him with the razor-sharp and completely breath-stealing expression. Even in the dimmer cast of light, his eyes glowed with intensity that shot a throb between her legs and a flicker of apprehension in her breast.
He stopped, close enough that heat radiated from his chest to hers. Around his neck, a silver chain disappeared beneath his shirt. It didn’t take much to guess what the chain held, and she wanted to see. She touched her fingertips to his collarbone, exhaling as if the contact were the fuel she needed to breathe, tracing the chain and slowly pulling it until a single dog tag slid up from beneath the fabric.
His name was stamped into it, the metal tarnished on one edge as if it had been rubbed repeatedly. The tag rested in her palm, warm from his body heat. One small, thin piece of metal represented the different paths they’d taken. She’d held his tags before, though he wouldn’t remember. She’d thought then, as she did now, what a strong, admirable man he was. Levi Haywood was a damn good man.
She let go, and the tag clanked against the chain as she stepped back. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…”
“You never have to apologize for touching me, Carrie.” Low, almost dangerous, the tone sent a sensual ripple through her body. “In fact, I’d like you do it again, right now.”
Her gaze fell to his lips as her palm met his chest. Carrie took one small step forward, pressing her hand flat again and traveling it over his pecs, the fabric of his shirt sliding over his firm, warm muscle, to his ribs where his torso stiffened and his breath stalled. Lightly, he gripped her wrist in one hand and tipped her chin with the other. Her mind and body seemed to go somewhere else, a static place, where this moment erased everything else.
He swept a thumb over her lower lip. “We have unfinished business.”
She shook her head, trying to dissuade him, herself; both. In a couple weeks she’d be gone—would be reduced to seeing Levi once or twice a year when she came home to visit, maybe. That wasn’t really worth the emotional wringer she’d have to go through if she let herself get close to him.
“We don’t.”
“We do.”
“No,” she shook her head again, the sting behind her eyes biting. If this moment could truly be suspended and molded into whatever she wanted it to be, there would be a second chance. Her vision and health would be perfect, and she could safely live in this remote place. But her future wasn’t malleable. And a second chance wasn’t possible.
“Maybe you have unfinished stuff, but I don’t, and I’d rather you didn’t bring it up again.”
His head dipped low. Her lips began to tingle and want. With the touch of his breath, her mouth parted. He drew closer.
“Sounds like a challenge, Carrie. Remember what happens when you challenge me?”
She studied the faint kiss of freckles across his nose, the angle of his cheekbones and strength of his smooth jaw. The beauty of it muddled her thoughts…until she remembered that she couldn’t do this. If he kissed her, she’d want more.
Carrie stepped back, immediately regretting the loss of his closeness. “Yes, I do. You usually lose.”
Excerpt #2
Carrie was about to shake out of her skin. Her teeth were actually chattering. He shouldn’t have agreed to let her come up here with him. If she ended up with pneumonia or something, he’d never forgive himself.
His oiled canvas jacket was mostly waterproof, the fleece lining inside warm and dry. He slipped out of it and put it between his knees, then unbuttoned his flannel and peeled it off.
“Take off your shirt.” He gave her a look, knowing she was going to argue. She’d always been good at that. She crossed her arms, but he didn’t give her time to be squirrely. “Take it off, or I will. Your bra, too.”
Her mouth parted, reminding him just how fantastic her lips had tasted. Dang, had that really happened? It seemed so surreal, to have her in his arms again…that taste so ripe on his lips. 
“I’m not getting naked in front of you.” Yeah, because that had never, ever happened before. He still remembered, vividly.
“Then turn around. Just do it before you freeze.” His breath came out in a puff, the temperature having dropped with the rain and wind. In a short-sleeved Henley, the cold air assaulted his bare arms, making him shiver. If he was this chilly dry, she had to be downright frozen.
Gently, he gripped her shoulder. “Come on, Sunshine. Do as I say.”
Her back stiffened but she didn’t protest, just unzipped her coat and shrugged it off into a wet, heavy lump on the ground. A thin blue shirt molded the feminine structure of her back and into the dip of her spine. Levi traced her curves with his gaze. She unbuttoned her shirt and pulled it back, but it clung to her shoulders. With one hand, he grasped the neckline and pulled it down…slowly, the tip of his middle finger making a trail over her damp skin as he slid the shirt off.
Stepping closer, Levi was torn over wanting to pull her cold body into the warmth of his chest. The rain beat staccato on the rocks above, the patter splashing into the wet ground. Tracing her white satiny bra across her back, he grinned as a violent shudder when through her. How easy would it be to rekindle the fire between them? Not just this—though her form was something he wanted to explore slowly, intimately—but her heart, her mind. To know her again, all of her—how sweet would it be?
Letting her shirt drop, Levi used both hands to unhook the bra and toss it aside. Her arms came across her chest, the quick glance she tossed over her shoulder cautious. Levi settled his flannel shirt over her shoulders, held it in place as she shakily slid into it.
He could tell that she was fumbling with the buttons, so he turned her to help. Slowly closing each button, thanks to his cold hands, he tried not to focus on the rise of her breasts beneath the fabric. Her chest went still and he swore she was holding her breath.
The chemistry was still there. Holy shit, was it still there, and he wanted to grab hold of it and see how far it went. How would he ever keep his shit together as she walked out of his life? Levi ran his palms over the tops of her shoulders, down her arms.
What if he asked her for a second chance?
What would she say?

About the Author: 
Elizabeth Otto grew up in a Wisconsin town the size of a postage stamp, where riding your horse to the grocery store, and skinny dipping after school were perfectly acceptable. No surprise that she writes about small communities and country boys. She’s the author of paranormal romance, and hot, emotional, contemporary romance, and has no guilt over frequently making her readers cry. When not writing, she works full-time as an Emergency Medical Technician for a rural ambulance service. Elizabeth lives with her very own country boy and their three children in, shockingly, a small Midwestern town.


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