Home > Brazen(5)

Author: Jaci Burton

He inched his horse next to hers and grabbed the reins away from her. “I’m well aware you’re a woman. So was the drifter with his hands on your ass earlier.”

“You got a problem with that?”

His jaw was set so tight Jolene was amazed she couldn’t hear his teeth grinding together. But underneath the spitting anger was something else—something elemental that went beyond him trying to protect her. It fairly sizzled between them and he was damn blind if he didn’t recognize the sexual attraction between them.

He dropped her reins and skirted his horse away. “You should be careful not to ride alone, Jolene. You never know who could be out here in the middle of the night.”

“Afraid I’ll get ravished by some strange man on a horse?” She cast a pointed look in his direction.

He didn’t take the bait. “Let’s head back. It’s a long ride and it’s already late.”

Like a cold drenching rain to put out the fire that had torched between them, the spark was doused. Jolene pursed her lips, wondering what the hell she was going to have to do to get Walker to give up and take what she was so obviously offering. Maybe she should have been riding naked. Too bad it was a little chilly tonight. Plus, riding naked on the back of a horse just screamed chafing in all the wrong places, so she’d have to give up on that idea.

Instead, she rode in silence next to him and pondered that Plan B.




for some reason, and walker knew exactly what that reason was, he found himself working side by side with Jolene for the next several days.

Subtle wasn’t part of Jolene’s makeup. Then again that was one of the things he admired about her. She was straight-out-forward about her needs, desires and wants.

Sometimes he wished she would hide those desires a little better, especially relating to him, because it was getting harder to resist her.

“Harder” being the right damn word.

What man wouldn’t want a woman who could run a ranch at the age of twenty-six, who could manage roughneck cowboys with a steely-eyed look and a cock of her hip, who could reduce the strongest man to a blubbering baby with her honeyed voice, who could get two dozen cowboys dragging their tongue in the dry dirt and willing to follow her anywhere as long as she’d cast a smile their way.

And the worst thing was, he really didn’t think she had any clue what effect she had on the men who worked for her. More than half of them wanted her, and she was oblivious to it all.

All of them except him. For some reason she wanted him, and damned if he knew why, since he’d done his best to completely ignore her. She could crook her finger at any one of half a dozen guys who worked for her and they’d be more than happy to give her anything she wanted.

Instead she had him glued to her side. Today they’d split up the hands to move cattle to richer pastures. It had been raining on and off the past few days, and this morning the sky had dawned clear and dusky, so Jolene figured they should move the cattle before another storm came in. They’d trekked off at dawn, six of them in one team, driving cattle from barren pasture into another rich and green with verdant grass.

Walker had to admit, he liked to watch her work, the way she directed the hands left, then right, hollering like a woman who knew exactly what she wanted and when.

Some men were intimidated by a woman in charge. Walker wasn’t. He just wanted to get her naked and show her what it was like to have someone else take charge. Or maybe see what she was like in bed, if she wanted to take charge then. Because he liked control, too, and the clash of two dominant forces between the sheets could be like two bolts of lightning slamming together.

Damn. His dick twitched at the mental visuals of what it would be like, and that wasn’t what he needed to be thinking about, because no way in hell was he ever going to get Jolene naked. Or have sex with her.

But it would be good. He knew it would. Right now she took off like hell for leather after an errant cow, whipping the reins from side to side, using her spurs to dig into her horse and race that cow down. She cornered it, turned her horse around and forced the cow back to the herd.

She didn’t sit on her ass and let someone else do the work. She dug in and did it herself.

Yeah, he’d sure like to see what she could do in bed.

Too bad he’d never find out.

They’d wrangled most of the cattle to the new pasture. Jolene sent the rest of the crew back to the ranch, then told Walker they’d double back to pick up any strays. With that many cattle, sometimes a few lagged behind or broke off from the herd, so double-checking was necessary.

Today was one of those odd spring days that dawned scorching and stayed that way. Coupled with the rain they’d had lately, it was downright hellish. Walker was hot and drenched under his clothes, and his horse had steam rising off his coat. The sooner they got back to the ranch the happier he’d be.

Despite sweat running down her back and drenching her shirt, Jolene didn’t seem to be bothered by the sun beating down on them. She rode easy, surveying either side of the land for wayward cattle. Walker contented himself with watching her backside in the saddle since they were on a narrow stretch of road, which meant they had to ride single file.

She sat erect in the saddle, her back straight, her hand holding the reins resting on her right thigh. Her shoulders shifted back, her head held high, her hat shading her face. Hell, she looked like she was showing the damn horse underneath her, not dragging like she should be. They’d all been up since before dawn and riding hard.

The woman had stamina. And there went his thoughts again, wondering how much stamina she’d show in the sack.

Shit. It might be hot as the infernal blazes of hell today, and his ass might be dragging, but he wasn’t too tired to think about sex. And his cock wasn’t exhausted. It was twitching and raring to go.

“There.” Jolene pointed off to the left, down the hill. “I saw one.”

Walker surveyed the area, a hill-swept valley dense with trees and a creek winding through. “I don’t see it.”

She lifted on the reins and hitched her horse to the left. “Follow me.”

She took off at a fast gallop toward the cow, Walker right on her flank. He spotted it—a calf—just as Jolene pointed for Walker to go around to the right. He did, cutting off the calf’s attempt at a mad escape. The creek prevented the calf from getting too far, though this area was muddy from previously rising waters due to the excess rain they’d gotten over the past few days, so their progress was slowed as they had to rein in the horses and step through the thick mud.

The mud also impeded the calf’s progress. Too much, apparently, because the calf was half sunk in a mud hole. Walker jumped off his horse and tethered it to a tree, and waded in toward the stranded calf. Jolene approached from the other side of the mud bank, both of them pondering the now bawling calf.

“Well, now what?” Jolene asked, loud enough to be heard over the calf that had realized the error of its ways and was crying for its mama.

“We sure as hell can’t drag it out of there on our own. That calf is too heavy, and the mud weighs it down even more.”

Jolene nodded. “I’ll get Paradise and some rope line. We’ll have to pull her out.”

While Jolene fetched the rope, Walker waded into the mud hole and promptly sank up to his thighs. Great. Just fucking great. He lobbed over to the flailing cow just as Jolene came back with the rope.

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