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Daphne hooked the heel of her red cowboy boot on the first rail of the fence and hung her arms over the top. With her chin cupped in her hands, she stared at the man vying for the title of champion bronc rider.
"He's something, isn't he?" Ana tapped her arm.
She held out her hand for the soda Ana had brought her but kept her gaze on the action at the side of the ring. "Where did he come from?"
"I heard a few people talking earlier about how he comes from the next county over. Some bigwig rancher they're all speculating about. Seems he has more dough than he needs, so it's not like he's fighting for the five-thousand-dollar pot." Ana leaned over the railing. "His name's Will Hanson."
Daphne took in the way the man hovered over the horse in the chute, waiting for the countdown to begin. His legs spread wide on each side of the gates. Warmth grew and filled her tummy despite the cold refreshment she drank. His jean-clad thighs screamed for a woman's hands, her hands.
His crinkled old cowboy hat sat low on his forehead. Dark, thick hair skimmed the collar of his shirt. She blew out a big breath at the way his shirt strained across his chest. If he belonged to her, she wouldn't know what to touch first, his lower half or that delicious top half.
The buzzer screamed over the loudspeaker, and Daphne climbed up two rungs on the fence, not wanting to miss a moment of his ride. The wild bronc bucked sideways and the crowd groaned. He'd drawn one of the wildest horses of the day. He'd be lucky to keep his seat long enough on a twister ride to even finish the competition.
Those thighs she admired clutched tight to the sides of his ride, his right arm thrown up and down in quick succession to keep the momentum. Her lips moved with the countdown, hoping he'd stay in the saddle.
The final buzzer signaled the end of the ride with the man still atop the bronc. The rodeo clowns entered the field to distract the horse. Instead of quieting down, the horse veered toward the fence in a rush to escape, and straight at Daphne.
Ana jumped down, but Daphne threw her leg over and straddled the top of the fence, waving her arm in an attempt to keep the horse from body-slamming his rider. More than one rodeo rider had busted a leg, or worse, on the unforgiving metal rails.
With a back-twisting turn, the bronc deposited the cowboy right in front of Daphne and turned his attention toward the rider who dared to break him.
The man landed on his feet in front of the horse. Daphne leaned over with her hand held out, her gaze locked on the bronc.
The cowboy grasped the lifeline of help, and in one smooth move hurtled over the top of the fence. Daphne jumped down beside him, her oversized cup still clutched in her hand.
The man dusted his gloved hands off on the back of his jeans, tilted the front of his hat in her direction and waved to the crowd. She stared in unabashed awe.
The announcer spoke over the loudspeaker, proclaiming him the winner and the crowd in the stands stomped and cheered. He gave one more wave then turned back to her. She gasped. Startling green eyes, framed in dark lashes, peeked out from underneath the brim of his hat."Thanks for the hand up, sweetheart." The side of his mouth lifted. "Will Hanson." He held out his hand. "And you are?" "Daphne." She stuck her hand out.