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Chewing on her bottom lip, Josie Landford studied the rodeo program. "Number twenty-seven looks good in the steer wrestling."
"Josie, get a grip, for God's sakes." Carol thumbed her sunglasses down her nose, rolling her eyes.
Josie ignored her friend and marked a red X by number twenty-seven. "Rex West. He's from here. Now, that's convenient."
Carol pushed her glasses back up. "You just can't pick a cowboy from a roster for your so-called plan."
Still studying the program in hopes of finding another likely candidate, Josie said, "I want to know why not. I'm finally free of a twenty-year oppressive marriage. Plus, my son's in college halfway across the country, which basically leaves me footloose and fancy free."
"Dean and your ex have nothing to do with this. You can't saunter up to a man and tell him," Carol lowered her voice, "you want to do the nasty with him."
The crowd in the rodeo stands cheered as the young cowboy riding the bull stayed on the entire eight seconds.
"Why not? Times are changing. I'm hoping he'll be flattered. You know what part of the anatomy a man thinks with."
"Are you going to run out in the arena and wrestle the steer away from him?"
"Ha, ha. I'll have to catch up with him after he's done competing. I'll play it cool and coy."
"What if he's married?"
"Good point. I need a couple of back-up cowboys." Looking at the program again, Josie searched the events and lists of names. With her pencil, she marked off two more possibilities, both steer wrestlers. "We have to sit through the saddle bronc riding before the steer wrestling starts."
"Everybody has fantasies," Carol twisted off the cap of her waterbottle and took a drink, "but it doesn't mean we should act on them."
Josie glanced at her friend, who had short blonde hair, pale blue eyes, and long, slim legs, which had turned the color of a lobster from the burning August sun. "Did you use sun block?" When Carol nodded, Josie continued, "It must not be a high enough SPF because your legs are turning red. That's why I wore jeans."
"When you work in an office all day, getting a little burn feels good."
"Now, back to my fantasies." Josie turned on the bench and scrunched her knees against Carol's thigh. "It has always been a dream of mine to have hot, raunchy sex with a cowboy."
"Shhh," Carol scolded. "There are kids around us."
Leaning forward, Josie whispered, "I'm finding me a cowboy today. And in the very near future, I'm having scorching--I mean, scorching--sex with him."
"Not hopeless. Persistent."
"I think this obsession of yours comes from living in a big city all your life. I mean, a cowboy is just a cowboy."
Josie fanned the program in front of her face. The day was hot, promising to get even hotter as the afternoon wore on. "Not in my fantasies. You try being married to an anal-retentive stockbroker for twenty years. I need a man as wild as a cougar."
"We call them mountain lions in Montana."
"Okay, okay, I'm learning."
Impatience threaded through her as Josie squirmed on the hard bleacher seat, waiting for the saddle bronc competition to end. Rex West was the second cowboy up in steer wrestling. She liked the sound of his name since she'd never known a man with that name before.
The first steer wrestler was a young guy who wrestled the white-face yearling down in six seconds flat. Impressed by the young man's skills, she was positive her cowboy would beat the young stud.
What if number twenty-seven is a young stud, too? She wasn't into robbing the cradle. She wanted a hunky cowboy her own age--a few years either way, she could handle. When Rex West raced out of the chute on a rich, brown Quarter horse, her breath caught. His shoulders were as wide as the Rocky Mountains, and he was tall. Oh, she definitely liked tall.
Leaping off his gorgeous steed, he wrestled the bawling animal down to the ground in six seconds. Her potential fantasy cowboy got to his feet and turned in her direction, causing her breath to catch again. His face was rugged from the harsh Montana elements, and his scowl was somehow quite sexy. On the plus side, he was the target age.
Fanning herself again with her program, Josie elbowed Carol in the ribs. "He's the one."
"Right age, good body, and he wears his jeans well. But at his age, he's probably married."
Josie smacked Carol on her arm with the program. "Will you just stop? Come on, let's go."
"I want to watch the rest of the rodeo."
"Don't mess with ground control. I'm ready to launch." Grabbing Carol's hand, Josie tugged her to her feet. "You said you were bored with rodeos. Joe drags you to them all the time."
"For the record, I don't like being a part of your little scheme." Carol followed Josie down the steps of the bleachers. "I mean, this is so high school, and it's been years since I graduated."
"That's why it's fun. Come on. Get the lead out."
Ignoring Carol's grumbling behind her, Josie bullied her way through the crowd. When she exited the grandstands, luck was on her side. Rex West was leading his horse somewhere. She wasn't sure where. He was tall, rangy, and oozing manly sex appeal.
She hurried to catch up with him. "Pardon me."
He stopped and glanced over his shoulder at her. Josie flashed him her brightest smile. His horse whinnied and backed up a few steps.
"Hi." She smiled at him again. Up close and personal, the man was delicious. With lines etched around his caramel-colored eyes, he was even more rugged in person. His thick, black eyebrows were now raised as he stared at her intensely.
"I just wanted to tell you how much I loved your wrestling that big old steer down to the ground."
"Excuse me?" His voice had the bite of ass-kicking whiskey.
"This is my first rodeo, and it's so exciting."
He scratched the back of his neck, looking slightly confused even as he continued to stare at her. "Your first rodeo?"
She nodded. "I moved here recently from Portland, Oregon."
"They have rodeos in Oregon."
"Oh, I'm sure they do. I just never had the opportunity to attend one." Her anal ex wasn't into rodeos. "By the way, I'm Josie Landford." She held out her hand.
He studied it for a moment before he shook her hand.
Pings of electricity shot through her at the feel of his large, rough hand. Oh, she was having visions of what those big hands could do to her. No wedding ring. If she had spotted a ring, she would have turned and sashayed off.
He held her hand a tad too long, which she took as a good sign. "How long have you been steer wrestling?" Visions of wrestling with him scrolled through her mind.
One corner of his lip twitched up. "Since I was old enough to catch one."
From under the brim of his cocoa-brown cowboy hat, he held her eyes for a few sizzling seconds. "Pleasure to meet you, ma'am."
A man of few words. "It was so nice to meet you, Rex. I hope you don't mind if I call you Rex. I mean, we just met and all." She paused, scrambling to keep their meeting extended. "And you can call me Josie. Actually, it's short for Josephine."
Both corners of his lips curled up this time. "Josie." He nodded.
"Your horse is absolutely gorgeous." She narrowed her eyes and looked under the rump of the muscular horse. "What's his name?"
"Now, that's a nice, masculine name." She pushed the ribbon-thin strap of her black top over her shoulder and caught him watching her. Definite interest. It was in his eyes. Josie dug around in her purse and pulled out her business card, then held it out to him.
He studied her card, frowning. "Sorry. I'm not interested in selling my ranch."
"Heavens, no. I don't want your ranch." I want your body. She moved up close to him. Her breast 'accidentally' brushed against his arm. Their eyes caught for one scorching moment. "You see," she pointed at her business card, "this has all my numbers on it. Work, home, cell. You can ignore the part that I sell real estate."
His frown deepened. "If you don't mind my asking, ma'am, why do I need your card?"
Under all that cowboy masculinity, the man couldn't be dense. "Just in case you'd like to call me."
He stared down at the card for a second, eyebrows scrunching together, before he looked back at her, a touch of confusion and interest in his eyes. "Well, thanks." He stuffed her business card into the back pocket of his jeans.
When he turned to lead his horse away, Josie kicked her common sense out the back door. Her coy seduction technique had clearly hit a bump in the road. "I'm just going to be honest here." She hurried and caught up with him.
Man and horse stopped walking. "Honest about what?"
"Will you have an affair with me?" It was out. Her secret was out. She was sure her cheeks matched the color of her hair.
He paused, slanting her a look. "Are you for real?"
She held up her hands. "Do I look real?"
He turned to face her, his eyes cruising down to her toes and slowly back up to her face. "Yeah. You look real, that's for damn sure."
His rich, brown eyes gleamed with interest, which sent a thrill sailing though her. "See, you're not having some cockeyed dream."
One corner of his lip curled up. "I'll take your word for it."
"You must be used to women coming on to you all the time."
"Uh ... huh."
"Well, okay, then. You have my card. Of course, you need some time to think about it. Most men wouldn't, but I do respect you not jumping in head-first."
"Do you do this all the time?"
She waved her hand in front of her. "Never. This is the first time I've been so bold." He kept staring at her. She wondered if he thought she was crazy. "Call me. We can talk." Josie started backing up. "I'm a great cook. I bet you're a meat-and-potatoes man. See you later." She spun around and slammed into Carol. "Ohmigod, get me out of here."
Posted January 11, 2010
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