Read an Excerpt
From Chapter 1
"Dammit to hell!" Larissa pushed the car door open, crawled up the embankment to the road, popped her hands on her hips, and started stomping toward the son-of-a-bitch who'd put her vintage Mustang nose-down in the ditch.
"Well, shit!" Hank Wells said when an oak tree brought the pickup truck out of a long, greasy slide. He unfastened the seat belt and opened the door to check the damage.
"Are you drunk?" the woman yelled, marching toward him like she was going to tackle him like a football fullback when she reached him.
Well, hells bells, it wasn't his fault that the wreck happened. He hadn't asked that stupid deer to play chicken with the front of his truck. He started toward her at the same speed. "Hell, no, but I could damn sure use a drink."
"Who in the devil taught you to drive? Or do you even have a driver's license? If my car is damaged, you are going to pay for it, and parts for a 1965 Mustang don't come cheap. Can't you drive any better than that?"
He threw up his hands in anger and pointed toward a dead deer on the other side of the road. "The damn thing jumped out in front of me. I broadsided him even though I stomped the brakes all the way to the metal.
What happened to your car isn't my fault, woman, so don't come up here hollerin' at me."
They both came to a halt with a dead buck and ten feet of space between them. The car's radio and the truck's radio were tuned to the same station and the volume turned up loud enough to wake up everyone in Mingus, Texas. A double dose of Jo Dee Messina singing "My Give a Damn's Busted" blared from both vehicles.
She ripped her sunglasses off and gasped. "That's the God's gospel truth. My give a damn is busted. I don't care what you say, it is your fault, cowboy. You braked so I had to slam on my brakes or else crawl right up in the bed of that rusty bucket of bolts, so that makes it your fault."
The devil was supposed to be a little sunburned critter with horns, a forked tail, and a pitchfork in his hands. He was not supposed to be wearing snug fitting blue jeans, an open chambray shirt flapping in the hot summer wind, and showing off a broad, muscular chest that was sexy as hell.
If it looks like the devil, smells like the devil, and sounds like the devil, chances are it does not have a halo or wings, Larissa thought.
Well, it damn sure looked like the devil bringing a dose of temptation with lips made for kissing and a chest made to cuddle up against so it had to be the devil. Right?
"Are you hurt?" the cowboy asked gruffly.
"No, are you?" It came out high and squeaky but she was lucky to find any semblance of voice at all. She was afraid to blink for fear he'd turn back into a permanently sunburned man with a forked tail and horns. Another five minutes and she would have been home instead of squaring off with a hunky cowboy on the side of the road with a dead deer between them.
"Hell no, but my dad is going to pitch a shit fit when he sees this truck," he said.
"Your dad? You mean that isn't even your truck?" she asked.
"Yes, I mean no, it is not my truck. Thank god it wasn't my car," he said.
"That's real sweet of you," she said sarcastically as she put her sunglasses back on. If anything they made things worse. His chest looked even more bronzed and sexy with the dark glasses than they did without them. Tingles skipped up and down her spine in spite of the blistering July heat.
"Don't get smart with me, woman. My car is worth a little more than that rusted out piece of shit," he said.
"You hear that song playin' on the radio? Well, honey, that's where I am today. My give-a-damn don't give a damn if you drive a Mercedes or a rusted-out pickup. I just want to know if you've got insurance."
"Hell, I don't know what Dad keeps on the old vehicles. But insurance wouldn't pay for your car. I never touched you. That was your accident," he said.
"But you caused it," she argued.
"It wasn't me. Sue the damned deer."
Larissa's emotions began to let her down. She should be mad as hell that he was the cause of her precious car being tail-up, nose-down in the ditch. But all she wanted to do was kiss his lips.
"Oh, no!" she exclaimed and turned pale. Had the wreck stirred up the dormant genes she'd gotten from her mother? She was thinking like Doreen for the first time in her life! That was scarier than facing a forest fire with a cup of water and no backup plan.
He took a step forward. "What? Are you going to faint or something?"
"No, I'm not going to faint. What do we do now?" She'd give up chocolate before she told a perfect stranger that she'd been thinking about her mother. She didn't even tell her best friends about Doreen. Hell, she didn't tell her enemies about Doreen.
He removed his sunglasses and straw hat and looked at the two vehicles.
He had dark hair and whiskey colored eyes. She forgot all about the deer, the wreck, her mother, and even her fancy car. The late afternoon breeze carried his shaving lotion toward her. That did it! Stetson always made her think about satin sheets, candles, and vintage wine. He looked like the devil in disguise in that open shirt; Stetson made him smell like the devil; his voice was deep and southern and made her insides go all mushy. Lucifer had arrived in the flesh.
Every single thing that the former owners of the Honky Tonk, Daisy and Cathy, had told her they'd experienced the first time they'd seen their future husbands had happened in the past ten minutes-emotional roller coaster, physical attraction, and anger. Larissa Morley was not interested in long-term relationships, so he could take a teaspoon and dig his way back to hell with it. She was not taking the bait.
"That damn deer jumped right out in front of me. I stomped the brakes but hit it anyway. If you hadn't thought right fast, your car would've slammed into my truck. It was pretty damn good defensive driving," he said in a deep Texas drawl that went from harsh to soft.
"Don't try to butter me up, mister. If my car has so much as a scratch on the paint, you will fix it," she said.
Larissa was beginning to understand her mother's taste in men a hell of a lot better. Doreen would have taken time to touch up her makeup and spray on a bit of perfume before she got out of the car. She would have waited for the cowboy to help her up to the top of the ditch and then swooned so he'd catch her. All Larissa could do was keep her mouth shut to keep from drooling.
"I keep telling you that it's the deer's fault. Call the police and we'll both tell them what happened. They'll declare it a no-fault accident. Hell, I didn't even see you in my rearview. I didn't know you were there until I got out of the truck," he said.
"Oh, all right. I'll call Luther to come haul us out of the ditch. He can take you and that truck home. It isn't going anywhere but the body shop or the junk pile. Want him to take it to one of them rather than back to your place?" she asked.
He shook his head slowly. "It'll have to go home. That's Dad's favorite old truck. He may shed tears."
Her voice sounded almost normal when she said, "That's your problem, not mine. I'm calling Luther."
"Does he work for a tow company?" he asked.
"He's the bouncer at the Honky Tonk. He works for an oil company but he's got access to a tow truck," she said.
"Oh," he said flatly.