Texas-Sized Temptation [NOOK Book]


A Santerre—a sexy one—dared trespass on oil magnate Jake Benton's ranch? The Santerre and Benton families had been feuding for generations. Yet here was Caitlin Santerre, standing inches away, asking nicely for the land that Jake had bought out from under her. Just how far would she go to get what she wanted? Illegitimate daughter of a billionaire, Caitlin had never been accepted by her family. But now, she was determined to hang on to the land that meant so much to her—even if she had to bargain with a Benton. ...

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Texas-Sized Temptation

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A Santerre—a sexy one—dared trespass on oil magnate Jake Benton's ranch? The Santerre and Benton families had been feuding for generations. Yet here was Caitlin Santerre, standing inches away, asking nicely for the land that Jake had bought out from under her. Just how far would she go to get what she wanted? Illegitimate daughter of a billionaire, Caitlin had never been accepted by her family. But now, she was determined to hang on to the land that meant so much to her—even if she had to bargain with a Benton. Even if she ended up in his bed.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459201927
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 5/1/2011
  • Series: Stetsons & CEOs, #2086
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 184,060
  • File size: 471 KB

Meet the Author

Sara Orwig lives in Oklahoma and has a deep love of Texas. With a master’s degree in English, Sara taught high school English, was Writer-in-Residence at the University of Central Oklahoma and was one of the first inductees into the Oklahoma Professional Writers Hall of Fame. Sara has written mainstream fiction, historical and contemporary romance. Books are beloved treasures that take Sara to magical worlds. She loves both reading and writing them.

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Read an Excerpt

Unless the event had been an act of God, when was the last time a life-changing decision had been taken out of his control? Not for years. And he intended to keep it that way.

Beneath darkening skies in the early October afternoon, Jake Benton drove from the private airstrip toward his ranch. From the moment he had left Dallas for the weekend, he had been happy to put distance between himself and his father, who still meddled in his life. They had once fought over which university Jake would attend; later whether he would work in the family business or not. That had brought the first threat to disinherit him. Now when his dad threatened to disinherit Jake, it was over bigger and more important things. Like the most recent demand to get married within the year.

Jake shoved thoughts about his quarrel with his father out of mind. He was on his way to his sprawling West Texas ranch, a retreat where he could get away to relax. The only people for miles were ones who worked for him and his brother. As always when he returned to the ranch, he wondered why he didn't come more often.

He couldn't escape the phone or demands of business, but he could cut back on them.

Jake felt himself relax as the family ranch home that was now his, with its guesthouses, bunkhouse, staff homes, outbuildings, barns, shop, gym and various other structures, appeared in the distance. Irrigated, landscaped yards with beds of brightly colored fall blooms surrounded each house. Jake took in the view, his pleasure over being at the ranch increasing. While clouds hid the sun and thunder rumbled closer at hand, the road divided. Jake took the curve leading to his house. As he turned the corner and drove to the side of the house, he saw someone on his porch. Startled, he stared in surprise. He had a fence and security at the gate leading from the highway. In all the years he had never had any uninvited visitors—until now.

His first reaction was annoyance that someone had breached his privacy and trespassed. Curiosity replaced aggravation. His trespasser, from a distance, looked like a woman. The closer he approached, the more he could see that she was good-looking.

As he pulled to a stop only yards from his house, his gaze raked over her. She stood, walked to the steps and halted to watch him.

Auburn hair piled on her head framed an oval face with prominent cheekbones. Her long legs, encased in pale, slim jeans above Western boots caught his attention. A short leather jacket was cut high, revealing her tiny waist. He was close enough now to experience a skip in his heartbeat.

His last shred of animosity vanished. Searching his memory for a clue to her identity or reason for her on his porch, he remained at a loss. He couldn't imagine why she was waiting for him or how she had known he was coming. Intrigued, determined to get answers, he stepped out of the car.

As his gaze locked with hers, he was startled by a sizzling current of attraction. The chemistry was instant, hot and inviting.

Whatever she was up to, she was audacious. As he approached her, he felt a defiance coming from her that puzzled him.

"Welcome home, Jake," she said in a mellow, quiet voice. In spite of the polite greeting, his sense of a silent challenge increased.

With his gaze still fastened on hers, he climbed the porch steps until he reached the top. Standing only inches from her, he had intended to intimidate her. Instead, he felt ensnared in huge, crystal-green eyes fringed with sweeping auburn lashes. She was gorgeous and he couldn't pull his gaze away.

"I don't often get surprised, but I am now," he admitted. "How'd you get past my security at the gate?"

When a faint smile lifted the corner of her mouth, his attention shifted lower to her full lips. Her mouth made him wonder how it would be to kiss her. Taking a deep breath, he tried to get his thoughts back to his question.

"You don't know me, do you?" she asked.

"No," he admitted. Even more disturbing, she thought he should know her. He never could have gone out with her without remembering. A woman with fabulous looks was not to be forgotten. "You have the advantage. I suspect I should know you. One thing, we've never gone out together," he said, voicing aloud his thoughts.

Another faint smile tugged at her mouth. "No, we haven't," she said patiently. "And to answer your question, I didn't pass your security checkpoint. I came across your ranch from the west."

"There's no gate or road from the west," he said, glancing beyond her at the land that vanished in a long grove of thick oaks he'd had planted as a windbreak. He could picture beyond the oaks, the flat, mesquite-covered land extending miles to his western boundary. "If you forded the river, it must be mostly dried up now, but rain is threatening," he said, taking a deep breath and smelling the rain that approached. "If you have a vehicle parked in the woods, I better let my foreman know before he calls the sheriff. You're trespassing, which could cause you trouble. I can call the sheriff to have you arrested. I have signs posted."

"This is a desperate effort to talk to you. I haven't been able to get past the secretaries and your attorneys."

His curiosity returned. With an effort he stopped staring at her, focusing instead on who she was. For all he knew, she could be a threat, although at the moment, he would relish a physical struggle with her because he would like to touch her.

An intriguing scent tempted him.

"All right, you want to talk. We can sit here on the porch and have a discussion," he said, motioning toward chairs. He was reluctant to invite her into his house. It crossed his mind that she might be armed. "First though, I'll admit, I don't know who you are."

He received another flicker of amusement. "Caitlin Santerre."

The name was a knife stab. As if ice water had poured over him, he cooled toward her while he stared at her, reconciling his memory of Caitlin Santerre with the beautiful woman standing before him.

"Son-of-a-gun," he said beneath his breath, for once not hiding his reaction to a shock. "You grew up. What the hell do you want with me?"

"You actually don't even know, do you?" she asked, anger creeping into her tone. "You own our land. I want to buy part of it back."

"You get to the point. Yes, I own it. It's my land since your brother sold it. I was surprised he was willing to sell it to me."

"Will loves money more than maintaining an old family feud, remaining loyal to the family and keeping the home place. All Will wants is to take care of Will," she said.

"I have to agree, but I'm biased. You should have told him to not sell," Jake said, trying to remember the age difference. He had never paid attention to her as a child when he saw her in town. She had seemed years younger and he hadn't given her a thought then or since.

"My brother and I aren't close. We never have been."

"That I can understand," Jake said, a cynical note creeping into his voice when he thought about Will Santerre whom he despised. The litany ran through his thoughts—the first Benton to settle in Texas in the mid-I800s, killing the first Santerre who was trying to divert water. The retaliations followed, which included killing cattle, poisoning water. In the next generation a Santerre son burned the Benton house and barn. The feud continued until his father put Caitlin's father in the hospital after a fistfight. Finally, his generation with the ultimate and most personal clash, made Jake feel the old hurts like a scar. He would always be certain Will Santerre had killed his older sister, Brittany. Will was tried and found not guilty. Will had sworn it was Brittany who caused the car crash, but Jake would never be convinced. His family was guilty of doing things to the Santerres, but his family had always felt justified. While Jake had hated it, Brittany had been in love with Will. Brittany had been Football Queen, Class President, beautiful, popular—Will loved the girls and went after her. Maybe out of both revenge and really wanting her. Maybe just because he had thought she would be a conquest that would make him look good. Jake could never believe anyone as selfish as Will could love another person. As far as he was concerned, Will loved himself more than anybody else. Jake looked at Caitlin. Her beauty now was tempered by the knowledge of her lineage.

The first huge drops of rain fell, slanting to hit along the edge of the porch. "This rain was a twenty-percent chance—most unlikely from the morning weather report. I'll make this short," she said.

"Let me call my foreman about your vehicle—what did you drive?"

She flashed a smile that made Jake forget his hostility again. Her white teeth were even and her smile was a warm invitation as if she were on the verge of sharing a delightful secret. "There's no vehicle. And there's no road," she answered, jerking her head toward the trees. "I came from the west on horseback. He jumped your fence. You might want to tell your foreman I have a tethered horse. I would appreciate getting my horse out of the weather."

"Ah, now I know why no one spotted you. I have men who drive the boundaries, but they can't cover this big ranch all the time. The likelihood of anyone coming across the ranch from any direction other than the highway is minimal to nonexistent. I'm not here most of the time, keep a low profile when I am home, and it's peaceful out here. I don't have enemies—or at least not many," he said, thinking of his former neighbors. Jake glanced at the trees again. "I'll tell someone to bring your horse in so it's sheltered."


As Jake made his call, more drops fell. He put away his phone. "My foreman will put your horse in the stable closest to the house."


"This may only be a fall shower. Let's go inside where we can talk in more comfortable surroundings," Jake suggested, intrigued by her in spite of his burning hatred of her half brother. "Since our grandfathers' days, we haven't had to worry much about trespassers."

"I guess our fathers were less into tearing down fences and stealing livestock from each other than the generations before them. The feud between our families began with the first two men who settled here."

"It may be less violent, but it hasn't ever ended," Jake said, thinking again of Will.

"Where is Will now?"

"He won't ever be back. He's bought a home in San Francisco and also owns a home in Paris. He's into investments. Beyond that, I know little about him. We have virtually no contact."

Knowing they were getting on a bad topic, Jake held the door for her. "This is a turn in the feud—you're the first Santerre to be invited in."

She barely looked at her surroundings as they walked down the wide hall. "So this is where you grew up."

"Yes. The original part of this house is as old as the house where you grew up. I know your dad's house was built later."

"My dad's house no longer exists," she said sharply. "Your crew began demolition last week. It doesn't take long to destroy a structure. Fortunately, Grandmother's house is the one that dates back to the beginning."

Holding back a retort, Jake directed her into a room. "Let's sit in the study," he said.

They entered one of Jake's favorite places, spacious with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on two walls while the remaining walls were glass. French doors opened onto the wraparound porch and patio, which had been remodeled with an extended roof and comfortable living areas. Beyond the patio, steps led down to a pool with a waterfall, a cabana, chairs and chaise longues. Tropical plants added an appealing touch.

"Have a seat," Jake said. He turned as she sat in a leather wingback chair. In a sweeping glance he took in her blue Western shirt that clung to lush curves and tucked into her snug jeans. Her belt circled a waist that was as small as he had guessed at his first glimpse. The little Santerre kid he had always ignored had turned into a stunning woman. He sat in another leather chair that faced her across a low mahogany table.

She crossed her long legs and he wondered how she would look in a dress. The image made his blood heat. She looked poised, comfortable, unlike someone desperate to get him to agree to something. She also looked desirable. Even though she was a Santerre, there was a red-hot chemistry about her that tempted him to forget who she was.

When he looked up from her legs, his eyes met hers and he was again ensnared. Attraction was tangible. She had to feel it because she held his gaze as invisible sparks heated him. He wanted to know her better. At the same time, the lifelong hatred of all Santerres coated the magnetism with bitterness. Caitlin was as forbidden as poison, yet he wanted to place his lips on her to taste and kiss.

Taking a deep breath he tore his gaze away to return his attention with more composure.

"Have you been waiting long?" he asked. "I took my time flying in here this morning."

"I was willing to wait," she said.

"How'd you know I was coming today?"

Amusement flashed in her expressive eyes. "I've hired a private detective to learn your whereabouts so I could find an opportunity to talk to you. You rarely have a bodyguard with you."

"You're taking a chance because you know I can have you arrested."

"It would be a little more difficult to consider me a trespasser now that you've invited me into your house."

"So you want to buy back part of your ranch. Why didn't you discuss this with your brother?"

"My half brother never gave me the opportunity. It's general knowledge in these parts that traditionally in the Santerre family, the oldest son inherits the ranch. They are raised to protect the ranch, maintain it, keep it in the family. Well, all of that instruction didn't take with Will. He does as he pleases and he has no interest in cowboys, the country or ranch life."

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