Zach Forrester has always been a bit of a wild one, but the ladies of the Tulips Saloon finally see their opportunity to make him settle down for good.
So with some prodding from the gentle matchmakers, it looks as if the people of Tulips, Texas, might achieve their goal of growing the town one—make that two—babies at a time.
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Zach Forrester freely admitted that boredom was his worst enemy.
He didn't mind living in Tulips, Texas, on the Triple F ranch, but he wanted to do more in his life than just take care of a family property. He had plans to build a new elementary school in the small town, a challenge he would enjoy.
But now it was time for a different challenge. Maybe the late September moon was getting to him, but excitement seemed to be a hard-to-find commodity.
One thing was for certain, he wasn't giving up his life the way Duke had, to diapers and a wife and a round-cheeked baby. He loved his little nephew, but a baby put a certain stop to one's life. Nor would he ever let a woman lead him around by the nose as Liberty had Duke. She had left the altar with Duke standing at it, then made a surprise return with his baby, finally marrying Duke in a wonderfully romantic ceremony.
Of course, Duke was insanely happy with his new wife and child, but it had been hell on Duke getting there. Zach had to admit it had been fun watching his older brother struggle mightily to get his woman. Everything always seems to come easy for my brother and sister and harder for me.
He was enjoying his pity party as he drove, until he saw the hot pink convertible T-bird and the madwoman standing next to his favorite bull, which she'd clearly hit. She was talking on her cell phone as if it was just any old piece of meat she'd struck. But Brahma Bud was his best and finest!
Hopping out of his truck, Zach stared at the imperious woman with whiskey-colored hair. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
She snapped her cell phone shut. "I am trying to get this beast to move, Cowboy. He seems to think he has the right of way."
"He does!" Zach stared at his poor bull, which gazed back in return, not bothered in the least by the annoying woman who had hit him.
"Well, he's been having his way for an hour," she replied, her voice so haughty it belonged in New York. "Do you think you could move his plump hide?"
Perhaps Brahma Bud had only been lightly tapped, because the bull didn't seem any worse for wear. He did, however, seem quite mesmerized by the pink T-bird, and as Zach forced himself to calm down, he had to admit the car—and the woman—were definitely worth second looks. "What's the rush, City?"
"I have a life," she told him. "I just can't stand here and watch the grass grow."
Well, hell, Zach thought, wasn't she special. Of course, she certainly looked special in her tight dress. When she spoke, she emphasized her words so that all of her bounced in the right places. "He might move tomorrow," Zach said. "Once he gets to a spot he likes, he tends to stay there."
"You have got to be kidding me!" she exclaimed, enunciating and bouncing, to Zach's delight.
Ah, city folk. So much fun. He leaned against her T-bird and gave her his best leer. "When I get to a spot I like, I tend to stay there, too."
"Cowboy, I know all about guys like you, and believe me, the words are bigger than the deed. Just take your cow and go home, okay? And I won't charge you for the dent in my fender. Not to mention I think he used his antler to lift my skirt when I tried to make certain he was all right."
"Yeah, that would be the easy way out," Zach said slowly, suddenly realizing what he wanted more than anything was to shake things up, and this gal was a smoking-hot challenge even if she didn't know horns from antlers. "I'll do two things for you—one, I'll ask my prize longhorn here to move, if you're nice. Two, I won't ask why you're trespassing on my private drive, if you're nice. I won't even be mad that you hit my livelihood, here," he said, dropping a casual hand to Bud's horn. "However, I do insist upon a kiss."
She gasped. "I consider kissing to be sex. Why would I have sex with a stranger?"
He laughed out loud. "Make it a brotherly peck, then."
"No. You're weird. It might be catching."
"I think you're the weird one." Crossing his arms, he decided this exceptional woman was his next challenge. "So, I noticed you didn't protest that you had a boyfriend or were married or something."
She wrinkled her nose. "I just broke up with my boyfriend. He was too possessive."
Zach raised his brows. "Possessive?"
"He thought he owned me."
"Boyfriends will act like that sometimes." He wondered if he'd feel the same way if she was his girlfriend. Nah. He'd never felt that way about any woman. Safe!
Her back stiffened. "Being possessive is bad and being bossy is worse. But if you'd like to boss someone around, why don't you tell that cow to move so I can get back on the road?"
He shook his head. "You're not going anywhere." She put her hands on her hips, prepared to give him a nor'easter full of cold sass. "Why not?"
"It's not just the fender you damaged. It's hanging off." He pointed to the front of her car. "And you have a flat tire. I notice you didn't respond to my offer of a kiss, by the way."
Jessica Tomball Farnsworth looked at the cowboy. He was hunky, to be sure, but so was her ex-fiancé. She'd learned that a man that hot was usually firing more than one pistol at a time—just as her possessive ex-boyfriend had. He'd found a more available set of female arms while she'd been away on business, traveling with her cosmetics company.
That thought led her to consider dropping straight into this willing man's arms and slathering his face with kisses since he wanted kissing so badly. After all, revenge was sweet.
But she felt a stronger desire to get as far away from men as possible. She wasn't bitter; she was simply willing to acknowledge that either she was a poor judge of character or all men were louses.
Until she had that figured out, she wasn't kissing this cowboy, or any male. She narrowed her eyes at him. Make that hot cowboy. "Smooth come-ons like yours put me off." Taking a deep breath for bravery, she gave the large animal a push on his rump to encourage him to move.
He swished his tail in response. "We could be here all day," the cowboy said. This seemed, unfortunately, to be true. She had places she needed to be. With her heart beating too fast, she rose on tiptoe and kissed the cowboy full on the mouth, more than ready to get the hell out of wherever she was.
He looked at her when she sank back to ground level.
"You call that a kiss?"
"Yes, I do," she said tartly. "Do you keep your promises or not?" A delicious zing of wonder had struck her when she'd brushed his lips, along with a wayward desire for more, more, more.
He took a peppermint from his pocket and let the giant bull smell it before tossing it into the winter-touched yellow meadow. The bull casually strolled after the candy treat while the man inspected the broken fence, which had allowed his beast to escape and wander the roadside. Never in her life had she seen an animal that big up close. But then its kind, curious eyes had stared over the hood at her, and she'd been grateful it didn't appear to be hurt.
"Why do you keep animals like that?" she asked. "He deserves to be wild and free."
The cowboy laughed. "He is wild and free, City. This is my best friend. He lives in the lap of luxury."
He was clearly amused by her lack of knowledge of his world. Jessica sniffed, not liking his attitude at all. "I suppose you think it's cute to give him candy. What happens when he gets a cavity?"
He sent a slow, amused grin her way. Shaking his head, he went to inspect her car.
Jessica ignored him, keeping her gaze on the bull, which appeared to be just as happy inside the meadow as out.
"What's your name?"
"Jessica," she said, unwilling to share more.
"Mine's Zach," he replied, though she hadn't asked. "I can help you get on your way, Jessie."
She turned, staring at him. "Or you could kiss me again," he said conversationally. "I know you liked it as much as I did."
She gasped. "No. I didn't."
He smiled, the expression in his dark eyes registering disbelief. It made Jessica mad that he knew better, and madder to know she was so easy to read.
"So," he said, drawing near to her, "was it good sex?"
Not as good as it could be. "I'll thank you to not make fun of my sense of decency," Jessica said. "Thank you for stopping and moving your cow out of the way. Now please tell me where I can get this tire fixed."
"You certainly have issues, lady," Zach said, catching her hand in his, "but I'm not afraid of issues. In fact, I look forward to helping you solve yours, Jessie." He ran a thumb over her bottom lip.
"Tell me your full name."
"Jessica Tomball Farnsworth," she whispered, wondering why she bothered to answer. "I don't have as many issues as you do, by the way." She backed away, knowing full well he was messing with her senses.
"Sure I do, City," he said, moving closer.
"Where I come from, a man's not a man unless he's got a full plate of issues. Sins." He gave her a wink and slid a hand around her waist. "We're born with issues, and we use them to lure women 'cause they think they can save us from ourselves. Then we die with our issues, knowing we've enjoyed them every step of the way."
"You're crazy," she whispered, unable to make her escape because of the way he was pressing her against the car.
"And you like it," he said against her neck, shifting his hands under her Versace skirt.
"I think I do," Jessica said, closing her eyes. What the hell. I was never cut out for boredom.
And Jessie T., boyfriend-dumper and responsibility-escaper dragged the bad boy into the back seat of her hot pink T-bird, embracing sins and issues and everything else that came with the sinfully hot package.