Return to beautiful Briscoe Ranch Resort in Melissa Cutler's next steamy installment of the One and Only Texas series, One Wild Night.
Get ready for the ride of your life...
A cowgirl at heart, Skye Martinez has a rebellious streak she's determined to shake. Especially since she's poised to take the reins of her family's business at Briscoe Ranch Resort. It's time for her to settle down and get serious about her future...right after one last night of fun with a handsome stranger she meets in the resort's stable. But when a midnight horseback ride turns into a red-hot weekend with one of country music's biggest stars, Skye's world is rocked beyond her wildest dreams...
Gentry Wells rode his bad boy image all the way to the top of the country music charts. But churning out hits has dried up his creativity, and he can't remember the last time his life was his own. Skye is a sexy distraction he can't resist, especially since she breathes new life into his music. They bring out the wild side in each other, which is great for Gentry's careerbut a major threat to Skye's. Too bad he's fallen in love with her. With their hearts and futures on the line, can Gentry convince Skye to turn their joyride into a real chance to ride off into the sunset together?
"Melissa Cutler is a bright new voice in contemporary romance." New York Times bestselling author Lori Wilde
About the Author
Melissa Cutler is the author of The Mistletoe Effect and the One and Only Texas series. She knows she has the best job in the world writing sexy contemporary romances and romantic suspense. She was struck at an early age for an unrelenting travel bug and is probably planning her next vacation as you read this. When she's not globetrotting, she's enjoying Southern California's flip-flop wearing weather and wrangling two rambunctious kids.
Read an Excerpt
One Wild Night
By Melissa Cutler
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2017 Melissa Cutler
All rights reserved.
If only Skye Martinez could run a fever on command. Or, after a few bites of the eggplant parmesan that Mrs. Biaggi of Vito's Eatery just delivered to the table, maybe she could fake food poisoning. Anything to get her out of this disaster of a blind date, the latest in a string of them. That was the trouble with living in a small Texas town. All the good men were taken — along with most of the bad ones too.
"And here's your meatball, Sweetums," Mrs. Biaggi said.
Sweetums, in this case, was Vince Biaggi, Skye's date — and Mrs. Biaggi's son.
Skye was gonna kill Granny June for this one.
"It looks great, as always, Mother," Vince said, digging in. With a mouth full of meatball, he poked his fork in Skye's direction. "Now you see why I wanted us to eat here. There's no sense paying for dinner when we can eat for free."
Mrs. Biaggi gave Skye a nudge and a wink. "Vince brings all his first dates here. It gives his Pops and me a chance to check out the merchandise."
And now she was merchandise. Good to know.
She took a despairing glance at her phone, which she'd positioned strategically at the opening of her purse. Twenty minutes until her sister, Gloria, was scheduled to call, a Plan B in case Skye needed to fake an emergency and escape. When she raised her gaze, it was to find Vince and his mother beaming at her.
"Go on and try the eggplant parmesan," Mrs. Biaggi said. "It's been Vince's favorite since he was just a little squirt."
Skye made slow work of slicing the eggplant as her mind scrolled through possible ways to make Granny June pay. Maybe she'd reprogram the horn on Granny's riding scooter to play chicken noises. Or set her up on a disaster of a blind date of her own. God knew there were plenty of toothless or senile senior men at church. Or maybe Skye could get her mom to whip up one of her old-world curses to turn Granny's hair bright blue.
Then again, Granny June would probably approve of that one.
Granny June Briscoe was the matriarch of the family-owned Briscoe Ranch Resort where Skye worked in housekeeping, and where Skye's family had worked for almost four decades. Usually, Granny June had a knack for matchmaking — which was the only reason Skye had agreed go on a date with the son of one of Granny's Bingo buddies. Plus, Skye had recently made a decision to abandon her rebellious side and settle down like the good Catholic woman she was raised to be.
She had a bite of food halfway to her lips when, miracle of miracles, her phone chimed with an incoming text. It was all she could do to hide her relief. "Oh Gosh, I'm so sorry. I didn't realize I'd left the volume on. Excuse me."
The text read, this wedding is bananas.
It wasn't from her sister, but from her friend Remedy, the head wedding planner at Briscoe Ranch. In Skye's lifetime of experience at the resort, all weddings fell somewhere on the crazy spectrum, so tonight's affair would have to be extra gonzo for Remedy to text something like that. This wasn't a fake emergency; it was even better.
Skye waved her phone at Vince. "Sorry, it's my mom. Just a sec." Oh, how the lies rolled off her tongue. But she couldn't find it in her heart to care as she let her fingers fly over the touch keys.
Crazier than the date I'm on? She texted.
Looking at Mrs. Biaggi and Vince, she forced her smile to stay apologetic while waiting for Remedy's reply. It came less than a minute later.
Better hurry if you want to see the maid of honor doing tequila shots from the best man's belt buckle flask with no hands.
That did sound bananas — and exactly what Skye needed to salvage her Saturday night. A zing of delicious, addictive adrenaline pulsed through her veins. It was only a small fix of her preferred vice — nowhere near enough to satisfy the hunger for rebelliousness she'd been cursed with — but it was way more of a thrill than she'd expected out of the night.
"Aw, shoot," Skye said, taking her purse handles in one hand and waving her phone in the other as she stood. Her napkin fell from her lap to the floor, but she didn't dare risk losing momentum by stooping to pick it up. "My mom needs me. My dad, with his bad back ... he fell again and he's stuck. She can't get him off the floor on her own." Which was kind of the truth. Sort of. He'd fallen a few times lately and they'd needed Skye's help to hoist him up again.
She sent up a quick mental prayer for forgiveness for using her dad's disability as an excuse. Then she dashed off a second prayer for forgiveness about lying in the first place, covering all her bases. One thing she wouldn't feel guilty about was running out on her free meal.
Vince looked as lost as a boy who'd just been told his dog had gone to visit a farm far, far away. He poked at his half-eaten meatball. "But our date's not over."
Yeah, buddy, it is. "I'll text you."
Another lie, another prayer. Such was life.
Skye grabbed a dinner roll from the table and dashed through the front door. She'd driven herself to the restaurant, a rule she'd learned the hard way a few years back while on another excruciating blind date. In fact, she'd come to think of the act of inviting a guy to pick her up at home for a date as a big relationship step — one that the guys she'd dated had seldom made it to.
Racing the clock, hoping to catch the maid of honor's and best man's belt buckle antics, Skye arrived at Briscoe Ranch Resort in record time. After tossing her car keys to her cousin Marco who was working valet that night, she hot-footed it through the lobby and ascended the grand staircase, headed to the ballroom on the second level.
What she saw as she crested the stairs didn't disappoint. With a small crowd surrounding them, Remedy and her assistant Tabby were pushing a luggage trolley through a small crowd of onlookers. Seated on the base of the trolley was a very, very drunk young woman, slumped against one of the trolley's brass poles as her eyes fluttered open and closed. The voluminous yellow bridesmaid's dress she wore billowed out around her like she was being eaten alive by Pac-Man.
Skye froze in an open-mouth stare — until the yellow dress caught in the trolley's wheels and she roused herself to rush over and free the material. "Is this the maid of honor?"
Remedy flashed a wry smile. "Oh, yes. And it's time for her to turn in for the night." She patted the woman on the top of her elaborate, hairspray-crispy updo. "Sound good, Kimberly?"
Kimberly groaned. Her head lolled to the side.
"I think it's a little past time," Tabby muttered.
With Skye clearing the crowd from their path, Remedy and Tabby wheeled the trolley to the elevators, where Remedy got on her phone to request that someone meet them at Kimberly's room with the master key to let them in. They hadn't snagged her clutch purse during their hustle to remove her from dancing on the bride and groom's sweetheart table because they needed to get her out of the ballroom before she threw up or flashed even more skin to the attendees or both.
"So, your date was a bust?" Remedy asked Skye once they were in an elevator, headed to the fifth floor.
Skye pressed her fingers to her temples. "This guy was even worse than the last one, who kept steering the conversation back to his plant collection and making double entendres about propagating succulents."
Remedy snorted out a laugh. "This guy was worse?"
"He took me to dinner at his parents' restaurant so he wouldn't have to pay and so they could scope out 'the merchandise,' as his mother called me."
Remedy gave her a playful hit on the shoulder. "Ew!"
"Right? I know I said I wanted to settle down with a nice, vanilla Catholic guy, but Vince Biaggi was a little too vanilla. I have to believe that in the danger-and-drama spectrum of Vince on one end and Mike the Mistake on the other, there's got to be a guy in central Texas who's somewhere in the middle ground."
Mike the Mistake was Skye's ex-husband. Except she couldn't quite get the word ex-husband past her lips. Partly because, eight years later, she was still reeling in disbelief that she'd ever been that out-of-control twenty-year-old who'd allowed the thrill of rebellion to intoxicate her into marrying a lion keeper with an international traveling circus — even if they'd only lasted for three months. And partly out of respect for her faith and her parents, both of which strictly forbid divorce. That three-month marriage had caused her nothing but pain and had resulted in the greatest sin of her life — a sin she could never afford to make again. Which was why she had to get it right next time when it came to choosing a mate, because next time would be forever, for real.
On the fifth floor, they rounded the corner and found Skye's mom leaning against the wall just outside of Kimberly's hotel-room door. Clad in the resort's standard-issue middle-management uniform of a burgundy skirt suit, she held herself with the noble bearing that came with being the fierce loving, no-nonsense heart of both the resort and the Martinez family. She'd put on some pounds since Skye's dad's health had deteriorated a few years earlier, and they'd pleasantly softened her compact, athletic build in a way that made Skye want to hug her every chance she got — not that her mother appreciated any random display of affection.
"Hey, Mom," Skye said. "What are you doing here? What good is it being in charge if you keep working Saturday nights?"
Her mom flashed the key fob at room 524's door, then shouldered it open and held it for Remedy and the luggage trolley. "Your father was driving me crazy. You know how grouchy he gets when his back's hurting. I made him a poultice of herbs, brewed up my mama's special tea, and sent him to bed." She frowned sympathetically at Kimberly as Remedy and Tabby wheeled her in. "Poor thing."
"Kimberly made some bad choices tonight," Tabby said as she pushed.
Her mom shifted her focus to Remedy, a brow raised in a bid for more details, but Remedy just shook her head. "It involves the best man's belt buckle. You don't want to know."
"You're right," Skye's mom said, following them farther into the room. "Where are her friends? Why aren't they taking care of her?"
"The DJ had them busy running through the gamut of eighties dance styles at the reception," Remedy said. "Kimberly was attempting the Running Man on top of a table while a couple of groomsman were filming up her skirt when I found her."
"Bastards," her mom muttered. "Speaking of which ... Skye, I thought you were on a date tonight."
The trolley wheels snagged on something, giving Skye a chance to look around while Tabby rushed forward to clear the carpet. The room was a wreck, as though a wedding-supply store had sneezed all over it. Every horizontal surface was covered with discarded champagne flutes, makeup, plastic dry-cleaning bags, and glitter. So much glitter.
Skye groped down around the trolley's rear wheels for anything else they may have snagged on and pulled up a blonde weave. Nasty. With a shudder, she tossed it onto the nightstand. "I ditched him to hang out with Remedy."
Remedy, Tabby, and Skye made careful work positioning the trolley next to the nearest queen-size bed with the hope that Kimberly could be roused enough to crawl up into it.
Her mom cringed. "Your date was that bad?"
Skye was spared from answering by a sudden retching sound. The next thing she knew, Kimberly projectile vomited tequila and God-knows-what-else all over her dress, the floor, and the duvet.
Remedy and Tabby sprinted for the hall, shrieking and gagging in disgust. But Skye and her mom merely groaned at the idea of what a pain in the ass it was going to be to clean it all up. Polished Pros, the housekeeping company started by Skye's grandmother more than thirty-five years ago and passed to her daughter, Skye's mother, when she retired, had done wonders for their tolerance in coping with every manner of bodily fluid.
Gesturing to the mess, Skye shot her mom a wry look. "Still more fun than my blind date tonight."
With a roll of her eyes, her mom got on her phone. "Hey, Annika? It's Yessica. Would you bring your cleaning trolley and a new duvet to room 524 please?" To Remedy and Tabby, who stood in the hallway, eyes averted from the room, she called, "You two can get back to the wedding. We'll take it from here."
Some might not like working with their mothers, but Skye didn't mind. Except for a brief stint as a waitress during high school, she'd worked for her mom all her life and fully expected to take over the business as the third-generation owner when her mother retired. And she was damn proud of that legacy. Side-by-side with the Briscoe family itself, Skye's family had been the backbone of Briscoe Ranch Resort for nearly four decades. Besides Polished Pros, which exclusively leased its services to Briscoe Ranch, Skye's father had run the resort's maintenance department until his back forced him onto disability, and innumerable other extended family members worked around the resort in various capacities, from the accounting department to the stable.
Skye made short work of helping Kimberly off the trolley and out of her dress, leaving her in Spanx and a strapless white bra, while her mom fetched wet washcloths and towels.
"You're too picky about men," her mom told Skye as she toweled off Kimberly's hair.
Yes, Skye was picky. She had to be. The next man she fell in love with had to be forever, no mistakes. "This is rural Texas. There are only so many men. Of all the eligible bachelors who work at the resort or go to our church or live in town, I've either dated them or they're not interested in me. There's no one left, mama."
She swabbed Kimberly's face and arms with a wet washcloth, cooing to her as she worked. Skye had endured her fair share of drunken regret back in her early twenties, so she knew how awful the poor girl must be feeling.
Annika arrived pushing a housekeeping trolley. She assessed the situation with a frown and a shake of her head. "Every weekend, every wedding," she grumbled as she walked to the bed.
Skye's mom left Skye to attend to Kimberly while she and Annika stripped the soiled duvet from the bed and stuffed it into a laundry bag.
"I can help you with your man problem, mija," her mom said as she pushed the voluminous skirt of Kimberly's bridesmaid dress into a second laundry bag.
It was an offer her mom had made before. There was just one problem. "I don't believe in magic, Mom."
With Annika busy mopping, Skye and her mom helped Kimberly crawl between the bed sheets and tucked her in. "It's your generation. You don't appreciate tradition. If there isn't an app for it, it doesn't exist."
Skye had heard that argument before, but she knew better. If her mom's old-world magic actually worked, then her dad would be pain free and back at work. If the old magic worked, then maybe Skye's marriage would have too, along with everything else that went wrong during those fleeting months. Her arms, working of their own accord, wrapped around her belly. "Mom, I'm telling you, there's no one."
Her mom grabbed a water bottle from the trolley and set it on Kimberly's nightstand. Then she squared up to Skye and took her hands. "Then there's no harm in trying a little magic. Let me help you find someone to love."
Annika mopped around their shoes. "Yessica helped me last year when Nicco wouldn't commit. She gave me this magic coin that I stuffed in my bra and — bam — he proposed."
Never before confronted with an actual, living person for whom her mom's magic had worked, Skye's resolve started to crack. She took a long, hard look at Kimberly, slack-jawed and drooling and going to bed alone — the perfect embodiment of Skye's wild, rebellious, drama-addicted, terminally single past. Not a very pretty picture. Not at all.
She was done being a bridesmaid. Her career's future was all mapped out and she owned her own house, so there was just one thing missing. "Okay, Mom. I give up. Let's do this your way."
Even if it didn't work — which it wouldn't, she was certain — then at least her mom would stop needling her about trying such ridiculous, old-fashioned methods. Then she could get back to her equally ineffective, often ridiculous modern-day methods of online dating and ill-advised blind dates arranged by eighty-year-old Bingo players. The thought nearly made her wince.
Annika gave a quiet golf clap at Skye's agreement, while Skye's mom straightened up. The impish gleam in her eyes reminded Skye of her fondest memories of Mama Lita — her dad's mother, Edalia — when the two of them were sneaking cookies in the kitchen for breakfast one morning while her mother was in the bedroom ironing.
Excerpted from One Wild Night by Melissa Cutler. Copyright © 2017 Melissa Cutler. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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