Andres Calderon risked everything—his heart, his career, and even his family—for love, and lost. When he returned home, he found his family's ranch seized by the ruthless cartels. Now Andres trains their horses, waiting for a chance to take back what is his...
Humiliated by her now ex-fiancé, trauma doctor Monica Vasquez agrees to act as an informant for the U.S. government in the cartel-run town of Copas, Mexico. She expects the danger. She doesn't expect the heated rush of desire for a cartel horse trainer...especially when that desire grows into something deeper and far more complicated.
But violence—volatile and deadly—simmers beneath the surface of this small Mexican town. And when it erupts, Monica and Andres will have to decide how much they trust their love...and each other.
Books in the Dangerous Desire series:
Desire and Deception
Secrets and Seduction
Temptation and Treachery
About the Author
Sahara Roberts caught the writing bug early in life. She enjoys writing Romantic Suspense and Contemporary Romance. Her days are filled with international trade issues (the legal kind) and her evenings writing steamy romance set against the backdrop of the deadly Mexican drug cartels. She is currently working on the third novel in the Dangerous Desires series.
Sahara lives in South Texas with her husband and two spoiled cats.
Read an Excerpt
Secrets and Seduction
A Dangerous Desires Novel
By Sahara Roberts, Candace Havens
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Sahara Roberts
All rights reserved.
"If you wanted me naked, all you had to do was say so."
Monica Vasquez's pulse spiked as she tried to glare. Andres Calderon's honey-brown eyes shone with a mischievous light, and he had the gall to give her one of his sexy, one-sided grins while he worked the buttons on his western shirt.
Oh, if only it were that easy, cowboy. I'd have you down to that hat and nothing else faster than that horse tossed you off. Heat crept along her cheeks as she willed the thought away. For goodness' sake, Monica, he can't read minds. Now get a grip, he's a patient.
She shifted her feet, wishing she could pull her gaze away. No patient had ever gotten to her the way he did. If luck was on her side, his eyes hadn't adjusted to the dark corner of the stable yet.
Andres pulled the dust-covered shirt out of his blue jeans with care. Her toes curled as the material draped open to reveal well-cut ridges at his pecs and abs. The rounded shoulders and muscle definition along his biceps only added to her unease. She desperately needed her white coat and stethoscope as a buffer, wrapping her in the protection and authority of her profession. The sleeveless white summer dress with a lavender flower print left her feeling vulnerable. Doctors were supposed to be unflappable when confronted by emergencies, chaos, or big, strapping, handsome cowboys with sun-kissed skin.
He winced, the pain on his face stripping away the teasing façade he'd presented since picking himself up off the ground. Years of training kicked in, pulling her attention from his tanned skin. She clasped his arm and directed him to the wooden bench along the wall. "Sit down for me." Her doctor's voice resonated in the small space.
"I'm fine, Doc." She inwardly rolled her eyes. Of course he was. What tough guy liked admitting to an injury?
"You took a nasty fall, Andres." Exhaling through flared nostrils, he folded his tall frame onto the worn bench and placed his hat beside him. She lifted her skirt to kneel, but he caught her by the elbow.
"Hang on." He draped his shirt at her feet before letting her continue.
Her lips parted, ready to tell him he needn't bother. She might be petite, but she was far from fragile. Yet the gallant gesture kept her from uttering a word. In the small town of Copas, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, manners long forgotten elsewhere were the everyday norm.
"Thank you." Her knees settled on the shirt-covered, packed earth. As she felt tiny stones digging into her skin even through the cloth, she was thankful for his consideration. "Lift your arms for me."
His back flattened against the wall. "No."
One, two, three ... She kept time with the array of hoofbeats pounding across the arena, sending vibrations along her legs.
In all the time she'd known him, he'd never been difficult with her. Teasing, joking, and testing limits, sure, but he'd never refused a direct request from her. "Andres." She adopted a tone. "Let's make sure you didn't break anything."
She hadn't seen him fly off the rearing horse, but she'd heard the spectators' collective gasp and the accompanying thud as his body hit the ground. As the town's resident, though temporary, doctor, she'd bolted to the scene, cutting through the crowd of spectators surrounding the corral. Her breath had failed her when she'd realized who'd been thrown. For a moment, time froze, as the noise of the crowd faded away, and the only thing she could hear was the pounding of her heart. Her entire being became fixated on the man lying on the ground at her feet. It had taken everything she had to step back and order the men to help Andres up.
"I'm fine, Doc." He folded his arms matter-of-factly. "It's not the first time I've landed on my ... butt, and it won't be the last."
Men and their macho crap. She gave him a smile she hoped was ambiguous at best. "Do I need to bring in a couple of men to assist?"
"I spent the morning working horses, and the sun's hot enough to scorch fajitas on the hood of my truck." Fixing his gaze on a spot somewhere over her head, he grudgingly admitted, "I stink. So if it's all right with you —"
Of all the things to worry about, his first concern was whether or not honest sweat would offend her. "I can hold my breath for a long time. Promise." As a doctor she was used to all kinds of odors. A little manly man smell wouldn't send her running. "Now, I need you to pick up your arms." She encouraged him with a light tap to his wrist.
His gaze slid down to meet hers. "I'd really rather take a shower before you examine me."
She forced herself not to squirm as thoughts of his body, wet, slick with soap, nearly took her breath away. This situation was definitely not covered in med school. She drew in a deep breath, reaching for her patience. "If you cooperate, this can be over with quickly, and you can go take as long a shower as you want, how's that?"
The corner of his lips quirked up. "Maybe you can wash my back?"
Monica glared at him. "This is serious, Andres. You took a hard fall, please let me do my job."
He turned away, mouthing something she was surely better off not hearing, but did as she asked. "I learned to take a fall before I could wipe my nose." He hooked his hands behind his head and concentrated on a point above her.
She breathed a silent sigh of relief and tucked away the images of the two of them naked and wet. "Take in a deep breath for me."
His chest expanded to capacity. No visible damage, no further signs of discomfort caused by the fall. "You were on the ground, groaning and holding your forehead." She palpated the area, glancing at his averted face every few seconds for any telltale reactions.
"I had my hand over my eyes to block out the sun." Possible. The way he avoided eye contact convinced her this was embarrassment instead of injury. Either way, she continued her examination until she could live with his self-diagnosis of "fine." She lightened her touch as she covered his ribs. He twitched. Afraid she missed something, she checked again, concentrating on the spot she'd been touching when he'd reacted. "Besides, I got the wind knocked out of me, and I lost my hat ..." His voice trailed off.
Try as she might, the man was impossible to ignore in such close confines. She spared a quick glance and did a double take. In the time she'd known Andres he'd been quiet and unobtrusive, then teasing and flirtatious. She would never have imagined him capable of such a tender, thoughtful expression.
Damn. He'd managed to scatter her resolve without even trying. In a heartbeat, she became acutely aware of how close they were. Him, taking up a good portion of the scarred wooden bench. Her, kneeling between his dusty cowboy boots while the zipper on his jeans pulled tight across an impressive bulge.
Her nipples puckered against the thin, unlined bra cups. Noooo. She licked the edge of her lips, needing relief for her suddenly dry mouth. This line of thinking would only lead to complications.
If she had any sense she'd walk out now and track down Dr. Treviño to take over. Her mentor was onsite, monitoring the local cartel boss's health while she filled in at the office.
"One of these nights we should try this again." His voice went low, strumming her heightened senses. "Only next time, I get to take your shirt off, too. Maybe take that shower ... together."
Too late. Images of him peeling back her clothes flashed through her mind. Her gaze dropped to his mouth, caressing those full, sensuous lips like she'd been tempted to do so many times. How would his neatly trimmed beard feel against her bare wet skin?
Booted steps snapped her back to reality. "She's checking you didn't bust your fool head, you moron." Alejandro "Alex" Marquez, the ranch manager, said with disgust. "Not trying for first base."
"Bite me." Andres brought down his arms, rolling his right shoulder as he watched Alex place her heavily laden backpack on the bench beside them.
"Here's your pack, ma'am."
"Thank you." Moni got up, gently tugging Andres's torso forward to examine his back. She should have pulled on some gloves and stopped enjoying the feel of hard muscles.
Alex tapped his cowboy hat against faded blue jeans. "I've got to get back. I'll send Miss Lupe over to lend a hand."
"No need, Alex." The fiery sun tattoo below the back of Andres's neck caught her attention. "We're just about done here."
"Okay." He shrugged then turned on his heel and walked away, his natural gait a little stiff.
"When are you going to put me out of my misery, Doc?" Andres's throaty whisper, for her ears only, cleared a long, unused path back toward temptation. His palm settled on the curve of her hip, increasing the thrum that had started between her thighs. She stepped back, giving him an unexpected close-up of her breasts. He tightened his grasp while his lips parted for his heated breath to fan across her body. Openmouthed kisses ... She bit the corner of her lip, unable to stop the shudder that ran through her.
The man was a walking contradiction. One minute he laid out his shirt for her, the next he was talking about getting naked. Dios, she'd gone way too long without getting up close and personal with someone. No one since ... From the doorway, Alex called out, "Take care not to get your skirt tossed around before you get out of here."
Holy Mother ... Mortified, she stiffened, releasing her breath in a rush. What did these men think of her? Copas was way behind the times, but being alone with a man while examining him for injuries didn't mean they had a right to talk to her that way — regardless of where her thoughts had gone. She so needed to get out of this backwater little town and back to civilization. The second Dr. Treviño was free, or she got the call from Dr. Chavez, she was out of here.
Andres shook his head. "Doc?" He reached for her arm, but she twisted her wrist and pulled away, escaping with little effort.
Squaring her shoulders, she addressed him in her best clinical tone. "Don't touch me," she ground out. Every part of her screamed to take those words back. "If you can't act like a decent human being, find yourself another doctor." She stomped around him and jammed her forearm through both straps of the Kevlar-lined backpack, stalking away as best she could in three-inch heels.
"Doc ..." The announcement for the barrel races drowned out his words.
Humiliation, anger, and annoyance bubbled inside of her, making her throat tight. With jerky movements, she pulled the sunglasses from where she'd hooked them on the front of her dress. Get a grip.
She'd tried hard to stay neutral and unobtrusive. Cartel members could be volatile, but she'd kept to her tasks and managed to gain some level of tolerance. Andres had always been the epitome of politeness when he brought Dr. Treviño to check in at the office. Though if he found a moment alone, he'd try to tease a smile out of her. And it usually worked.
The wind blew her hair forward, whipping against her cheeks and tangling around her sunglasses. She yanked stray wisps out of her mouth.
Sometime during the last few visits his cute grin became a sexy smile, and his teasing had turned more personal ... more intimate. What she'd hoped was a cold stare hadn't even slowed him down.
The wind gusted again, molding her skirt to her backside. Only the weight of the backpack she carried preserved her modesty. "Jerks," she muttered under her breath. "Sorry sons of —" She was halfway to the arena before Alex's words crept past her ire. Her steps slowed, and she dropped her head back to stare at the sky. I'm such an idiot. Alex could have been warning her that the wind could whip her skirt around. She bit the corner of her lip. After months of keeping her temper in check, she'd slipped at the wrong time. With the wrong person. A mistake like that could get her killed. Worse, she just might owe Andres an apology.
Ten minutes in the stands and Andres couldn't tell if his hair was damp from the hot shower or the afternoon heat. Today, he didn't envy the riders. They were covered in dust and baking under the scorching Mexican sun.
Andres's lips tightened. He scanned the crowd from behind dark sunglasses. Former friends, neighbors, and numerous aficionados from surrounding towns were enjoying the day's events. Several pretty faces dotted the stands, but the only woman he wanted was purposely ignoring him. She sat prim and proper, directly across from him, with another man. Simon.
Even as a child, Simon had been a spoiled mama's boy. He was over thirty and still at home, with his mother all but tying his shoelaces for him. He couldn't imagine the independent Doc with the sissy-boy Lupe had raised. Disgusted, he tore his eyes away. Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse.
Paloma Guerrero was making her way up the stands toward him while her three-man entourage lined the railing. Like her father, she did things her own way, regardless of whispers. Not that anybody was stupid enough to insult the cartel boss's daughter.
She sat next to him then scooted close enough that her hat brim brushed his. "Why are you sitting way up here, all by yourself?" The cloud of perfume couldn't mask the smell of smoke — and it wasn't cigarettes she'd lit up.
Andres leaned away, adjusting his hat. "Better view." Speaking of views, across the way, Monica kept her skirt tucked from the wind, her lean legs on display. He took full advantage of the cover his sunglasses provided to let his gaze trace the curves of her body, envying the white dress snuggled tightly against her.
Paloma pulled her hair over her left shoulder and gave him a flat-lipped smile. "When you're right, you're right." She stuck a neon-colored thumbnail into the front of her tank top and pulled. The material stretched out several inches before snapping back against her breasts. The action only reminded him of Monica kneeling between his legs, her sunglasses pulling the top of her dress open. Heat flickered in his gut as his thoughts spun quickly toward the things she could do there, things that had nothing to do with doctoring. He watched as Monica laughed at something Simon said and frowned at the unexpected stab of jealousy.
"Alex says you're a bull rider."
Alex talks too damn much. "A long time ago."
"I'd really like to see you ride."
He shrugged, refusing to take the bait.
Conversations with Paloma always involved tap dancing around certain subjects. Among them, the tenuous arrangement Dr. Treviño had set up for him with Guerrero.
Andres met Guerrero after Dr. Treviño had mentioned the Calderon reputation for handling horses. The drug lord had made him wait while he'd personally disciplined one of the men with a bullwhip before sending him off to recover in the bunkhouse. The poor bastard would live to carry the scars for the rest of his life. Guerrero had then walked up to Andres as if nothing had happened, his face flecked with the man's blood, and calmly offered him a job at twice what it was worth. When Andres nodded, unable to speak, Guerrero had roared with laughter.
"Now this is a man who understands consequences." He'd glanced once more at Andres. "Don't forget that ... cabron." Andres hadn't. He trained the man's champion racehorses, tended to livestock, kept a low profile, and tucked away the money.
Across the arena, Monica still sat with Simon. The black and gray backpack was placed strategically between her knees and his. Something about the sight brought a smile to his face. At least he wasn't the only one she was dodging. "Dr. Vasquez had me sit this one out."
Paloma scowled. "You don't have to listen to her."
"She's a good doctor." He recalled the feeling of her hands, soft and gentle, sliding over his skin as she'd examined him. Was it his imagination or had her touch lingered a bit longer than it needed to? He just might need a follow-up with her real soon.
"Dr. Treviño is a good doctor. The best." She nodded enthusiastically. "Daddy said so."
Could be. But her father held an exclusive option on the good doctor's services, keeping him busy around the clock since he'd had some unknown episode a few months back. The rumors ran anywhere from him having heart problems to being a schizophrenic. Luckily Dr. Treviño had been present, but his fate had been sealed after treating Guerrero. "And he thought Dr. Vasquez was good enough to fill in for him."
Paloma leaned toward him, pressing her breast to his bicep. "You know, you're real smart."
Yeah. A freaking Einstein. "Your nose is starting to turn pink. I'll take you down to the guys so they can find you a better place to sit." He stood and offered her his arm.
Excerpted from Secrets and Seduction by Sahara Roberts, Candace Havens. Copyright © 2015 Sahara Roberts. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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