A country boy meets a city girl in this sexy opposites attract story from best–selling author Mandy Magro.
Blake Wellstone is a cowboy through and through, his wealth and status obtained by years of hard work on his cattle stations spread out across Australia. But this farmer isn't looking for a wife – his first love ended in tragedy, and he will never put his heart on the line again. The land is his love, and he's happy that way.
Sasha Hepworth has goals and ambitions and she has worked very hard for her success. She's just forgotten how to enjoy herself. So a weekend fling with a gorgeous cowboy is just what she needs – after all, it can't go any further. She'd never leave the conveniences and beauty of the city for a dusty outback town.
But a weekend of fine dining and spectacular sights isn't enough for Blake and Sasha, and the growing feelings that neither can deny make them question everything about their lives. When a city girl meets a country boy, will they find middle ground?
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About the Author
Mandy Magro lives in Cairns, Far North Queensland, with her daughter, Chloe Rose. With pristine aqua-blue coastline in one
direction and sweeping rural landscapes in the other, she describes her home as heaven on earth. A passionate woman and a
romantic at heart, she loves writing about soul-deep love, the Australian rural way of life and all the wonderful characters that live
To find out more, visit Mandy on her website.
You can also follow Mandy on her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Read an Excerpt
Why did he agree to come here, back to where the bittersweet memories could taunt him even more?
Her beautiful face filled his mind, as did her intoxicating laugh. His heart squeezed agonisingly tight, as if within a clenched fist. He sucked in a deep breath as tears welled. He angrily blinked them away. Men weren't meant to cry. Ever. Even at her funeral he had grit his teeth and remained a pillar of strength for her family and friends, ignoring the fact his insides were broken into a million tiny pieces — pieces that were yet to find the glue that would put them back together. And to be honest, he didn't care if he stayed broken — he deserved to, through this lifetime and into the next.
As much as he fought them off, horrific images of that fateful night stormed through his mind. He should have known better than to let his sister talk him into coming to the city for his birthday — he didn't give a shit it was his thirtieth. It was just another day he had to live without her. Just another day he had to live with the crushing guilt.
He should have stayed back at the homestead.
Hindsight was an absolute bitch.
With the past threatening to overcome him, as it had many times before, Blake closed his eyes and rested his head back against the plush leather seat. He was downright exhausted — mentally, emotionally and physically. As much as he hated to admit it, his sister was right. He was working himself into the ground. He knew he needed to pull on the reins a bit and that's exactly what he had planned for his birthday — a night out under the stars in his swag. Preferring the vast nothingness of his beloved Elizabeth Downs property for some wind-down time, he had tried countless times to say no to the weekend of festivities, but Virginia wouldn't hear of him spending his birthday on his own. And when she was hell bent on doing something her way, there was no stopping her. Which was exactly why she controlled the practical side of the family cattle enterprise whereas he controlled the brawn by physically overseeing the workings and making sure the staff were doing their jobs right.
It meant a life on the road as he spent his time between their nine cattle properties spread all across Australia, with no time for much else, but he liked it that way. It kept him out of trouble.
Rubbing his five o'clock shadow, Blake opened his eyes. As he rode in the back of the chauffeur-driven car over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, he admired the sleek sexiness of a Princess Flybridge Yacht cruising down the harbour, back-dropped by the pink, orange and red hues of the sunset setting the water aflame. Maybe a luxury yacht might be his next toy, his next distraction. He quite liked the thought of spending lazy days cruising the vast ocean and wondered if it would give him the same sense of freedom as galloping on horseback in the Australian outback. It was a stretch, but as with anything in life, it was possible.
The song on the stereo caught his attention. He leaned in to speak to his sister's long-time driver. 'Hey Mark, can you turn this one up a bit, mate?'
Mark nodded briskly. 'Sure thing, Boss.'
A small smile claimed Blake's lips as he rested back again — country music always had a way of cheering him up, if only just a little. Tapping his boot in time to the Alan Jackson tune Country Boy playing from the stereo, the song in sharp contrast to the bright lights of the big smoke, his mind unwittingly travelled back to the last time he had been here. It had been just over fourteen months since Natasha had stormed out on him, and since the funeral he had avoided the place like the plague. Virginia was probably right in telling him he needed to come back here to fully heal, face his fears and all that, but would he ever truly get over the night that had stolen so much from him? His heart and jaw tightened with the memory. If only he could let go of the guilt that sat like ice within his heart.
With the car turning a corner and then finally coming to a stop, Blake gathered his phone and wallet from beside him. The concierge would see to his luggage, as well as checking him in once he was in the comfort of his harbour view suite — an early birthday present from his sister. Opening the door, he stepped out just before Mark had a chance to do the honours. After travelling for the entire day from their Western Australian property, Campfire Creek, he was tired of sitting and was itching to stretch his legs.
While straightening his six-foot frame back to some sort of life, he looked up at his home away from home for the next three nights. In a city obsessed with real estate, this property sat on some of the best, justifiably charging for the majestic outlook that gave Sydney its international swagger. And he knew from previous experience, The Park Hyatt was the only hotel he could wake up to uninterrupted views of both the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. After swagging it under a ceiling of stars the past two weeks while out droving his cattle, as much as he loved it, now he was finally here he had to admit he was looking forward to a little indulgence. To have a long hot shower, some top-notch room service devoured with a gob-smacking view and then fall into his king-size bed with no need to be up before dawn would be heaven. Tomorrow his birthday celebrations would begin, but for tonight he needed to re-energise in preparation for whatever Virginia had in store. Knowing her as well as he did, he gathered it would be something out of the ordinary.
The click clack of high-heeled shoes on the footpath grabbed his attention. Being a country bloke, it was in his blood to find a pair of western boots smoking hot, but heels were God-damned sexy too. The way stilettos could define the curves of a woman's legs was irresistible, especially when said legs were wrapped around his shoulders in the throes of passion. His body responded to that thought. It had been months since he had tasted the sweetness of a desirable woman, and it was a situation that needed rectifying. Soon. A hotblooded woman who wanted a commitment-free weekend romping between the sheets would certainly help him keep his mind off work. He didn't have time for the complications of a relationship, and besides, women were much better off not falling for him. He had proven he was dangerous territory. In acknowledgement of the two eye-catching creatures flashing him come-get-me smiles from their red-painted lips, he tipped his wide-brimmed hat and grinned suggestively, keen to try and lure them to him. But before he'd had time to say g'day, his phone rang from his jeans pocket.
He smiled when he noted the caller ID. 'Hey sis, how's things?'
'Things are good, Blake. How was your flight?'
'Yeah, good, can't complain about first class. Although, my arse is numb from sitting on it all day. I'm not used to it.' He began to pace the footpath, completely forgetting the women who had caught his attention only moments ago.
Virginia chortled into the phone. 'The way you describe things! You're such a charmer. I can't for the life of me understand why you're still flying solo.'
Blake bit his tongue. He was tiring of Virginia's little remarks about him still being on the singles market. A mother of two highly animated and adorable girls — nieces he cherished and spoke to regularly on Skype — and happily married for almost eight years, Virginia was a firm believer in settling down and leaving your mark by way of children on this earth — and she strongly believed he needed to contribute an heir to the Wellstone dynasty. But that didn't mean he needed to live by her beliefs. He had tried it once, had given it everything he had and had failed miserably. Once a lifelong dream of his, a wife and children were now the furthest things from his mind. It was a textbook case of lesson learned.
'Blake, are you still there?'
Virginia snapped him out of his internal yarn. 'Oh, sorry, sis. I'm still flying solo because that's how I like it.' He couldn't help but note his friendly tone had upped and left the building. He instantly felt bad for snapping, but for God's sake, when was Virginia going to get off his back?
Virginia either chose to ignore his snappiness, or hadn't noticed. 'Okay, well, here's the thing, I might have found a way to rectify that ...' A squeal pierced through the conversation, followed by little girls yelling. 'Hang on a minute, Blake, these two girls are heading for a stint in their time-out chairs tonight.' Her voice muffled a little. 'Amelia Jane, undo your sister from that chair right now.'
As annoyed as he was with Virginia's constant pestering, Blake stifled a laugh as he listened to Amelia's reply. The eight-year-old had as much spunk as her mother.
'I don't care if she asked you to do it. She clearly doesn't like it, does she? Now stop it or I'm calling your father, and you know he won't be as tolerant.' Turning her attention back to the phone call, Virginia sighed weightily. 'Kids, as much as they drive you up the wall, you can't help but love them. Anyways, where was I ... Oh that's right, filling you in on the plans for tomorrow night.'
Shoving his free hand in his pocket, Blake rocked back and forth on his heels while acknowledging the chauffeur passing his luggage over to the hotel's concierge. Seconds later, Mark gave him a wave before climbing back into the car and driving away. Although eager to get inside, he tried his best to listen patiently to Virginia's extravagant plans as he gave the thumbs up to the concierge, letting the young bloke know it was okay to take his luggage up to his suite.
'Blake, are you taking all this in?' Virginia said, after breathlessly rambling off every detail of the night she had scheduled to the second.
'Yup, soaking it all up like a sponge.' Blake had only heard half of it, but he wasn't telling her that.
'Good, that's what I like to hear.'
Blake smirked. Virginia was so much like their mother — forever the organiser. The night out was sounding like it could be fun. That was, until the mention of Virginia's twentyeight-year-old single friend who would be joining in the festivities — whether he liked it, or not.
He sucked in a sharp breath, trying to calm himself before he spoke. He didn't need his sister organising a date for him. He was quite capable of wrangling a woman to accompany him, if he wanted, which he didn't. Sex without strings, that's all he was after. 'So, let me get this right, Virginia.' He heard her suck in a breath at the use of her full name. 'Not only do you want to take me to a restaurant where I can't see what I'm eating, or anybody at the table for that matter, especially when you know how much I like to see my food, but you and Richard also want to double date with me and some woman I've never met.'
'Yes, that's exactly right.' She huffed as the sound of a c hampagne cork popped. The clink of a glass followed. 'And she's not just some woman, Blake. She's a highlyrespected realtor who's independent and very well off financially because of how hard she works. She has her head on her shoulders, she knows what she wants and to top it all off she's absolutely gorgeous inside and out.'
'Is that so? And where did you meet this so-called goddess? Remember what happened the last time you did this?' His voice filled with cynicism. Virginia had set him up on a blind date a few years before Natasha had walked into his life and stolen his heart, and the woman had been ghastly, inside and out. She had complained about the weather, her outfit, the food, anything and everything, had been extremely rude to the wait staff, and had worn so much make-up Blake swore she would have had to scrap the stuff off before going to bed at night. High maintenance women exasperated him to no end.
'My goodness, Blake, that was a lifetime ago — everyone is entitled to one mistake in his or her life and that's been my only one,' she said lightheartedly before chuckling softly. 'I met her a few months back at my yoga class. She's the one that found my holiday apartment over at Potts Point.' She took a sip from her champagne, sighing gratifyingly. 'Look, I know you have no faith in me after the last blind date I sent you on, but honestly, Blake, this woman is quite the catch.'
Quite the catch? The only thing he wanted to catch was the sight of some fly-bynight woman leaving after having her way with him. God damn it. Silence hung for a moment too long as Blake tried to get his head around it all. He was too tired for this tonight.
'You're not going to stand the poor woman up, are you Blake?' Virginia's voice was high-pitched.
Not in the mood for an argument he huffed, shaking his head in disbelief. 'I don't understand how I can stand a woman up when I didn't organise the date in the first place.'
'Oh please, Blake. She's really lovely, and I owe her one for finding my dream getaway. I've been promising to take her out for the past three weeks, but haven't found the time, and thought it would be nice to kill two birds with one stone.'
Yeah, right. Blake appreciated the fact his sister cared so much about his happiness, maybe too much, but he had to give credit where credit was due. He wouldn't have been able to get through the past fourteen months without her, and she was the only family he had. It wouldn't hurt for him to do this one little thing for her, would it? He groaned and threw his head back. 'Okay, I'll do it this one time, for you. But don't think for a second I'm going to be making a move on her just because you think we'd make a good couple. If you haven't noticed, I'm a grown man and can find my own future wife, if I ever decide I want one.'
Virginia mock gasped. 'I have no such preconceptions about where this date will go. And to be quite frank, I couldn't care less if you get a wife or not.'
'Oh come on now, sis. You're forgetting I know you better than anyone else. You're worried I'm going to die a lonely old man so you're playing Cupid. Admit it, or I'm not going to agree to do this.'
She blew air through her lips and then chuckled. 'Okay, all right, you got me. I'm playing Cupid. You happy?' Her laughter faded. 'But honestly, Blake, it's been so long since ...' Her voice faded and she stalled for the briefest of moments. 'As I've said a million times before, it wasn't your fault so you don't need to keep beating yourself up over it.'
'I beg to differ,' he grumbled.
'Oh, my darling brother who takes the world upon his shoulders, you're entitled to fall in love again, because you deserve to be loved for the wonderful man you are. Don't deny yourself that fundamental human desire, will you?'
'Yeah, well, believe it or not, Virginia, not all of us want the happily ever after you've got. I'm quite happy on my own.'
'I don't believe that for a second, Blake. I really think you could like this woman, if you let yourself.' Virginia's voice was softening, and filled with compassion.
'Yup, well, we'll see.' Blake wanted the conversation to end. He didn't have the energy for a big deep and meaningful right now. 'Look, I really gotta run, sis.'
'Rightio. But just a quick heads up before you do. I've got meetings all day tomorrow in between trying to amuse the girls, so I won't be able to catch up before dinner. But Richard and I will pick you up around seven, okay?'
'Righto, sounds good.'
More squeals hurtled down the phone line.
Virginia groaned wearily. 'Oh for goodness sake girls, will you ever go a day without fighting? Sorry, Blake, I have to run too. Catch you tomorrow night. Love you.' And she was gone.
Blake heaved a sigh of a relief as he shoved his phone back in his pocket. Taking long strides towards the hotel, he realised he didn't even know the name of this woman he would be going on a date with. Maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. No strings.
His belly grumbled in protest, and he suddenly realised he was starving. He hoped there were crab and oysters on the menu-foods he hadn't eaten in months — which he would wash down with a few glasses of top shelf whiskey. His kind of bliss.
Excerpted from "The Billionaire Cattle Baron"
Copyright © 2017 Mandy Magro.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises (Australia) Pty Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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