Copyright © 2011 Marianne Stephens
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     ROPING THE COWBOY EXCERPT -                  
                       Love, Texas Style
                      by Gemma Juliana


Love, Texas Style

Chapter One

“Why did you get my father involved in some sort of property hocking deal?” Amy squinted as she glared into the face of the man she’d loved more than anyone else on the planet-until five years ago. “You’d better give me a believable reason, Chase Storm, or I swear I’ll slap you right across your pretty face.”

He stood rooted to the spot at the entrance of his luxury log cabin, as majestic as a redwood, and equally as immune to her stinging words. The man was picture perfect, with well-muscled arms and a firm chest. High cheekbones and deep coffee-colored eyes were framed by gleaming hair as dark as night. A crisp white cotton shirt provided stark contrast to his sun-kissed skin, and denim-clad legs stretched down to three-thousand-dollar custom cowboy boots.

There was a mysterious potency about him, a shield of power. Nobody could shake Chase Storm. Not even her. She’d always considered him an elegant, modern-day cowboy, with old values. Until one not-so-fine day long ago, when everything changed.
He blinked now, feathered long slender fingers through his raven hair where chestnut streaks glinted in the light, and seemed to be trying to stop a grin forming at the corners of his generous mouth.

“Good day to you, too, Ms. Waterstone. Long time no see.” His smoky eyes raked over her slowly, and she saw that he missed nothing, taking in every curve right down to her boots. “I didn’t involve your daddy in anything. He came to me. Asked for a loan, and put up some property as collateral. I did him a favor, and he said as much.” They glared at each other until he suddenly stepped aside. “Where are my manners-won’t you come in?”

Her hand tingled. He was getting closer to that promised slap with each passing moment.
She tilted her chin defiantly and sailed past him, through the large wooden paneled foyer of his home, straight into the kitchen where they’d spent so much time back in the day when she was his lady. It hurt to be back in this house again. Memories crowded in at the fringe of her mind and echoed all around her, but she blocked them as best she could so she could stay centered on the business at hand.

Everything’s flying off the rails.

“If you’re expecting me to thank you, don’t hold your breath.” She slammed the large envelope down on the island countertop. Placing her hands on the granite edges, she braced herself against it in a move that appeared dramatic even by her standards. She cringed, hoping to conceal her discomfort so he wouldn’t know how uneasy she was being alone with him again. It would be so easy to….

She blinked back tears, knowing her face betrayed her true state of mind. She was an emotional basket case and probably looked like a train wreck. Her red-rimmed eyes stung from a long restless night.

“I know better,” Chase drawled as he followed her into the kitchen and went straight to a fancy single-cup coffee maker. “How about a coffee? You look like hell.”