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Devon Marsh is resigned to spending Christmas in Hell. A city girl, Devon accompanies her boss to their family ranch where she feels out of place. Even worse, she is faced with the prospect of dealing with former rodeo star Jared Abbott, one of the cowboys on the ranch. Sexy as hell Jared spins Devon's wheels in a big way, but in the past, he's made it clear that he despises her. When the two of them are caught in a rainstorm on Christmas Eve, emotions run high and ignite into passion. Can cowboy Jared convince city girl Devon that living in a town that smells of horse and cow poo is worth it if she has him?
Elle shuffled into the house, the ears of her bunny slippers flopping. The moment the door closed, the click of boot heels on the wood porch sounded, headed in her direction. Devon looked up and saw Jared coming around the corner of the house. She frowned. She loved the wrap around porch but realized anyone could have been listening in on her conversation with Elle. Deck chairs were just around the bend in the porch.
“Hey, Devon. I gotta go into town for some stuff. Would you like to come along?” Jared asked as he approached her.
Devon’s frown deepened. He had to be kidding. Did he think the spoiled city girl would jump at the chance to “go into town” and hit the stores?
“I don’t have any shopping to do. Mine’s all done. You waited until Christmas Eve to shop?” she asked incredulously, wondering what the hell he was up to and thinking how like a man to wait until the last minute.
Jared’s green eyes sparkled with laughter. “That’s okay. I just thought you might like to get away from the house for awhile.”
Devon sighed in relief. Despite the fact that hanging out with Jared seriously messed with her libido, she really could use the distraction. She stood up and rubbed her hands nervously down her jean clad thighs. “I really would like to get out. Thank you for asking me. I’ll just get my purse and a jacket.”
“It’s a nice day. You probably won’t need the jacket.” He pointed to the pale blue sky and puffy white clouds.
“Sure. I’ll be right back.” Devon flashed the cowboy a smile and went into the house. She sped up the stairs to her room and grabbed her purse, thinking maybe she should get Jared a little generic Christmas gift. After all, he was being awfully nice for once.
On the way down, she ran into Riley. The supermodel wore faded Wrangler jeans and a plain blue t-shirt that made his eyes look even more sky colored than usual. With his infant son draped over his wide shoulder, Riley Forbes appeared to be the epitome of fatherhood. Every woman Devon knew would melt at the picture he presented of domestic bliss meets hunk of the month.
“Goin’ out?” he whispered as he patted the baby’s back.
Devon nodded. “Jared needs to run some errands,” she whispered in reply.
Riley’s eyes gleamed. “That boy is always workin’. You should take him to a movie or somethin’. Make him relax.”
“A movie?” Devon’s brows rose and she shook her head vehemently. “Not me. His girlfriend might get pissed.”
A chuckle escaped her boss’s husband. “He doesn’t have one. He’s always workin’. Besides, women don’t like cowboys like they used to. Unless they’re rodeo cowboys and Jared doesn’t do that anymore.”
“He used to follow the rodeo circuit?” Devon asked, surprised.
Riley nodded. “Until a bull busted his leg in three places. To this day, that boy hates cold weather. Says it makes his leg ache. Of course, that could be cause it’s held together with pins.”
Devon’s eyes widened with shock. The thought of a badly injured Jared made her stomach flip flop. “I didn’t realize,” she murmured.
“Well, he doesn’t like to talk about it.” The baby burped and Riley reached up to wipe his face. “I’ll see ya later, Devon. Take good care of Jared, okay?”
She watched Riley’s lean form disappear into the kitchen and then turned toward the front door. A black pickup truck sat on the drive, chrome wheels and bumpers shining in the sun. Jared sprang to attention from his pose leaning against the fender. He opened the passenger door and smiled at her.
“Do you need help getting in? It’s kinda high,” he said, gesturing toward the truck.
Devon put one sneakered foot on the running board and sprang into the front seat. “Nah. I’m good. Thanks, Jared.” She smiled at him as he closed her door and ran around the front of the truck to the driver’s side.
The truck’s interior was nearly spotless and Devon stared at it admiringly. No way did it seem like a cowboy’s truck. It even smelled like vanilla. She sniffed appreciatively as Jared got in the driver’s seat . Vanilla and man. Well, a man who smelled a little of horse and a lot like toothpaste and some subtle citrusy aftershave or cologne.
Jared pointed to the little brown tree that hung from the knob of the air conditioner. “I don’t always smell nice after work so I keep one of these hanging in here all the time. Don’t want my baby to reek of sweat and horses,” he told her with a cheeky grin as he put on his seatbelt and started the engine.
Devon put her belt on and raised a brow at him. “Your baby?” She shook her head. “What is it with men and their vehicles? All of you lavish money and attention on them.”
Putting the truck in gear, Jared turned down the driveway toward Forbes Ranch’s private road. “It’s because as bachelors we have nothin’ else to lavish money and attention on. Then when we get married, it’s just a habit. Anyway, cars don’t talk back!” he joked.
Devon snorted. “They don’t give blow jobs either.”
The instant the words left her mouth, she wished she could take them back. God knew she had a hard enough time ignoring Jared’s sexiness, now she had to compound it by thinking of his cock… in her mouth. She swallowed hard and wondered if her face had turned red. Even if it hadn’t, her panties had dampened.
Jared chuckled. “That’s true enough.”
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