Series: Texas Rodeo, #2
Author: Kari Lynn Dell
Pub Date: February 7, 2017
It took 32 seconds to end his career.
But it only took 1 to change his life.
Thirty-two seconds. That’s how long it took for Delon Sanchez’s life to end. One minute he was the best bronc rider in the Panhandle and the next he was nothing. Knee shattered, future in question, all he can do is pull together the pieces…and wonder what cruel trick of fate has thrown him into the path of his ex, the oh-so-perfect Tori Patterson.
Tori’s come home after her husband’s death, intent on escaping the public eye. It’s just her luck that Delon limps into her physical therapy office, desperate for help. All hard-packed muscle and dark-eyed temptation, he’s never been anything but a bad idea. And yet, seeing him again, Tori can’t remember what made her choose foolish pride over love…or why, with this second, final chance to right old wrongs, the smartest choice would be to run from this gorgeous rodeo boy as fast as her boots can take her.
Kari Lynn Dell is a ranch-raised Montana cowgirl who attended her first rodeo at two weeks old and has existed in a state of horse-induced poverty ever since. She lives on the Blackfeet Reservation in her parents' bunkhouse along with her husband, her son, and Max the Cowdog, with a tipi on her lawn, Glacier National Park on her doorstep and Canada within spitting distance. Her debut novel, The Long Ride Home, was published in 2015. She also writes a ranch and rodeo humor column for several regional newspapers and a national agricultural publication.
Another drunk swayed dangerously close, nearly clocking Tori in the ear with his elbow. Delon shoved him away and pulled her deeper into the couch, until her hip was snug against his. She had to drape her arm across the back of the cushions, her fingers grazing his shoulder. Close up, he smelled like distilled manhood. Clean sweat, some woodsy kind of soap, and—she inhaled deeply and frowned—a hint of diesel exhaust and grease? Of course. Sanchez Trucking. She’d seen their sponsor signs at the college rodeos.
Dear Lord. What was she doing, snuggled up close enough to sniff a complete stranger? But she felt infinitely safer with him than pitting herself against the crowd. And somehow, despite the fact that his arm was now wrapped around her waist, his touch felt respectful. His body, like hers, held a certain kind of tension, as if unaccustomed to casual intimacy.
And he was trying very hard—if not entirely successfully—not to look down her dress.
“Hey, Delon! Happy birthday, dude!” a big, burly guy yelled, sticking out a hand.
As Delon leaned forward to shake it, his chest rubbed up against Tori’s nipple, hard, hot muscle sliding across thin silk in a caress so intimate she flushed from head to toe. Note to self: next time, wear some damn underwear.
“It’s your birthday?” she asked.
“Yep.” He gave her a pulse-thumping grin. “Looks like I got the best present ever.”
She smiled back, letting her body melt against him as she sank into a haze of arousal, the conversation flowing past in a blur as one person after another stopped to chat or shake Delon’s hand. Their curious glances couldn’t penetrate her bubble, and their names evaporated in the heat waves rising off her skin as every move generated more friction between their bodies.
The moves were becoming more intentional, on both their parts. His palm caressed her back and molded her against him, hip to shoulder. She let her hand fall onto his shoulder to feel the flex of his deltoid each time he reached up to shake a hand. Incredible that she had enough brain function to remember the names of the muscles. Flexor carpi radialus, brachioradialus, extensor carpi radialus longus…all clearly defined in forearms exposed by the sleeves he’d rolled up to his elbows.
Imagine what the rest of him would look like naked.
When she shuddered, Delon tilted his head to look into her eyes. “You okay?”
“Yes. Fine.” Assuming she didn’t spontaneously combust right there on his lap.
Then someone yelled, “Hey, assholes, it’s almost midnight. Grab a girl and get ready to plant a big sloppy one on her.”
Delon’s hand skimmed up to the nape of her neck as the crowd chanted, “…five, four, three, two…”
At one, his mouth touched hers. There was an instant of hesitation, then the kiss went hot, deep, no time wasted on polite preliminaries. She dove into the heat and he took her even deeper, into a dark swirl of lust that obliterated everything else in the room.
Delon pulled away, looking equally dazed. He blinked his gaze back into focus. “You ready to get out of here?”
She gulped, then nodded. He lifted her to her feet and stood with ease. He snugged his arm around her hips. “Stay close.”