Barrel racer Alicia Kanani has had a long road to the top – and she’s not quite there yet. Finances have always been tight, and in the glitz and glam world of professional rodeo, that means that second best is probably the best she can hope for. With the National Finals coming up, she’s certainly not looking for a pair of cowboys to distract her.
Rule #2 – Don’t gamble what you can’t live without…
Playboy Chris Thomas is sure Alicia’s the perfect woman for his level-headed team roping partner, David Greenly. It seems like a match, until Chris realizes he wants Alicia for himself. The stakes have been raised; David and Chris are supposed to be a team, and this time, they’re on opposite sides.
Can Alicia rope this playboy’s heart, or will they find themselves too tangled up to let true love in?
Learning the Ropes
By: T.J. Kline
Releasing September 30th
“Remember that swimming hole off the highway, near Jackson Ranch Road?”
She laughed and nodded. “I haven’t been there in years. We used to go every weekend.”
“We need to go now.”
We? Was he asking her out? Or was this just a friendly outing, reliving old memories?
“You wouldn’t be trying to get me into a bathing suit just to see my tattoo, would you?”
Chris gave her a mischievous grin that made her stomach do a backflip. “So it’s something a suit won’t cover?”
She regretted saying anything and didn’t answer his question. “I could use a break and with Dad leaving this week for the show, there won’t be much to do that the grooms can’t handle,” she said, changing the subject.
“We can make a day of it. Take lunch and just hang out, like old times. I have to help Dad tomorrow. What about Tuesday?”
She nodded and heard the sound of a hoof hitting metal. “Do you think that’s yours or mine getting impatient?” She glanced at the trailers and saw Beast with his head hanging out the window. “Looks like it’s mine. I’d better get going.” She reached into her purse to grab her wallet.
“I’ve got it.”
He slipped his credit card to the waitress, signing for the meal and rising to walk out with her. His hand slid to her lower back and her skin tingled at his touch, lightning shooting from his fingers directly into her belly and down her limbs. She knew better than to make more of his simple gesture than it was but couldn’t help the pace of her heart. As she approached the trailer, she stepped onto the side rail to close the windows.
“Get your head in there, Beast. We’re going home.”
Chris moved behind her, with a hand on either side of her, and closed the window. She spun and found herself eye to eye with him, her breath catching in her throat as he stared at her lips.
“Um, thanks,” she whispered, surprised she could get any sound out at all. She laid her hands on his shoulders, prepared to step down when he moved.
Instead of moving backward, Chris’s hands found her waist and he lifted her from the side of the trailer and set her on the ground. She couldn’t get her bearings with his hands on her ribcage and her fingers slid down the muscles of his biceps to grip his forearms. His eyes were dark with longing and she realized what he intended only moments before his mouth met hers in a scorching kiss.
They moved backward until she was pressed against the side of her truck, with every inch of him heating her flesh, his hands buried in her hair. His lips tasted her, teasing, branding her, demanding a response. She couldn’t help herself as her fingers trailed up around his neck, drawing him down to her, closer. His lips moved from her mouth to her ear and down the side of her neck sending shivers of pleasure down her spine. His fingers trailed over her spine as she whispered his name, near frantic with yearning.
He growled and stepped away from her abruptly, leaving her trembling with longing. “Ali, what are we doing?”
She wasn’t sure what he expected her to say. Her mind was still spinning with the dizzy exhilaration of his touch. When her eyes met his, she could see regret. She wasn’t sorry he’d kissed her in the slightest. In fact, she wanted him to do it again, but she could see the guilt rising over him, drowning him with shame. Without another word, he turned and walked to his truck, climbing inside, leaving her standing beside hers with her hand over her kiss-swollen lips, wondering what just happened and how she was going to make it right.
T. J. Kline was raised competing in rodeos and Rodeo Queen competitions since the age of 14 and has thorough knowledge of the sport as well as the culture involved. She has written several articles about rodeo for small periodicals, as well as a more recent how-to article for RevWriter, and has published a nonfiction health book and two inspirational fiction titles under the name Tina Klinesmith. She is also an avid reader and book reviewer for both Tyndale and Multnomah. In her spare time, she can be found laughing hysterically with her husband, children, and their menagerie of pets in Northern California.