Dylan (The Secret Life of Cowboys)

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9781402258077: Dylan (The Secret Life of Cowboys)

The second book in C.H. Admirand's sexy Texas cowboy romance trilogy featuring three brothers who will do anything to save their family ranch.

There Was Nothing He Couldn't Tame...Until He Got His Lasso Around Her

Dylan Garahan might be an old hand at lassoing fillies, but one night at the Lucky Star club, and he ends up wrapping his rope around someone that even his formidable strength can't tame. She's wily and beautiful... and she's his new boss. Dylan's had his heart broken before, but even an honest cowpoke has to wrestle with temptation..

Ronnie DelVecchio might be fresh off the bus from New Jersey, but she's a hard-edged businesswoman and has had her fill of men she can't trust―although she might consider getting off her high horse for that big, handsome rancher with a Texas drawl.

The Secret Life of Cowboys series:
Tyler
Dylan
Jesse

Praise for Tyler:
"Fully of witty banter, romance, cowboys, and sweet sensuality...This story will melt your heart." ―My Book Addiction and More
"Fresh and exciting...and interesting, potent, provocative love-story." ―Red Room
"Hot, witty, and humorous...So, throw your hat in the air, stomp your boots, and take a trip to Pleasure." ―BookLoons
"Guaranteed to sizzle in your hands." ―Long and Short Reviews

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

C.H. Admirand was born in Aiken, South Carolina, but grew up in New Jersey. She has published nine bestselling novels. The Secret Life of Cowboys was her first series for Sourcebooks. She lives with her husband, who is the inspiration for all of her heroes' best traits, in New Jersey.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

Dylan Garahan narrowed his gaze, trying to focus in the glare of the spotlight, searching the crowd for her face. It was time for the big move in his act-the showstopper.

Where was she?

Jolene would kill him if he messed this up, but he'd made it through the last two nights and would make it through tonight. The redheaded owner of the club should have no complaints about the middle Garahan brother not keeping his word or holding up his end of the bargain. Damn the woman and her tests!

Controlling the urge to turn on his heel and walk off the stage, he dug deep and found the grit to stick it out. Hell, if Tyler could handle this job, so could he. Garahans went down fighting!

Oblivious to the adoring gazes of the women around him, he moved toward center stage, bent, and picked up the coiled rope. He looked up as a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead walked into the bar... right on schedule... but there was something different about the brunette. Maybe it was the blindfold. He struggled not to laugh, but he couldn't keep from smiling, wondering why the cloak-and-dagger bit.

Looping the lasso in his hands, he started the slow circular motion. Getting the rhythm going until it was smooth and sweet, he raised it above his head and locked gazes with the blonde. When she nodded, he let the lasso fly, as the blonde whipped the blindfold off the brunette.

The woman's stunned expression as the rope slipped around her upper body didn't stop him from tugging on the rope and reeling her in. The patrons of the Lucky Star hooted and hollered, encouraging him to pull faster, but he didn't want the little lady to trip and fall on her pretty face.

Glad that the focus of the crowd wasn't totally on him, he gently pulled her toward him. The brunette's gypsy-dark skin, full red lips, and almond-shaped eyes captivated him. The promise of pain-filled death in her dark green eyes, as she struggled against the bonds that held her, had his lips twitching, fighting not to smile.

She dug in her heels, but he used his strength to subdue her. Undeterred, he yanked on the rope. When her eyes widened in shock, he used her surprise to his advantage and reeled her in the last few feet. When they were a few inches apart, he tipped his hat, smiled, and rumbled, "Happy birthday, darlin'."

Her eyes narrowed, and her nostrils flared; Dylan recognized the signs of a fractious filly about to raise a ruckus. Not a problem, he was ready. Wrapping his free hand around her, he hauled her in close, pinning her to him before she could let loose and kick him.

The crowd roared its approval.

"Let me go," she demanded, her sweet breath tickling the hollow of his throat.

Enjoying himself for the first time since he'd hit the stage, he chuckled and bent his head closer to her full red lips. "Why?" His gaze locked with hers. "So you can have more room to do more damage?"

"I don't like being manhandled."

Her vehement protest didn't deter him; he had a job to do and an act to finish. "Well now, darlin'," he drawled, "that's not what your friends said."

Her eyes sparkled with temper, and her willowy body trembled with anger. Dylan's body stood up and said hell yeah! It'd been a long time since he'd had a woman tempt him. The sultry brunette in his arms looked like she wanted to tear a few strips off of his hide... right before she killed him.

Damn, but that turned him on.

Perverse. That's what his grandpa would say. He grinned and would swear he heard her grinding her teeth in frustration.

"Let me go." She struggled against him, but he'd trapped her slender curves against him so not a breath of air was between them. "I'm not one of those desperately lonely women, or buckle bunnies coming in here looking for some eye candy."

Lord, he really loved the husky sound of her voice. Even angry, it sounded sexy. He fought against the instant attraction he'd felt and shrugged. "I'm not the one whose friends blindfolded me."

She closed her eyes and stopped struggling. Dylan could feel the anger leaving her by degrees.

"They're just trying to help."

"With a face like an angel and a body made for lovin', why would you need any?"

Tears gathered in her eyes. "None of your business."

Well, hell. His one weakness cut him off at the knees. A woman's tears. "I'm about to make it my business."

The music ended and house lights went on, his cue to release his captive and take a bow. Cursing his job and his redheaded boss, he brushed her tears away. Moved by the split second of vulnerability, before she covered it with the toss of her long, dark, wavy mane, he hungered for a long, slow tasting kiss.

He wasn't sure if he wanted to reassure her that whoever had put the sadness in her eyes wasn't worth her time, and that he would be, or if he had been too long without a woman and was letting certain parts of his anatomy take his mind hostage.

Dylan slid his hands around to the small of her back and watched her eyes turn an even deeper green, the color of the tumbled sea glass he'd found as a kid, on a beach down on the Gulf Coast. When the go-to-hell expression on her face morphed into shocked surprise, he dipped his head low so their mouths were lined up.

He could feel her heart begin to pound, but from the dazed expression in her eyes it wasn't from fear; it was something darker and a hell of a lot more fun. He brushed his lips across hers and felt the bottom drop out of his stomach. She tasted like sin, and he was ready to burn.

Need tied his guts into knots, but he'd be damned if he'd be letting go of this little filly before he'd taken his fill. He gentled her with soft, tentative kisses until she relaxed in his arms. When she moaned low in her throat, the knots inside him pulled tighter a heartbeat before she melted in his arms.

"Darlin', you're killing me."

Her eyes met his, and he knew she was going to kiss him back. He didn't ask; he simply plundered. Surrounded by the dark, sensuous taste of her, he couldn't get enough. Splaying his hands to the small of her back, he molded her to him, drinking from her lips like a dying man, three days without water.

Hungry for more, he slid the tip of his tongue along the seam of her lips, coaxing her to let him fully taste her dark, sweet flavor. When she parted her lips, he devoured her. Two years of frustrated need, anger, and desire swirled inside of him and struggled to let loose.

"Happy birthday, Ronnie!"

He snapped to attention and loosened his hold, though it nearly tore him apart. He was not done. He wanted more, ached for more, needed more from this woman.

"Will you wait for me?"

"Break it up, cowboy." Jolene Langley brushed against him so that he had no choice but to step back or get stepped on.

So the sweet thing with the dark hair and kissable lips was one of Emily's new friends, and just his good fortune she was the first carpentry job Tyler's fiancée had lined up for him. Life couldn't get any better. The woman was gorgeous and kissed like an angel. He wondered if she knew that he'd be calling on her tomorrow night. That thought distracted him for a moment, but a more pressing matter was at hand; she still hadn't answered his question. "Sorry, boss." He removed his hat and raked his hand through his hair. "Ronnie, darlin'," he rumbled. "Will you?"

She narrowed her gaze at him. "Will I what?"

Hmmm... the woman got her grit back along with her voice. For too long he'd been hung up on the fact that the woman he'd thought to marry hadn't wanted to stay in Pleasure and he hadn't been interested in any woman in particular since.

But this little brunette intrigued him on a level that his former girlfriend hadn't. His libido stood up and saluted him... he was ready, willing, and able to get back on that particular horse and ride it all night long. Ronnie might not be Ms. Right, but she sure looked to him like Ms. Right Now. No time like the present to find out. "Will you be here when I get back? It'll take me a couple of minutes to change."

If possible her eyes darkened to a dangerous shade of green-the color the sky turned before a tornado touched down and all hell broke loose-that had him wondering if he'd read her wrong. He licked his lips and could still taste her. No, he reasoned, she'd kissed him back and gave every indication that she was just as interested in him, and he was holding on to that truth with both hands. Hell, if he had to, he'd hit his little brother up for pointers on being charming. Normally he didn't care, but right now...

"I don't think so, cowboy."

His gut burned with the icy chill of her rejection. He didn't mind when Jolene called him cowboy, but for some reason when this woman said it, it bothered him. The toss of her wavy dark hair and the sneer of her succulent lips had the knots in his stomach freezing.

Ignoring the cold lump of need, he put his Stetson back on his head and nodded. He would let her think she was getting her way for now. Dylan could be a patient man and bide his time. His gut told him she'd be worth the wait. Besides, he'd be seeing her for the next little while until he'd finished the job, and from what Emily had told him, the damage to Ronnie's shop had been substantial.

"Ladies."

At least that mind-boggling kiss had done one thing for him: it had shaken him up and had him realizing that he'd gone too long without a woman and it was past time to remedy that particular situation. Once he made up his mind, he'd stick... and his mind was set on having Ronnie. He'd give her all the time she needed to decide whether or not she wanted to get to know him better on a personal level-the first order of business on his agenda was to see if he could tempt her to get to know him on a physical level.

"Did you know about this, Jolene?" Ronnie demanded.

She didn't seem happy with her present. Hell, most of the other women he'd had to lasso or haul up into his arms while on stage usually grabbed at him, held on for dear life, and were ecstatic with their birthday gift courtesy of the Lucky Star. Extracting himself from their grasping fingers usually left a mark. He'd be carrying the few he had already earned working there for a couple more days.

The owner of the club smiled. "Of course, how else do you think my latest headliner would know to pick you out of the crowd?"

Dylan clamped his jaw shut. His boss surely knew how to make a man feel like a hunk of meat on display. He knew it wasn't personal, but he was beyond tired and had had enough of this place. Planting the heel of his boot to the floor, he spun around, intending to walk away.

"Could have been the blindfold," Ronnie rasped, wrapping her arms around her slender waist. "Jolene, you know I hate surprises."

The brunette's distress had him pausing. He watched his boss smile and link her arm through Ronnie's. "Honey, I couldn't say no to your friends; they wanted your twenty-fifth to be a birthday to remember."

Ronnie's gaze shifted to meet his. "I'll never forget it."

And just what did that mean? His pride still stung from the direct hit he suffered when she'd turned him down. Was she one of those women who said no but meant yes? Hell, if only he had the energy to stick around to find out. It was time to get out of Dodge, head back to the ranch, and regroup. Women were trouble with a capital T and only wanted one thing from him anyway, and it sure as hell wasn't his heart. Normally being wanted because of work-hardened muscles and the way he dressed didn't bother him, but not being wanted by the sultry brunette because of the way he dressed-or was it the way he undressed-got to him. Maybe it was because he was desperate to get back to the ranch and get some sleep. Shaking off the odd feeling, he tipped his hat to the women, coiled the rope, and headed for the door by the side of the stage.

The Circle G was waiting... for how much longer, well now that would be up to him and how long he could put up with raucous women hootin' and hollerin' while they tried to stuff money in his black spandex briefs, but if the replacement dancer Jolene had found worked out, then he'd be able to move on to the handful of carpentry jobs he'd lined up with Emily's help. Truth be told, he'd do just about any type of manual labor, as long as it wasn't plumbing-he couldn't wait to get started on the repairs to Ronnie's shop. He was that partial to carpentry.

Shaking his head, he dodged the women waiting by the stage door and slipped through into the back room. Changing his clothes, he couldn't get the birthday girl, or the memory of her tears, out of his exhausted brain. Maybe I should forget about her. Besides, she's just a temptation, he reminded himself. She's not interested in me.

Liar. He ignored the voice in his head.

"I don't have time for women."

Make the time.

Hell, now he was imagining he was hearing his grandpa's voice in his head. "Definitely time to hit the hay," he grumbled. "I'm hearing things."

Listen up, Son.

Aw, hell, maybe he was going crazy after all.

Dylan looked both ways to make sure the coast was clear and that no one was waiting by the stage door to ambush him. Hell, three nights of working the same job as Tyler, and he'd had enough! The redhead from the night before had been convinced Dylan couldn't resist her. She and a handful of others who'd tried to get his attention had been wrong. If and when he wanted a woman, he would be calling the shots, not an out-of-control, tipsy succubus with time on her hands and spurring him on her mind. His mind drifted back to the woman he lassoed; he might make the time for an emerald-eyed woman with attitude to spare who sounded like she'd just stepped off the bus from the East Coast. Time would tell.

No one was there. Good. He hightailed it out the door and down the hallway; he was done. He needed to go home.

Home... the Circle G. Too bad his mom and grandfather wouldn't be there. Days like today, when he'd run dry, he could have used a hug from his mom, or one of his grandfather's affectionate cuffs on the back of the head.

We're here, Son. His grandfather's voice echoed in his head. Don't doubt it for a moment. He'd heard the words so many times growing up, when he was tired, he could call up any one of a hundred times his grandfather had spoken them.

Oddly relieved, he reached for the front door.

"Going somewhere, cowboy?"

His sigh was loud and long as he turned around to face his boss. "Jolene, I'm dead on my feet and know I've done everything you've asked for the last three nights." He waited for one of her long-winded speeches about how important the dancers were to the lonely women who came to her place to dream about what kind of man they really wanted in their lives. Go figure, every last one of them wanted a cowboy.

But instead, she surprised him and agreed. "Yes. You've more than held up your end of the bargain. I'm impressed by how hard the Garahan brothers work."

"You still need me tomorrow night?" He actually held his breath, hoping she'd say no.

Jolene shook her head. "We hired a dancer...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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