Breaking the Cowboy's Rules
Wildhorse Ranch Brothers Book 1
by Leslie North
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Glamping guru, Sabrina Hearthstone, is the best of the best at what she does, and she could very well be Trevor’s saving grace. The blonde beauty arrives at Wildhorse Ranch ready to get the job done. She’s all business when it comes to bringing a little luxury to the leather and dirt clad Ranch. But soon she’ll realize that to renovate the Ranch for Glamping she may have to renovate it’s cowboy too.
Sabrina is tempting on a whole lot of levels for Trevor--when he gives into both her touch, and the 1,000 thread count bed sheets, he finds that she soothes his soul. However, Sabrina’s world is a difficult thing for the hardened cowboy to accept. Trevor will have to learn to accept Sabrina and her changes to his world, not only to save Wildhorse Ranch, but to save a love he never expected to find.
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"No…I mean, wow. You really aren't, are you?" Now that Sabrina had halted operations, Trevor straightened to regard her in turn. The way she looked him over, with eyes as wide and summer-blue as the Texas sky, made him acutely aware of just how closely they stood.
"No. I really am not," he agreed. He wondered how much Trent let her get away with while he was gone. Sabrina Hearthstone had a face as pretty as an angel's—pair that with her ridiculously tight, stone-washed designer jeans, and he doubted his brother had been willing to deny her much. She was the living, breathing lyric of a country song standing before him—the worshipped, vaunted city girl—and for the first time, Trevor contemplated how much trouble he might be in having her on his property.
At least they had managed to agree on one important detail so far: he wasn't his brother Trent. While the Sheriff of Lockhart Bend might be willing to let certain behaviors slide, Trevor expected a rigid adherence to his rules. If she already found him more serious, more commanding, than his twin brother, then it might make his job a hell of a lot easier.
"So, you must be Trevor," Sabrina deduced. "The owner. Unless you're triplets I wasn't aware of," she appeared to mutter to herself. She extended a slender hand to him, and Trevor removed one of his gloves before taking it in his own. He wondered what his callouses must feel like rubbing against her soft skin. She didn't draw back immediately, which he also found curious. They held the handshake a few seconds longer than strictly necessary before Sabrina withdrew and flushed a little.
"Sorry I mistook you for your brother," she apologized. "I guess I didn't realize you'd be back today."
"I keep to a schedule," Trevor stated. "Which is something you're throwing off already, Miss Hearthstone." He nodded toward the scraps she had accumulated on the porch. "I’m tossing that wood out in the quarterly clear-out.” She stared at him blankly. “That's tomorrow. You want to keep any of it for arts and crafts, I expect you to go through it all today."
"Excuse me, Mr. Wild, but this isn't for arts and crafts," Sabrina protested. She gestured toward her woodpile selections. "This is upcycling! I'm going to make good use of this stuff. If we want to attract customers and garner favorable reviews, then we're going to need to liven up the living spaces with a few rustic decorations."
Upcycling. Great. Another made-up word. Trevor hooked his thumbs in his belt and didn't budge an inch, predicting his silence would be enough to settle the matter. Generally speaking, it was. Today, however, his natural powers of intimidation appeared to be diminished after the long drive. Sabrina had her hands on her hips, her dark pink lips pursed in challenge. For the life of him he couldn't decide if her expression was meant to convey a fight or invite a kiss.
"And it's going to take me longer than a day to figure out what I can and can't use here," she clarified.
"You signed a contract," he said. "And part of that contract clearly states you agree to adhere to the ranch's schedule." And my rules, he was going to add, before Sabrina interrupted him unexpectedly.
"How about time for coffee?" she said. She turned away from him to start up the front steps to the porch, before throwing offhand over her shoulder: "I assume there's room in the ranch's schedule for that?"
The offer sounded like a tactical maneuver rather than a true invitation, but he followed her up the steps to the bunkhouse despite his suspicion. He couldn’t help noticing the sequins studded around the back pockets of her jeans. The detail--and only that detail—drew his attention to Sabrina's pert hindquarters. She sure could fill a pair of impractical pants. The denim might as well have been painted onto those shapely, athletic legs of hers. He doubted she could fully bend over in them but would have been willing to be proved wrong.
"You were at a conference, right? How did it go?" Sabrina smiled perkily as she took the bunkhouse pot off the burner and poured them each a mug of coffee. Trevor hovered in the doorway, studying her change in expression and still wondering if he was being taken for a ride. He would have thought then that she certainly had the cheerful demeanor to be successful in her chosen profession…if he didn't still have doubts that her chosen profession actually existed.
"It went fine." The impromptu conference had given him a lot to chew on, and he felt cautiously optimistic about the future of Wildhorse's breeding program for the first time since he had taken a chance and hired an adventure coordinator. If he was being honest with himself, he didn't like the fact that he had to call on Trent to help Sabrina move in. Trevor was the ranch owner, and he would have rather seen to the matter himself—but his meeting with the other breeders in the area couldn't be put on hold.
He accepted the mug of coffee Sabrina handed him and settled back against the porch railing. The blonde leaned against the outside of the bunkhouse, crossing her legs and folding her arms, pursing her kissable lips and blowing steam off her own mug.
"I got in touch with your company originally because the ranch needs another source of income," he began.
"Obviously." She flexed a grin to let him know she was on the same page.
"But I'm not giving up the quarter horse breeding program. It's what we've done here for three generations, since my grandad's day. It's the heart and soul of this ranch, and it's what Wildhorse is known for." Trevor scowled, hoping to stamp his next point home. "So, I don't want our programs intersecting, Miss Hearthstone. You see to coordinating the campers and keep them out of my hair, and I go about my business as usual, including paying your company’s fee."
"Fine, Mr. Wild. Just so long as you understand what I most certainly won't be doing is keeping our campers out of the stables," Sabrina fired back. "You can't expect anyone to have even a half-baked glamping experience—nor can you expect them to spread positive word-of-mouth and leave us glowing reviews—if our customers aren't even allowed to experience the horses. You tell me what barns to stay out of, and I will—but judging by the tour Trent gave me, there's plenty of stable space for all of us. Besides," Sabrina continued as she smiled once more, "contrary to what you may think, I've been around horses before. I happen to know that most ranch animals enjoy the extra attention and go on to live happy, more fulfilled lives as a result. You wouldn't deny your horses that, would you?"
Trevor didn't like that she was pushing for such a huge compromise already, but now seemed like the perfect time to segue into what he really wanted to talk about: rules. He withdrew a folded set of documents from the inner pocket of his jacket and passed them to her.
"Then you stick to the schedule I've laid out for you," he said. He allowed himself a moment to privately relish the look of horror that crossed her face. He had guessed from the start that she was the type of woman to flout the rules, but he intended to put an end to that behavior before it had even begun. He sipped his coffee and watched as Sabrina riffled through the multi-page document.
"This is…why are there checklists?" she asked incredulously. She rattled the pages at him. "Do you actually expect me to fill these out and turn them back in to you?"
The truth of the matter is she loves her fictional persona, Leslie North, more than her normal, day-to-day persona! Her bestselling books focus on strong characters and particularly women who aren’t afraid to challenge an alpha male. Inspired after years of travel, her stories are set all over the world, from the tough streets of Russia to the beautiful beaches of the middle east.
Leslie fell in love with romance when she first picked up a scrappy, dog-eared romance book from her local library. She began writing soon after and the rest, as they say, was history. She now lives in a cozy cottage on the British coast and enjoys taking long walks with her two Dalmatians, George and Fergie.
She LOVES reader feedback, and if you have any comments, don’t hesitate to contact her!
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