by Gerry Bartlett
Pub. Date: 5/2/2017 Genre: Contemporary Romance
Her father’s dream. Her crossroads. And a man who sees just her . . .
Megan Calhoun doesn’t stick with anything long. She’s the daughter of a billionaire—why pretend to be somebody else? Until she finds out her father’s will says she has to. She has to last a year in the oil patch, in the dust and heat of West Texas, working for her daddy’s company. Otherwise she’s cut off without a cent—and no way to earn one.
The only upside is her new pal Rowdy Baker, ex-football star, Calhoun engineer, and grade-A stud. If she has to live in a trailer, his doesn’t sound so bad. Rowdy knows the roughnecks running the rigs won’t take kindly to a smartass blonde rookie whose last name matches their paychecks. He can’t control his attraction to her. And with everyone from the foremen to the stockholders spitting mad at the Calhouns, he expects trouble ahead.
But Megan has never been scared in her life. And with Rowdy to help her plot, she has the chance of a lifetime: to find her calling, to fix her company, and, if she doesn’t screw it up—to capture a heart . . .
Megan Calhoun paid the driver, stepped out of the car, and rolled her suitcase over the gravel parking lot. Her hand slipped on the handle when she hit a pothole. Sweaty palms. Then her stomach rumbled. No, she refused to be nervous. She put on her “I don’t give a damn” face, and stared down a man slouched next to a pickup truck who made a comment about her butt in snug jeans. She kept going toward the building that housed the offices of CWC Industries.
This was all her daddy’s fault. Conrad Calhoun’s will spelled out the terms: she had to work in the oil fields for a year if she wanted her inheritance. It had been her own bright idea to pick the man who’d be stuck with her for the next twelve months. She’d already scanned the parking lot filled with dusty pickup trucks. No sign of him. If he was as thrilled as she was about what was coming, he was probably hiding out.
Who could blame him? Except for one summer when she’d humored her father and gone along for the ride, she had no clue what went on in the oil fields. All she really knew was that those dirty, noisy places had always paid for her cushy lifestyle.
Megan stopped in front of the office. It wasn’t much, just a lowslung building that had seen better days. Not like the high-rise where the Calhoun Petroleum Headquarters reigned supreme. This subsidiary of Calhoun obviously didn’t rate funding for frills. She wrestled her suitcase up the steps, then pushed open the glass door and cold air hit her face. It was hot outside, typical for Texas in early September. At least air-conditioning was in the budget here.
The man at the counter had those wide shoulders she recognized. Former football player. “Rowdy, I was looking for you outside.”
Rowdy Baker turned and looked her over. “I’m signing us in. Why the hell did you do it, Megan? Request me to be your partner for your playtime in the field?” He threw the clipboard he held down on the worn Formica counter. “I’m used to working alone.”
“I’m not used to working at all.” Megan let go of her suitcase. Of course it flopped over, landing on her foot. “Damn it.” She left it there and looked around, making sure no one was close enough to overhear them. A couple of clerks were nearby, but one was on the phone and the other was in an office behind a glass wall.
“I wanted someone I knew. My sister says you’re a decent guy. Was she wrong?” She grabbed the clipboard and checked their names.
“Am I supposed to be flattered?” Rowdy looked like he wanted to pound the counter. “‘Decent’. Wow, I’m overwhelmed. Thank Cassidy for me. Now, go outside and pick someone else. Anyone else.”
“No.” Megan breathed a sigh of relief when she saw her fake name on the list. “Listen, we’re stuck with each other. You need to adjust your attitude. She’s probably going to wind up running Calhoun Petroleum, you know. Cassidy is showing everyone at Headquarters that she’s got Daddy’s business sense.”
“Whoop-de-do. So I could get a promotion out of this?” Rowdy got close to Megan and she almost backed off.
He was big and, at the moment, intimidating. Maybe this had been a mistake. Cass had broken it off with him. Maybe he was mad and would make Megan’s life a living hell. But then the devil you know . . .
“At the end of the year, all four of the Calhoun kids could be in a position to help you out. If we get good evaluations and get our inheritances.” Megan smiled. Rowdy clearly wasn’t impressed.
“I’m sure Cass will do well and end up running things. Wouldn’t surprise me at all.” He finally backed off. “She called me personally to break the bad news that I’d be dragging you along with me.
Begged me to take you on, because you can imagine how I feel about dealing with another Calhoun woman about now.” He glanced around the room this time. No one seemed to be listening to them. “I’m sorry.” Megan really was. Rowdy had been with Cass until recently. He was probably still aching over their breakup.
“Sure you are, Ms. Cochran. An assumed name. Really? What’s the matter, afraid the roughnecks wouldn’t like Daddy’s little girl coming by to check on them?” He picked up the clipboard and a pen from the counter.
“It could cause problems. I’m not naïve, Rowdy.” Megan ignored his sarcasm. “I’ve got to succeed this year. A lot’s on the line. You get that? You going to help me swim? Or sink me like the Titanic?”
“I don’t know.” He looked her over, his dark eyes skimming down her body until she wanted to tug at her T-shirt. “You going to work this year or float through it and then expect me to lie so you can get your big payday at the end?”
Megan wondered if a smart woman would leave right now and pick a stranger, someone more intimidated by the Calhoun name— or at least respectful. But Rowdy was still standing there, looking like he expected her to cut and run.
She picked up her suitcase off her foot and raised her chin. “I’ll work if you’ll give me a chance. Will you? Or am I going to get the fallout because I’m Cassidy’s sister and you’re mad at her?” Megan saw she’d struck a nerve when he signed the clipboard and threw it down again. Good. Let him prove he wasn’t still smarting from Cassidy’s rejection. Too bad Megan couldn’t help noticing that her sister did have great taste. She’d always been a sucker for big men with dark eyes and washboard abs.
“Cass and I are history. The question now is your attitude. I heard you never stick with anything more than a week or two.” Rowdy strode toward the door, then turned to look at her.
“Someone’s been talking too much. My sister claimed you were a nice guy. Guess she overstated that.” Megan wanted to storm out of there and slam the door in his face. But what choice did she have with a three-hundred-million-dollar inheritance on the line? One year. She had to stick with this and Rowdy for three hundred and sixty-five days.
Gerry Bartlett is a native Texan who lives halfway between Houston and Galveston. Her antique business is on the historic Strand on the island. When she's not treasure hunting, she loves heading to the Texas capitol of Austin where she imagines her vampire Glory St.Clair of the Real Vampire series has her own vintage clothing shop. She also loves writing about the big city of Houston and the oil business in her new contemporary series, Texas Heat.
Gerry has over a hundred cookbooks but would rather read them than cook these days. She also has way too many purses and posts pictures of her latest finds on Pinterest. This former elementary school teacher is working on her twentieth published novel. Her first three were written as Lynn McKay and can be found on Amazon for a penny. Now she's out of the classroom and happy to write under her real name.