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Colt Anderson is burned out. Every part of his daily life has become a tedious chore. He cannot remember the last time he took a day off or, better yet, felt a woman’s willing surrender. And it’s just his luck that on his first day off in ages, he runs into a sexy squatter on his property, never expecting that single interaction would alter the very fabric of his world.
Still, he cannot seem to stay away from the sultry scientist, Avery. Colt feels bad for her, worries that she is running from something, and decides to cover her stay at the ranch. After all, he owns the place and has plenty of cash. Although that tiny little detail is a secret he plans on keeping to himself. It is addictive having a woman look in his direction and not see dollar signs for a change.
Because when Avery casts those goddess eyes his way, he’s just a man, a man she craves and submits to body and soul, like he’s her man, and his longing for her has him tied up in knots. With trouble and danger drawn to her like magnets, Avery pulls out his protective, dominant nature. The woman needs a keeper, and he’s the perfect man for the job.
Now he has less than two weeks to convince her to stay, to make her fall for him before she discovers he’s rich. But will she hate him when she discovers his deception?
Read an Excerpt
The telescopes and corresponding equipment filled the small space, dripping everywhere. Colt could only wonder about the water damage these things would do to the hardwood floors.
In the interior light, he studied the woman while she flitted around the equipment, apparently unconcerned that she was just as wet, or that she was alone with a strange man who had a firearm. She used the big plush towels that they stocked in the bathrooms to dry off the gear.
This was one of their honeymoon cabins with an open plan floor. The walls were a golden, honey-toned wood, and the hardwood floors matched them in color, giving it a feeling of warmth. On the left was a pinewood king bed with matching nightstands, and a chest of drawers against the wall. On the left beyond the bed was the bathroom that held a full-size tub and shower, and was the only room that was walled off. There was a full-sized fridge, and electric stove in the kitchen on the far right. There was even a stacked washer and dryer unit on the wall between the bathroom and kitchen. But directly to Colt’s right was the living room with big, plush dark brown sofas, and his uninvited guest and all her equipment taking up every ounce of free space.
The woman was maybe pushing five two, making her a good foot shorter than he was. She was slight and trim; her jeans had holes in them and were plastered to her slim legs. Her yellow tank top was slicked against her chest and damn near translucent from the dousing it had sustained. As it was, the thin material outlined the high swell of her breasts. The nipples were drawn into taut points beneath it and pushed enticingly against the see-through material.
But it was her face that drew him the most. She had smooth, unblemished skin that was sun kissed golden, delicate, high cheekbones, and a wide, generous mouth currently set with grim determination as she moved around the gear. The tip of her slim nose was slightly upturned, and her eyes were like dark, liquid pools of mahogany framed by thick, inky lashes. Her dark hair ran over her shoulders to drape against her chest and back, but he thought it might be lighter in color when dry, more of a tawny caramel than a burnt walnut.
Colt rubbed a hand over his face to dispel the sudden influx of lust her wet form engendered in him. He had to remember this woman was in the cabin, on his property, as a freeloader. He hated people who took advantage of the immense acreage of Silver Springs Ranch. It was stealing, plain and simple. Once the storm had abated, he would deal with her—harshly, if it came to it. With anger lacing his clipped words, he said, “I’m going to ask you again, who the hell are you, and what the hell do you think you’re doing in this cabin?”
“Isn’t it obvious, cowboy? I’m staying here.” Sarcasm dripped from her words, her voice like silken honey. “I should be asking you the same thing.” She all but ignored him as she took care of the equipment with absolutely no apparent fear that he could be a rapist or murderer.
“This cabin was not rented out.” He knew this as, when he’d received the updated guest manifest from registration yesterday evening, this cabin, B42, was listed as being a vacancy. That meant she was here illegally. “I don’t know how you even got in without a key.”
She shoved wet hair out of her face and shrugged. “Well, I’m renting it, technically. Although there might be some issues with the rental in the sense that I still have to pay for it, but it’s the stream’s fault. Why? You work at the ranch?”
He cocked a brow. She hadn’t asked if he owned the ranch but if he worked on it. A photo of his face was on the website. It was hard to miss that he owned it. And Colt didn’t know why, but he didn’t want her to know he was the ranch proprietor, so he omitted the fact. “Yep. I work for Silver Springs Ranch. I know for a fact that there’s no guests listed as renting this cabin. It’s supposed to be empty. That makes you a squatter and a freeloader.”
She cast a haughty frown in his direction, like he was the one taking advantage of the ranch instead of the other way around. He curled his hands into fists to keep himself from grabbing her and shaking the truth out of her.
All Colt had wanted was a day to himself without any problems. And this sexy as hell scrounger had tossed a wrench into the works on the first day he’d had off in weeks.
It had happened before: people squatting in their cabins without paying. With as much acreage and as many remote cabins as they had, at times it was hard to monitor each one. And if the last renter or housekeeping forgot to lock the front door, it was easy for somebody to enter.
“Look, I’m not a damn squatter. Besides, what are you doing here? It looks like you were planning to move right in.” She tossed the damp towel on the sofa and made him wince. She set her hands on her hips, emphasizing her slight curves, and scowled with defiance.
Colt prowled toward her as the cabin shuddered in the crashing thunder, peeved that anyone would take advantage of his place. “I call it like I see it, lady.” He moved until they were standing no more than a foot apart, glaring at each other.
“Oh yeah, and what are you doing out here but using this place illegally?”
“Besides needing to take shelter from the storm? About to kick a squatter off ranch property,” he growled.
“Look, cowboy, I can’t take my equipment back out in that storm without it getting damaged. And for the last time,” she drilled a finger into his chest, “I’m not squatting. I fully intend to pay for my stay.”
He snorted. “And you just forgot to stop by registration? How did you even get inside? Did you pick the lock? You’ve got some nerve, breaking and entering. I’m sure the sheriff would be mighty interested in your activities.”
“The door was open, wise guy. And you think my staying here’s ballsy?” She gripped his wet shirt in her hands, and yanked his face down until their eyes were level with one another. The woman was far stronger than she appeared, and Colt wondered what she planned to do. But then she planted her hot mouth against his lips.
Shock filled him for all of two seconds as her exotic, red-hot honeyed flavor swamped his senses.
About the Author Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Anya grew up listening to Cardinals baseball and reading anything she could get her hands on. She remembers her mother saying if only she would read the right type of books instead binging her way through the romance aisles at the bookstore, she’d have been a doctor. While Anya never did get that doctorate, she graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with an M.A. in History.
Anya is a bestselling and award-winning author published in multiple fiction genres. She also writes urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance under the name Maggie Mae Gallagher. A total geek at her core, when she is not writing, she adores attending the latest comic con or spending time with her family. She currently lives in the Midwest with her two furry felines.
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