With an unlady like snort of disgust Callie Peters tossed the crinkled map aside, and swerved over to the side of the road with a sinking feeling in her stomach that she was good and lost. For the better part of an hour she’d been driving around, looking for the sign that would direct her to the Evans Ranch, and her future place of employment. Yet she hadn’t passed as much as a single mailbox. She whipped off her over-sized sunglasses and tossed them onto the dashboard, taking in the surrounding area.
The road stretched on until it disappeared into the darkening horizon. Nothing but rocks, dry dirt, and dried out pot holes. Grass and wildflowers knee high swayed with the breeze along the shoulder, and further, past the barbed-wire fence that lined both sides of the countryside. An occasional tree dotted the landscape, some dying and nothing more than twisted, bare branches that looked like fingers clawing their way out of the earth.
She opened the door to her dusty Volvo and got out to stretch her legs, the last forty-eight hours-at least thirty of that behind the wheel-beginning to take a toll. Turning in a three hundred and sixty-degree revolution she saw absolutely nothing that indicated that anyone, human, that is, lived in the vicinity. She’d seen plenty of cows and horses, but where were they now? She supposed they were brought in for the night.
Closing her door, she walked to the middle of the narrow road, looking back in the direction she’d come. The thought of turning around and losing more time didn’t appeal to her, and besides, she only had about an hour before it would be dark. Her gaze took in the fact that there were no power lines, which meant she’d be lost out there with nothing but the headlights of her car to guide her.
She sighed, already knowing there was nothing behind her. Should I keep going? Her gaze landed on a small hilltop in the distance, a lone mushroom-shaped tree perched on the center of it like an open umbrella. Maybe she could see something from there. Without hesitation, Callie began walking toward the fence, realizing she’d have to climb between barbed wire to reach the hill.
She wondered how much trouble she could get into for trespassing, as she cautiously made her way between two rows of fence to the other side. No one could accuse her of being there to steal any live stock; this particular pasture didn’t look like it was being used, as far as she could tell. Still, she glanced around for a moment to make sure, before marching up the hillside toward the tree. She should have a bird’s eye view once she got there.
Callie had no sooner made it to the hill top when her gaze immediately spotted the large black cow, just on the other side. It was massive! If the size hadn’t intimidated her the massive horns certainly did the trick. For a moment she stood still, in awe, never having been so close to anything like it before. She could hardly count the calves she’d been allowed to hug and pet at the state fair each year.
The animal hadn’t noticed her yet, and was contentedly munching on the new grass growing at its feet. Then, suddenly the huge head swung up, and large dark eyes zeroed right in on her. Callie held her breath as their gazes locked. She didn’t think cows were dangerous, but she’d grown up in the city and didn’t know very much about them. She took a fearful step to the right, thinking she’d be safe closer to the tree, and that’s when the cow vaulted into action.
With a cry of alarm Callie realized she was in trouble. There was nowhere for her to go and she doubted she could outrun a cow in the open pasture wearing sandals. She wasn’t about to wait around to see if the animal was coming to check her out in friendly curiosity, either. Her only hope was the tree. She didn’t give her girlish attire a second thought as she jumped for the first branch and pulled herself off the ground. It was funny how adrenaline helped you do the unthinkable when fear ran through your blood.
By the time she was a safe distance in the branches above the cow was directly beneath her, staring up at her with big friendly looking eyes. I’m not falling for that, big boy. She positioned herself in the fork of the tree and leaned back against the trunk. Great, just great, Callie thought to herself as she took in her barren surroundings. Now what am I supposed to do?
Blade Evans pulled his stallion Calypso to a halt, searching the ground beneath them for signs that Satan had passed that way. The prized bull was getting ornery and independent these days, disappearing at will when the mood struck him. But at least he was predictable, Blade noticed, taking in the deep hoof prints left in the soft earth next to the watering hole. Raising his head, he squinted as he searched the horizon, seeing a small black spec in the distance. Yep, at least he was predictable.
Pulling on the reins sharply, Blade directed Calypso in the direction of the hilltop. Satan was beneath his favorite tree, standing poised as if he were telling the world he was king of the hill. He appeared to be daring anyone who got in the way, ready to back up that challenge with a twenty-five hundred pound body and the massive horns he wore like a crown on his head. In spite of the aggravation, a smile spread across Blade’s mouth as he nudged Calypso into a faster trot. He’d promised Marissa he’d get home in time for dinner for a change.
“Satan, you old devil, I’m getting damned tired of having to come looking for you,” Blade grumbled upon reaching the bull. “You keep this up and I’ll hang your hide on the wall in my bedroom.” The animal just glared at Blade as if he didn’t have a care in the world. And why should he worry? He was making the Evans’ Ranch a ton of money.
Blade knew he wasn’t hearing angel’s voices but he glanced up all the same, because that seemed to be where the voice was coming from. His eyes widened with disbelief when they landed on a pair of sandaled feet. Attached to those sandals was a pair of the prettiest legs he’d seen in a long while. His eyes continued up, widening when they reached the bright red triangle covering her pussy. Then suddenly the sight was taken away from him when the woman dropped her long, gypsy style skirt. His gaze slid up the rest of her body, taking note of her full, curvy shape.
The flowing skirt she was wearing outlined her waist and generous hips. The peasant style blouse, hanging half off her shoulders, brought attention to her large breasts and cleavage. Hair the color of hay was piled haphazardly on top of her head. Caught by the slight breeze, loose strands moved against her forehead and neck. By the time his gaze took in her full lips and pretty brown eyes, his breathing had turned slightly uneven.
Christ! His body’s reaction to the unexpected situation caught him totally by surprise. The fact that he was responding so rapidly to her, a stranger, told Blade he’d been too long without a woman. Months. There just hadn’t been time. With his brother Chaz gone most of the time on company business, and his other brother Beau married and living on his own spread, someone had to stay home to run the family ranch. Evan’s Security had gone from a three-man operation to one-man, temporarily.
Blade grinned at the impatience in the woman’s tone. “Yes, ma’am?”
“I’m not up here because I want to be.” She flashed him a smile.
“Just why are you up there?”
“Your cow chased me up here.”
“Satan?” Blade snickered. “Satan is a bull, ma’am. And the only thing he chases around here are the females he’s about to mount.” Her skirt moved with the breeze, teasing him with glimpses of her shapely legs. He was hoping to catch another look at the silk between her thighs. “Do you need help getting down?”
Her gaze shot to Satan, while her teeth chewed on the corner of her bottom lip. “If you don’t mind.”
“Just drop down and I’ll catch you.”
He could sense her hesitation.
“I’m no lightweight,” she said after a while.
Blade paused, thinking about how to answer that. Women tended to be sensitive about their weight. As far as he was concerned there wasn’t a thing wrong with a woman who had a little meat on her. And from what he could see, there was definitely nothing wrong with her.
“Yes ma’am.” He kept his tone neutral. “I think I can handle it.”
“What about your cow, ah, bull?”
Blade followed the direction of her gaze to where Satan had wandered off. “Satan is the reason I’m out here. He escaped from his pen. You’re lucky he did. We only use this pasture during the winter months.”
“At least something is working out in my favor today.” She smiled down at him. “Get ready because here I come.”
Blade watched her take a careful step onto a lower branch, holding her skirt against her legs. He gripped Calypso tightly between his thighs to keep him steady. When she ran out of branches he raised his arms. The next thing he knew she dropped down right onto his lap. He caught her against him, and for a moment he was being smothered by her sweet flesh, exposed when her skirt got caught up on his hat. Several mind numbing thoughts registered at once, her subtle fragrance of something wild and tantalizing, the satiny softness of her skin, the arousing little gasp that passed through her lips.
“Oh, I’m so sorry!”
She began to squirm against him, desperately pulling her skirt down and tucking it between them. When she realized she’d ended up on his lap facing him, she turned ten shades of red. Blade clenched his teeth until his jaw hurt. She might be embarrassed but his body’s reaction to her squirming against his cock was no laughing matter. He was turning hard in record time.
He decided to ignore his situation and pray that she hadn’t noticed it. “Why are you here anyway?”
She met his eyes, and Blade noticed the tempting curve of her full lips, wondering if they were as soft as they looked. “I was looking for a ranch.”
Blade couldn’t help it, he laughed. “In a tree?”
She smiled in return. “No, I’m lost.”Amusement flickered in the eyes that met his, before she glanced away.
He followed her gaze, seeing her car for the first time.
“I stopped at a store a few miles back for directions but I think I took a wrong turn somewhere. Do you know where the Evans Ranch is?”
Blade knew who she was as soon as the words left her mouth. Callie Peters, the woman Marissa had insisted on hiring once she and Beau had moved out. Damn! She’s my new housekeeper? This was trouble. His interested gaze moved over her pretty face, then lowered down to her creamy throat, bare shoulders, and stopped at the breasts crushed against his chest. A strand of her hair blew into his face, arousing him with a whisper soft caress across his stubbled cheek. Then he remembered she’d asked him a question.
Her eyes were hazel, not brown as he’d first thought, and framed with thick black lashes that brushed her cheeks when she blinked. They rounded with happy surprise at his response, and damned if her sexy mouth didn’t form into a shape that made his cock jump with excitement.
Down boy! There’s no way she’s going to bring you any relief.
“Then I am going in the right direction!” Her enthusiasm cut into his thoughts. “Thank goodness. How much further down the road is it?”
“It’s too complicated to explain and I doubt you’d find it in the dark. You’re on the back road. I’ll take you there.”
“But what about my car?”
“Someone can come get it for you and deliver it to the ranch.”
“Will it be safe here?”
Blade chuckled, and then he realized she was serious. “This isn’t New York, ma’am. And you’ve been on Evans land for the last ten miles. It will be safe.”
She released a sigh. “I’m from New York, it’s not all bad there,” she said defensively, with a spark in her eyes. “Do you work for the Evans?”
“You could say that.”
“I really didn’t want to meet them all disheveled like this, and delivered on a horse, but I guess it could be worse.”
Blade had to wonder how. He was sitting there with a cock so hard it hurt, and the only thing keeping her from knowing about it was the layers of material from her skirt. If he didn’t get some relief soon he was going to be a basket case. It wasn’t Callie’s fault he hadn’t been this close to a woman in months, with the exception of Marissa. But she was off limits.
“You’ll need to turn around before we can leave.” Blade knew he could ride with her the way she was but that would be sheer torture having the front of her body rubbing against his with every step Calypso took.
“I don’t have to get down, do I?” She looked nervously at Satan.
“No, ma’am. Just turn around and face the front. I’ll help you.”
“By the way my name is Callie,” she offered, her face softened with a smile.
He gave a slight nod of his head. “Blade.”
Her eyes widened. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Evans.”
Blade glanced at the hand she held his way, then back up at the shining light in her friendly eyes. “Just Blade, ma’am.”
“Okay.” She lowered her hand. “How do I turn around?”
Damn. He wished the eagerness in her voice was for something else. Then Blade realized he needed to get his libido in check. “Lift your leg, ma’am.”
She looked at him with a-deer-in-the-headlights look.
“I promise not to let you fall.” He didn’t want to put his hands on her but he was forced to when she did what he asked and began to slide.
She gasped and grabbed the front of his shirt, and he took hold of her upper arms. The sudden urge to kiss her came out of nowhere and was so strong that he knew if he didn’t do something drastic he would give into it. What the fuck is wrong with me? He was acting like a randy teenager with one thing on his mind. With a sound of impatience to mask his arousal, Blade easily lifted her by the waist and swung her around until she was settled in front of him.
He sucked in a breath the second her rump came up against his cock. Fuck! How am I ever going to make it home like this? Callie’s soft sound of surprise revealed that she finally knew what his predicament was. She immediately sat up and away from his body, but all that did was force her ass tighter against him. He closed his eyes and clenched his teeth. Well, there was nothing he could do about it now.
He gave Calypso a firm squeeze with his calves, and they took off. He’d have to come back and get Satan in the morning.