[BookStrand Cowboy Romance]
When widow Rebecca Scott finally takes the vacation of her dreams as a 'dude' at a Colorado ranch, she never expects to lasso the heart of sexy rancher Rafe Lassiter. Time away from home and routine is supposed to give Rebecca the jolt she needs to plan the rest of her life. It is not supposed to be for sly innuendos, steamy kisses or sensual discoveries.
Rafe has always avoided the dudes, focusing his attention, heart and soul, on his ranch. Suddenly he finds himself playing host to the most appealing woman he's ever met. Before long, he yearns to corral Rebecca for good, but understands that taming this particular filly is going to require all the patience and skill he can muster.
Complicating his master plan are his brothers, her grown kids, and a secret hidden within the nearby Anasazi ruins.
BookStrand Mainstream Romance
5 Stars: "A Little R & R is a beautiful love story. I enjoyed watching the love between Rebecca and Rafe grow. Morgan Ashbury brilliantly developed their love, proving that love is not just for the young. Ashbury incorporated humor, suspense, and romance in her story. She drew me in and held my attention throughout the tale. This delightful tale will be a favorite of fans of romantic suspense." -- Debra, Review Your Book.Com
Rafe left his introspection behind as he scanned the people milling about the terminal. Not a one of them looked like his dude. He hoped he found her soon. He wanted to get home and see how Shadow was doing.
He turned his attention back to the angel who had caught his eye earlier just as she turned hers to him.
She smiled, changed course slightly, and approached him.
“Are you from the Lassiter Ranch?”
Rafe swallowed hard, tipped his hat and nodded.
“Oh, good! I’m Rebecca Scott,” the vision said, holding out her hand.
Rafe continued to smile at her for a long moment. It occurred to him that perhaps he ought to say something.
“Miz Scott,” he acknowledged, noting that his voice croaked worse than after a three-day binge.
“Please, call me Rebecca. And you are?”
Acting like an idiot. “Rafe Lassiter. Welcome to Colorado.” He took her hand, but only briefly. He didn’t need that kind of a jolt to his juices.
“Thank you. Am I the only guest you’re picking up today?”
With supreme effort, Rafe sucked back the quip about one honey of a pick-up and instead said, “Yes, you’re the only guest arriving today. Shall we get your luggage?”
The professionalism of his response pleased him. He planned to keep things just that way—professional. His resolve lasted until Rebecca bent over to retrieve her one, albeit very large bag from the luggage carousel.
Only his iron will—and the likelihood of a slap—prevented him from reaching out and caressing the enticing bottom before him.
“Only one bag? Aren’t you staying for the entire summer?”
Amazing how he had forgotten that little fact until now. He swallowed hard. If he had to spend from now until September watching Rebecca’s tempting backside, something was going to give.
“I don’t believe in carting along a whole lot of stuff,” Rebecca said as she turned to face him. “What you bring on vacation you have to look after and I have no intention of spending the next few months doing huge loads of laundry.”
“I am a sensible woman, for the most part.”
Rafe, her luggage in hand, quirked one eyebrow and asked, “For the most part?”
“I’m here, aren’t I?”
He couldn’t help but chuckle. “Yes, ma’am, you sure are.”
* * * *
It would be a three and a half hour drive to the ranch, Rafe informed her as he loaded first her luggage, and then her into his truck.
“Are you hungry?”
“No, I ate on the plane, so I’m good for a bit. I wouldn’t mind a cup of coffee, though. The tiny cups the airlines use are laughable. I’m afraid I’ve developed a bit of an addiction for the brew.”
“In that case you’re in luck. There’s always a fresh pot of coffee on the stove at home. It is one of the most sacred of ranch traditions.”
Rafe piloted the vehicle through a coffee shop drive-through close to the airport, just by the on-ramp to the Interstate. And then they left Denver behind, traveling through some of the most breath-taking scenery Rebecca had ever seen.
Not counting the man beside her, of course.
She was glad the Rockies afforded her the excuse she needed to keep her eyes trained elsewhere than inside the cab of the truck. She needed a little more time to get her equilibrium back.
She felt shaken to her core. In the year since Jacob died, she’d not noticed another man in that special woman-man way. Nor had she all the years they had been married. If anyone had asked her even a few days ago, she would have asserted with utter confidence: that part of her life had ended with her husband’s death. Hadn’t she just assured her own son of the same thing this very morning? Yes, she knew men had a tendency to look her way or occasionally whistle. But neither of those actions had ever touched her.
What a shock it had been to look into Rafe’s obsidian eyes and feel herself beginning to drown, to inhale his scent, fresh soap and pure man, and feel the bottom drop out of her stomach and her world, to brush against him innocently as she got into the truck and feel her nipples tighten in arousal.
Covertly, she stole a peek at him out the corner of her eye. Big, powerful and gorgeous. She hoped she didn’t embarrass herself and drool.
She wondered how old he was.
There’s a sobering thought. His features caught the eye, nearly putting the breath-taking scenery outside her window to shame. But she would bet she was at least ten years older than he.
The heat of embarrassment burned her face. She fixed her attention out the window once more. Good heavens, what had gotten into her? Lusting after a younger man, like one of those Cougars she’d read about! How pathetic!
She’d come to Colorado to break the stagnant pattern of her existence, to experience something new, something different. To learn about a way of life completely unknown to her.
Well, lusting after the first cowboy she met certainly met all the above criteria.
Oh, no! What if she was going through a mid-life crisis and this was just the beginning? What if she began to lust after every cowboy she met? What if she did more than just lust?
“This is your first time, isn’t it?”
Expecting the conflagration of the day before, she got sweet, sweet tenderness. In one moment of clear thought she realized that his mouth wooed hers. Like the tender caress of rose petals, his lips brushed hers, back and forth, as if he would be perfectly content to only do this and nothing more. She sensed in his gentle salute emotions he’d not yet expressed in words.
Rebecca felt as if, atom-by-atom her body dissolved into hot liquid honey. She wanted all of herself to meld with all of him, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. In one perfect instant of clarity she understood that this was real love: a complete blending, a unity of two into one.
She discovered a power, uniquely feminine, completely hers. As she pressed herself closer to the man she loved, as she ran her hands up and over his shoulders, down his back, she felt him shudder and knew he shuddered with desire for her. Her heart soared. She had never known this power before.
The kiss deepened, nearing the edge of tenderness, the edge of rationality, basking in the heat of a blaze that drew ever closer.
Rafe dragged his lips from hers only to feast them on the silken column of her throat. His hand swept down her body, passed the valley between her breasts, to her stomach, only to sweep back up again to cup one plump mound. He squeezed, gently, at the same time his hips rolled forward.
She whimpered with the wave of need that surged through her.
His hand left her breast only long enough to pull at the little satin bow at the top of her teddy. It came free, that thin piece of satin, loosening the garment’s hold on her.
His lips foraged and found her. He pulled her swollen nipple into his mouth and suckled strongly.
“Rafe!” the plea escaped. Her hands cupped his head, pressing him closer. One feminine leg crept up rough denim, on a primitive quest to wrap itself around masculine hips, to make closer the bond.
With a growl he scooped her up and brought her down onto the bed. “I have to see you, Rebecca,” he whispered.
His hands made quick work of stripping the supple garment from her body. He sat back for a moment, and just stared at her.
Shyness and vulnerability rose up, easily quelled by the look of longing in his eyes.
“Oh, Becca,” his voice trembled. He began to touch her, learning her body. His hands made love to her, with soft gentle brushes and full sweeping caresses.
His mouth captured hers again, and Rebecca swam in a swirling tide of arousal.
Her hands gloried in exploring his flesh. She was nearly overwhelmed with the wonder of him, the feel and the heat and the strength of him. Touching and being touched by Rafe transformed her. The trail he blazed sent tingles and heat through her entire body. She encountered the waistband of his jeans. The barrier was a travesty, and not nearly enough to keep her from him. Undaunted, her nimble fingers followed the edge of the material to the front and dipped in, seeking.
“Ah, Becca, yes,” he groaned. Emboldened by his obvious pleasure, she stroked and caressed, shy at first in her movements. The pressing of his hips told her he needed more. Bolder now, her hand encircled him, her grasp gently firm as she learned the length and the strength of him. Growling in a sound she recognized as frustration, he left her only a moment, only long enough to become as naked as she.
He felt hot and hard against her, and oh, how wonderful to hold him close, no barriers between them! Her hands eagerly touched every inch of him. She enjoyed the tension in his buttocks as her hands swept and squeezed. Unable to resist, she moved one hand around to the front of him, eager to stroke him again.
“You’re so hot,” she whispered in wonder, and he groaned, flexing against her hand.
“Yeah, I’m hot. For you. For all of you.”
He removed himself gently from her reach, distracting her with his mouth. He kissed and licked his way from her lips, to the bottom of her chin, down her neck. He tasted every bit of her until once more the fiery cavern of his mouth suckled first one nipple, and then the other. When she cried out and arched toward him, his hand slowly slid lower, until his fingers brushed the hair at the apex of her thighs.
“Rafe…please…I need…” Her words emerged panted, frantic, as she tried to cope with the swirling sensations within her.
“I know what you need, sweetheart.” He took the other turgid nipple into his mouth and began to suck hard, rhythmically. In perfect timing with each pull, his fingers stroked, then sought, and then delved. He slowly penetrated her with one finger as his thumb brushed the tiny nub, the epicenter of her desire. She moaned, her hips lifting for more of his touch as her passion climbed higher.
“I want to taste you, Becca. I’m going to make you fly.”
She had no idea what he meant. Then his hand left her intimate flesh, replaced by his mouth.