Cassidy I am excited to get the invite to visit my former college roommate Macy at her family’s ranch in Big Dog, Montana. As a high school science teacher, I can certainly work some lesson plans into the next school year concerning the beautiful mountains of Montana. What I hadn’t been counting on was her brother, Tuck. He was six feet plus of yummy, angry man and I didn’t want to like him, but my body kept overriding what my mind was saying. What was up with him and the rest of this town? They were nice enough, but they all kept sniffing me and I swear if that man growls at me one more time…
Tuck I had been expecting a southern debutante I could pat on the head and send on her way. What I got was a fucking red-headed, green eyed, too-smart-for-her-own-good beauty. Who smells like strawberries and exactly like my mate? I’m beta of the Big Dog Pack. I can’t possibly be mated to a human, can I? Yeah, I can, because the thought of her with someone else drives me insane. Cassidy is mine. My wolf knows it already. I just have to convince my human.
I make my way through the Billings Logan International airport. Considering we are one day away from a long four-day weekend it isn’t as crowded as I had expected. Still, finding Macy, my former roommate from college, is proving more difficult than I had anticipated. How tough can it be to find a leggy, blonde beauty, with a model’s smile, and a bubbly personality? She should have stood out among the jean, cowboy boot, and hat-wearing crowd like a diamond in the sand. I had been thrilled to hear from her when she had invited me to her hometown Big Dog, Montana. I couldn’t get on a plane fast enough. She had spent many holidays at my home in Alabama during our four years in college, but now a year after graduation this would be my first visit to her home.
I’m anticipating seeing her long legs charging toward me at full speed any minute now. What I’m not expecting is to be met by an angry looking cowboy holding a sign with my name haphazardly scrawled across a piece of cardboard.
“I’m Cassidy Vincent,” I announce to him. His eyes are the same shade as my favorite chocolate candy bar and they stare at me seeming to doubt the validity of my statement. He is a mountain of a man. Over six feet four inches and a good two hundred plus pounds, but I can see it is all lean muscle. He has long, jean encased legs, huge cowboy boots, and the required cowboy hat. A dark pony tail peeks from the back of it, and a tattoo of barbed wire circles his impressive looking left bicep just below the sleeve of a black tee that was working hard to contain his muscles.
I have just a minute to wonder if it is true what they say about guys with big feet, when he leans toward me and sniffs.
He sniffs me!
Sure, I’ve been on a plane for the past several hours, but it isn’t like I forgot to put on deodorant this morning.
“What’s that smell?” he asks his voice a low rumble in his wide manly chest.
I give him my best teacher evil eye, the one I had practiced in a mirror to make sure I had perfected it last year before starting my career as a high school science teacher. “I’m sure I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about,” I reply, channeling my mother’s haughty, southern belle voice.
He snorts, “Never mind,” and turns to walk back toward the luggage carriage. Even at five feet eight inches, I have to hurry to keep up with his long-legged stride. “Which is yours?” he asks, pointing to the parade of suitcases slowly making their way past and around.
“That one, the purple one,” I say, reaching for it but missing and almost falling forward face first. One hand reaches out and snags me just in time. Mr. Hot-and-Angry rolls his eyes at me and growls.
He growls, mind you.
Without so much as a flick of his wrist, he snags my bag and pulls it to the floor with ease. “That it?” he asks and stupidly I nod. He snorts some kind of approval I think. Maybe for the fact I have traveled light? He begins to carry my purple case out of the airport, not even bothering with the rollers, or looking behind to make sure I am following. No doubt he is used to being followed blindly by scores of awestruck, devoted women. By the time I reach him he is throwing my suitcase into the back of a dusty, red pick-up truck.
“Hey, wait a minute. I don’t even know your name,” I manage to squeak out. “You are from the ranch…right? Macy sent you?”
He turns to face me and his eyes scan me from the top of my wild red hair to the bottom of my sensible sneaker clad feet. Despite myself willing it not to happen, I can feel my face go hot, just one of the curses of being a true redhead. His milk-chocolate colored eyes linger a little too long on my rounded hips. “You can call me Tuck, and yes I’m from the ranch. Now if you would get into the truck,” he says, flinging open the passenger side door.
The man was seriously hot, like male stripper hot. Like Magic Mike hot. Not that I actually know what that is, because I’ve never seen the movies or attended a male review, but if I did I’m pretty sure he would be the star attraction. Too bad he had the attitude of a skunk with rabies. I still haven’t forgotten that he growled at me earlier. “Perhaps if I could just see some ID,” I request, still not convinced that this is the cowboy from the right ranch. Shouldn’t he be friendlier, after all I am a guest to one of the ranch owners? Macy would never stand for someone being purposely rude to me.
He sighs, his hot breath blows across my face in an angry puff and I resist the urge to close my eyes and count to three. He is clearly aggravated with me, and the man is the most impatient person I think I have ever met. And considering I deal with hormonal teenagers on a daily basis, that’s saying a lot. What is his freaking hurry anyway? Is he turning into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight? The man has an attitude, but the joke is on him. After a year of teaching science to know-it-all teenagers who like to pretend they can care less, I’m not easily intimidated. I have in fact perfected my own patience abilities to super human level. I put my hands on my hips and wait him out.
He scrubs his hand down his face and frowns, “Just get in the truck…um?”
“Cassidy,” I supply for him…again. “Perhaps I should just rent a car.” I look around for the rent a car kiosk.
“Listen, Cassidy, I have cows to feed, a broke fence to mend, and about a hundred other things to do today to prepare for the dance. If I don’t bring you back to the ranch I will never know a moment’s peace from Macy. Now please, get in the damn truck,” he commands.
This is not how this was supposed to go. Where is the truck with the fun cowboy and where in the hell is Macy? “Mr. Tuck…” I start.
“No Mister, just Tuck darlin’,” and then before I know what is happening his large hands have encircled my waist and he boosts me up and into the passenger side of the truck. He hesitates just a moment and I’m pretty sure he actually sniffs me again, before he reaches past me to grab the seatbelt. His large, muscled arm brushes across my breast, and I gasp out loud when heat races to my core. I squeeze my thighs together to contain it. For a moment we exchange a look that is full of need, and want, and promise. It leaves me wondering what it would be like to have this cowboy all to myself, in my bed, between my waiting legs. Would he be just as impatient in bed? Or would he take his time and let his mouth and hands roam my body with leisure?
He ruins my deliciously wicked fantasy by mumbling, “Sorry,” clearing his throat and then saying, “Not sorry,” then he sends me a heart-stopping, lopsided grin before slamming the truck door.
Sorry, not sorry? Asshole!
My face flames red hot. I feel like I’ve been out in the sun too long. So far, this vacation is not going as planned. “Was that really necessary?” I ask when he hops into the driver’s side. “I am perfectly capable of getting into a truck without being hauled in and treated like a child.” I cross my arms across my breasts which feel like they have inflated to a cup size bigger, before noticing that the move only pushed them up higher and his eyes follow their movement. Remembering that he had just touched them and they still ache, I drop my arms into my lap and damn if his eyes didn’t follow my hands to my lap too. His gaze lingers a little too long to be comfortable and I clear my throat loudly to get his attention.
He finally looks away, but not before grinning again. He checks his mirrors then pulls out into traffic. He takes so long to answer my earlier question I’d had almost forgotten what it was I had asked. “Cassidy, I asked you politely, I even said please. Listen lady, I don’t have time to pussy-foot around all day at the airport. I’ve already told you. I have a crap load of work to do today.” He slides a pair of dark shades on his nose, which only adds to his sexiness. Damn him! I am really starting to not like him. I sure didn’t want to find him attractive.
Perfect he was not. I was soon to find his flaw. The man is incapable of carrying on an intelligent conversation. I watch as he silently merges into traffic on the interstate. He drives like he did everything else apparently, effortlessly and confidently with the inherit knowledge that the rest of the world would just yield to him. Well, goody for him! In just a few minutes we would be at the ranch and I would be surrounded by my dear friend, Macy and her loving family. Hopefully my dealings with this particular cowhand would be few and far between on my visit.
After about fifteen minutes of silence that left me with too much time to think about Mr. Charming, I chance a glance his way. “How much longer until we get to the ranch, Tuck?”
“THREE hours?” Okay, yeah, I screamed it and got another lopsided grin in response.