So here she was, shy as ever, but trying to act bold, approaching and standing beside a hot stranger in a red shirt and snug-fitting jeans. All the while hoping and praying he was the correct cowboy – the one her best friend had told her about.
Mia snuck a peek at the cowboy out of the corner of her eye. If this was the right guy – Hunter or Trapper or whatever the heck his name was, Skye was definitely right about the hot part. A hard-bodied, good-looking guy from boots to hat – dark hair, sun-browned skin, big, strong-boned hands, and the casual, confident grace particular to active, physically-fit young men. Mia, who was nineteen, guessed him to be a couple years older.
For several minutes she continued to stare into the pen of horses. She wanted to bolt in self-conscious panic from the cowboy’s good looks, confident air, and uncertain identity. But she held her ground, waiting for him to say something.
Moment after long moment drug by.
Please, say something.
She’d about given up on him ever speaking, and was preparing to leave the wafting dust, and the silent cowboy to seek refuge with Skye and Justin, when suddenly he spoke, startling her.
“What do you think?” his voice was pitched in an impossibly low octave.
“Oh,” Mia said, turning to face him. “Were you talking to me?”
“Uh-huh,” he said, drawing out the two syllables, making them sound way sexier than necessary – not that Mia minded. “What do you think of the horses?”
His voice was deep, raw, amber honey. She could listen to it for hours.
Bet it would sound amazing with my head pressed against his chest.
But she couldn’t just stand there daydreaming. He’d asked her a question – it was her turn to speak. If I don’t answer he’ll probably think I’m either stuck up, simple minded, or both. Although her tongue felt tangled and knotted and dry, she needed to form words. She willed her tongue to move, her lips to function.
“Beautiful animals,” she finally managed. “But some look really wild.” Beautiful. Wild. Like you, maybe.
“Yep,” he said with a slow, sultry grin. “Exactly.”
Goose bumps skittered along Mia’s arms and chest.
“I hope to draw one of the wild ones,” he said.
“Why?” A shudder of fear shot up her back. Whether it was fear of him, or fear for him, she wasn’t certain.
“Because I’d have a better chance of scoring a good ride, of course.”
“Oh.” Mia said, “I see.” But she didn’t want to see. Didn’t want the black-and-white shuttering image of a rogue horse launching this beautiful man through the air.
Danita Cahill is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer. She’s written and published over 2,100 newspaper articles and columns for 11 different Northwest newspapers, and dozens of magazine stories and photo layouts for six different magazines. She has five stories and a photo in two of HCI’s anthologies and has self-published five books – two non-fiction and three fiction titles. Danita lives in the Pacific NW on a small Oregon farm with her family and animals, including a herd of 10 alpacas. Besides running children to and fro and caring for her gardens, critters and family, Danita stays busy working on magazine assignments and her next book projects.
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