To love and honor a cowb.., p.1

To Love And Honor A Cowboy (Cowboy Nuptials Book 2), page 1

 part  #2 of  Cowboy Nuptials Series

 

To Love And Honor A Cowboy (Cowboy Nuptials Book 2)
 


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To Love And Honor A Cowboy (Cowboy Nuptials Book 2)


  CHARLENE

  BRIGHT

  __________________

  To Love and Honor a Cowboy

  A Cowboy Nuptials Novella

  Copyright © 2019 by Charlene Bright

  All rights reserved. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, without the express written permission of the publisher.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Sign up for Charlene’s newsletter HERE.

  To Love and Honor a Cowboy

  As the middle child wedged between two powerhouse brothers—an older one whose cynical outlook is hardly softened by his dominant personality and a younger one whose charm and looks get him almost whatever he wants—Reed McMurtry is used to being overlooked. He is the quiet one, the peacemaker, and, most of the time, the afterthought. All that aside, he is fairly happy. The Triple M Ranch in beautiful and spacious Texas fills his soul. Life is good … and then one morning, life is great. Somehow, some way, Kadence Wright, the most beautiful woman in the world and the one woman he has loved since they were children, was lying next to him in bed … as his wife.

  Things in life had always come easy for Kadence Wright. She’d been spoiled and indulged by her parents, and she’d learned to use her physical beauty at a young age to get whatever she wanted. Yet when tragedy finds its way into her life not once but twice, she’s drawn back to the last place she felt safe … Texas. It has stayed in her blood, no matter where she’s gone, and now she is holding out hope that it can heal her broken heart. That hope lasts less than twenty-four hours before she wakes up in bed with a handsome cowboy who tells her they are married.

  Heartache and drink are never a good combination, but now Kadence is left with questions. Who is this man? How does he know so much about her? And why does his family really, REALLY not like her?

  CHAPTER ONE

  “Good morning, beautiful.”

  Kadence Wright still had her eyes closed. In fact, they seemed glued shut. Her head was pounding and her mouth was dry. She remembered finally driving into Bandera last night and going into the little bar that Lena vg had owned since Kadence was a kid, but it all got a little fuzzy after that. She felt warm breath on her cheek and then that sexy, deeply male voice said, “How’d you sleep?”

  Levi? Did I actually leave the bar with that pervert? She couldn’t remember. She didn’t want to open her eyes until she remembered exactly what happened.

  As soon as she’d walked into the bar, she had been assaulted with a million questions from the locals about where she’d been for the past twelve years and what she was doing back in town. Levi Blackmon started hitting on her almost immediately. He seemed to want to pick up right where they left off after high school graduation, only now he was even more arrogant and aggressive than he had been back then. He started buying her drinks and instead of turning them down like she should have, she drank them to fill the empty space in her belly and soul. She was hungry, and the fruity drinks were the closest thing she’d had to food in three days.

  She felt a pair of tender lips kissing the side of her neck. It felt good, but she knew this wasn’t right. She’d fought hard to escape the reputation she’d had in high school, so hard in fact that she’d left town. She hadn’t come back even when her father died, and to this day she regretted that. How could she get drunk and have sex her first night back in town? She’d ruined everything, again.

  “Are you awake?”

  She may as well get this over with, she decided as she painfully pulled open her right eye. The face she was looking at didn’t belong to Levi Blackmon. This one looked nothing like the rogue cowboy who had been the star of every one of her dreams as a teenager and the very man who had ultimately ruined her reputation. Levi’s hair was as dark as night and his eyes almost black with little flecks of gold. Those eyes were what really ruined her. The eyes she was looking into now were a strange aquamarine color that she couldn’t remember ever seeing before. They were framed by eyelashes the same pale blond as the hair that stuck up in wild curls all over his head. A memory flashed through her head when she looked at his full lips. She’d definitely had sex last night, but it wasn’t with Levi. She’d spent the night with a cowboy with captivating lips and eyes the color of the ocean—and she couldn’t remember his name.

  “Uh ... yeah, I’m awake.”

  His gentle eyes softened. “You’re so beautiful, Kadence.”

  She knew she had to look rough. Before she’d walked into that bar last night she’d been driving for almost three days straight. She had barely slept, she hadn’t eaten, and the only cosmetics she still owned were an old tube of mascara and a compact of pressed powder. She’d used that, pinched her cheeks, bitten her lips, and run a brush through her masses of dark hair before going into Lena’s Roadhouse and then proceeded to get falling-down, stinking drunk. Then she had what she could only seem to recall as wild sex with a virtual stranger who was now telling her how beautiful she was. I really, really shouldn’t drink.

  He kept staring at her as if she were the most fascinating creature on Earth. “Um, thanks.” What the hell was his name? He looked familiar … sort of. Did she only know him from last night, or was he a local? God, please let him be one of Levi’s cowboy friends, only passing through for the rodeo.

  She took a deep breath and tried to gather her scattered thoughts. Who was in the bar last night? She remembered Sally Banks was there asking way too many questions. Lena was there, of course, and her daughter Annalisa came in and sat at the bar and talked to her mother for a while. Annalisa was always such an odd duck, and Kadence remembered tormenting her in high school. She felt a pang of guilt over that now. She’d been such a horrible person back then. She was sure that was why the past few years had happened to her … karma really was a bitch.

  “Are you okay?”

  The cute cowboy looked so worried that she suddenly wanted to reassure him. She forced a smile and nodded. “I’m fine. A little hungover, I guess.”

  He smiled and that made him even cuter. She wouldn’t have said that he was classically handsome and definitely not hot, but he was really cute. “I hope you’re not regretting last night.”

  Oh, she was. She could barely remember any of it, but she regretted every second. This wasn’t who she was, but no one in this small town was going to believe that now. She closed her eyes for a second and called up images of hot flesh and big, rough hands.

  Reluctantly, she opened her eyes. “It’s just that I don’t usually do this sort of thing.”

  He laughed. “I hope not.”

  Typical cowboy. The old double standard she’d hated so badly when she was young. No one in this hick town thought twice about the way these cowboys ran around chasing skirts, but let it be a woman who did the chasing and they had all types of unflattering names for her. “What about you?”

  “What about me what, darlin’?”

  “Do you do this often?” There was an edge to her tone, and she could see by his face that he’d picked up on it.

  His smile faltered slightly. “No … actually you’re my first.”

  “Your first?” Suddenly she was even more horrified. She grabbed the sheet with both hands and jumped out of bed. When she looked around she saw that he hadn’t taken her to a motel. They were in a
comfortable, masculine-looking bedroom. His Stetson sat on a small pine dresser, and above the bed there was a photo of a longhorn steer being roped by an old cowboy. The head and footboards of the bed were wrought iron, and the comforter was thick and deep blue with brown country stars sewn in. It looked handmade. This man had taken her back to his house, and she had no idea where that was. What the hell had she done? She was his first? She’d slept with a virgin?

  She looked at his face now from halfway across the room. He had to be close to thirty. He pushed back the covers and sat on the edge of the bed pulling a pillow over his lap, and she almost smiled. Maybe he was a virgin; most men weren’t that quick to cover their morning erections in front of the woman they’d just had sex with the night before. Now that he was sitting up, she got a look at his body … and what a body it was. His hotness level just increased dramatically. His muscles were thick and cut in all the right places. She couldn’t tell exactly how tall he was sitting down, but his legs were long and muscular as well.

  His deep-set eyes looked worried, and his brows were drawn together as he said, “Yeah, my first, I’ve never done this before. You’re worrying me a little bit though, Kadence. I know we both had too much to drink, but I specifically recall you saying this was what you wanted.”

  “I’m not accusing you of anything. I mean, I was obviously not forced. I just had way too much to drink and sometimes I regret the decisions I make when I do that. I have impulse control except when I’m drunk. Anyway, I’d really rather this not get all over town. If we could keep this between us.”

  He cocked an eyebrow. “Well, I guess I’d try to respect that if we hadn’t done it in the bar in front of about twenty witnesses …”

  “Oh my God!” She suddenly felt sick. She gripped the sheet tighter then turned and ran in the direction of what she hoped was the bathroom. She barely made it to the toilet in time to drop to her knees and relieve her stomach of what was left of the fruity drinks. The taste of them coming up in no way resembled how good they were going down. She vomited until her stomach finally stopped heaving. Then, after wiping her mouth on a piece of toilet paper, she closed the bowl’s lid and laid her forehead against it. We did it in the bar? In front of twenty people? That made no sense. Even if she was drunk enough to do something that stupid, Lena wouldn’t have ever allowed that in her place. They’d be in jail … wouldn’t they?

  She tried to calm her mind and let more memories come to the surface. She glimpsed the cute cowboy arguing with Levi. Levi was the resident Casanova and had been since they were kids. As usual, Levi was coming on way too strong. The drunker he got her, the more his hands wandered. The cute cowboy had come to her “rescue” and he’d tossed Levi out on his ass. Kadence told him he was her hero and that she wanted to marry him.

  She was being silly, flirting with him, and he seemed to eat it up. He asked her to dance and kept his hands off of her ass like a perfect gentleman. She remembered resting her head against his broad shoulders and … oh God, did she tell him her situation? She wasn’t sure. It was unlikely that she would tell anyone, but there was something about the cowboy that put her at ease. She did remember telling him that she needed a job.

  “Kadence?” He was tapping on the bathroom door. She’d slept with a stranger and had apparently taken his virginity in a bar in front of witnesses. Why couldn’t she remember his name?

  “I’ll be right out,” she said in a shaky voice.

  “Okay, I’m gonna give you some privacy. I’ll be in the kitchen. Just holler if you need me, okay?”

  “Uh huh.” Hot tears began to slide slowly down her cheeks. Life had been so bad before she came back home. It was supposed to be better when she got here; this was nothing like what she’d imagined. This was not better. She’d just made it all worse.

  She finally pushed herself up and went over to the sink. Standing there, she looked at her face in the mirror for several seconds. She barely recognized the sallow, thin woman looking back at her. Her body didn’t look much better. All of her clothes were falling off because she’d lost so much weight. There wasn’t much shape left to what she still had. She’d stopped at a thrift store on her way through San Antonio and used the last of her money to buy a decent-looking pantsuit to wear for her interview.… Shit! Her interview was today at noon. What time was it?

  She ran out of the bathroom, and by the time she reached it, she had to sit down on the bed. The room was spinning, and she was having trouble catching her breath. I’m such a mess, she thought and then looked at the clock at the bedside. It was shaped like a steer with the face of the clock in his rump roast area. It said it was 10:40. She breathed a sigh of relief. Her interview with Celia McMurtry at the Triple M was at noon; she still had time. She began gathering her clothes off the floor and putting them on. Her blouse smelled like the fruity drink, and she considered vomiting again. Thank goodness there was nothing left in there to get rid of.

  Once she was dressed, she went back into the bathroom, washed her face, and raked her fingers through her hair. It was matted in places, and she shuddered to think what was crusted in it. She glanced longingly at the shower. It had been weeks since she’d had a real shower. Sponge baths and creeks were just not the same. However, she wasn’t going to risk being here any longer than she had to. She left the bathroom and opened the door to the bedroom. She was glad to see she wasn’t going to have to search for the kitchen. It was actually a small living room with a little kitchenette attached.

  The cowboy had his back to her and he was wearing dark denim jeans. He was still shirtless, and the muscles in his back and shoulders were as well defined as the ones in his chest. She could see now that he had a tribal band around the bulging bicep of his left arm. It was sexy, and she was mesmerized by him for a few seconds.

  “You can come on out,” he said with a touch of amusement in his voice. She felt blood flood to her face and advanced into the small living room. She saw her boots by the door and went over to slip them on. The cowboy looked at her curiously. “I’m making pancakes.”

  She could smell them. Her mouth was already full with saliva, and her empty stomach was growling like a bear that had just woken up from his winter slumber. But she didn’t have time to eat. She assumed her car wasn’t here since she’d been too drunk to even know what she was doing. She had to figure out how to get back to the bar and pick it up. Everything she owned, including the new/old pantsuit, was in there. “I’m not hungry, but thank you.”

  He raised an eyebrow. “Your stomach says different, but okay. Were you going somewhere?”

  Am I going somewhere? Did he expect an encore? “Yeah, I need to get going.”

  He looked disappointed and maybe a little bit confused. “Okay, you can take the truck. We left your car at the bar. We’ll go pick it up when you get back.”

  “When I get back?”

  He put the spatula he was holding down and turned those aquamarine eyes on her. “Yeah … you’re coming back, right?”

  “I’m sorry, but why would I come back?”

  “Because you live here.”

  She felt like her head was going to literally explode into a thousand pieces. She lived there? She didn’t even know exactly where “here” was. “Um … I’m confused. Why is it you think I live here?”

  “I just assumed. I’m sorry, you said that you hadn’t found a place yet so I assumed since I already had one we would live here. I know it’s small but we can add on to it, or if you want we can just start from scratch.”

  She put her hands on either side of her head. “Stop! Please … stop. We? You think because I took your virginity—”

  He either choked or laughed; she wasn’t sure which. “My virginity? You thought I was a virgin? Was I that bad?”

  “Bad? No … I mean, I don’t know.” She could feel tears building up in her eyes. They were tears of frustration and she was fighting to hold them back. She didn’t want to cry in front of this man—this virtual stranger who seemed to
think she was moving in. “You said I was your first,” she managed to squeak out.

  He chuckled. “Whew, that’s a relief. I didn’t mean my first … sex. I meant my first marriage.”

  CHAPTER TWO

  Kadence dropped the heavy boot she was holding in her hand. It struck her big toe and she yelped. The cowboy was quickly at her side. “Kadence, are you okay?”

  “We got married? How in the world … I mean, the last thing I remember we were in a bar …”

  He looked crushed, but she couldn’t worry about that right now. Married? “Maybe you should sit down. You look awfully pale.”

  She was going to object, but she actually felt light-headed. She was afraid she was about to pass out so she sat down in the recliner, leaned forward, and put her head in her hands. Married? He had to be crazy. Where the hell were they going to get married in the middle of the night in Texas? It’s not like they were in Vegas. She pulled her head up; he was staring at her again.

  “Please, explain to me how this happened.”

  The cowboy sat down across from her on the couch. He looked distressed. “What do you remember?”

  “Not much. I remember coming into town and going into the Roadhouse and Levi was there.…” The cowboy rolled his eyes. “He was hitting on me and at one point he made me uncomfortable so you threw him out. Then we started dancing and we kissed.… You meant we got married in the bar!”

  “Yeah, Judge Moffat married us.”

  “Why? Why would we do that?”

  “You said that you had nowhere to go. I offered to let you stay with me. You said, ‘Not unless you’re proposing.’ I did propose. I still thought we were just messing around, but then you saw the judge and you asked him to marry us. He laughed it off at first, but he’d had quite a bit to drink too. That’s not an unusual state for him. Anyway, I told him that you were the girl I’ve wanted to marry since I was fourteen and he—”

 
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