Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Anticipation of Sweet - Hot On Her Trail Excerpt

Excited for the next installment of the Sweeter Version of the Hell Yeah! Series? Here's an excerpt to tide you over while you wait:

The next day brought trouble. Jacob had promised Libby he would teach her how to ride a horse. Aron had wanted to do it, but he got called away to a meeting with the family lawyers about the management of their parent’s trust fund. The economy was hitting everything hard, so it became more of a challenge each year to invest in ventures that provided a decent return. It was also his responsibility to review all the allocations that were meted out to worthy teenagers and sick children. They also had a program to loan out money to cancer patients who wanted to further their education. Necessary business, but Jacob knew Aron hated to be away from Libby and that he would get through the day as quickly as humanly possible.
After listening to Libby plead, Jacob had relented and chosen Molly. She was the most gentle of their horses and he knew Aron would kill him if he let anything happen to Libby. Oh, Aron talked big and pretended that his time with Libby didn’t matter to him, but Jacob knew they were falling in love with each other. He also knew that Libby felt like her time was limited, but Jacob was a big believer in positive thinking, faith and miracles.
From his work with the various fund raisers for cancer victims, he knew Doc Mulligan personally and when the Doc had learned that Libby was coming to work on Tebow, he had given Jacob a call himself. The Doc had cautioned Jacob about Libby taking any unnecessary risks. Doctors and science didn’t really understand what threw someone who had cancer into remission, or out of it, but there were some studies which suggested that trauma to the body could shorten a remission period. Anyway, there was no use taking chancesthat’s why he had chosen Molly.
Jacob also knew about the test she had to return for in less than a month. Hopefully, by that time there would be good news and Aron would start coming to his senses. Libby belonged on Tebow. Libby belonged to Aron. Jacob had never been surer of anything.
“Hold the reins like this, Libs. Not too tight.” He led the old horse around, adjusting Libby’s feet in the stirrups. “That’s right. You don’t have to be afraid. Molly is as gentle as a lamb.”
Libby wasn’t afraid; it was just a long way to the ground. Her balance wasn’t the best in the world, but this was one thing she had promised herself she would do while she still felt good. “You’re doing great, Libby. I’m going to walk you over to the corral and you can just go round and round in a circle until you feel secure enough to take a real jaunt.” Jacob’s words were reassuring. He wouldn’t let anything happen to her, not if he could help it. Smiling, she knew Jacob was fond of her, but he was also scared of Aron.
Aron cared about her. Libby knew that he did. But even if Aron changed his mind about the nature of their relationship, it still wouldn’t change the reality of her disease. No, she was in remission, she reminded herself. Remission. She knew the statistics, there was no use playing like she didn’t.
“Okay, take off.” He set Molly and Libby into a safe circular path. Or it would have been safe if a big ole chicken snake hadn’t decided to crawl across the enclosure. Those old chicken snakes knew no fear. Aron wouldn’t let any of them be killed because a) they didn’t have any chickens or eggs and b) chicken snakes ate their weight in rats, regularly. Molly didn’t know they were harmless, however, and Libby was deathly afraid of even a rubber snake. So when Molly shied from the snake, Jacob hollered, causing Libby to jerk. Molly bucked and when Libby saw the snake while struggling to hold on, all hell broke loose. Libby came crashing down. Jacob thought that everything was all right. It was just a little fall. The snake hadn’t looked back and Molly didn’t step on Libby. But, Libby didn’t move. He ran to her and found blood all over the back of her head. She had hit the top railing of the fence on her way down to the ground.

Aron was homesick. He hadn’t even been gone a whole day, but he was nearly aching with longing. And it wasn’t Tebow he was homesick for, or his brothers. Aron was homesick for Libby. She had slept in his arms all night, but right now he felt as if a piece of him had been cut off. Never would he have believed that a little slip of a girl could get under his skin the way she had. He thought about her all the time.
Libby had surprised him. She fit into their life like she belonged. Nothing was too much trouble; she pitched in and helped in every project they took on. That isshe triedAron had a hard time trying to keep her safe. Other than her overblown fear of snakes, she was absolutely fearless. Just the other day, he had caught her trying to coax one of their biggest Beefmaster bulls into a stall so she could give him a bath. The dignified, registered, blue-blood Warpaint was not amused. Neither was Aron.
Again and again it hit him how different from Sabrina that Libby was. He had received a call from their neighbor, Clyde Cummings, an elderly widower. He had requested one of the boys to come over and help him pull a tractor loose that had got stuck in the mud. In the process of trying to free it himself, the old man had hurt his back. Libby had taken Clyde casseroles and soups for a week, until he was feeling up to par. Nothing like that would have ever even occurred to Sabrina. The nice things Libby wanted to do for others reminded Aron of his mother.
The day before yesterday, one of Aron’s prize heifers had begun to calve. It was her first, and Aron was worried about her. The bull he had bred her to was big and he didn’t want to risk any birth complications. Libby insisted on attending the blessed event, nothing less would do. When Aron had been forced to put his arm up the cow’s birth canal and turn the calf, Libby had been right there with hot water and towels. (Not that he needed hot water and towels, but he humored her.) When they finally pulled the little bull free of his mother, Libby had thrown her arms around Aron and almost knocked him down. She had named the little bull Muffin. Now how was that going to look on the official Beefmaster Association Breeder’s forms? Actually, Aron didn’t care. He was so enamored of Libby that he was almost giddy.
And the sex. Lord Have Mercy, as he always said. The sex was utterly incredible. She was so sweetly responsive, eager and uninhibitedyet, at the same time, enchantingly innocent. It was a heady combination and one that kept him in a state of constant arousal.
Libby had made herself at home at Tebow and, most especially in his heart.
Although the trip had been a necessary one, Aron was glad it was almost over. Never had the road seemed so long from Austin to Kerrville. Never had he been so tempted to floor it. When he got to the last leg of the journey, the dirt road that led from the blacktop to the Tebow ranch gate had never looked so welcoming. He noticed the wildflowers that grew along the way. Had they always been so bright and colorful? Everything seemed better somehow. The air was sweeter, the food tasted better...hell, he even liked his worthless brothers more.
Mostly, he couldn’t wait to hold her in his arms again. Last night’s loving had only left him hungry for more. That was the way it always was. He just couldn’t get enough of Libby Fontaine. Lately, he had been rethinking his future. He had made a decision. A huge decision. He wanted Libby in his life; there was no way he could face a lifetime without her. Marriage wasn’t the word he would use just yet, but he was definitely thinking long-term. The only problem was convincing her of that. Something was holding her back. He knew she cared about him. There was no doubt in his mind, since she showed him every day in more ways than he could count. Why was she so adamant that their time together was short? Yeah, he knew it had been his idea to start with. Hell, he was ready to admit he was wrong. Yet every time he put limits on the relationship, she had been only too happy to agree. Aron didn’t like for her to agree so damn readily. He wanted her to fight for him. So, when he got home, the mission had changed. Win Libby Fontaine was his new goal.
When he started up the drive, he knew instantly something was wrong. It was only three o’clock and all of the brother’s trucks were there. They were pulled haphazardly around the front, as if they had all been in a hurry to get out and get into the house. His heart clutched in his chest and a wave of anguished concern ripped down his back. The air left his chest, seized in his lungs like wet concrete, and the blood pulsed into his head. He didn’t want anything to happen to any of his brothers, but all he could think about was—Oh God—don’t let anything have happened to his precious Libby.
He drove faster as he got closer and ended up skidding his King Ranch dangerously close to the wide front verandah steps. Leaping from the cab, he took the steps three at a time. Charging through the front door, he yelled, “What the hell is wrong? Libby! Libby, answer me right now!”
“We need to call Doc Mulligan.” This was Jacob’s voice. A doctor? Who was Mulligan? By, God he’d find out. He followed the voices.
“Shit, Aron’s here.” That was Isaac.
“Like he’s not going to find us?” Joseph stage whispered. “We’re in the den, Aron!”
Aron barreled into the ‘man-cave’ as Nathan called it and saw four of his brothers kneeling by the leather sofa. And in front of them was—aw hell, it was his Libby.
In a few short moves, he had displaced brothers both left and right. Kneeling at her side, he whispered, “Libby? Sweetheart?” She was so small and pale and her eyes were closed.
“What the hell happened?” He looked directly at Jacob, pinning him with his menacing gaze.
“Aron, oh Aron.” Libby opened her eyes, held out her arms, and as he took her, she began scooting over into his lap. “I am so glad you’re here, Aron. So glad. I missed you so.”
As Aron cuddled her close, he demanded again. “What happened to her?”
“She fell off of Molly.” Jacob’s voice was level and quiet.
Aron’s hands at once began moving over her body.
Isaac snorted. “It’s her head, Aron.” Laughing, he said, “I thought I’d tell you before you felt her up in front of us.”
“Hush up, Isaac. There‘s nothing funny about this.” Aron’s voice was direct and succinct. He held her with one arm, while he began parting her hair, looking for a wound.
“She hit her head on the fence when Molly threw her.” Jacob sounded as guilty as he felt.
At Aron’s indrawn breath, Libby feared for Molly and Jacob’s safety. “It wasn’t Jacob’s fault, I begged him to teach me. And it wasn’t Molly’s fault. It was that humongous, horrible deadly snake that scared us!” Aron fought with everything he had not to smile. This was too serious.
“It was a chicken snake.” Jacob muttered dryly.
“A huge, ugly, vicious chicken snake!” Libby was very anti-serpent.
“Why aren’t you in the hospital?” He looked at Libby, then at the brothers.
“No, no, no, no.” She clung to his neck. “No hospital! Some of the worst days of my life have been spent in hospitals.” Aron pulled her closer still, if that was even possible.
Jacob knelt by her and took her hand. Aron’s eyes widened. “Libby, see the doctor, please.” Jacob’s voice was low, but he spoke from his heart.
“I’m fine, Jacob. I don’t need to see him.” Her eyes pled with him to let it drop. Knowing that Aron would take up Jacob’s mantra, Libby changed her tactic. “Aron, please take me to our room. I want to lie down and I need you to hold me.”
That’s all it took. Aron rose and started off with her. Before he left the room, he turned and faced his brothers. “If I ever come home again and find her with so much as a paper cut, there will be hell to pay. I go off and leave the most precious thing I have in the world in your care and you let a horse throw her,” he paused and a small smile escaped his lips, “and a Godzilla-sized snake nearly swallowed her whole. It will not happen again!” With that he stalked off, Libby held close to his heart.
“Yeah, this is a temporary thing. You can tell. He don’t care a thing in the world about her.” Isaac observed dryly.

Hope you enjoyed this excerpt. Hot On Her Trail Sweeter Version will be out soon.

Thank you for reading.

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