Weekend Excerpt–HUNTER’S PRIDE

HUNTER’S PRIDE is OUT!

Redheads & Ranchers Book 2 is the story of corporate lawyer Poppy Chastain. Sent by her New York real estate development firm to Idaho, her mission is to convince fifth-generation cattle rancher Hunter McFall to sell a parcel of his ranch so Slade & Howell can put in an access road to the mountain property they plan on turning into a luxury resort.

Hunter will never agree to sell his land, but when he meets Poppy, he wants to show her exactly why he won’t. Somewhere along the way, they discover an explosive chemistry they never expected.

But behind the scenes, Slade & Howell is making plans to gain Hunter’s land by any means necessary. Can Hunter and Poppy’s love survive?

Here’s a teaser from HUNTER’S PRIDE:

Back at the ranch, Poppy took advantage of the huge master shower while Hunter saw to a few ranch matters that needed his attention.  Afterward, while he cleaned up for dinner, Poppy took care of some emails that had come in during their ride in the mountains. 

When they were both ready, Poppy insisted on stopping at the barn to see how the mother and calf were getting along.  Which was swimmingly.  Hunter commented that they’d be ready to join the rest of the herd in the next day or so.  Poppy snapped a few pictures then took Hunter’s hand and the pair headed for his big black Expedition. 

Country music played quietly in the background on the half-hour ride into McFall.  By the time they drove into town, the sun had set.  The parking lot at the North Star was about half-full.  Hunter managed to find a spot near the end of the first row.

“Hang on,” he said as he turned off the ignition.  “I’ll get your door.”

Poppy smiled to herself as she watched him walk around the SUV.  Hunter was always handsome.  Whether he was rain-soaked or working in the barn or naked by the fire, he was undeniably hot.  But tonight, in his dark jeans and white dress shirt, he was sex on legs.  She was suddenly ready to be back at the ranch.

As he opened her door, he smirked at her knowingly and briefly, she wondered if he could read her thoughts.

“You look amazing,” he said, holding her hand and helping her step out of the truck.

Poppy laughed lightly.  “You’ve seen this skirt and blouse before.  I wore it the first day I was here.”

“I’ve seen everything,” he murmured, his voice low and sexy.  “It’s still amazing.”

She rolled her eyes and blushed.  “Well, you look pretty hot yourself.”

He grinned at her.  “Do you think so?  I clean up okay?”

He held open the door, and she walked into the bar.  The place was fairly busy for a Thursday, and heads swiveled as Hunter followed closely behind her, directing her to the same booth they’d sat in her first night in town.  Starla nodded at them from her post behind the bar.  Classic rock served as a background for the buzz of conversation, occasionally punctuated by the clack of billiard balls on the other side of the room.

A young brunette approached them with a pair of menus.  “Hey, Hunter.”

He smiled at her.  “Hey, Lynnette.  How’s school?”

“Aw, you know.  I’m glad to be home for the summer.  Can I get you something to drink?”

“Let’s start with a couple of Jamesons, neat.  We’ll figure out what else we want.”

The server nodded.  “You’ve got it.”

“Jamesons?” Poppy asked as the girl walked away.

Hunter’s grin was boyish.  “Thought I might get you all liquored up so I can have my way with you later.”

“No liquor required for that. And I was figuring on having my way with you.”  She arched an eyebrow in challenge.

“Hot damn,” he breathed. 

Grinning, Poppy tried to ignore the curious stares of the good citizens of McFall as she perused the menu. 

Hunter, however, commented on it.  “Ever feel like you were in a damn fishbowl?”

“I wasn’t going to say anything, but, yeah, it’s a little uncomfortable.”

Hunter pursed his lips and shrugged slightly.  “I haven’t really brought a date here before. Not since Tara died, anyway.  I suppose folks are just curious.”

Poppy’s heart skipped a beat as she remembered her morning in Hunter’s office.  “That reminds me–”

The server’s voice startled her.  “Here you go.  Two Jamesons, neat.”  She placed the glasses in front of them.  “Are you ready to order?” 

Hunter looked to Poppy.  “Do you know what you want?”

She nodded.  “I’ll have the cheeseburger, medium-well, with swiss.”

“And for you?” the girl turned to Hunter.

He nodded.  “I’ll have the same.”

Feeling slightly shaky, Poppy sipped her whiskey, appreciating the burn as it trickled down the inside of her chest.

“You started to say something when Lynnette interrupted.”  He leaned forward on his forearms and watched her steadily.

“I almost forgot.  I meant to tell you something.”  She glanced up at him, breathing deeply as she tried to quell a slight tremble of nerves in her stomach.

“This morning, I opened your desk drawer looking for a notepad, and I found your wedding photo.  I didn’t mean to snoop, honestly, I didn’t.  I’m very sorry for invading your space like that.”

Hunter shrugged lightly.  “I told you to think of my office as your own.  You’re welcome to use anything you like.  Including anything you need out of the desk.  You don’t have to apologize.”

“I feel like I intruded, and I’m sorry.”  She risked a look in his direction.  “It was a beautiful photograph.”

He sipped his whiskey and stared down at the table.  “It was a beautiful day.”  He looked back up at her.  “That was almost ten years ago.”

Curiosity overwhelming her, Poppy decided to press forward.  “How did you two meet?”

Hunter gazed out across the room and sighed.  “We met at a bar.  Which isn’t as lame as it sounds.  I was dating a friend of hers, and a group of us had gotten together to hear a band down in Ketchum.  She was visiting from California.  We just clicked.”

Now that the door was open, Poppy had to walk through.  “And she was a redhead.”

“She was.”

When he didn’t say anything more, she fidgeted with the edge of her napkin.  She had so many more questions, but the topic seemed to have dead-ended.  She sighed softly.  “Well, anyway, I’m sorry for getting into your personal business.”

“Hey.”  His voice was soft as he reached across the table.  She took his hand and squeezed it affectionately.   “My life is an open book.  Ask me about anything you like.  And I mean it when I say consider the ranch your home.  Use anything you need.  Open any drawers you like.”

Wide-eyed, Poppy regarded him for a moment.  “When she died, you must have been devastated.”

Briefly, Hunter squeezed his eyes shut.  “I was.  I was a mess.  Losing Tara, losing the baby…”  He shook his head.  “I was useless for a while.  But then I realized that I wasn’t doing anybody any good wallowing in self-pity.  I sure as hell wasn’t honoring their memory.” 

He chuckled lightly.  “Could be it was Rolly’s boot up my ass that finally got me moving again.”

“You loved her.”  Poppy’s voice was soft.

He nodded.  “I did. With all my heart.  I didn’t think anybody would ever be able to fill that emptiness in me.” 

He smiled across the table at her.  “Then this prissy little big-city lawyer showed up in her fancy clothes and her designer shoes.”

Poppy frowned slightly and leaned forward.  “Prissy?  Who are you calling prissy?”

“You, Ms. P.K. Chastain.  If the cow poo shoe fits…”  He gave her a wink. 

She had to smile.  Elbow on the table, she rested her chin on her hand before she risked her most burning question.  “I look a little bit like her.  Is that weird?”

His sigh was deep.  “It’s true, you both have red hair.  But Tara’s eyes were light brown.  Yours are much darker.  And you have a completely different spirit, which to me makes you different as night and day.”

“How is my spirit different?”

He shrugged slightly.  “Tara was kind of…quiet.  She was calm, practical.  Predictable, maybe.” 

He met her gaze, his eyes sparkling with emotion.  “You’re bold and audacious and passionate.  You are your own unique self.”

Her brow furrowed.  “Is that good?

“I wouldn’t change a thing about you.”

Poppy flushed with pleasure.  “Well…good!  Because what you see is what you get.”

The thump of upbeat seventies rock shifted to a slower country song and Hunter slid out of the booth.  “Come on,” he said, holding out his hand to Poppy.

She glanced up at him.

He quirked an eyebrow.  “If they’re going to be talking about us anyway, might as well give’em something to say.  Dance with me.”

HUNTER’S PRIDE by Pandora Spocks

HUNTER’S PRIDE
is on sale now at your favorite online bookseller.
It’s even available in paperback.
books2read.com/HuntersPride

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