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I’m so excited! Today is finally release day for “The Sheriff and the Cowgirl,” book #4 in the Tremaynes of Texas series.
What happens when a tenacious sheriff takes on a determined cowgirl and a champion bull?
It’s never easy to make it in a man’s world, and cowgirl Tori Tremayne has chased the same dream most of her life—producing a champion bucking bull on the pro rodeo circuit. With her prize bull Maximus, she’s so close to winning top prize in the finals this year she can taste it. She can’t afford any distractions, especially not the tall, dark and swoony sheriff she’s admired forever.
Sheriff Gray Dalton has been in love with Tori since they were kids. He doesn’t want to change Tori or derail her goals, but he does want to combine their dreams—build a life and family with her while she continues to pursue her career and passion. Gray knows he has to shake Tori up so he can step out of the friend zone she’s so determined to keep him in.
Can Gray prove to Tori that with him she can have it all—career, love and a family?
Check out a fun Title Challenge on Fresh Fiction, featuring The Sheriff and the Cowgirl (there’s a different excerpt there!)
Want a sneak peek? Read on for an excerpt!
Gray slowed coming over the cattleguard and then he rounded the bend in the road. That’s when he spotted the familiar truck sitting more on the road than off it. The wipers were still swishing, and the driver’s side door was ajar. No one was in sight around it. He pulled his vehicle over, put his hazard lights on. Grabbing the rain slicker, he shrugged into it as he stepped from the cab of the truck. He was getting a real bad feeling in the bottom of his stomach as he approached the vehicle. It was Tori’s. But where was she? She evidently exited the truck in a hurry…engine in park, her phone lying on the console of the truck next to her purse.
He stepped back and reached for his radio button on his shoulder when he heard a voice. It came from somewhere off to the right, toward an arroyo that already had a trickle of a stream coursing through it. If anyone knew better to stay out of a dry arroyo in a rainstorm, it would be the woman who lost her parents and a sibling in a flash flood. There was the call again. It was Tori. He took off in the direction of it, the rain steady. A couple of times he lost his footing and made grabs for the nearby brush or tree limbs to steady himself. Cresting a small hill, he saw Tori. She was trying to hold on to Gypsy while attempting to scoot down the steep slope of the next hillside. One wrong slip and she would go tumbling down the side and possibly end up at the bottom of the gulley.
Gray moved closer and waved his arm, catching her attention. “Careful,” he called out, in a loud voice. “Grab the rock that’s about eight inches from your right hand. There’s a solid outcropping it looks like that you can get to. But be slow about it.”
She nodded. Gray’s heart was in his throat. How had she gotten into such a mess? First things first…get her down on solid ground with him. Tori made it to the ledge, and she was able to pause and take a couple of deep breaths. He gave her a thumbs-up. Then he began a steady climb, trying to reach close enough to where he could take hold of her hand. When he did make it to that point, she shook her head.
“Not me. Take Gypsy. She’s scared to death. You know how she hates storms.”
It was useless to argue with her. He knew that from experience. “Hand her over.” Luckily, the dog cooperated until there was a rumble of thunder in the distance and she came unglued, jerking her body away and twisting in his grip. He took hold of her so she wouldn’t drag Tori down with her off the ledge. And then his footing gave way and he was sliding down the hill with the dog locked in his arms and trying to stop his freefall with his feet. Tori screaming his name echoed off the canyon walls.
About halfway down, he was able to catch an exposed root with his boot and anchor them for a moment. He looked up and Tori was white as a ghost. Gray gave a high sign with his fist to try to let her know all was well. He began moving sideways an inch at a time until he could reach the rocks that were fairly secure and gain his footing. He was able to finally stand and move to firmer ground.
“Move a foot to your left,” he shouted up to Tori. “Then inch your way down about two feet and you should be able to get some good ground.”
She nodded and began inching her way. He was able to breathe again when Tori finally reached his side. She was soaked and shivering.
“Here, hold her.” He passed Gypsy over to her.
Then he shrugged out of the slicker and draped it over her shoulders. “It’s too late to keep you dry. But it’ll keep you a bit warmer. Let’s get you to the truck.”
“You’re bleeding,” she said, nodding at the gash on his arm and other scratches from the branches and rocks.
“It’s fine. It can wait. Let’s get you home. I’ll follow.”
Tori gave him back his slicker as she set Gypsy on the floorboard of the truck and then slid into the driver’s seat. Gray shut her door and then hurried back to his vehicle. Less than ten minutes later, they were pulling up under the carport area next to her house. She had Gypsy in her arms when he parked and got out, taking off his wet hat and leaving it in the truck. Tori opened the side door and went inside. Gray followed, wiping the mud off his boots and then removing them all together before he stepped inside in his sock-covered feet.
“I’m drying her off and then putting her in the back bathroom. You can turn on the heater and get the chill out of the house,” Tori called from the back recesses of her home.
Stepping into the living room, Gray decided on something else. He arranged the logs on the grate, then turned on the gas ignition and lit a match. The flames were warming nicely when Tori came back into the room, her wet hair wrapped inside a white towel. She had changed from her wet clothing into a pair of sweatpants and an oversize sweatshirt that he recognized as one he had brought her back from a trip he took to a training on the coast. “Girls are Hotter in Texas” was emblazoned across the front of it. He had thought of her the moment he saw it in the shop window and bought it to share a laugh with her. It felt good to see her wearing it.
She tossed a towel at him and set the first aid kit down on the low table in front of the couch. “Dry off and then I’ll doctor those scrapes. And don’t tell me they’re nothing. Cuts around a ranch are not nothing…even when it comes to a high and mighty lawman. One of Truitt’s old work shirts is in the guest bathroom. I just put it there. The shirt is clean. I washed it for him and kept it here for when he remembered where he left it. Take your pants off and I’ll throw them and your shirt in the dryer.” She saw the look on his face when she first spoke. A grin appeared. “You can wrap that bath towel around you just fine. It won’t take long for your clothing to dry. And I promise not to take advantage of you.”
He took the towel and shot her a look but declined to say anything at that moment. He headed for the guest bathroom.
The rain was pelting the metal roof of the house, and it sounded like its own brand of thunder. Any other time, he would be inclined to settle in front of the fire and enjoy the irony of the situation with a beautiful woman beside him. But it wasn’t a normal situation at the moment. He needed to remind himself of that more than once. And as for wrapping a towel around himself while his clothes dried, that would not be happening for more reasons than one. His eyes landed on another alternative.
“Don’t say a word and no sudden moves for your phone camera. This was a safer choice than the towel around my waist.”
Tori looked up at his words as he entered and she burst out laughing, before she clamped her hands over her mouth with an apologetic look in her eyes.
“I must say that you are definitely a man who is comfortable with his masculinity,” she said, trying to not laugh again. “Or is that identity? Whatever it is, that pink bathrobe is quite stylish. I’m glad I bought it two sizes too big for me so I could cuddle up in it on cold nights. Who knew that you’d be borrowing it?”
“The less said about it, the better.”
“I’ll just put your clothing in the dryer. Be right back.” She beat a retreat down the hallway.
“I heard that!” Gray called out, his ears picking up the giggles that escaped as she disappeared around the corner from his sight. He settled on a large pillow he removed from a corner of the couch and stretched out his long legs toward the warmth of the fireplace. He couldn’t think of any more perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon…listening to rain on a metal roof, the crackle of a nice fire in the fireplace, and a beautiful woman to…and that’s where he needed to think about other things that were far safer. Things that were more within his grasp.