Her Bucking Bronc


Self-published
March 15, 2017


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Hannah Blackwood cannot get around her own grief. After losing her fiancee, she wallows in self-pity, stuck in an endless cycle of sadness. While her family's ranch business thrives, she throws herself into rebuilding the restaurant she ran before it burned to the ground. What she doesn't expect is for the general contractor to throw a monkey wrench into her plans.

A general contractor and part-time cowboy, Dylan Bennett has a reputation as a hard-ass. He likes things done his way and his client, Hannah, is too stubborn by half. He doesn't want to fall for her, but every argument flames the fire of attraction deep within him.

They need to find a way to let go of their pasts and wrangle their way into a future together.




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Excerpt

Dylan pulled up to the building on the address he’d been given. It was a house not an office building, but that shouldn’t surprise him. Tanger had proved to be quirky in more ways than one.

He parked in the lot across the street then jogged across waving as the other cars stopped to let him pass. The folks sure were polite. Well, most of them were. One brunette didn’t speak for the entire town.

The front porch steps could have used a hammer to nail down some of the boards that were curling a bit. The carpenter in him itched to fix everything he saw. The house appeared to have four different businesses in it. A hairdresser, which explained the odd smell, a music teacher, which explained the sound of a piano, a lawyer, no explanation needed, and an architect.

Dylan wondered if this one building housed the entire professional population of the little town. He walked up the steps marveling at the craftsmanship of the bannister. They didn’t make houses like this anymore. Intricate balustrades and crown molding that would cost a fortune nowadays to hang. Eight inch baseboards and thick hardwood steps that creaked as they bore his weight.

He had worked industrial and commercial jobs for the last ten years, but his heart was in restoring old homes. This one had been kept beautifully by someone who cared about the elegance of the old girl.

He was smiling when he knocked on the door labeled “Lucas Redman, Architect AIA, LEED AP”. It was a grand set of French doors with frosted glass and crystal doorknobs. If Dylan wasn’t careful he might fall in love with the damn building.

“Come in,” a man’s voice from within answered the knock.

Dylan stepped inside to find two men on either side of a massive desk. Papers were in neat piles around the left side and the center was covered with blueprints. This is what he loved to do. Dylan assessed the other men as he shook their hands.

The man behind the desk, Lucas Redman presumably, had hair as black as a raven’s wing and equally dark eyes. Possibly some Native American heritage in his high cheekbones and strong jaw. He was slender but athletic judging by his grip.

The other man, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, had thick light brown, wavy hair, and blue eyes. In contrast, this man’s shoulders and chest were wide with muscle and his hand was as callused as Dylan’s. A working man for sure.

“Dylan Bennett.” He gestured to the empty wooden chair. “May I?”

“Yes, of course. I’m Lucas Redman and this is Dax Blackwood.” The architect put his hands palm down on the blueprints and looked at Dax. “We can’t start looking at these without her.”

Dax glanced at his watch. “She should be back any minute.”

She? Before Dylan could ask who “she” was, the door behind him burst open and slammed into his shoulder. He fell forward, stopping his complete humiliation by landing belly first onto the architect’s desk.

“Oh, shit.” A female voice broke the silence. A very familiar voice. “I guess that’s why you asked me to get four coffees.”

Lucas offered him a hand but Dylan waved it off and got to his feet. His shoulder hurt along with his dignity. Hannah Blackwood stood there with a tray with four cups and a frown.

“Good morning, Harry.” He plucked a coffee from the tray. “Thanks for the coffee.”

“You’re welcome, Broadway.” She set the tray down and pulled a chair from the corner. “Dax, you and me need to talk about hiring people for my restaurant rebuild.”

Her brother took one of the coffees. “You didn’t seem interested in doing anything but making macaroni and cheese and brooding.”

Her cheeks colored, surprising Dylan. She seemed like a hardass woman, not one to blush. “Shut up.” She sipped at her coffee and gestured toward the desk. “Let’s get on with it then.”

After everyone had their coffees in hand, the four of them reviewed the blueprints. Dylan was glad to be on the opposite side of the desk from her. As they walked through it, she had salient points and logical ideas. He argued with her a few times about the placement of the prep station, but he was impressed with her ideas for a separate bakery area and counter.

The coffee was long gone and they had marked up the blueprints with red ink and notes. Lucas was open to suggestions and took the Blackwoods bickering in stride. Seemed like this town was the kind that everybody knew everybody’s business. He’d grown up in such a place and had escaped at the age of eighteen.

Being back in a similar town was both nostalgic and bittersweet. He had respect for people who could and chose to stay in the same place their whole lives. He just wasn’t that type of person.

He would, however, be working with and living around them for the next four months. As he met Hannah’s gaze, he wondered if that was such a great idea.

“Are you still going to call it Cindy’s?” His innocent question was met with utter silence.

Lucas fiddled with a pen. Dax appeared to be very interested in his shoelace. Hannah was shaking her head.

“Cindy Cooley was a survivor, a strong woman whose grandfather loved her so much he named the restaurant after her. He died trying to rescue her with our great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather. How can you even think of changing it?”

Dylan held up his hands palms out. “Forget I asked. I was thinking you might want a fresh start for the restaurant.”

Her perfectly plump lips twisted as she contemplated his statement. She didn’t have to wear make-up, that mouth was a natural raspberry color. Something inside him stirred to life.

Oh hell.

The last thing he needed was to be attracted to this tall, curvaceous and outspoken woman. She was far too aggressive, not to mention a little crazy, for his tastes. He liked more relaxed and easygoing women. Dylan knew he was intense and could be called high maintenance—he couldn’t have the same in a woman. The fireworks would level the town.