Hell hath no fury like Alex Finley…
For as long as Alex could remember, life had taken everything from her. Her father had abandoned her and her dying mother, only to return upon her death to reclaim the family's Wyoming ranch—with a new wife. Alex's rage drove her away to Los Angeles to live with a man who could never satisfy her.
Only after ten years does she come home—and she hits the town with a vengeance, unleashing her pent-up lust on willing cowpoke Connor Matthews. But she's in for several shocks. It turns out that the ranch is now a resort, that her late father split the estate between Alex and her young step-brother, and that Connor—the bucking bronco she wants in her bed—is running the place.
Now, Alex is torn between accepting a new family, and a lover who can give her everything she needs—or selling out to a smooth-talking neighbor and leaving the past behind her. But only when her life is on the line does she realize what she desires most of all…
2010 Best Western Romance - The Romance Reviews
2010 CAPA Nominee Contemporary Erotic Romance - The Romance Studio
Monday morning came and with it the sun, thank God. Connor balanced the muffin on top of the to-go cup and opened his office door. At first he could hardly believe what he was seeing; then he realized that Miss Alex Finley had set up her own workspace on his desk.
“What the hell are you doing?”
She glanced up from her laptop. “Working on the books. Just in case you forgot about giving me the job yesterday.”
He gritted his teeth at her sarcasm. “It may come as a surprise to you, but this is my office. I work here, not you.”
As he set the coffee and muffin down, she made a grab for it. Connor held firm to the cup, but she managed to snatch the muffin.
“Is this cinnamon chip? Oh, these were my favorites growing up. Bernice bakes the best muffins, doesn’t she?”
As he watched her take a big bite of his breakfast, Connor had to hang on tight to his temper with both hands. It was like trying to control a team of eight with dental floss, but he managed.
“I let you do the accounting work, but I never intended for you to do it here. There isn’t enough room.” He sat down and booted up his own laptop.
She shrugged. “There’s no other office free, so unless you want me working on the books in a public area where everyone can see exactly what I’m doing, then it’s going to be here.”
“What about your cabin?”
She picked up the next invoice and read it with her brow furrowed, concentrating on the trash collection fees. “The WiFi sucks that far away, so here I am. You’ll just have to deal with it.”
Connor gritted his teeth and counted to ten. The fact she was right rankled him more than the fact she stole his muffin. He should have made arrangements for her to have a private office, at least temporarily, until she decided Finley’s wasn’t the place for her.
“Couldn’t you have asked me?”
One slender brow rose. “Ask permission to work in this office? I am half owner in this ranch, am I not? I don’t think I need permission to contribute to the financial well-being of Finley’s.”
“I don’t like sharing my office.” Connor punched in his password with enough fervor to hurt his fingertips, which was saying a lot.
“I could tell.” She smiled sweetly. “Is there a way to order more muffins and coffee? I’m starving.”
Connor gestured to the door. “The mess hall is down on the south side of the ranch. You can’t miss it. It’s a big building with tables and chairs for people to eat.”
Alex surprised him by laughing. “You make it hard to be a bitch sometimes, Matthews.”
“Then don’t be one.”
“Ha, as if that’s going to happen.” She shook her head. “You’re not getting off that easy. You will just have to deal with me playing in your sandbox.” She popped a piece of muffin in her mouth.
“Then stop throwing sand in my face.”
Alex smiled at him and went back to the invoices. At least it appeared she really was working, and he didn’t know whether or not to be surprised. He tried to focus on the schedules but he kept glancing back at her while she worked.
She entered each invoice in the stack individually, then picked them up and reviewed them against what she entered. On the third pass, he had forgotten what he was doing and watched her reaction instead.
“What is it you’re doing?”
“I’m categorizing the expenses properly. You put all the barn supplies into one lump instead of separating them by type. They should be split out that way to better track what you’re spending.” She glanced over at him. “Did you know you’ve been paying about thirty percent more for feed than you did last year?”
He was startled by the figure. “What are you talking about? We haven’t changed feed supplier or type of feed. I find it hard to believe—”
“Whether or not you believe me is irrelevant. I went back over these invoices for the last year and discovered what was happening.” She gestured to the stack, which was when he realized they were all from Hanson’s, the feed supply house.
What threw him off was that some were on blue paper, others on pink, and the top few were white. He didn’t remember them changing the color of the invoice, but they obviously had. What else had he missed?
Connor realized she was waiting for him to ask the obvious question. “What was happening?”
Her face lit up as if she’d just discovered how to turn lead into gold. Alex obviously did enjoy accounting and all it entailed. “Hanson’s supplies more than feed to the ranch. They also sell us saddle soap, some other leather conditioners and applicators, some stall cleaner, hay bags and winter stuff like bucket deicers. Each kind of supply was on a different invoice until about six months ago.”
Despite his annoyance with Alex, he was interested in what she’d found. Hanson’s did supply various types of supplies to them. They were reliable and their feed was good quality.
“Since you are being a stubborn ass, I’ll tell you what I found. When they started billing everything together on the white invoices, someone got greedy and started charging more for the same amount of feed.” She looked at him triumphantly.
Connor was impressed but skeptical. “What if the price of feed went up?”
“I checked with other suppliers online. Hanson’s is by far the highest priced, well above what they should be charging. You’re getting taken by a clever billing person at this place. I’ll have a report ready in half an hour that details the discrepancies.” She smiled and he saw just how attractive Alex was. He knew she was pretty but obviously when she was passionate about something, even accounting, her appeal went through the roof.
As long as it didn’t go through his pants again. Jesus, this was the desk they’d had their afternoon quickie on. Now they were talking about feed invoices and pretending nothing happened.
“So, Sherlock, I suppose you want to confront them about this?”
“Hell yes! Let me get everything together and we can drive there and show them we know what they’re up to. We can show them not to mess with Finley’s.” She ate the last of the muffin; then before he could stop her, she took his coffee and helped herself.
Alex made a face and handed the cup back to him. “Ugh, sugar in your coffee? What kind of cowboy are you?”
“The kind who can’t jump in the car and shake some papers at our feed supplier.” He threw the cup in the trash, unwilling to put his mouth where hers had been. It had a sexual overtone to it and he needed to keep thinking with his big head.
“Why not? Don’t you do anything fun around here?” She sat back and stretched, pushing her breasts out like she was intentionally taunting him.
Perhaps she was and, damn it to hell, it was working. His dick stirred at the sight of her pillowy tits, at the nipples he could see just slightly hard beneath the T-shirt.
“See something you like, cowboy?” She’d caught him staring, of course.
Connor decided to play it cool, just as she’d been. “Yup, sure did. That’s a mighty fine rack you got there, Alex. You must be proud.”
Shock rippled across her face, but she tucked it safely away quickly. “Why, thank you, Connor. I am proud. My tits are my best feature, don’t you think?” She leaned over the desk, affording him a few of the cleavage peeping up through the V-neck of the shirt.