Well, aren't we just being laid back as heck around here on this Sunday morning!?!?! That's the way it SHOULD be in my opinion.
Anne was on vacation with her family this week and I'm happy to report she had a great time. It's always good to get away with hubby and kids where there are no interruptions, phones, surprise visits. You know how that is. Never a moment just to "connect". Hmm. We might need to do some of that good stuff too, come to think of it.
In honor of our "chilled out" day, I'm going to gab a bit about my upcoming release. In November, The Wild Rose Press will release the PRINT anthology Wild Wayback Nights. This will include hot cowboy stories by Cindy Spencer Pape, Sylvie Kaye, Judith Rochelle and myself (Rita Thedford). What do you think of the cover? We just got it a little while ago and um...yeah, I drooled all over the damn keyboard. Pretty smoking hot, I think. Anyway, I'll give ya'll a date when I know for sure about it.
My story Hot Night at the Blue Bug Saloon was the first of the Wayback Texas stories and several have released since then and I can't tell you how much fun it was to first of all, write the story of Nash Logan and Gina Ballew, but to be involved in the building of the town.
Here's an excerpt of Hot Night at the Blue Bug Saloon.
“Well? Have you picked one out, Gina?” Patti-Pie Murphy licked a clump of salt from the rim of her margarita glass and grinned. “Good crop tonight.”
A response wasn’t needed because Lyssa Callahan spoke up as she signaled the waitress for another round. “Leave the woman alone. She’s sworn off men, and hell, I don’t blame her.”
Patti-Pie shook her blonde head. “You can’t swear off men forever, sugar. You have to forget about what happened last year. There are more fish in the sea than Cole Thomas.”
Patti was an optimistic, blue-eyed blonde, always sunshine bright. Gina loved her dearly, but right now Patti was just plain irritating.
“Don’t mention Cole to me. It’s over and done with.” Gina ran the side of her thumb down a gouge in the worn oak table and tried not to scowl. “You sound like Mama. He made his choice and it wasn’t me. I’m just happy I found out he was a horn-dog before the wedding. Bastard! I’m only here for the dancing and to keep you two out of trouble.”
Her best friends since high school laughed and she knew the reason why. Of the three of them, she was the one most likely to have trouble tattooed on her butt. It followed her like a bad habit and her brief engagement had proven to be just another notch on her bad-decisions-belt. She wasn’t doing that again. Nope. She was a changed woman.
“Ooh, look at that one, girls.” Patti nodded toward a long, rangy cowboy in a pristine white Stetson. “He’s yummy.”
“Wannabe, Patti. You always pick the wannabe cowboys,” Lyssa said, shaking her head. Lyssa was a curvy, brunette who had a no-nonsense outlook that Gina admired, but Lyssa gave the ever-optimistic Patti fits.
“Ah, what’s wrong with him? He’s cute. Kinda.”
The wannabe cowboy all starched up in his brand new jeans had tourist stamped all over him. He looked their way and Patti gasped in delight. But he wasn’t looking at Patti. He was looking straight at Gina.
Uh-uh. No way.
“That’s not fair,” Patti moaned. “They always pick you, Gina.”
“Hey! That’s not true. They do not.”
Lyssa shook her head and leaned back as the waitress set down fresh drinks. “Yeah, honey, they do. That’s why I hang out with you. Don’t really like you all that much but the attention is nice. You’re a man-magnet. Face it. Get over it.”
“Ha. Ha.” Gina snorted, took a sip of her beer, and leaned forward in her chair to prop her elbows on the littered table. “I’ve sworn ‘em off. Every last one of them. I wouldn’t be here tonight if you guys hadn’t forced me.”
Her friends laughed knowing it hadn’t really taken all that much convincing. She loved Thursday nights at The Blue Bug and it wasn’t a huge secret. They had the best dance floor in town and live music for the last few hours of the evening.
Wannabe Cowboy strutted toward their table, slipping and sliding through the crowds at the perimeter of the dance floor. In the dim lighting, his pale complexion fairly announced that his profession kept him indoors most days. He wasn’t a real cowboy. Just pretending.
“Oh my God,” Patti gasped. “Here he comes. I’m gonna pee my pants!” Anticipation lit her face.
Gina rolled her eyes and shared a grin with Lyssa.
“Settle down, Mary Sunshine,” Lyssa said.
“Howdy, ladies.” The man was okay looking but not Gina’s type. He gave her a look and held out a hand to her. Patti looked crushed. “Care to dance?”
Gina shook her head. “Uh-uh. Sorry, I’m sitting this one out.”
Disappointment flashed in his eyes but it didn’t last long. He glanced down at Patti-Pie, who shivered like a puppy. “How about you? Wanna dance?”
“Yeah. That’d be good.”
The breathless response had him smiling so he took Patti’s hand and led her to the dance floor.
Lyssa took a sip of her rum and Diet Coke and gave her a considering look. “See what I mean? Man magnet. That’s why we keep you around.”
“I mean it, hon. You’ve got all those gobs of black hair, long legs, and big boobs. Man magnet.”
Gina moaned. “I feel so used.”
Lyssa laughed then went serious. “Really, Gina, you’ve gotta shake off this funk you’ve been in. Ever since you caught Cole plowing another woman’s field you’ve avoided men. You’re twenty-five years old and it’s just not normal to completely ignore your healthy libido.”
“My libido can go to hell. If I’m so hot, why am I sitting here and not dancing?”
Her friend gave a telling glance toward the dance floor and arched her brow as a smiling, animated Patti-Pie boot-scooted by with her “pretend” cowboy. “It’s your choice.”
When Lyssa leaned back and gave her best school teacher expression, she knew a lecture was coming. “I see it like this. You’re like a big old mean bull named Intimidator.
“Now every hot cowboy worth his salt wants to ride Intimidator into the bed sheets…um…dirt. But they all know this bull is a scary creature. They want to give old Intimidator a ride but they’re afraid of getting bucked to their asses in the dust. See? That’s you. Intimidator.”
Gina wanted to argue with Lyssa’s assessment but she couldn’t. Men had always been just a little terrified of her. It would take a truly confident man to approach her and she knew it.
Suddenly, she’d had enough. Damn it, she wanted to dance and out of all these hot guys, only one had approached her.
It was time to pull out all the stops and take what she wanted. Narrowing her eyes, she lounged back in her chair and sent her gaze skimming across the room. Man, there were some downright gorgeous guys here tonight.
Suddenly she stilled. Every nerve in her body started to twitch as lust dug through her belly like a pair of steel spurs. Leaning against the bar at the far side of the room was the sex god of every ride ‘em cowboy fantasy she’d ever had.
He was looking straight at her!
Tall and lean, the man was roughly handsome with those broad shoulders and slim hips. Yum-my! A battered black cowboy hat was worn low over his forehead but she caught a glimpse of chestnut hair spilling across his brow. The jeans he wore looked worn and touchable and his black western cut shirt settled against his muscular chest like a dream. Gina wanted to grip the front of that shirt. One swift yank would have those tiny pearl snaps giving way like a slow sexy song.
Lifting a long neck bottle of beer to full sculpted lips, he took a quick sip, while keeping eye contact and then lowered the bottle to dangle loosely from a big, bronzed hand.
Gina swallowed. Oh, yeah. A real rough and ready cowboy.
“Go get him, sex goddess!” Lyssa whispered. “He’s primed, ready and willing to tackle the Intimidator. Ask him. Hell, you’re a modern woman. Take what you want.”
“You are the devil whispering in my ear. Damn you to hell! Go home, Satan, get thee gone.”
Lyssa laughed as Gina knew she would. Her friend settled a hand on hers and leaned close. Her smiled turned wicked. “Dare you.”
Bolstering her courage, Gina stood and scowled down at Lyssa. “Done. You buy the next round!”
When she turned into the crowd, it was like a parting of the Red Sea. Was Lyssa right? Was she really the Intimidator? Every eye seemed to take her in from top to toe and she suddenly wondered if the little blue t-shirt she wore flashed too much skin between its hem and the low slung waist of her jeans. Women’s eyes narrowed. Male glances took her in with a look of awestruck wonder.
“Hey there, honey. Wanna dance?”
Gina wanted to cringe as she waded through the throng but she held her head high, zig-zagging through the clusters of partiers. The cowboy still watched her and she focused, zeroed in on him, as she moved forward. Men were thick at the bar and she could see their hazy reflections in the mirror hanging just behind the busy bartenders manning the place. No more than six paces away someone grabbed her butt.
Spinning around, she felt her long hair fly out then settle around her shoulders. “Hey!”
The drunken toad who actually looked like a toad grinned as his sidekicks hooted.
“Do it again, buddy, and you’ll lose that arm.”
A low, deep voice from behind her caused heat to shoot through her blood. She stiffened.
The butt-grabber’s eyes went wide as he looked over Gina’s shoulder. “Hey, now. I’m just funnin’.”
“Take it off to someone who’s interested,” he said. “You’re not in this lady’s league.”
“’Spose you’re in her league?” Toad backed away a little as he got mouthy.
“Maybe. Maybe not. That’s up to her. Now get your ass on outta here, fella. Scoot.”
Toad scooted and disappeared into the crowd.
Gina spun around to greet her rescuer.
Holy cow! He looked even better up close.
He had Jack Daniels eyes. Whiskey colored, hot, and aged to perfection. A man, not a boy. Dark lashes framed those penetrating eyes and Gina felt her breath catch in her throat. He had a tiny bump on the bridge of his great looking nose. Probably broke it when he was thrown from the back of a mean bull that might’ve been named Intimidator. She wanted to reach out and run her finger over that attractive bump. In an attempt to hide the quick flash of desire, she faked an air of bravado. “Good to see chivalry isn’t dead, cowboy.”
“Not where I come from.” He lifted a hand and one of the bartenders sidled up. “A drink for the lady.”
Gina placed her order and moved closer to the bar. “Thanks. So where you from?”
He shrugged as he paid the bartender for her drink. “South of here but I move around a lot.”
“Guess you’re in town for the rodeo. Are you entered?”
“Man of few words, too.”
A smile twitched at those scrumptious lips. “Usually.” She noted the brackets around the sides of his mouth, the faint laugh lines at the corners of his eyes. He lived in the sun and he either scowled fiercely or smiled frequently. Hard to tell which.
Fierce, she decided. He was a fierce man but capable of laughter. The most appealing man she’d ever met.
Gina went silent as his scent stole her tongue. Man, he smelled good. Subtle with just a hint of something clean and citrusy. Tart enough to make her mouth water. She took a sip of her beer to hide her reaction.
One dance, she vowed. Only one. This temporary man was dangerous to her state of mind. Why had she listened to Lyssa and given in to temptation this way? She swallowed and forced herself to meet his penetrating gaze.
“This your first time here? Wayback’s pretty small. I’d remember you.”
“Yeah. Nash Logan.”
“Gina Ballew. Welcome to Wayback.”Mustering her courage, she tilted her chin and held out a hand to two hundred pounds of trouble.