CLAY is available today! Don’t miss the excerpt below!
**Author note below
Rancher Rylie Thorn loves everything about men, but she’s positively phobic about commitment. After growing up in a broken family and witnessing too many failed marriages, Rylie knows “forever” is just not in the cards for her.
Sheriff Clay Wayland has been called in to investigate a rash of crimes in the southeastern corner of Cochise County. But one night when he goes into the field to do some observation, he comes across a sensual woman who’s doing some investigating of her own. Rylie immediately sets his blood on fire and he knows he has to have her. And it isn’t long before Clay begins the job of taming this wildcat and making her his . . . for keeps.
**Please note: “Clay” was published in print only with St. Martin’s Griffin. “Clay” was originally published in eBook and print with Ellora’s Cave under the title “Wildcat”. Character names were changed at St. Martin’s request, and the “Armed and Dangerous” versions were expanded considerably from the original “Wild” series.
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In a few strides, he made it to the open barn door. Even before he walked into the barn, Clay heard the sound of a rake scraping against the ground and a horse’s soft whicker. When he entered, he stopped for a moment, allowing his eyes to adjust to the dimness. His gaze immediately focused on the petite blond who had her back to him and was raking out a stall.
Clay smiled and his body jerked to attention. He would recognize that fine little ass anywhere… even without the sexy worn-out jeans.
The Appaloosa raised its head and eyed Clay, but Rylie didn’t seem to realize he was there. Just like last night.
He eased up behind her. “Hello, Rylie Thorn.”
Rylie gave a small shriek and whirled around. She clenched the rake to her chest, her big brown eyes wide. “What the hell did you sneak up on me for?” She raised her chin and took a step back. “You like to have scared the crap out of me.”
Damn, but she was cute, right down to the sprinkling of freckles across her nose, and Clay couldn’t help but grin. “You gonna hit me with that thing?”
She glanced at the rake handle and back at him. “Depends.”
Clay raised an eyebrow. “On what?”
“If you ever do that again.”
As she stared up at the man, Rylie took a deep breath and tried to calm her scattered thoughts and the pounding of her heart. It was him last night. That incredible voice and those mesmerizing crystal green eyes… she was definitely in lust.
“Why don’t we try this again?” His mustache twitched as he smiled and held out his hand. “It’s good to see you again, Ms. Thorn.”
“ ‘Ms. Thorn’?” She propped the rake against the stall door, pulled off her gloves, and tucked them into her back pocket. “Don’t you think we’re a little beyond that, Sheriff Wayland?”
“Yeah.” He took her hand, and damn if his touch didn’t send tingles straight to where it counted. “After last night, I hope you’ll just call me Clay.”
His eyes swept over her, lingering on the swell of her breasts and her thin T-shirt. She didn’t feel the need to wear a bra all the time, and right now she felt almost naked under his gaze.
Rylie, who had never found herself at a loss for words around a man, once again couldn’t think of a thing to say, just like the first time she’d met him in his office. Her body vibrated with awareness and need, and all she wanted to do was get naked with him. Now.
“Well?” He released her hand and brought his fingers to her face. She felt him lightly brushing dirt away from her cheek. “What do you say?”
She leaned into the touch of his hand against her face. “Yes.”
Clay cocked an eyebrow and cupped her chin with his hand. “Yes… what?”
“Whatever you’re asking,” she murmured, her eyes focused on his, “the answer’s yes.”
A slow, sexy smile crept over his face, and his voice dropped to that seductive pitch that made her knees weak. “If I wanted to kiss you, that’d be all right?”
Rylie brought her hand up to the copper sheriff’s star pinned to his shirt, and traced it with her finger. “Damn straight.”
He moved closer, so that his muscled body was a fraction from hers, so close she could feel the heat of him through her T-shirt and jeans. “What if I said I wanted more, Rylie? Right here in the barn. You’d say yes?”
She kept her gaze locked with his as she placed her hand right on the bulge beneath his jeans, giving him his answer. He sucked in his breath as she trailed her fingernails up and down his impressive length. God, he was big, and did she ever want him.
Clay dropped his hand from her face as he fought to control the lust building up within him. “If you’re not careful, little wildcat, I might just take you up on what you’re offering.”
“Oh?” Rylie’s chocolate-brown eyes sparkled with sensuality. “What’s stopping you?”
“Only the fact that I’m on the job.” He resisted the urge to taste those sweet lips that pursed into a sexy smile. “And the fact that your brother and someone else are real close to walking in on us.” He jerked his head toward the barn door to where he heard the sound of voices coming closer.
“Oh.” She lowered her hand from his crotch and grinned. “Works for me.”
“About that ‘yes’…” Clay stepped away, putting some distance between them before unwelcome company arrived. “Dinner tomorrow night. I’ll pick you up at seven.”
She didn’t even hesitate. “What should I wear?”
And neither did he. “Short skirt. Tight shirt. No underwear, if you’ve got the guts.”