He’s a former CIA operative who juggles it all.
She’s a hard-core investigative reporter.
Together, they’re INVINCIBLE.
Called back to the ranch, after my dad dies, I know I have my work cut out for me. As a CIA operative, I can juggle it all. Always have. Always will. But when she needs my help, I can’t possibly refuse. After all, she’s the sexiest city slicker, this Buck has ever seen.
My heart and soul is in the city. The last place I ever saw myself was on a ranch, getting filthy, and smelling like a barn all day. But I need his help, and he needs mine—whether he realizes it or not. As for him, the most rugged and irresistible man I’ve ever known, I can make this sacrifice. After all, this city filly could use a BUCK of her own..
“How are you holding up?” I whispered in the ear of the woman standing beside me.
“About as well as you are,” she whispered back as we watched the woman I’d fallen hopelessly in love with walk down the aisle toward the man she was marrying instead of me.
My plus-one, Stella, and I had spent a couple of nights on the phone, drinking and drowning in our shared misery since she was equally in love with the groom. I was sure tonight would be no different.
We turned when Ali, the bride, reached Cope, the groom, who stood with the minister who would marry them. It wasn’t the bride who captured my gaze, though. It was Stella. She looked so damn pretty today I almost swallowed my tongue when I picked her up at her apartment.
“Stop that,” she’d said, punching my arm.
“Looking at me like I’m really your date.”
I wanted to tell her she really was my date and that she was breathtaking. But I wouldn’t put her on the spot like that. The woman, whose real first name I didn’t know—I’d only heard her referred to as either TJ or Stella—had been in love with Sumner Copeland since the day I met her. It didn’t matter that it was unrequited.
He had given her the nickname Stella. All the more reason for me not to use it. Maybe today would be the day I stopped. Maybe it would also be the day I told TJ how I really felt about her, and that instead of being her convenient plus-one, I wanted to be the real thing.
I shook my head at my foolishness. Not only would she carry a torch for Cope for-fucking-ever, she was a city girl. Born and raised. I was the exact opposite. I’d grown up on a ranch, shoveling shit and never able to get the dirt out from under my fingernails.
The thing we had in common, other than being in love with people who weren’t in love with us, was that we’d both traveled the world for our jobs.
She was an award-winning journalist, and up until recently, I had been an agent with the CIA. I’d retired, but still worked in the business, just for a private intelligence firm instead.
That was how TJ and I met. She was covering a trial involving Cope, during which Ali’s safety had been compromised. I’d been assigned to an op involving asset protection—for Ali.
I glanced at my date again when the minister began the ceremony. Instead of looking at Cope, TJ was looking at me, and she was breathtaking. From the day I first met her, I found it ironic that of all the women I’d known, she was among the most beautiful yet she was utterly unaware of it.
She wasn’t just beautiful. She was smart, clever, and funny. There were times she made me laugh so hard I thought I’d split a gut. She was also a force of nature when she dug her heels into a story like the one she’d been reporting on when we met.
The woman was the total package, and I was lucky enough to get to spend time with her.
To think I’d met her through another woman I loved. But had I really? Or was it just lust? Somewhere along the line, even that had changed. Now when I looked at Ali, I was reminded of my younger sister, Flynn. Ali was no longer the woman whose pants I wanted to peel from her body. Now Stella—TJ—was the only woman whose naked body I wanted to hold next to mine.