Excerpt from Rescued by the Cowboy
"When I was a little girl, I always colored inside the lines," Tess explained. "As I grew up, lines defined me, and I never crossed any of them."
"And yet," Nick pointed out, "when your sister needed you, you not only managed to get yourself into Mexico with a bag of cash for her release, you even faced down a guy with a machete. I'm thinking you crossed a few lines in the past forty-eight hours."
"Maybe a few," she admitted. Did he have any idea that the biggest line she wanted to cross was directly into his arms and into his life?
Nick was a man of the rodeo, the ranch, and the sky. But he'd chosen to live in a risky realm—from the flight missions he'd flown to riding wild horses and flying planes through storms straight into danger. In reality, his intense life choices frightened Tess. That's part of the reason she pulled away after their weekend together in San Antonio... that, and the fact that Tess didn't want to be one of Nick's weekend romances. So Tess headed back to her gray, bland life that kept her safe from risking herself at the edge of any line whatsoever.
"Those were some smooth moves you made, with that elbow jab and a kick to Té's knee," Nick said, hauling her mind back to the present. "Someday I'd love to hear about how a keep-inside-the-lines woman like you learned moves like that."
"Did I surprise you?"
"That you did."
Tess smiled. "You probably wouldn't believe it even if I told you."
"Try me," he offered, matching her smile with a killer one of his own.
When he smiled it was as if heaven opened and all the beauty there came streaming down to earth. Tess was absolutely dazzled by him—and had been since the first moment she'd laid eyes on him, which had been at the rehearsal Friday night before Aubrey and Jeff's wedding. Tess had been late in arriving... and so had Nick. They'd met outside the double doors of the small, lakeside chapel aglow with candlelight—Tess hurrying in heels, head bent as she tapped out a message on her smartphone, Nick moving with ease to open one of the doors for her.
Watch your step. Those had been his first words to her.
The sound of his voice had captured her attention, driving it away from the cell phone and work and anything else in the world, and when she'd looked up and had seen that face and that smile, nothing else existed—not even the slight rise of stonework that caught her toe and sent her stumbling forward. Nick, with his quick instincts and faster actions, caught her, of course. His arms steadied her. His scent—that fresh, enticing mix of sage and outdoors—surrounded her.
It hadn't taken more than a second for him to steady her, but for Tess it was as if time stilled. He'd told her his name as he let go of her and then opened the door. She'd told him hers as they'd stepped inside to quiet and candlelight. It was as if they'd been moving in synch together for years; had known each other forever. When she explained that she was the maid of honor, he offered her his arm and another smile as he told her he was the best man. And just like that, their long, wonderful weekend together began...
But by brunch on Sunday, Tess knew she had to pull away from Nick. He was reeling her into a place she couldn't go. She'd had enough heartache in her life without setting herself up for another person to abandon her. Leaving him, walking away, had been the hardest thing she'd ever done.
Tess blinked as the memory with Nick faded away and she was back at the café with him. Softly, she said, "Maybe someday I'll tell you where I learned those moves."
"Some day is good," he said just as softly. "Some day means not this day... which means that you're looking past this to the future. Good girl."