Book two in the Buckin’ Bull Rider series.
Olympic medal winning figure skater Leah Fitzpatrick, dubbed “The Ice Queen”, is on the downslope of her career when she finds herself roped into a joint promo gig on the professional bull riders’ tour. She’s paired with “The King of Rodeo”, Brady Parrish, and although his looks could stop traffic, she’s got a future to worry about that doesn’t leave room for knocking boots with the sexy rider. No matter how hot he is.
Brady is at the top of his profession. He’s living the good life, and has no idea anything is missing until the cool Leah comes along. He sees something in her that hints at an underlying fire, and sets out to prove her nickname wrong. In the midst of their steamy affair, he falls hard. Blindsided by the potent combination of Leah’s beauty and vulnerability, Brady is determined to melt “The Ice Queen’s” heart.
Kill me now.
As she continued to stare, a smile played at the corners of his full lips. “Can I help you with something, darlin’? Need a hand back there?” Then he turned on the full force of his smile and she cursed her weak knees. As soon as she was able to recover, she berated herself. Here she was, a grown woman, practically falling at the feet of this cowboy who was so not her type.
“No,” she bit out, but then rolled her eyes and relented. “Well, yes. I need someone to help me into my dress.”
He winked and the phrase “bad boy” flashed through her brain. Yeah, this Brady was no Boy Scout. “Helping women into their dresses isn’t my specialty, but I’ll give it a shot. You must be Leah.”
She held up a hand to shake his, but snatched it back when the dress began to fall, briefly revealing the side of her breast before she was able to conceal it once more. “Yes, I’m Leah. And I need the wardrobe assistant’s help. She’s over there, brushing off some chaps from what it looks like, if you can believe it.”
Brady laughed. “Yeah, I wore them last night, they’re probably pretty dusty.”
Leah’s mouth fell open. She’d been making a joke about the chaps, hoping Brady would agree with her about the apparent cheese factor. “You wore them? In public?”
“Yes ma’am. But I’d be happy to oblige you if you need help—”
“No! Just get Sandy,” she commanded, adding, “Please,” when he didn’t move immediately.
Giving her another smile, as well as a smoldering look that had her nipples tightening and her thighs clenching involuntarily, he loped away. Sandy came to zip up her dress and then her hair and makeup were done. She was wearing twice as much makeup as she usually did, which was saying something, considering by necessity she wore entire vats of it to perform. Not only that, but the makeup they used were colors she thought were better suited to a burlesque dancer than a figure skater, but she was so eager to get the show on the road she sat there and let them do whatever they wanted without protest.
Through it all, she watched as other assistants fussed over Brady, helping him dress in his chaps, which she was quite sure he was perfectly capable of putting on himself, and smoothing their hands over his Western-style shirt on the ridiculous premise of making sure it wasn’t wrinkled. All the while Brady smiled and laughed and flirted, and Leah fumed. He was acting totally unprofessionally, like a country bumpkin on his first trip to the big city. And of course the girls were eating it up. It was disgusting to watch, and yet Leah couldn’t take her eyes off him. She didn’t stop to consider why it bothered her so much.
When they were both ready, David brought them together. “All right, now we’re going to take a whole bunch of pictures. All you two have to do is stand there and look good. We’re gonna play off your nicknames. Leah, did you know Brady’s is ‘the Rodeo King’? Isn’t that perfect?”
“Perfect,” Leah grumbled, not happy they were going to use her dreaded nickname.
As they were being positioned, Brady spoke to her out of the side of his mouth. “Come on, sweetheart. This whole thing’ll be a lot more fun if you loosen up a little.”
“I’m plenty loose,” she ground out between clenched teeth.
“You’re about as loose as a calf I’m tying up on the ranch.” He paused and then gave her another long, thorough perusal. “Though I like tying up women a lot more.” Despite the heat that flooded her in parts she’d rather not think about at the moment, she managed to throw him another glare which he laughed off. Did he take nothing seriously? Her career was hanging in the balance and he acted as if he didn’t have a care in the world. It would be nice if she wasn’t the only one with a stake in this.
Turning away from him, she concentrated on the cameraman. Through the next few hours, she simply shut down and gave them whatever they wanted, put on each ugly skating dress without complaint, even while knowing the pictures were only going to give more fuel to those who hated her for whatever reason. She posed however they put her, and smiled through it all. Brady continued to laugh and joke with the crew as if this was the most fun he’d had in months.
The cameraman gave them a break while he checked the pictures he’d taken thus far, and Leah took the opportunity to eat a sandwich and guzzle down a bottle of water. When the cameraman called them back, he said, “All right. We’ve got some good pictures so far, but I’d like to sex things up a little.”
“Sex things up?” Leah echoed.
“Yeah. Both of you are young and good-looking, let’s play that up. Now, Leah, if you could turn toward Brady. Great. Put your left arm around his waist and your right hand on his chest.” Rolling her eyes, Leah complied. As soon as her hand made contact with his muscular pecs it started to tingle and her breath caught. Luckily Brady was listening to the photographer and didn’t seem to notice her sudden discomfiture.
“Brady, put your right arm around her shoulders and stick the thumb of your left hand in the belt loop of your jeans. Pull them down just a little. Perfect.” He took a few shots that way and then cocked his head as Leah fought to get her breathing under control. No man had ever caused a pure visceral reaction in her like Brady did, and she was stumped about what seemed to draw her to him like bees to honey. “Brady, would you mind unbuttoning your shirt?”
Brady grinned and Leah snorted, trying her damndest to cover her still-increasing respiratory rate. Of course he didn’t mind. The women on the crew were already drooling and falling all over themselves—including her, much to her own chagrin. When he began to unbutton his shirt and finally separated the two plackets, pulling the shirt out of his jeans as he did so, it was all she could do to keep her own mouth closed. The man’s chest was mouthwatering, sprinkled with the same dark-blond hair that was on his head. His well-developed pecs led down to six-pack abs, where another trail of hair led to…
Brady cleared his throat and Leah’s head snapped up. “Excuse me?”
“The photographer is talking to you.” Brady was smirking and she had a crazy notion to shock him by kissing that expression right off his face.
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