Contemporary Romance (with erotica)
Published Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Limitless Publishing

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My job is everything to me, and climbing the corporate ladder is my one and only goal. Now that I’ve landed an important account for a popular dude ranch, I’m more determined than ever. There’s just one problem I didn’t count on…Mitch Johnson, the tall, hot-tempered, brown-eyed cowboy with the potential to bring my career crashing down around me. He’s a distraction I can’t afford—and a temptation I can’t ignore. But the real kicker? He also happens to be the ranch owner’s son, which means I’m about to saddle up more problems than I can handle.


Alexis followed Mitch outside, butterflies tickling her stomach. The crisp night air smelled delightful after the crowded, stuffy bar. They passed by a bonfire at the edge of the lake, roaring red and orange. Children scurried around with marshmallows on sticks while parents watched on. He kept hold of her hand as they climbed a rugged, twisting path. Alexis slipped a couple times, prompting Mitch to put a gentle hand against her back. Her lungs ached by the time they reached the top. So much for all the money she spent on cardio and kickboxing. They settled on a large boulder, shoulder to shoulder. Small trees lined up like soldiers behind them. In front of her, a valley lay dark and undisturbed, the only noise a faint echo from the dude ranch.
“Look up,” he said.
She did, and all her negative thoughts fled. Heavenly was now a term she better understood. The stars above shone bright and numerous, so many she couldn’t even attempt to count them. She hardly ever stargazed in New York, where the night stars battled streetlights and neon store signs.
“It’s spectacular,” she said.
“No. You are.” He turned her head toward his with a gentle hand and kissed her. At first, their lips barely met, but soon his lips devoured hers. Time stood still under the eternity of the stars, and she lost herself in his touch. “What number is your cabin?” He broke the connection.
 “Three.” It was hard to think, and forming words became a chore. “Why?”
“Why do you think?” Grabbing her hands, he helped her up before they hastened down the hill. His pace quick, she struggled in the dark to keep up.
She should have thought about what might happen, but her mind focused on not falling and the sweetness of his large, calloused hand holding hers. She didn’t want to think anyway. She wanted a night of doing. She was good at getting things done.
She fumbled getting the key into the lock as they entered the small cabin. Mitch tugged his shirt over his head, taking his cowboy hat with it. Alexis watched, admiring the coil of muscles in his arms, every bit the rugged cowboy with his jeans slung low on his narrow hips, the outline of a beard on his cheeks, and his hair mussed from under his cowboy hat.
He placed a surprisingly gentle hand on her cheek. His soft kiss caused flames to erupt in her stomach. Butterflies be damned, this was a heat she had never known. The bed was directly in front of them. When he gently sent her falling onto it, she hit the scratchy coverlet with less grace than she had hoped. She couldn’t help that her mind worked overtime, even with a half-naked cowboy in front of her.
“They need new covers on these beds. These are not romantic. But we can take it off. I’m sure the sheets are soft.”
He smiled at the surly remark, moving over her. “I’ll be sure to let my father know tomorrow after I give you all the romance you’ve ever wanted, plus some.”
Alexis bolted up, hand hitting his naked chest, pushing him back. “Excuse me? Your father?”
“My father owns this place. He bought it after he retired from New York Hospital. He was head of surgery for close to twenty years but wanted to try something different.”
“You’re Dr. Johnson’s son?”
“So what? What does that have to do with us?” Confusion laced the words.
“Our firm was hired by him. I’m working on the dude ranch’s marketing and rebranding account. I came to the ranch to get a firsthand understanding of how it worked.”
“What?” His stare turned hard and probing.
She tucked back loose strands of hair behind her ears. “Your father just hired my company to rebrand and revamp the image of the ranch.”
“He did what? I told him not to do that. Shit, he went behind my back and hired people from the city who know nothing about running a real ranch.”
“I came here to help.”
“You can’t help. You don’t know how to help, and there is no way you could imagine everything that goes into running a ranch from a skyscraper in New York City.”
“That’s not true.” She heard the doubt in her own words.
“Did you tell my father you were coming to the ranch?”
It was Alexis’s turn to be confused. “No.”
“You came out here to snoop around without telling anyone.” Anger and confusion tore through his words. “You sure you’re not just trying to take the ranch for all it’s worth? My dad wouldn’t know any better.”
“Your dad did the right thing hiring my firm. I only came out here to see what I could do to improve the place.” She stood tall, meeting his eyes, but the top of her head barely reached his chin.
“Bullshit.” He pulled away from her. “There is nothing wrong with this ranch. It’s a working dude ranch with livestock. The three years I’ve been here, I’ve seen people come because it’s authentic. Scratchy bed coverings and all.”
“I can’t do this with you.” Alexis circled away from the bed. “It wouldn’t be right with your father as my client.”
He spat the words out. “You’re from the city. You don’t understand anything. You come out here, without telling my father, to snoop around and try to find dirty little secrets, and then complain about how it’s not as ritzy or as wonderful as New York, but we want it to be nothing like the city.”
“You should go.” She pointed at the door.
“Damn right, I’m going. You should head back to your penthouse.”
She crossed her arms over her chest.
“I’m here for the weekend and there is no way you are telling me to leave early.”
Mitch shook his head in frustration. “I just met you and you’re making me act crazy.” Mitch turned on his heels, retrieving his shirt and hat from the floor. “I need some time to think.” He flung himself out the door. It slammed behind him.
Alexis sat back down on the bed in shock. She couldn’t have imagined a worse weekend.

About the Author

Dakota Star likes worn-in cowboy boots, a well-trained horse, a cold beverage, and trails to ride in the woods. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two daughters. Both her daughters have finished college and moved away so her dogs, cats, and retired horse now keep her busy. When not outside hiking or horseback riding, she loves to read and travel.

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