Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Teaser Tuesday ~ Sneak Peek Outsider in Oklahoma

The shadows grew longer. She estimated only a few hours remained until sunset. Raised in Pennsylvania, she wasn’t a stranger to farm life and their open fields, early evenings and mornings that began before the sunrise. Living across from a dairy farm as a child, she saw the farm hands work the cattle and the fields. It was a hard life, but not without satisfaction for those who loved it.

Maybe that was why she couldn’t picture Aidan here. His passion had always been with the publishing world, the big city and working with clients. Particularly the trends that defined sales, spikes, marketing and the future of the publishing landscape. Since working with him she’d grown to appreciate his passion for the methodology and chaos of it all. Aidan Durrant was an amazing man, and part of the reason she’d worked with him all these years.

The center of activity played out away from the house. Following a gravely, dirt path, the herd of cattle milled around the largest of three enclosures. She heard the familiar sound of a horse whinnying to her right and discovered the smallest enclosure corralled several sturdy, tall horses. A cowboy brandishing a black hat conversed with a second man while examining one of the horses.

Tess watched the pleasurable interaction between them. She hooked her elbows on the top rail of the fence, like a little girl at a rodeo she didn’t want to miss a moment.

The discussion about the horse ended in agreement. The man in the cowboy hat nodded in her direction. She couldn’t help but admire his muscular body. The worn dungarees and cotton work shirt silhouetted against the sun outlined a fine specimen of a man. Cowboys certainly knew how to stay in shape. The cowboy she’d been admiring gave her a wicked grin and Tess’s knees went weak, realizing beneath the hat was a familiar pair of green eyes, Aidan. Oh, God, I’ve done it now.

She had a weakness for alpha males, cowboys, the man’s man. In her childhood fantasies, her prince would kick ass and take names before rescuing her. Now, as an adult, she liked to think she could kick some ass of her own.

Aidan strutted across the enclosure; his expression mesmerizing her, and she couldn't help but blush. This wasn’t the same man she’d spent the last seven years with. No way. Aidan Durrant’s timeworn boots stopped a few feet away. When his green eyes flashed gold, her breath caught in her throat.

"Nice hat, " he said.

"I like yours better."

One dark eyebrow rose.

Who are you, and what have you done with my boss?

"How are you enjoying the fresh air?"

"I am perfect."

"Always have been."

Tess bit her tongue, but inside, she smirked.

"Something wrong with the horse?" Tess quickly turned the subject.

"Nothing we can’t fix with rehabilitation."

"I don’t remember seeing horses earlier."

"There weren’t any."

"Another surprise from Daniel?"

"My brother seemed determined to run up debt." Aidan scratched his head. "Wonder if he realized we were so far in we’d never crawl our way out?"

"Maybe he wanted to do something good for once." Her words were out of line and she knew it. "I’m sorry…"

"No, maybe you’re right." Aidan motioned her to follow him and locked the gate behind them. "You must be starving."

"And you must have heard my stomach protesting."

His hand landed on the small of her back. He leaned into her and pointed to a building across the path. "I need to finish with the Vet and get cleaned up. I’ll meet you in the dining hall in a few minutes."

"Sounds like a plan," Tess said, acutely aware of the warmth flowing from his hand into her back. Aidan smiled and rejoined the vet who was loading a horse onto a trailer. Tess leaned against the fence, puzzled by her reaction to his touch. They’d brushed shoulders a million times over the years. So what was different about this time?

Shaking the thought from her head, she wrote it off to the relaxed ambiance at the ranch, the fresh air. She’d always been aware of his beauty, but it never seemed as pronounced as now. Had she been so buried in her job, she never appreciated the finer things about Aidan Durrant? With that question lingering in her mind, she turned toward the dining hall.

***

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