Brokedown Cowboy (Copper Ridge #2)
by Maisey Yates
There are lines best friends shouldn't cross, but in Copper Ridge, Oregon, the temptation might be too much…
If practice makes perfect, Connor Garrett should be world champion of being alone. Since losing his wife he's concentrated exclusively on his family's ranch. Until his dear friend Felicity Foster needs a place to stay and Connor invites her to move in temporarily. That's what friends do—and Liss is his rock. What friends don't do? Suddenly start fantasizing about each other in their underwear. Or out of it…
Since high school, Liss has kept her raging crush in check. Another few weeks should be a breeze. But helping Connor rebuild his life only reinforces how much she longs to be a part of it. One explosive encounter, and she'll discover that getting what you always wanted can feel better than you ever dreamed…
She was wearing the same clothes she’d had on this morning, a pair of black dress pants and a blue button-up shirt, her hair hanging loose around her shoulders. She looked flustered, which was unusual for Liss.
“Just one more thing I don’t need,” she grumbled. “Something smells good.”
“Frozen pizza, à la me,” Connor said.
“Yum!” Liss said, her crabby expression lightening. “Anything else?”
“I brought pizza rolls,” Jack said.
“Anything else?” Sadie asked.
“There’s cheesy garlic bread in the oven. And marinara sauce to dip in,” Connor said.
“So,” Sadie said, “pizza, pizza that’s folded in on itself, and deconstructed pizza.”
“Pretty much,” Connor said.
“Any vegetables?” Sadie asked.
“It’s like you don’t know us at all,” Jack said.
“I’m on board with your choice of menu for the evening,” Liss said, sitting down at the table across from Jack and immediately snagging a beer from the Ducks bucket. “I require carbs, cheese and grease to deal with my mood.”
“I’m sure Jake will take a look at your car,” Connor said, referencing Copper Ridge’s new mechanic. Jake was still building a client base, and he was counting on word of mouth to help do that.
“Probably. But I don’t really want to go begging for free work. Anyway, as long as it’s a minor issue I can afford to deal with it. But I am not in a position to buy a new car.”
Jack snorted. “Who is?”
“Probably you,” Liss said.
Jack just shrugged. Jack might be in the position but Connor certainly wasn’t. Not with his barn reduced to ash and charred ranch equipment. Though truly, he supposed that was a fixable problem. But somehow, every time he went to fix the paperwork the insurance place had sent over, he got distracted and ended up doing something else. So the changes never got made. And the paperwork never got fixed. And his bank account stayed empty. And his barn stayed ash.
Damn, he needed a beer.
He took one out of the bucket and rested the bottle against the corner of the table, pulling it down as he slammed his hand on the top of it.
“Show-off,” Sadie said.
He shrugged. “Yeah, I just figured I’d put all my skills out there tonight. Putting frozen food in the oven, popping beer tops without a bottle opener. I’m a badass.”
“A superepic one,” Liss said, taking a drink of her beer. “And after I’ve had this entire bottle, and possibly another, I might even upgrade you.”
“To what?” he asked.
“Superepic rock-star badass.”
“I like that. But I think cowboy should be in there somewhere.”
Jack winked. “You’re not a real cowboy, though, Connor. When was the last time you rode a bucking bronco?”
“No, asshole, you’re confused. You’re not a real cowboy. You just play one in the ring,” Connor said.
Sadie started humming “Rhinestone Cowboy,” and Connor decided he liked her a little more than he had a few moments ago.
The oven timer went off and Connor crossed the living room and went to the kitchen, getting some hot pads and taking the bread and pizza out of the oven. The pizza rolls were sitting in a ball on the counter, and he stacked the pan laden with the real pizza on top of the bowl, and carried the tray of bread in his other hand, taking it all in to the dining area.
He set the food down in front of Liss and Jack, and Sadie gleefully reached for a plate, hovering near the bowl of pizza rolls.
“Next time I promise to bake something,” Sadie said. “Quiche. That might elevate this a little bit.” Although her expression said she didn’t really mind slumming it with their subpar pizzas.
“Sure, Sadie, you could do that,” Connor said.
The door opened again, and Kate burst through it, followed by Eli, who was still in his uniform. Everything a stranger might want to know about his two younger siblings was conveyed by the way they walked into his house. Kate was exuberant, her footsteps loud, her grin irrepressible. Eli’s steps were measured, cautious. And when he saw Sadie, the slow, subtle smile that spread across his features expressed a depth of happiness that made Connor’s bones hurt.
That had been him once. At least, that was how he remembered it.
When he’d walked into a room, there had only been one place his eyes had gone. Jessie. She had been his focal point, his North Star, from the time he was eighteen years old. And then suddenly, she was just gone.
And so was his star.
He cleared his throat and took another drink of beer. There was no point in following that train of thought. No point in thinking about her at all. Except it was hard on nights like this. On the one hand, he depended on these get-togethers. They were his one opportunity to smile. To laugh. But when everyone was together like this, it was impossible to ignore the fact that it wasn’t everyone. And it never would be again. Jessie had always sat next to him when they played poker. And sometimes she cheated, and he pretended he didn’t notice.
He hadn’t played a hand since without wishing she was there to look at his cards.
Still, it was better than drinking alone.
Liss sat next to him now. And he figured if he couldn’t be with his wife, he should be right near his best friend.
USA Today Bestselling author Maisey Yates lives in rural Oregon with her three children and her husband, whose chiseled jaw and arresting features continue to make her swoon. She feels the epic trek she takes several times a day from her office to her coffee maker is a true example of her pioneer spirit.
In 2009, at the age of twenty-three Maisey sold her first book. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of sexy alpha males and happily ever afters, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Maisey divides her writing time between dark, passionate category romances set just about everywhere on earth and light sexy contemporary romances set practically in her back yard. She believes that she clearly has the best job in the world.
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