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Opposites Attract

Another romance is brewing in cattle country...

BORN IN TEXAS #15: Opposites Attract Hero

“Here’s another one.” Zayden passed his cell phone to his fiancée before starting the car. Her red Ford GT hummed to life.


Alice eagerly snatched the phone from him to scan the last set of pictures he’d pulled up. “Oh, Zay,” she breathed. “It’s perfect!”


Perfect. He liked the sound of that. Perfect was good. More than good.


They’d been trading photos of tiny houses back and forth the entire trip from Texas to Florida. They were roughly fifty miles from the beach. Sadly, they weren’t going that far. At least, not today. Their destination was a good five or six miles short of the sandy waterfront.


“What do you like about it?” He had an ulterior motive for asking, though he wasn’t sure it was fair to put that kind of pressure on a woman he’d only been engaged to for a day and a half.


“Everything.” Her blue eyes sparkled as she waved excitedly at the screen. “It’s a one-story. No stairs, which will be ideal for retirees. It’s built on a trailer, so it can easily double as a fifth wheel for vacations. Plus, the rustic interior practically screams lake cabin. It’s totally in line with what the Johnsons and Petersons were dreaming of finding in Florida.”


Instead, they’d gotten swindled out of their life savings by a criminal land development firm. At the moment, they were staying in a rundown motel that sounded like it should be condemned. Of course, his soft-hearted fiancée wasn't about to let things remain that way. Hence, the whole road trip they were currently taking. She was determined to flood them with much-needed food and comfort items from family and friends in Texas, plus talk them into returning home while she was at it.


A blast of a horn sounded from behind them as her brother, Holt, nosed his truck and rental trailer nearly bumper to bumper with them. Zayden waved two fingers at him through the rearview mirror, knowing it was Holt’s way of telling them to hurry up and get moving.


Alice glanced over her shoulder and burst out laughing. “Somebody’s pretty anxious to hit the road. I hope that doesn’t mean Bonnie is driving him crazy.”


“Why do you say that?” Zayden raised his eyebrows at her. Though he was as surprised as she was that Bonnie had chosen to ride with Holt the entire trip, the dynamics between them seemed fine at all their meal stops.


He allowed his gaze to linger on Alice for a moment before rolling forward. Though she was still in jeans and cowgirl boots, she’d shrugged out of her white cardigan sweater several miles ago. Beneath it was a cheerful cold-shoulder, lemon yellow blouse. She was springtime personified, with her bouncy blonde ponytail and animated personality. It had been like riding next to a ray of pure sunshine throughout the entire trip.


She was light to his darkness, smiles to his seriousness, a splash of creativity in the middle of his well-organized existence. Quite simply, she made his life better — so much so that he could no longer imagine what it would be like not to have her in it.


Alice’s gaze grew pensive. “Though she refuses to come right out and say it, I think Bonnie has a crush on Holt the size of Texas.”


“Ah.” That was news to Zayden. He hadn’t picked up on any such vibes between the two of them. “Are you sure about that?”


“I would be if she’d just admit it already.” As they exited the gas station parking lot, Alice ducked her head over his cell phone again. “When I asked her about it, all she would say was that it didn’t matter. Even if were true, her brothers wouldn’t allow it. Blah, blah, blah…”


He snorted. “Yeah, they seem to keep her on a tight leash. An unusually tight leash. I wonder why.”


Alice’s gaze narrowed. “I think it has to do with something that happened to her before she moved to Hereford. Yet another thing she absolutely refuses to talk about.” She lowered her head back over his phone. “Shoot, Zay,” she muttered after a pause.


“Pew, pew, pew,” he teased.


She rolled her eyes at him. “I was just going to say I could easily imagine myself living in a tiny house like this.” She waved again at the long, narrow cedar cabin on wheels in the picture. “It’s…” She shook her head, “I don’t know. Just enough without being too much, I guess.”


He reached for her hand. “Any chance you could handle staying in one until we finish remodeling the Parker’s old farmhouse?” He laced his fingers through hers and rested their hands on his knee. “We could park it right on that lake we’re going to build, assuming you don’t mind having the Johnsons and Petersons as next-door neighbors for a few months?”


“Zay?” Her voice was barely above a whisper. “Are we talking about wedding dates now?”


“Only if you want to,” he returned cautiously.


“I do.” She sounded a little breathless. “What date range do you have in mind?”


“As soon as possible.” He’d never been one to beat around the bush.


She pulled her lower lip between her teeth to nibble on it. “So, you don’t care what month or season?”


“No. Given the choice, babe, I’d marry you today. Right now.” He raised her hand to his lips to kiss it.


“Oh, wow!” She blushed. “Does that mean we’re going to be applying for a marriage license as soon as we get back to Texas?”


"And going ring shopping." It was his turn to gape at her. “You mean you’ll actually do it?”


She nodded, blushing harder. “It would make a lot of sense, don’t you think?” Then she dissolved into laughter again. “Here we go again. Answering each other’s questions with yet more questions.” She made a comical face at him. “I guess that’s what I get for spending so much time in the presence of a renowned detective.”


He kissed her hand again. “At the risk of being accused of running another interrogation, why did you say that marrying me sooner rather than later would make a lot of sense?”


“Because it would.” Her smile grew tremulous. “My home is getting awfully crowded now that my parents are back in town. It’ll be many months before the home they’re building is complete, possibly a year or longer. Plus, Holt can’t live in the guest room in the back of the garage forever.” Her voice softened. “Especially if he and Bonnie are going to pair off at some point.”


“Are those your only reasons?” He glanced curiously through the rearview mirror again, just in time to see Bonnie tip her head against Holt’s shoulder while laughing at whatever he’d said. It could be something. It could be nothing. Only time would tell.


“Of course not!” Her voice grew shy again. “I want to be with you, Zay. More than the short lunch and dinner dates we squeeze in here and there. I want to come home to you every evening after work. I…” On a whimsical sigh, she felt silent.


“Now you’re talking.” Her answer made his heart leap. After living a pretty solitary life, he was ready to share it with someone. No, not someone. With her. “How big of a ceremony do you have in mind?”


“Small,” she assured quickly. “Just family and close friends, please. I can check with Bree and Brody at Anderson Ranch to see if there’s any chance of reserving the B&B on such short notice. If they’re all booked up, which they probably are, my second choice would be an outdoor wedding. Something sweet and simple. No fuss.”


“I’m all for no fuss,” he assured huskily. “I like your second idea better.” He had no hopes of filling a venue like the Anderson Ranch B&B. Unless some of his mother’s relatives could make the trip from Mexico, his parents would be the only ones representing his side of the family. He had no siblings.


“An outdoor wedding it is.” She fluttered her eyelashes at him. “I think we just made our first big decision together as a couple.”


They reached the outskirts of the small beach town where her retired friends were staying. The speed limit abruptly dropped as they approached a stoplight.


“I like making decisions with you.” Zayden braked at the stoplight and leaned her way to capture her lips with his. He must have lost track of time because Holt popped his horn again.


Straightening in his seat, Zayden was about to press down on the gas pedal again when he noticed the light was still red. “Joker,” he muttered darkly, glancing through his rearview mirror yet again.


Unless he was mistaken, it was Bonnie’s hand pulling back from the horn button. Interesting. Holt was giving her what looked from here to be an are-you-crazy look.


Alice must have seen it, too, because she started chuckling again. “We could get even with her by asking him to be your best man and her to be my maid of honor."


“Now, there’s a thought.” The light turned green, and they started moving again.


* * *


“That was a really long kiss!” Bonnie shot a mischievous look at Holt as she pulled her hand back from the horn button.


“It would’ve been longer if you hadn’t interfered with it,” he returned mildly. He shot her a playful look. “You jealous?”


She caught her breath and tossed a handful of hair behind her shoulder to cover her confusion. “Why would I be?”


“Oh, I don’t know,” he drawled. “Maybe because you’ve griped the entire trip about how your mean old brothers chase off every guy who dares look in your direction.”


“It’s true.” Her cheerful tone turned petulant.


“I’m looking in your direction,” he continued, “and there’s no one here to chase me off.”


“Ha. Ha.” She glanced away from him, making it impossible for him to continue studying her ever-changing expressions from the corner of his eye. “Like you even want to kiss me.” She sounded dismissive.


Hadn’t thought much about it before this trip, but you made sure I did, darling.


His next question sort of popped out on its own. “Would you run screaming if I did?”


“Holt!” She slowly turned her head back in his direction, blinking in confusion. “I thought we agreed to be pen pals.” Her high cheekbones turned a gorgeous shade of pink as she scanned his face.


“We did.” He waggled his eyebrows at her, feeling a little reckless as the light turned green. Pressing down on the gas pedal, they started to roll forward again. “No reason we can’t be friends with a few extra benefits, like kissing.” His recent abduction had taught him that life was too short to waste on mixed signals and cross purposes. Something was happening between him and Bonnie. Something he had no interest in ignoring. “Don’t try to tell me that you aren’t as interested as I am in exploring where this is going.” He waved a finger between them.


“This?” She swatted at his finger. Or tried to.


“Yes. This.” He caught her hand and lowered it to the seat between them, still hanging on to it. No, he hadn’t started off their trip looking for a relationship with his sister’s administrative assistant. However, she’d been driving him crazy since the first mile with her light flirting and quick pullbacks every time he tried to return the favor. He’d prayed about it after crashing in the hotel room he’d shared with Zayden last night. Afterward, he’d sensed that he needed to proceed with caution when it came to romancing Bonnie. There had to be a reason her brothers were so protective of her. The possibilities hurt his heart every time he thought about it.


Whoever or whatever hurt you in the past, darling, it wasn’t me.


It wasn’t ever going to be him. The more he got to know her, the more protective he felt of her and her underlying aura of innocence. Though cloaked in a layer of silliness, there was something very precious and very vulnerable just beneath the surface. Despite the stuff he was currently struggling with himself, he found himself more and more interested in peeling back Bonnie’s layers to figure out what was bothering her. Maybe they had more in common that he’d originally assumed. Maybe she’d suffered like he’d suffered. Maybe it was why he’d felt like she’d been trying to comfort him throughout the entire trip.


If that’s the case, you succeeded.


He wished he could find a way to put it into words. To thank her for being such good medicine.


“Holt.” It suddenly dawned on him that Bonnie’s fingers were trembling against his. It verified his suspicions that she’d suffered something traumatic in her past. “I don’t know what to say.” Though she didn’t pull her hand back, she was clearly unnerved by something. He could only hope it wasn’t him or the fact that he’d finally made his move with her.


“Then don’t say anything.” He threaded his fingers through hers. “Just hold my hand for now, okay?” He wanted to brand the feel of his hand against hers, to impress on her that it was the one place in the world she would always be safe.


She gave him a timid nod, darting a nervous glance down at their joined hands.


Her response made him angry — not at her, but at whoever had done this to her. His gut told him that she liked him, but something was holding her back. Something rooted in fear.


They reached another stoplight. The desire to tug her closer for a kiss flooded him, but she wasn’t ready.




If he was patient, though, she would be. Someday, Lord willing. For now, he was content to be the guy holding the hand of the prettiest cowgirl in the west. Some things in life were worth waiting for, and he instinctively knew that his first kiss with Bonnie Yates was going to qualify as one of those things.


Ready for our next Born In Texas hero?
PenPal Hero
Ready to find out what Holt Winchester's next move will be to win Bonnie Yates' trust...getting them ever closer to their first kiss?
And ever closer to the danger he didn't realize was lurking right around the corner for anyone who dares try to date her?

Coming soon to eBook, paperback, and Kindle Unlimited!

Much love,

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