Authors: Kelly Gendron
A TroubleMaker Novel
by Kelly Gendron, Amazon Editon
2013 Kelly Gendron
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places,
and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously
and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales,
organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used
or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the written permission of the
publisher, except in the case of brief quotations used in reviews.
Edited by: Autumn Conley
baby. This one is for you!
you, Michael, for all that you do.
are my everything…just my everything!
The loud squeal
may have jilted her heart, but it was the flying pig that stopped Dusty Owens
dead in her tracks
. Damn that Jesse Walker and his pigs!
If the man
insisted on traveling with animals in the back of his truck, he needed to learn
how to build a proper cage.
With its short,
tiny legs, the piggy was getting away. Dusty
chased and dived, sliding
sideways onto the dirt road to catch the slippery squealing thing. They wrestled
in the mud until she finally had a good grip on it. She carried the writhing
animal over to Walker’s truck and jerked on the door handle.
unlocked. She placed the muddy pig on the front seat and closed the door
Take that, Jesse Walker!
Next, she headed
toward The Bucking Barrel, the tavern best known for its monthly mechanical
bull competition. It was also known for being run by the youngest and most
prosperous owner in the Odessa area, Dusty Owens herself. Besides being the
proprietor of The Bucking Barrel, Dusty was also known for something else.
She’d held the female mechanical bull record in Texas for the longest streak in
the competition. In other parts of the country, that might not have meant much,
but in Texas, it was quite an achievement.
Dusty pushed the
front door open only to hear “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” blasting out of the
speakers. A couple of girls were dancing together in front of the DJ, their
bootin’, scootin’, and boogyin’ causing the few cowboys nearby to drool like a
cow chewing its cud. After taking a quick sweep of the place, Dusty grinned.
The speakers weren’t the only things booming. The place was busy for a Tuesday.
“Whoa! You look
a mess, Dusty! What the hell happened to ya?” Jesse Walker said, sitting at the
bar with that shit-eatin’ grin he seemed to wear on a permanent basis.
“Me? You oughtta see the front seat of your pickup, Walker.” She pointed at
him. “I told you to take care of those pigs.”
With his beer
midway to his mouth, Jesse eyed her as she strolled on by. It took a minute for
her words to sink in, but when they did, they must have hit him like a ton of
bricks. “Shit! Dusty!” He slammed the beer down on the bar. “That truck’s brand
new!” he shouted and shot for the door.
Jesse,” she mocked over her shoulder. “So are these damn boots!”
Walker another thought, Dusty set her eyes on the real cause for her late-night
visit to the bar, the reason she’d had to put her favorite TV show on pause,
get dressed, jump in her own truck, and haul herself back to the place she’d
mentally punched out of three hours earlier—all after putting in ten hours
behind the bar. There was only one reason for that, and that reason was Jimmy
James. If there was one thing Dusty couldn’t tolerate, it was seeing her cousin
Sissy cry, and Jimmy wasn’t about to get away with causing it.
to the back of the bar, where she found Odessa’s six-pack of trouble.
The group of
little hell-raising heartthrobs were really nothing but boys trying to be men,
ranging in age from twenty-two to twenty-six. The one betrothed to her cousin,
Jimmy, was swaying over the pool table with a pool stick in his hand.
called out to her cousin’s fiancé.
His eyes shifted
from the cue ball to Dusty.
Damn those James eyes!
Jimmy’s were a
slightly duller shade of green, but every time she fell into them, Colden, the
older James brother, popped into her head, her heart and—well, although he’d
been absent for years, just the thought of him still found a way between her
legs to give her a little tug there too.
She stopped in
front of the table and placed her hand on her hip, it slid off in the mud left
over from her pig wresting. She dug her fingers into the filthy denim to keep
it in place. “All she wanted was for you to taste some freaking cake, look at a
few flower arrangements, and pick out a damn invitation for the wedding. That’s
Jimmy flung the pool stick up from the table, and it hit the floor. “I was
gonna go with Sissy. Hell, I even cut out of work early. Matter fact, I was on
my way to meet her, but then I got called back.” He tipped his fallen cowboy
hat back up and gave her a quick glance. “One of our tractors stalled on Dirky
“So you couldn’t
dragged out in a manly whine. “You know how she can be. Sissy woulda been all
upset and started bawlin’. I can’t bear to see her like that. It always breaks
my damn heart.”
“If you’ve even
got one.” Dusty glared at him. “So let me get this straight. In order to keep
yourself from having to hear her cry, you took the easy way out and left me to
deal with it. Well, while your tiny little excuse for a heart’s still intact,
Sissy’s big one is broken. Your fiancée is at my house right now, cryin’ her
pretty little eyes out, and here you are snot-slinging drunk and shootin’
Jimmy opened his
mouth, but a distinguished voice interrupted him. “Come on, girl. Give the kid
a break,” the sound huskily drawled from behind Dusty’s ear.
It wasn’t the
comment that sent every hair on her neck into a standing position, nor was it
that someone was actually sticking up for Jimmy James. No, it was the
of the voice. It was a little deeper and a whole lot more confident, but she
still recognized it. It belonged to none other than Colden “Saint” James. The
last time she’d seen the so-called Saint was when he was twenty-four years old,
a rookie cop in Odessa, a mild mannered do-gooder, almost on the verge of being
plain boring. But no matter how quiet or law-abiding he had been, Dusty had
always had a thing for him.
these years, what the hell is Mr. Goody Two Shoes doing back in Odessa?
only a few seconds for Dusty to answer her own question. In two weeks, his
brother was going to marry her cousin. With the short one-month engagement,
Dusty had been too busy with her maid of honor duties to even worry, much less
care about who she’d be walking down the aisle with on the big day. Colden had
been gone for an eternity, and few ever spoke of him anymore, so never in a
million years would she have imagined walking down the aisle on his arm. He
was, however, Jimmy’s only sibling, and Jimmy was at least loyal to family, one
of the few qualities that forced her to like the kid.
Ready to face
the do-gooder who had stolen more than her virtue, Dusty recomposed herself and
slid her head over her shoulder.
. Everything from the neck down,
including her heart, dropped to the floor.
Those damn James eyes!
were hooded, but no amount of shadowing could dim the golden flecks in those
dangerous green pools.
The dome lamp
hanging over his head put every delicious part of the Saint in the spotlight.
The younger, more slender body she remembered had been replaced with muscles
Holy shit! Tattoos?
The ink popped out from the sleeves of
his snug-fitting white t-shirt, and she noticed some curling up from the collar
of his shirt onto his neck.
A neck tattoo? Well, if that ain’t…freaking hot.
His jeans looked used and abused, the same way any naughty girl would want
to be treated by the rough and tough bad boy standing before her.
He smiled the
kind of smile that no doubt left pools of women in his wake, the kind that
crushed hearts. Dusty, on the other hand, had stopped dissolving into a pool of
liquid mess over the Saint years ago, and as for her heart, she liked to think
that was no longer crushable.
Then again, she
wasn’t looking at the same Colden James who’d left Odessa six years earlier.
With the acknowledgment, somehow she managed to keep her smile plastered to her
face. “Oh, I think your little brother can handle himself just fine, St.
James.” She normally called Colden by his middle and last name, it had always
suited the do-gooder real well.
“I have no doubt
he can. But to be fair, I don’t think there’s a man in Texas that can handle
the likes of you, Dusty Owens. That is,” his eyes lowered to her mouth, “until
“Until now?” she
repeated as she drew her head back, shocked that he’d said it. Cocky and bold,
he certainly wasn’t the mild-mannered rookie cop she’d known before. Even her
body reacted differently to him.
“Yes, if my
memory serves me correctly—which I’m sure it does, as it’s rather vivid—
man knows how to handle
just fine,” Colden said, but his eyes,
not his voice, were what really spoke to her, and what they had to say were
some pretty naughty things, real naughty—like pussy damaging naughty.
Truth be told,
though, the last time Colden James had handled Dusty, she’d been pressed up
against old man McAllister’s fence, and they’d broken it. That night, Colden
had revealed the more dominant side of himself, the part Dusty had always
assumed she’d been attracted to but had never had the privilege of
She shook her
head, recalling when she’d last set eyes on him, the day after he’d taken her
hard against that fence, the day after he’d taken her virginity. She had been
on her way home from work and noticed Colden standing there in nothing more
than jeans and boots, with his shirt tucked into the back pocket of his pants.
The hot, dominant man was gone. The do-gooder was back, literally mending
fences. She hadn’t stopped but had slowly driven by. Roadside. It was the last
time she’d seen those beautiful green eyes.
she’d heard that the Saint had left for Georgia, the same place he’d gone for
some training after graduating from the police academy before she’d met him.
When he didn’t return, she assumed he’d taken a job out there. In any case, if
he planned on being there for the wedding and if she was going to have to
tolerate him for the next two weeks, she needed to put Colden and all his
newfound cockiness in its place.
“I got this,
Colden,” Jimmy slurred right at the wrong moment.
Not taking his
eyes off her, Colden chuckled. “No, finish your game, Jimmy. Let Dusty and me
hash this out ourselves. We got some catching up to do.”
Dusty turned completely around. Disappointedly aware of what she looked like in
her pig-wrestling t-shirt and jeans, she aligned her shoulders and tried to
work with her other assets, the two she knew firsthand the Saint’s mouth had
once enjoyed tasting. She hoped he still enjoyed them, or at least enjoyed looking
at them. Dusty thrust her B-cups out, stepped toward him, and lifted her head
to gaze into those dangerous green eyes, just to show him he no longer affected
her. “You may have handled
once, St. James, but from what I remember,
you couldn’t handle yourself.”
Colden bent his
head, and a whiff of coffee, bark, and sex wafted into her nose. The man
actually smelled like sex— hot, sweaty, long, hard sex. Every hormone inside
pushed for her to lean forward, to get closer to the thigh-clenching aroma, but
her brain proved to be very powerful and persuasive in ordering her back to
arch and veer away from him.
smiled, obviously pleased by her resistance or perhaps amused by the challenge.
For a brief second, his eyes drifted to her breasts, and that scent of sex
lingering in the air only intensified. He tilted his head to the side and
coasted to her left ear. “Still sore about that broken fence, ain’t ya, girl?”
he whispered so low that no one else in the bar could hear him.
“You wish.” She
scowled, feeling the dried mud on her face crack as she back stepped from his
pure sexiness. “Sorry to burst your bubble, but you and me…well, we have
absolutely no catching up to do. Besides, I don’t think Jimmy needs his big
brother fighting his battles for him anymore.”
“I know.” Colden
straightened to his full six-something height and looked down at her. “But you
can’t blame me for tryin’, right? I been sticking up for him for the past
twenty-six years, since he was born.”
really,” she was quick to correct. “Need I remind you that you’ve been gone for
the past six?”
smile had a little less curl to it this time, his jaw tight and ambiguous.
She started to
turn back to Jimmy, preferring to deal with him rather than Colden, only to be
interrupted by that low, enticing drawl.
slithered back to the gorgeous man that only time had improved.
“How about you
give me the opportunity to help my little brother out? For old time’s sake?”
She snorted and
was sure a piece of mud had fallen from her forehead, but she managed to hold
her head high. “For old time’s sake?”
“That’s what I
said, girl.” He reached out and gently picked a piece of mud off her forehead.
She pushed his
hand away. “It’s Dusty, not
hostility, he scrubbed a strong hand over his stubbled chin. “You still trying
to fight me on that one, ain’t ya,
She clenched her
It’s what Colden had always called her, but now it was
driving her insane. He didn’t call anyone else that, and even if she hadn’t
minded it before, now it was just pissing her off. .
Colden dropped his hand from his perfectly chiseled chin. “It won’t be the
first time I’d have to save him from the wrath of you. You’ve been harassing
that poor kid since he first set eyes on your cousin. I recall having to pick
you up and carry you out of this very bar to save him when you caught them
kissin’ in the storage room.”
“Sissy was only
seventeen, and you’re little brother had her in a bar!”
“Hey, I ain’t
sayin’ he’s innocent. All I’m asking for is a chance to save him this one last
time. It’ll be an early wedding gift.” He stared at her, but she refused to
take the bait.