Colby (BBW Western Bear Shifter Romance) (Rodeo Bears Book 3)

BOOK: Colby (BBW Western Bear Shifter Romance) (Rodeo Bears Book 3)
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Colby

Rodeo Bears III

by

Becca Fanning

Chapter One

Gemma Thomas had no intention of going to the rodeo.
 
Just because she lived in the west, just because she lived in Reno, and just because this year Reno was getting more than one rodeo in more than one series didn't mean she had to go anywhere near any of them.

Gemma's west was civilized.
 
She loved to hike in the foothills but not in the dead of summer.
 
Most of the time she didn't hike long enough or go far enough to need to carry water.
 
She was just as happy strolling by the Truckee River in one of the downtown parks.
 
The city aspect of Reno was nice.
 
Indoors was nice.
 
Mucking around in the dirt and dust wasn't part of her lifestyle.

Neither were cowboys.
 
She'd grown up around cowboys.
 
She'd grown up outside of Winnemucca, Nevada, not even in the town itself but on her father's ranch.
 
After that, as an adult, she'd become – in her opinion – civilized.
 

No cowboys.
 
And rodeos bred cowboys.
 
That was her theory.
 
Most of the men who lived in Reno drove normal cars (not beat up, full size farm trucks), wore normal shoes (not cowboy boots that just might reek), dressed like they understood the century they lived in and the society around them.
 
They worked out in gyms.
 
They bathed regularly.

Add a rodeo and drop men she was acquainted with into that picture, men she knew from jobs and friendships, otherwise reasonable men who lived in metropolitan areas. They suddenly start chewing tobacco, spitting, drinking beer from a can, wearing cowboy boots and calling the women around them
darlin'
.

No way she was going anywhere near all that.
 
Gemma moved from her daddy's ranch outside Winnemucca the minute she turned 18.
 
She wasn't looking to go back.
 
She moved, she lost the horse droppings under her boots and started wearing sandals and heels.
 
She graduated college and got a job at the newspaper, worked her way up to lead freelance writer for a lifestyle magazine, an upstart startup that Marla the editor liked to call it because it was a glossy hard copy in the age of e-magazines and the post-recession collapse of so many magazines.

Gemma had a college education, a condo in a downtown high-rise (a converted casino, very trendy), a Mitsubishi Spyder convertible, and she freelanced, writing articles for a living.

No cowboys.
 
No rodeo.
 
No roping of calves.
 
No riding of bulls.

No thanks.

So Marla assigned her the stories about the rodeo.

"This is not happening," Gemma muttered, stepping over horse droppings outside the fairgrounds convention center pavilion and trying to convince herself she wasn't really there and that the sights and smells all around her didn't remind her of home.

Anyone could like the smell of hay under the late June sun, right?

When she wrote freelance articles for what was essentially the last business magazine in the state, she did interviews by phone.
 
She wrote for a local foodie magazine and the lifestyle magazine and she usually didn't have to go anywhere – phone interviews worked just fine.

Phone interviews would have kept the sun off her shoulders and the hay out of her nose.
 
All around here there were mud splattered horse trailers and people in snap-button shirts and huge hats.
 
There were cowboy boots and cowboy voices filling the air and the peculiar and familiar feeling of hot sun giving way to the shadowed heat of barns.

Marla gave her the assignment to write one of the cover stories, a feature on Wally Wold, buckingest bronco breaker or some title like that. Gemma had called expecting a friendly conversation during which they'd set a day and time when she could call for the interview.
 
She would put her phone on speaker, turn on her trusty cassette recorder, look out the window at the city and interview Mr. Wold.

Mr. Wold had other thoughts.

"I'd be happy to talk with ya, darlin'.
 
But my schedule's pretty hit or miss.
 
Never know how a rodeo's going to go.
 
You'd best come down.
 
I'll leave tickets for you at the box office."

She'd argued.
 
She could call him before hours.
 
After hours.
 
At the tail end of the rodeo.
 

He'd countered with morning chores and warmup, evening beers and cooldown, and the fact that the instant the show was over everyone hit the road for the next venue, as well as developing some kind of amnesia about recent events unless they'd won big time.

He cut the conversation short and told her he would leave tickets.
 
She could pick them up and he'd meet her at five o'clock on Saturday afternoon and if she wasn't there, he'd assume she didn't want the interview.
 
When she started to ask one more question, the line went dead.

He'd hung up on her.

Marla had called right after that.
 
Gemma was still staring at the phone.
 
Who did that?
 

"Hon, long as you're going to the rodeo, I've got a second feature for you."

"Who said I'm going to the rodeo?
 
I do most of my interviews by phone."

Marla barked out a laugh.
 
"Honey, you're interviewing Wally Wold.
 
He's delightful and impossible and infuriating.
 
And he doesn't do interviews by phone.
 
You're going to the rodeo."

"You know how I feel about this."
 
Gemma heard the whine in her voice.

"Suck it up, buttercup.
 
It's one story.
 
You'll live."

"Apparently it's not one story," Gemma said.
 
"Didn't you just say 'as long as you're going to the rodeo, I have a second feature for you?'"

"OK, OK, it's two stories but one trip if you arrange it right.
 
Owen Hutch."

Gemma was silent for a minute.
 
Then, "Senator from Utah?"

She could hear Marla breathing right before she said, "What?"

"Owen Hutch."

"That's Orrin Hatch.
 
This is Owen Hutch."
 

"Oh."
 
That cleared things up.

No it didn't.
 
"Who's Owen Hutch?"
 

Even the light seemed different.
 
As if the sunlight off the hay tinted the world a funny gold.
 
Growing up outside Winnemucca, Gemma had seen the afternoon light look like this for long, hot summers.
 
A haze hung in the air, made up of tiny flying insects and bits of hay that spun suspended.
 
Dust blew up under her feet.

BOOK: Colby (BBW Western Bear Shifter Romance) (Rodeo Bears Book 3)
8.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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