Authors: Randi Alexander
Tags: #las vegas, #gambling, #holiday romance, #western romance, #cowboy erotic romance, #rodeo bull rider, #randi alexander, #cowboy jackpot, #rodeo bronc rider, #st patrick�s day romance
Cowboy Jackpot: St Patrick’s Day
By Randi Alexander
Edited by E.L. Felder
Copyright 2013 Randi Alexander
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Jayden Hancock tucked his hand into the
rigging on the back of Chicken Foot, the bay gelding he was about
to ride bareback. “Who the hell names a horse Chicken Foot?” The
object of his derision lurched in the chute, jamming Jayden’s leg
against the fencing.
The pain shot up his thigh. He had to get
loose. He tightened his grip and shouted, “Okay, okay, okay.”
Three point eight seconds later, he lay on
his back on the hard packed dirt, staring up at the arena ceiling,
his breath knocked out of him. He looked up to see the replay of
his ride on the big screen above the ring. When it ended, the shot
went live to him lying there, his blond, curly hair full of red
“Fuck.” He was careful not to move his lips
when he cussed. Someone could easily read his lips on the screen.
He scrambled to his feet, picked up his hat and waved to the crowd
in gratitude for the few claps and shouts. He heard women’s voices
woo-hooing as he walked out through the narrow opening between the
gates. Gigi, his brother Boone’s wife, and Kira, who was
long-distance-dating his friend Dallas, were in the stands for the
“Great.” He pulled off his gloves and stomped
back toward the locker room. Now both Kira and Gigi had witnessed
his latest failure.
“Tough luck, Jay.” His friend Rance smacked
him on the back, stirring up a cloud of dirt. “Chicken Foot is a
“It ain’t the horse, it’s the rider.” He
hadn’t won an event in months. He rarely hung on for eight seconds.
“My head isn’t in the right place anymore.”
“Bro, don’t jinx yourself.” Rance’s green
eyes locked on his. He was big into superstition, and it was
working for him. He was getting close to Jayden’s brother, Boone,
in the bull riding rankings. “Walk it off.”
How many times had he heard that in the five
months since his rides had turned bad on him? He jerked off his
chaps and stuffed them in his gear bag along with his gloves, vest,
and spurs. “I’m gonna get a drink. Come with me?”
“I can’t, buddy. I’m in the short go.” The
riders with the best times in the first round faced off in the
final round for the win.
He punched Rance on the arm. “Good luck. I’ll
be cheering for you from the first bar I find.”
“Thanks.” Rance pulled off his hat and
scratched his head, ruffling his black hair. “I’ll meet you for a
Jayden stuffed his gear bag into a locker and
secured it. How long had it been since he’d made it to a short go?
Too fucking long. His fist connected with the metal door.
“Hey, you’ve got another chance tomorrow.
Concentrate on that.” Rance settled his hat low on his head and
The two-day rodeo at the Old West Casino in
Las Vegas drew some of the best riders. If Jayden didn’t pull it
together and win tomorrow, he’d drop off the bottom of the ranking
charts. His pro rodeo career would be over. His credibility to
teach bareback riding would be gone. Yeah, his mind wasn’t in the
right place. Instead of being set on winning, hollow desperation
rode shotgun in his head.
Brushing the dirt out of his hair and off his
jeans and his unlucky green “lucky shirt,” he walked out of the
arena into the casino. Poker would take his mind off his troubles.
It was the day before Saint Patrick’s Day, and he was half Irish.
Things should be going in his favor.
He dusted off his brown cowboy hat and set it
on his head the way the buckle bunnies liked it, with his curls
showing a little around the edges. Maybe finding a sweetie to spend
the night with would help him feel luckier.
The poker room was packed, and he put his
name on the waiting list for seven card stud. It’d be a while
before a spot opened up. He wandered to the snack bar and had a
couple tacos and a beer, then found a comfortable seat at a video
“Might as well practice.” He pulled a twenty
out of his wallet and slid it into the machine. It pinged and
chirped a welcome. “Dollar poker. Crap.” He’d thought it was
quarters. What the hell. It was only twenty bucks. He played the
maximum, five dollars, and won a few hands.
After he ordered a beer from the cocktail
waitress, he looked around the casino. Both his brother Boone and
their friend Dallas had met their women here, under very lucky
The two of them had pooled their winnings and
were in the process of starting a rodeo school where they lived in
Reno. Jayden was supposed to be part of the school, but he had no
money to fund his piece of the partnership, and was quickly losing
his credibility as an expert. No lucky circumstances for him.
met at the casino on
Valentine’s Day had turned out to be pretty darn
him personally—if he remembered correctly. It had been a wild
night, what he recalled of it. Had they really gotten…? He pushed
the scary memory back again, deep behind the beer fog he’d drunken
himself into that night. Right now, he just didn’t have the
willpower to deal with the bad decision he’d made.
His beer came and he focused on his machine,
pressing the maximum button as he took a sip from the red plastic
cup. Three aces with a five and a seven. Now this was getting
“Jayden!” A female voice called from a
He glanced around. A buckle bunny? He spotted
Stormie Thompson. “Oh man.” It was her, his unlucky charm from
February. Her parents were bucking horse breeders, and Stormie was
part owner of the family ranch. Did they have broncs in the rodeo?
Visions of the wild night he’d had with her a month ago raced
through his head, battering painfully against his skull. He’d
surely like to put off this conversation for a while longer. He
nodded, hoping she’d just keep going.
The first time he’d seen her back in
February, it was instant attraction. His heart raced, his mind
blanked, and he’d seen a vision of the two of them all naked and
tangled. The first words she’d spoken to him made his shaft
rock-hard, and he’d stayed that way as they’d wandered through the
casino. She’d surprised him with her smarts and her crazy sense of
humor. With all those things going for her, he’d been hooked.
She walked closer.
Stormie was a curvy beauty. Long, straight,
strawberry blonde hair, freckles, and green eyes. Her tank top and
shorts bared her toned arms and legs. Muscles developed from
working horses on her family’s ranch in Oklahoma. Her cute little
feet were in white canvas tennis shoes. The girl was a hot mix of
sweet and sexy.
He knew she wouldn’t.
She didn’t play games. She strolled right up to him. That was just
how his luck was going today.
She plopped down on his lap, spilling half
his beer on the carpet. “I had a hard time finding you. I saw your
ride. Kira invited me, and I told her not to tell you I was coming
‘cause I wanted to surprise you.”
Her sexy curves pressed against him and a hot
flood of desire swamped his groin, a reminder of why he’d chased
her so hard last month. They’d never had sex, despite his best
efforts, but their kisses had been steamy and powerpacked.
“How’ve you been, cutie?” He inhaled deeply.
She smelled like sunshine and strawberries.
She tipped her head and cupped his cheek. “I
love it when you call me that.” Then she slapped him, kinda hard.
“Why haven’t you returned any of my calls?”
Fire and ice.
He kissed the palm that had smacked him. “I’m
just a no-account bronc rider. Can’t even make a living at it.” He
more than half-believed his excuse, especially after today’s ride.
“You deserve better.”
“I don’t want better.” She made a face. “That
didn’t make sense.” She laughed. “What I meant was, you’re more
than good enough. And you know…” Glancing around, she leaned in
closer. “We do have a connection.”
“Wait, what?” They hadn’t had sex, they’d
kissed a couple times, he’d felt her tight, round ass, and she’d
felt his, but that was all. Wasn’t it? No, he wasn’t that lucky. A
blurry memory of a drunken cab ride, flowers, a vow… “We didn’t
really do it, did we? I mean, we talked about it, and I know I
wanted to drag you downtown, but…”
He shook his throbbing head, trying to
clarify the memory. His rodeo luck had been bad for months, but
until he’d met her, his personal life was going just fine. A few
hours with Stormie, and he’d done the stupidest thing he’d ever
done in his life.
Her eyebrows lifted. “I’m afraid we did. I
have the paper right here.” She pulled her purse onto her lap and
“Jayden Hancock to the poker room.” A voice
came over the speakers. “Jayden Hancock, your seat at the seven
card stud table is waiting.”
He couldn’t deal with Stormie right now.
Didn’t want to have to face what he knew she was going to pull out
of her purse. He’d been ignoring the niggling uncertainty—and
her—for a month, and if his luck got any worse right now, he might
just hitch a ride back to Reno and crawl into bed for a month.
“I’ve gotta go, Stormie, but I’ll call you as
soon as I’m done playing poker.”
She frowned and her green eyes turned so sad,
he was overwhelmed by the need to hold her until she smiled
“You may think I’m a ditzy blonde, but I know
when I’m being tossed aside.” With a sigh, she slung her purse back
over her shoulder. “You don’t want me, Jayden, and that’s
Didn’t want her? Goddamn, he wanted her worse
than he wanted his next breath, but she’d shot him down on
Valentine’s Day with some crazy story… His temple pounded as he
tried to pull up that conversation. Whatever her problem had been,
or still was, he wasn’t up to the challenge of trying again. Not
She poked a finger into his chest. “You just
have to be man enough to tell me you want out.”
He felt like a complete ass for not calling
her. “Is that why you’re here? Why you just showed up?”
“We have to take care of
” She touched her purse. “Okay? That’s all I ask.”
“Last call for Jayden Hancock.” The speaker
blared. “Jayden Hancock to the poker room.”
“I’m sorry, Stormie. I’ll call you.” He held
up his hand in an oath. “Promise.”
She shrugged. “Sure.” Her voice told him she
wasn’t convinced. She turned to the poker machine. “I love this
game.” She hit the draw button.
“Aw Storm, I had three aces.” Damn. He could
have walked away with a few bucks. The girl was plain unlucky… When
he saw the cards that popped up, Jayden’s mood swung from defeated
to ecstatic. “A royal flush? Oh man, you got us a royal flush!”
Bells rang and lights flashed.
Stormie giggled, hugged him, then looked down
at the payout line. “Royal flush is…” She turned toward him, her
eyes bright, and her smile sunny. “Four thousand dollars.”
“Woo-hoo! Cutie, we’re gonna have us some fun
tonight.” Maybe his luck was changing.
She stood and did a little dance for him.
Damn she was sexy with her breasts bouncing
and her hips shaking. Getting to his feet, he pulled her into his
arms and swung her around a couple times. When they were both
dizzy, he planted a quick kiss on her lips. “You’re my lucky
“Oh, I know.” She smirked. “Let’s get the
payout ticket and cash in.” She moved toward the machine, but he
stopped her. “Um, Storm, I gotta tell you something first.”
Her smile left her face. “Okay.”
He leaned close to her ear. “I’m not
twenty-one. I have a fake ID, but just to be safe, you’ll have
She jerked back, a look of horror in her
eyes. “How old are you?” she mouthed silently, her gaze scanning
He liked how worked up she got about
everything. “Fourteen, but I’m mature for my age.”
“Oh. My. God. No.” She shook her head but
stopped when she saw his grin. “You jackass.” She stepped closer.
“How old, really?” she whispered.
“Twenty. So if you do the tax paperwork…”
From behind her, an army of smiling casino employees approached.
“What the hey?”
Stormie turned. “Oooh, it’s just like when
Kira and Dallas won their jackpot. We’ll get champagne and maybe a