Authors: Arthur Mitchell
Content copyright © Arthur Mitchell. All rights reserved.
Published in the United States of America.
First published in June, 2013.
The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance it may hold to persons living or deceased is entirely coincidental.
FIRE ON THE PLAINS. LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS.
Cat Nichols' fresh-out-of-college plans fall apart when she returns home to run the family ranch.
Dealing with unexpected grief and danger following her Pa's mysterious death is only half the battle.
Throw in a surprise attraction to the hot rancher next door, and she's got enough tension to fuel some very dark desires...
Ethan Hartz has always admired the beautiful young woman on the neighboring ranch. But he never expects her desperate pleas for domination until she throws herself at him one dark evening, right after they make an unsettling discovery in her barn's loft.
Even then, he can't imagine how hot the fire inside her rages, including a stark lust for a baby.
Just one taste of her, and Ethan knows he's in for good. He'll stop at nothing to give her the life she deserves – even if it means saving his newly pregnant submissive from a pack of ruthless criminals...
Dark Prairie Fire is loaded with suspense, BDSM play, and pregnancy passions. A contemporary Western erotic romance novella over 30,000 words.
I: All Things Begin With Sorrow
“Go on. Kiss this leather. If you want my baby, you'll respect me by respecting my belt, little Cat.”
Eyes squeezed tight, I craned my face toward the earthy smelling strap. My lungs hitched, inhaling the dusty prairie musk I'd learned to love, inhaling
“Wonderful. Ashes to ashes, sweet girl. Wanna feel alive? Alive and on fire?” Ethan kneeled next to me until I felt his hot breath along my ear, every puff fraught with desire.
Does he even need to ask? After all these weeks?
“Yes!” My reply came out like a gasp, the sheer sound imploring him to run his hard hands across my soft, bare flesh.
I obeyed his commandment immediately, giving him my wrists. An instant later, the lukewarm leather began to bind my fragile hands.
Smiling, I knew I was about to become enveloped in him again, a vessel for this beautiful man's seed.
In the barn and in the bedroom, I threw behind all my duties that didn't involve Ethan Hartz. With him, alone and naked, I was his submissive and nothing else.
“Bend over and let me caress that gorgeous ass. I want to sink my fingers deep into your plump flesh while you're feeling every inch of me. You'll walk away from me with marks, sweet girl, but think of them as tokens instead.”
Gritting my teeth, I let my front side collapse onto the end of the bed. Ethan's hands started at my shoulders, working their way along my plush arms. I'm sure he felt me trembling – shaking in a mad lust tidal wave I couldn't hold onto any longer.
And my small quakes didn't stop him.
Inch by inch, his wicked fingers rolled along my body like tiny serpents, moving to my underside and cupping my breasts. Nipples firmly in hand, he squeezed, and didn't let up until I arched my back and moaned.
“That's it,” he whispered. “There's nothing more beautiful than seeing you on fire. Burn with me, little Cat. Walk into the flames and don't be afraid, even though they're about to get a whole lot hotter...”
My face twisted when his hands resumed their downward slide, dragging themselves along my hips.
Two of his fingers found the plush wet entrance to my core.
When he slid them into me, I gushed, quaking in his hands even harder than before.
Falling into Ethan Hartz meant total surrender, like spreading out your arms and legs in a field shadowed by thunderheads, waiting to be engulfed by a storm's unstoppable onslaught.
Seconds later, I was buried in his muscles. I rubbed my cheek against his prickly stubble, shoving my hips into the bulge jutting out the crotch of his faded jeans.
I want you in me. Bare again. Alive and dangerously hot.
This is the night you get me pregnant. This is the hour when everything else I've known before melts
Secure. Blessed. And most importantly, safe.
I couldn't stop the memories from flooding back, as surely as his touch bathed every nerve in my body with pure flame.
I saw the flashes coming like spotlights, encased inside my mind in brilliant sparks of pleasure. His fingers toyed with my clit, stretching and stirring time, giving me private space that feels like a small eternity. It was where I went to remember
But then I heard the harsh rustle of denim behind me. His jeans were clasped in his free hand, being yanked away, exposing the beautiful thickness I craved to change my life forever.
“Do it. Put it in me, Ethan. I need to have your baby...”
My sex kept dripping with wet cream as his erection replaced his fingers at my entrance. Then, with a single push, he thrust deep inside me, and I couldn't hold anything in my head except the ecstasy charged present.
“Happened right here, Miss Nichols.” Jimmy Coates stared at me awkwardly as we stopped near the edge of the field, his eyes hard and filled with sympathy.
The uneven ground looked just like any other, perhaps a little torn and unsettled from a vehicle driving across it.
But it hadn't just been purposeless wheels that had driven over this dirt. The earth didn't stain red from rubber alone.
The big truck had crushed my Pa's blood into the soil. Jimmy's wrinkled hand fell on my shoulder as I dropped to my knees, scooping up the tanned earth and rubbing it between my fingers.
“God, I'm so sorry! In all the years I worked for your Pa, I never would've guessed we'd find him like that. Never.”
“It isn't your fault,” I said, speaking very slowly to get around the terrible lump in my throat.
You own this place now. Can't let your men see you crack, even if they'd understand.
“Yeah. I know it ain't.” Jimmy turned away from me and spat his tobacco, making sure to keep it far from the hallowed ground.
The roar of an approaching engine made us look toward the dust cloud rising off the road. I stood there dumbly until Jimmy's hand latched onto my shoulder, reminding me to get out of the way.
“Sorry. I wasn't paying attention,” I muttered.
It was the truth. But my broken focus instantly returned when the big black pickup truck slowed, halting near the opposite shoulder.
The engine clicked off and I squinted my eyes, wondering who'd come to disrupt our melancholy visit. When the driver stepped out, I recognized the high dark hat and chiseled frame right away.
Ethan Hartz. And, oh my, just how long have I been away from this place? He's all grown up – just
“Miss Nichols, I'm guessing.” Flashing a smile, he ripped off his tall hat, covering his chest and pushing a bouquet of red and yellow wildflowers into my arms.
“I hope this isn't too awkward. I just wanted to come by and show my appreciation for Mister Nichols. We got along real well in all the years we were neighbors. If it wasn't for his snow plow in the winters, we might've been stranded there until thaw!”
Staring dumbly, I finally opened my mouth and smiled politely. Ethan cocked his head, exposing the strong jawline that had caught my eyes.
His hard angles seemed to keep going all the way down his powerful neck, diving beneath the button down shirt. Under other circumstances, my eyes might've wandered further, and maybe my hands would've too.
“Call me Cat. Everyone else does,” I told him, cradling the flowers behind my armpit so I could take his hand.
My face warmed as I felt his smile covering me, wide as the countryside and so much more electric.
His hand squeezed tight over mine, all raw strength housed in a calloused shell. I pulled away, shaking my fingers slightly, as if trying to recover from a shock.
“Been a long time, Cat. I always saw you from a distance when you'd come here during the summers.
Meant to introduce myself sooner, but my ranch kept me too busy to ever say anything.” He looked up toward the sun.
I nearly melted when I saw the vibrant orange hue illuminating his face, filling the hard eyes of a man who knows what it takes to survive country living on the desolate plains.
“How is Mister Hartz?”
“Passed away, I'm afraid,” Ethan's boot stirred against the ground. “Happened three years ago.
Pancreatic cancer. It was real sudden. I'm just thankful he went quickly and didn't suffer for long.”
I wrinkled my face. Now, his out-of-the-blue sympathy stop was beginning to make sense...
On instinct, I held out my hands, grasping his forearm. We stared into each other's eyes, wordlessly exchanging more than two strangers should.
I wish there were more to bring us together than death. Then again, I shouldn't be thinking about
getting brought together at all, right here in front of the site where Pa died.
Jimmy coughed behind me. My hands dropped away and Ethan let his warm smile simmer back to a business-like intensity.
“Those flowers aren't the only thing I've got. Are you two out here to mark this site for him?”
I nodded, lifting the bouquet a little higher to take in the fragrant scent. They smelled beautiful and fresh, bathing my nose in a soft floral essence.
Ethan held up one finger and spun around, signaling us to wait. He returned from his truck a minute later with a modest silver emblem.
“We can screw it into the ground right off to the side here with the flowers,” Jimmy said, looking over at me almost as an afterthought. “Uh, if that's okay with Cat, you know...”
“Let's do it.”
I watched the two men work the metal prongs into the ground. Seeing the silvery cross shining in the sun with flowers wrapped around it every time I drove off the ranch didn't exactly fill me with happiness.
On the other hand, it had its own beauty. And Pa always had an eye for remarkable color. The chalk paintings inside the house showing the southwest in vibrant purples and reds were a testament to that.
It's what he would've wanted. Pa was bound to this land. This place is more of a grave for him than
anywhere else, the same place where he was born, raised, and died.
“There.” Ethan rose, slapping his hands together to wipe away the dust. “I made sure it's in real good.
It's planted deep enough to keep the wind from knocking it down.”
He removed his hat again and stood silently. Jimmy and I just stared at the ground.
I sniffed once, promising myself I wouldn't start crying. I had to save that for night time. Upstairs in my lonely room, I could bawl in peace, letting my grief echo through the empty house.
“Take care, Cat.” Ethan grabbed my small hand one last time, warming it with his gentle grip. “If you need anything, I'm right next door. Don't ever hesitate to call.”
“I'll keep that in mind.”
We watched him climb into his truck and ramble down the road, completing the short distance to Hartz Ranch.
Jimmy and I began our walk back to the property. He split off toward the barn to help direct the other men who were hard at work on daily operations.
Ah, the business. Thank God I've got Jimmy at my side. I'd be lost without him.
And lost was the understatement of the year. I hadn't lived at Pa's ranch for more than a few weeks in several years, not since I went off to college.
The last time I saw him alive had been at graduation. I remembered his tight arms around me, showering me with his pride in the silent bond we'd always shared.
But as happy as he was for me, something wasn't quite right.
Even then, at the small Italian restaurant up the street where we'd gone for a post-grad dinner, he looked worried. I'd chalked it up to tiredness, perhaps a bad start to the summer growing season, or else one of the never ending issues with his accounting and taxes.
It was only after the funeral when I began to wonder if something else had been gnawing at him during his last visit. I'd packed up my things right after I heard what happened, breaking my month-to-month lease and giving up on the meager job leads I'd had in the city.
Pa's ranch was too important. Hell, finding out what really happened to him meant more than anything.
With the funeral and inheritance stuff behind me, I could focus on the investigation. That is, assuming farm issues didn't take up every waking second.
I sat at the kitchen table, slowly sipping black coffee. He'd taken his coffee dark and bold, and I was beginning to understand why.
Life out here had a sweet simplicity, but running the ranch demanded all the owner's attention. There wasn't time for getting lost in fancy indulges, and certainly no time for nodding off.
The phone rang just then. I picked up the receiver. It was an archaic landline that had rested on the wall ever since I was little.