Desire (Montana Dreams Book 3)

BOOK: Desire (Montana Dreams Book 3)
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Chapter One

 

A beer in his hand, sand under his feet, and gorgeous girls dancing in skimpy bikinis was the ideal life for any bachelor. The waves, the warm sun, and the endless no-expense-spared should be a highpoint for Bradley Lovett.

Every evening, one, two, even three wanna-be-millionaire-kept-wives tried to follow him and each of his employer friends back to their villas along the beach. As long as the sun shone, girls came out of the woodwork to parade in front of them. His employer, Derek and Trey, coveted the playboy practices along Florida’s panhandle. He did not.

A large-breasted woman sashayed toward Bradley. With her hands in the air, her hips swayed to keep up with the momentum of her bouncing breasts. All show; no depth. The buxom blonde, who obviously thought he had money, performed as if he were the king and she his concubine. She jiggled, twerked, and gave gestures as to what her mouth would do. At twenty-nine, he wanted more.

Relaxed in an Adirondack chair, he sipped his beer, listened to the gulls gawking, and waited for the telltale sign she would move in for the kill. The show was fun, but he didn’t go for the after-party. Once in a while, when his shorts grew too tight and he needed release, he’d take advantage of their offerings, but he never engaged his heart or gave his name.

This type of existence wasn’t for him. He would kill time until meaning came back to his life. Disinherited after a fling with his surgeon father’s only married, female partner, he’d left Maryland and removed the women that haunted him. The two women weren’t interchangeable. One he slept with to piss off his dad, the other…compared to a stampede of wild horses running over his heart. Horses didn’t care about the pain their hooves imposed as long as they got the hell away from whatever scared them. Same with her. Cadence Duvall didn’t give a crap about the ache she inflicted on him with her insensitive demands, as long as she got her way.

“Fantasizing again?” From the chair beside him, Trey straightened, snatched the approaching woman by her waist, and stopped her from reaching Bradley.

“Thanks.” He nodded his appreciation at the tanned, blond-haired boss who, by appearances, missed his surfer boy calling.

“You bet. But times a wastin’. Plenty of babes to take your mind off the heartbreaker.”

His fists clenched. Beer flowed out of the top of the crushed can, coating his fingers, and dripping down his bare leg. He didn’t want to dwell on her; the woman had thrown him aside as if he were a horse with a broken leg, only good for dogfood. Didn’t want to deal with the reason why he wanted to piss off his dad. He just didn’t want to feel.

The dark-haired Casanova employer, Derek, approached with a woman under each arm, their barely-covered bodies flanking his sides. “Don’t nag him. We get more girls this way.” He kissed each of the blondes’ cheeks, and they gushed as if they were special.

Nope, this existence didn’t fit him, but he wanted it too. Living carefree, only concerned with business and themselves, sounded darn good to him.

“Ever gonna tell us about her?” Trey was persistent if nothing else. No wonder the man made a fortune on customized horseshoes. He was one hell of a salesman.

“Nothing to tell,” Bradley lied. Cadence had ripped his heart in two. About two years ago, she and his sister were involved in a car accident that almost took Trina’s life. The agony from that time still sent a piercing pain through him. On the morning Cadence planned to leave the hospital, he arrived in hopes to take her home and talk about moving their relationship forward. And that’s what happened. She moved it forward, right out the door. He tucked tail and left. More like, he cradled his cracking heart under his arm and vamoosed.

“Whatever you say,” Derek said, taking Bradley’s refusal to confide in stride. “I’m heading to the villa.” With a shit-eating grin, he squeezed the women’s shoulders and headed down the beach.

“Open up, you’ll feel better.” Trey gave him a pointed glare. “Or dip your stick and forget about her. Catch ya later!” He nodded and followed his partner with the buxom blonde who had eyed Bradley.

He rested his head on the chair, sucked in a breath, and closed his eyes. With the other gold diggers not receiving attention, he hoped the remainder of the dancing girls would soon leave. He wasn’t immune to them. They stirred his body, not with feelings but with lust. Sleeping with them, no matter if they were okay with the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am scenario or not, left him feeling like a chump.

The aftermath of his revengeful affair didn’t help. His father blamed him for Cybil’s failed marriage. It didn’t matter that the woman said she was estranged from her husband. With one motive: to piss off his father by sleeping with one of his female partners, he didn’t care where the woman lived or whether she was married or not. Still, he had asked. She separated months ago. The tan line on her left ring finger should have been a clue that the breakup had just happened, if at all. But with blinders on to hurt his overbearing prick of a father, he’d charged ahead and missed clues.

He figured dating his father’s partner would tick him off enough to hurt his godlike attitude. Not until he sat on the Florida beaches, mesmerized by the gentle water splashing on shore, did it occur that in the process of sticking it to his father, he’d belittled his own integrity.

The rage inside him brewed for years. It started with his parents’ belittling, then their attempt to make his sister’s friends feel inferior. Mix that with Cadence turning him away, he was a ticking time bomb. His parents lit the fuse when they’d said Bradley was no better than the trash Trina married. He flipped their stuck up asses the bird, hardened his heart, and made sure their pain compared in intensity to what they’d inflicted on him and his sister since childhood. By having an affair with his father’s partner, he got them right where it counted, in their self-importance ego.

Blaming his parents for his actions resolved his turmoil, but it didn’t set well with his image. His actions, no matter the reasons, were his own decisions. His mistakes. His guilt.

The ocean air drifted over him, and his mind drifted back to the hospital. His sister, lying in bed, not moving. Their parents’ manipulation of her life even while she lay in a coma. Thank goodness when she woke, Trina’s strong mindedness overpowered them, and she went after the man who’d saved her life at fourteen. In Montana, Trina reconnected with Matt, made a home, and found her dream job. Not long ago, Matt’s brother moved next door to them, found a woman he couldn’t live without, and opened a scenic tour business, following his vision.

Montana dreams.

Bradley would give anything to find his dream, even considered moving to Montana in hopes of finding the happiness his sister and friends found there. The thought had blown away on an exhaled breath when he learned his sister’s best friend visited. Cadence, the woman who stole his heart and never gave it back.

He opened his eyes and stared at the blue sky. His pocket vibrated, followed by his sister’s voice singing Helen Reddy’s song
I Am Woman
. The last time they hung out, she’d snatched his phone and set the ringtone to her name.

“Hey Sis!”

“He lives!”

Her usual cheerful tone was underscored with heaviness. Shit, he hoped their parents weren’t hovering over her. “What’s up?”

“Bradley, sweetie, I need a favor.”

The added sentiment, as she’d done since childhood, meant he wouldn’t like what she would ask. “Spill.”

“Remember how I told you Cadence visited?”

Her name, mixed with Trina’s pained voice, slayed and scared him. “Yeah?”

“Well, my blood pressure is rising with this pregnancy.”
Not good
. “Cadence is out of control.” Trina’s voice cracked. Hell, his sister was crying. “She won’t talk to me.”

A throbbing pain stabbed his jaw, clenching his teeth was something he did whenever Cadence’s name came up. He gazed at the empty beach and the waves crashing on shore. “Where’s Matt?”

“Outside tending to Divine. The garden nursery and petting zoo are thriving, and I’m stuck in bed to lower my blood pressure. We even hired additional employees so I can concentrate on the inventory, and all I can think about is how Cadence isn’t coming home at night.”

The pain morphed from throbbing to sharp and shot from his jaw through his cheek. As teens, Cadence had flirted with men. He’d hope she would outgrow her thirst for attention once they’d been together.

“She screws a different guy every week!”

The pain dropped to his chest, went deep, threatening to curl him into a ball.

“Okay, that’s not exactly true, but you get the picture. I don’t know what to do! She goes out drinking, stays wherever, and won’t text to tell me what’s going on. It’s not like her. We had a college pact to always text each other our location.” When he stayed quiet, she huffed. “Do you hear me?”

Buzzing zapped through his ears. Hell yeah, he heard her and wished he hadn’t. What was she asking? “So?”

“So!” Trina screeched.
Wrong thing to say.
“You and Cadence used to talk, right? She listened when you said someone wasn’t good enough for her.”

That was his response to every guy she dated. “That was a long time ago.”

“I know, and I know you two have drifted apart. Bradley, I need you. I can’t handle this.” Trina sobbed. “I’m scared she’s gonna get hurt. Please come out here.”

“What makes you think she’ll listen to me? Hell, she barely talks to me.” More like she doesn’t communicate at all.

“Why is that?”

Going into the details surrounding his and Cadence’s personal life was out of the question, even with his sister. He didn’t want to put her in the middle. If she thought for a second that either of them hurt the other, she’d worry endlessly. “If I come out there, she’ll run in the other direction,” he rushed to say before Trina probed. “She doesn’t like meddling.”

“You know her so well, which makes you the perfect person to help.” A long pause, a sniffle, and a squeal came over the line. “I got it. She has a horse that she can’t break.”

He laughed out of sheer disbelief. “Cadence can’t control a horse? Since when?”

“See, that’s the problem. She needs help. Come out here and act like a horse whisperer.”

“I am one.” He’d been training horses in one way or another most of his life. And now, with the rich having their horse stables built like southern plantations, he’d found a job he somewhat enjoyed.

“You know what I mean.”
Not really.
“I’ll tell Cadence I hired someone to break her horse as payment for her help with Divine. That way you’ll be here, and after some time, she’ll talk.”

Near her every day, staying at Trina’s with Cadence in the same house, his heart would demand to engage. It had chosen her a long time ago—without his consent. “I don’t know.”

“Bradley, please.” The singsong tone she carried when coming up with the idea went out of her voice. “Her mother bought her this horse!”

Heat rushed his face and ears, and he bolted out of his chair as if it were on fire. “What the hell?”

“Exactly. Something is seriously wrong.”

He gripped the phone and gaped at the sky, as shards of glass stabbed his chest. One of things he admired most about his Cadence, she didn’t let her parents rule her. Didn’t let them buy her love. Years ago when she discovered her mother had cheated on her father, her mom wanted to buy her a horse as a way to compensate for her pain. Trina and he witnessed Cadence’s wrath.

“You will not buy me now or ever!” Her harsh tone toward her parents equaled the sternness etched in her face. “If it’s not Christmas, my birthday, or a really special occasion, I don’t want a gift.” As far as he knew, her parents had honored her decision and didn’t push materialistic items on her until now. “Crap!”

“Yeah, crap! Bradley, I need you. Please.” Her plea grabbed at his heart. Telling his sister no wasn’t an option; he owed her. They stuck beside each other, resisting their parents’ attempts to turn his and Trina into clones of themselves. They covered each other’s back.

Not long ago, Trina intercepted an email her mother sent a woman she thought was perfect for Bradley. The text had been a love poem, something he would have never written. After their mother blocked Trina and Matt’s communication while he fought in the war, she took to hacking her mother’s accounts at least once a week. That feat saved his ass more than once from having to follow through with an unwanted date. “You got it, Sis. I’ll be on the next plane.”

“Thank you, Bradley,” Trina said in a perky tone. “I love you.”

“Love you, too.” He disconnected the call and came face to face with Trey. “Where’s your date?”

His boss lifted a shoulder. “I’m not Derek, not any girl will do.”

That surprised him, and he wondered what had changed but felt it best not to pry. “I hear that.”

“Was that Heartbreaker?”

Trey was relentless with his questions until he got answers. “My sister with news about her.”

“Aw, I see.”

Bradley doubted it, but whatever.

“No need paying for airfare,” Trey said. “My pilot will fly you.”

“Thanks,” he said and thought about the situation facing him. Train a horse, find out what’s up with Cadence, and not engage his heart.
Impossible
.

BOOK: Desire (Montana Dreams Book 3)
13.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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