Authors: Robin Gideon
Ecstasy in Elk’s Crossing
When Katie Sellers moved from San Francisco to Elk's Crossing, North Dakota, she was leaving behind an abusive relationship, and not looking for anything more exciting than simply a new beginning. What Katie never realized was that small-town cowboys can lead to big-time romance and sizzling sensuality.
Despite the cowboy boots and powerfully broad shoulders, there's a polished charm to Aaron McGowan that the ladies all love. As head of the McGowan clan, he runs a profitable cattle ranch with his three younger brothers, Flynn, Blair, and Garrett. The men all enjoy the innocent flirtation with Katie, the new girl in town, until a simple game leads to romance and seduction, and men who have never had to share find themselves falling in love with the same woman. Meanwhile, the man from Katie's past decides she needs to suffer, just to put her karma in order…
Note: There is no sexual relationship or touching for titillation between or among siblings.
Contemporary, Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Western/Cowboys
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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IMPRINT: Ménage Amour
ECSTASY IN ELK’S CROSSING
Copyright © 2012 by Robin Gideon
First E-book Publication: April 2012
Cover design by Jinger Heaston
All cover art and logo copyright © 2012 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
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All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
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Ecstasy in Elk’s Crossing
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ECSTASY IN ELK’S CROSSING
Copyright © 2012
Elk’s Crossing, North Dakota
Katie Sellers looked at Aaron McGowan and his brothers, and told herself that they’d be nothing but trouble if she was foolish enough to consider them something more than just loyal customers of her grandparents’ saloon. They were all a little too handsome and much too manly to be anything but trouble for a woman fleeing from a man who’d battered her body and broken her heart.
She picked up Aaron’s plate and told herself that he smiled at everyone, not just her, but that didn’t stop her heart from skipping a beat.
“That was delicious,” Aaron said, his tawny, leonine eyes alight with pleasure. “Tell your grandmother she’s all that’s kept the McGowan brothers from starvation.”
Katie laughed softly and replied, “You men provide a hefty chunk of the revenue of the Mountain View Saloon, so it’s a good thing for us that none of you have ever learned to cook.”
“Never had the need to learn.” Aaron leaned back in his chair. His smile was lazy. “First we had Mama cooking for us most days, with your grandma cooking some evenings. When Mama passed away, it just seemed natural to come here for lunch and dinner.”
“How is it four handsome men running a thriving cattle ranch don’t have so much as a single wife among them?” Katie immediately shook her head. “No, don’t answer that.” She felt her cheeks become heated. “I sometimes ask questions that I shouldn’t.”
“You’ve been here how long? About a month now? Seems like in that time we’ve gotten to know each other well enough to ask questions like that.” Aaron turned in his chair slightly to look at his brothers. Katie could tell that all of them were waiting for their older brother’s answer. “It’s not that the McGowans aren’t a romantic lot. Blair fell pretty hard for Betsy Watters, but the instant they got engaged, the first thing she did was start making plans for taking him away from the ranch. The Circle-Square-Circle Ranch needs all four of us if things are going to get done the way they should. Without Blair, we’d have to hire an outsider to take his place, and that just wouldn’t seem right. Besides, Blair and Garrett are twins. They’ve been working side by side and fighting with each other since they were inside Mama’s belly.”
“I’m from San Francisco,” Katie replied. “I’m a city girl through and through, so I’ll have to take your word on what it takes to run a cattle ranch.” She looked at the boys. “Sooner or later they’ll have to split up, won’t they?” She lifted an eyebrow. “Maybe not, I suppose.”
“What about you? Why is a vivacious young woman like you still single? I’d have thought some rich banker would have snapped you up by now.”
Katie felt a warm flush of embarrassment go through her. When her grandfather had fallen and broken his hip, her grandmother had called and asked if she’d help out at the saloon. For Katie, it was all the excuse she needed to leave San Francisco. Arriving in Elk’s Crossing, she’d felt like she’d made a successful escape from prison.
Aaron’s voice was low when he took Katie’s hand, gave it a squeeze, and said, “Hey, there’s nothing that says you’ve got to answer that.”
The heat of Aaron’s hand seemed to go straight into Katie’s blood. She tried to smile, found she couldn’t even fake one, and said, “No. You were honest with me, so I should be honest with you. The truth is that I was in what’s called a long-term relationship, but it went sour. He got very,
possessive, suddenly demanding that I tell him everyone I talk to, everyone I associate with. I was working at a high-end steak house as the lunch hostess, so I greeted people every day.” She eased her hand out from Aaron’s. “But suddenly he accused me of being unfaithful, of flirting, of being a...”
Her words died away. After several seconds, she cleared her throat softly and continued.
“I was in love with him, and I told him as much, but he didn’t believe me. He started showing up at the restaurant, showing up just to keep an eye on me. He’d show up at my apartment at three in the morning, just to make sure that I was alone. I know it sounds incredibly stupid, but I put up with his behavior. I did because I just couldn’t believe how completely he’d changed. I guess I kept hoping he’d return to being the man he was when I first met him.”
“What was the final straw?” Aaron reached out and took her hand again, giving it an affectionate squeeze. “You’re here, so I’m guessing that at some point he had to have gone beyond the pale.”
“He demanded to see my phone. He wanted to read my text messages to see who I’d called. I refused, and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor with an eye that was swelling shut and starting to turn black.” A shiver went through Katie as she remembered the incident. “He said he’d kill me before he let anyone else touch me. That’s when I called the police. The restraining order didn’t faze him. One day he came to the restaurant and slapped me around. That got him arrested, and the judge gave him ninety days in jail. The judge was a woman, and he called her a cunt, right there in court. One of the sheriffs in the court was a woman, and he spit on her then punched her in the face. The judge gave him an additional six months in jail. In less than a year he went from being an investment analyst making a six-figure income to an unemployed convict who had to file bankruptcy.” Tears formed in her eyes, but she willed them away. “The first day out of jail, he showed up at the steak house. He said that it was all my fault he’d lost everything, and that he was going to make me pay for destroying him. I looked in his eyes, and I knew that the man was totally insane. If I stayed in San Francisco, he’d kill me. But that first night he was out of jail, my grandmother called and asked if I could help out here while my grandfather recovered. I was in my car and driving out of the city that night.”
“If any man ever raises a hand to you,” Aaron said quietly, “he’ll answer to me.”
“And me,” Blair chimed in.
“And all of us,” Flynn said quickly.
The brothers nodded and voiced their agreement with Flynn’s declaration.
Katie looked away, fighting against the tears that threatened to spill down her cheeks.
“I could kiss each and every one of you,” Katie said softly. “There isn’t a one of you that doesn’t impress me more than you can imagine.”
“Kissing? At last this conversation has taken a rather pleasing turn for the better,” Aaron replied, his grin roguish. He squeezed Katie’s hand again. “But there’s no need for you to worry about my brothers. Kissing me should be your first and foremost concern.”
“That statement would have more validity,” Katie replied, “if you didn’t spend so much time kissing other women.”
Aaron put his hand over his heart in theatrical sincerity. “But that’s only because you’ve never kissed me.”
“You’re handsome as sin, and I’ll grant that you and your brothers are awfully tempting, but at this stage of my life,
are on my list of things I need to avoid. Avoid like the plague.”
From behind the bar, standing near the grill where all the food was cooked, Katie’s grandmother called out, “Order up!”