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Authors: Patrice Michelle,Cheyenne McCray,Nelissa Donovan

Tags: #Erotic, #Romance

Hearts Are Wild

BOOK: Hearts Are Wild
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HEARTS ARE WILD

An Ellora’s Cave Publication, December 2004

 

Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

1337 Commerce Drive, #13

Stow
,
OH
 
44224

 

ISBN MS Reader (LIT) ISBN # 1-84360-921-5

Other available formats (no ISBNs are assigned):

Adobe (PDF), Rocketbook (RB), Mobipocket (PRC) & HTML

 

Prologue © 2004 PATRICE MICHELLE

HEARTS AFIRE © 2004 PATRICE MICHELLE

WILD HEARTS © 2004 CHEYENNE MCCRAY

BRANDED HEARTS © 2004 NELISSA DONOVAN

Epilogue  © 2004 NELISSA DONOVAN

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. They are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.

 

Edited by
Sue-Ellen Gower, Heather Osborn
and
Briana St. James.

Cover art by
Syneca
.

 

 

Warning:

 

The following material contains graphic sexual content meant for mature readers.
Hearts Are Wild
has been rated E–rotic by a minimum of three independent reviewers.

 

Ellora’s Cave Publishing offers three levels of Romantica™ reading entertainment: S (S-ensuous), E (E-rotic), and X (X-treme).

 

S-
ensuous
love scenes are explicit and leave nothing to the imagination.

E-
rotic
love scenes are explicit, leave nothing to the imagination, and are high in volume per the overall word count. In addition, some E-rated titles might contain fantasy material that some readers find objectionable, such as bondage, submission, same sex encounters, forced seductions, and so forth. E-rated titles are the most graphic titles we carry; it is common, for instance, for an author to use words such as “fucking”, “cock”, “pussy”, and such within their work of literature.

X-
treme
titles differ from E-rated titles only in plot premise and storyline execution. Unlike E-rated titles, stories designated with the letter X tend to contain controversial subject matter not for the faint of heart.

Hearts Are Wild

 

Hearts Afire

by Patrice Michelle

 

 

 

Wild Hearts

by
Cheyenne
McCray

 

 

 

Branded Hearts

by Nelissa Donovan

 

Prologue

 

“Bye, Aunt Viv,” Nicole called out as she shut the door behind the last of their guests.

“Whew!” She plopped onto the soft red cushions of a nearby Queen Anne chair and tucked a strand of her shoulder-length, blonde hair behind her ear. “I’m glad we turned Aunt Viv’s fifty-fifth birthday celebration into a family reunion, but I’m plain worn out. I’m used to hosting much smaller groups at my bed and breakfast, not one hundred and fifty family members bent on asking me when I plan to settle down and have a passel of kids.”

“You could’ve just worn a sign around your neck that read, ‘Remember, I’m the
wild one
in the bunch. I’ll go down fightin’,” Sabrina teased her cousin as she finished off her glass of wine and reclined back on the sofa.

“Hey, I heard you getting the third degree, too, Bri,” Nicole shot back.

“Uh-uh, ladies.” Their cousin Lily entered the family room, her long blonde hair already pulled back in a ponytail. Her violet eyes narrowed as she carried a roll of plastic trash bags in one hand and paper towels in the other. “Up and at ‘em. Clean first, relax later.”

Sabrina was once again struck by Lil’s tall, willowy figure and striking blonde hair. Between Lil and Nicole, her cousins’ fairer looks always brought to mind the stark contrast she made with her
midnight
hair, olive skin tone, and petite stature. She may not be voluptuous and buxom like Nicole or tall like Lily, but, she reminded herself, dynamite came in small packages with a sarcastic wit that just couldn’t be contained.

Lil always was the sensible one in the bunch, but it didn’t mean she had to like it. “All right, Lily White ‘the good’, can’t you just relax for one minute?” Sabrina grumbled. Nicole’s teasing reminder gnawed at her. It was true. She’d had her own fair share of comments about her “still” single status, which after the hundredth time, got old real fast. Now she remembered why she avoided huge family get-togethers.

Lily used the paper towels to point to each of her cousins, punctuating her words. “Oh, and as the oldest of the bunch, I don’t want to hear any bitching about family asking you your marital status. I took the cake in that category today. Geez, you wouldn’t think thirty-one was so over-the-hill.”

Chuckling, Sabrina turned to Nicole. “Speaking of cake. How about Aunt Viv and that cowboy taking off for dinner together? The birthday cake was a nice touch, Nickster.”

Nicole laughed and purposefully ignored the paper towels Lily tossed her way, letting the roll drop to the floor. “I thought Uncle Ted’s eyes were going to pop out of his head when that sexy cowboy jumped out of the cake. You couldn’t have picked a better birthday present for our always-wanna-stay-single-aunt, Bri.”

“Me?” Sabrina gave her cousin a quizzical look. “I thought you set up the surprise birthday cake?”

“Nope.” Nicole shook her head, her aqua eyes twinkling. They each turned their heads to look at Lily.

Lily snapped open a trash bag, her cheeks rosy with embarrassment, a wide-eyed innocent look on her face. “Don’t look at me. You girls
know
better.”

The cousins stared at each other for the beat of a moment and then burst into laughter, saying in unison, “Aunt Viv!”

Sabrina held her stomach and wiped the tears from her eyes, saying, “Leave it to Aunt Viv to one-up us on her own birthday present.”

“But what a birthday present,” Nicole said, bobbing her eyebrows up and down. “He may have been older, but I’d like to find a man who’s going to look that sexy when he’s in his fifties. He even seemed to enjoy hanging out with the family.”

Lily joined Sabrina on the couch, still chuckling. “Well, now we know why Aunt Viv never joined a nunnery.”

“With all the pranks she encouraged in us by telling us stories of her wild youth during our visits with her each summer?” Sabrina rolled her eyes. “Get real, Lil. She would’ve been kicked out of the nunnery her first week there.”

“In all fairness, she did preface her stories with, ‘Don’t do this at home, girls’.” Lily defended their aunt, a small smile on her lips.

“Yeah, but she always finished that up with, ‘But you’re not at home right now, are you?’” Sabrina countered, laughing.

“And you know that’s akin to an I-double-dog-dare-you challenge to a bunch of teenage girls,” Nicole chimed in.

When their laughter died, they lapsed into silence for a few moments.

“Hey, I’ve got an idea. How about a little friendly ‘dare’ for old times’ sake?” Sabrina offered. She may be the middle-of-the-road kinda gal, but she was always the one that came up with the ideas. Nicole, being the wild one, was always the first one to take the plunge and Lily always went with the flow.

“Hmmm?” Her cousins turned curious gazes her way.

“Yeah, since we’re all in the same boat, you know, being drilled on our single status, why don’t we make a pact that for…hmmm, let’s say, the next month we agree to let our hair down and go with the flow when it comes to men.”

“Uh, just what terms are you talking about?” Lily looked wary.

“Remember Aunt Viv saying she was happy, but she wished she had someone special to celebrate her birthdays with? As much as I admire Aunt Viv’s ‘single status’, I don’t think any of us want to end up single at fifty-five, right?”

Nicole and Lily nodded their assent.

“Well, then I suggest a set of rules we follow for the next thirty days.” Sabrina leaned forward, getting into the plan. “Here are the rules. Rule number one—Inhibitions? You no longer have any. Rule number two—The first man you meet that trips your trigger, go for it, even if your old rules about what kind of man you think is right for you rear their ugly heads, ignore them. Rule number three—Sex is your friend and you need lots of it to determine where this relationship is going. Rule number four—You don’t have to marry the guy, just have fun. We can even check in at the halfway point to keep each other on track.”

When she finished, Nicole piped in, “Sounds good to me.”

“Okay, I can see where this pact might help me loosen up,” Lily said, her cheeks stained bright red. She paused and cut her eyes over to Nicole before continuing, “But I don’t see how these rules are a challenge for Nicole.”

Nicole grinned unrepentantly at them.

Sabrina shook her head at Nicole. “Oh, you’re not getting off scot-free, Nickster. I know your penchant for enjoying the buffet life has to offer. But this time, you have to stay for dessert and breakfast, too. You’re in for the long haul, cuz.”

Nicole narrowed her eyes and lifted her chin toward Sabrina. “And what about you, Miss I’ve-spent-my-whole-life-riding-the-fence?”

“Well, now I get to find out if riding something else is a lot more fun,” Sabrina shot back.

As Sabrina sat back on the couch, a wicked grin tilted the corners of her lips. “Hearts are wild, ladies. Let’s see if we can’t do our best to tame a few.”

 

 

Hearts Afire

Patrice Michelle

Acknowledgements

 

To my husband, my real life hero. Thank you for always supporting me.

 

And to my editor, Sue-Ellen Gower, who was literally my partner-in-crime on this book. Thank you, Suz!

 

 

Chapter One

 

Man, it’s amazing what a nice ass can do for a pair of faded blue jeans
,
Sabrina thought as she stood in line at the airport waiting to pick up her rental car. Busy travelers walked past, their cologne and perfumes teasing her senses, not to mention the strong smell of coffee the man behind her held in a paper cup. The rich aroma made her stomach growl and reminded her she’d skipped lunch.

She leaned to the side, peering through the mass of people flooding to the conveyer belt to pick up their suitcases, to keep her line of vision clear to the tall, well-built, dark-haired man she’d caught a glimpse of. He had his back to her and a cell phone pressed to his ear as he leaned against the column right next to the conveyer belt. He shifted his black carryon bag over his shoulder and switched the phone to the other ear as he dug a piece of paper out of his back pocket.

Oh, yeah, to be
that
pair of jeans, she grinned at the concept.

“Miss? Um, Miss?”

Sabrina turned and realized the girl at the counter was calling her.

Pulling her suitcase behind her, she approached the clerk. “Oh, sorry. I was just checking out the great scenery
Texas
has to offer,” she said with a smile.

Following her line of sight, the girl laughed and nodded her head in agreement before asking, “How can I help you?”

“I wanted to pick up my rental car.”

She glanced to the side as the man she’d been checking out walked over to the counter near her and asked another rental agent for a pen.

“The name?” the girl asked.

“Sabrina Gentry,” she answered as the guy scrawled something on the piece of crumpled up paper and spoke into his phone before he flipped it closed and clipped it to his belt.

“I don’t have a reservation for a Sabrina Gentry,” the clerk responded after checking her computer.

“But, I made a reservation—” Sabrina cut herself off and sighed. “Can you just set me up in a rental now please?”

“I wish I could, but we just had a large group come through and they took all the available cars we have. I can have a car for you by tomorrow,” she offered, looking optimistic.

“How am I supposed to get to the Lonestar ranch? I’m wearing running shoes, but I don’t think my suitcase wheels could keep up,” she finished, irritated at the inconvenience Speedy Rental Car’s lack of planning had put her in.

“We could have Robbie take you, but you’d have to wait until it slowed down a bit. Probably a couple of hours,” the girl suggested.

A couple of hours? Sabrina’s good mood began to evaporate.

“Or we could call a cab for you?” the girl replied.

“Ma’am?” a man said next to her. She turned and it was the guy she’d been ogling earlier.

“I couldn’t help but overhear your dilemma. I’m on my way to Boone if you need a ride.”

He was even better looking from the front side—dark wavy hair, high cheekbones and a full bottom lip completed his handsome face. Damn, she regretted that “ingrained” upbringing, the one that caused the “don’t ever hitch a ride with a stranger” warning bell to clang its annoyingly loud sound inside her head.

She met his chocolate brown gaze with an appreciative smile. “Thank you for the offer, but I’ll just call my friend Elise.”

“You’re talking about Elise Tanner, right?”

Sabrina gave him a puzzled look before the name sunk in. “Sorry. I’ve known her as Elise Hamilton since college. Yes, she recently married.”

The stranger smiled, then nodded. “I met her briefly at a function a few weeks ago. She married Colt Tanner, a good man.

“Dirk Chavez,” he said, extending his hand.

Her heart skipped a beat when she took his hand. She replied with a broad smile, “Sabrina Gentry. Nice to meet you.”
Friend by association and therefore no longer a stranger, Bri
, she told herself with an inward, smug smile.

“If you’re sure it won’t be too much trouble?”

He reached down and grabbed the handle of her bag. “Not at all, Ms. Gentry.” Glancing at the girl behind the counter, he said, “Call the Lonestar ranch when you’ve located a car for Ms. Gentry.”

“Will do,” the young girl called after them as he and Sabrina walked out the airport exit.

While Dirk stowed his bag in the back of his black pickup truck, Sabrina stood on the passenger side and called across the open bed, “I can’t thank you enough for the lift.”

“No problem, ma’am. I live to rescue damsels in distress,” he replied with a grin.

“Call me Sabrina,” she insisted as she returned his smile. Man, she so loved the respectful way these Texan men treated their women. Some women didn’t like being called ma’am, but when it came accompanied by that sexy drawl, she just melted.

His biceps flexed underneath the short sleeves of his black shirt as he lifted her suitcase up and into the truck’s cab. She couldn’t help but think to herself,
Hmmm, niiiiice! This vacation is already starting to look up.

“Only if you call me Dirk,” he said, then asked as he pulled out of the parking lot, “Ever been to Texas before?”

Sabrina shook her head. “And I feel bad on the timing, to be honest.”

When he gave her a curious look, she continued, “I totally forgot how newly married Elise and Colt were until after I’d called her.” She rolled down her window and smiled as the hot wind whipped her long black hair all around her face.

Holding her hair down, she continued, “I don’t want to intrude.”

Dirk’s eyes lit up with understanding. “Colt’s a great guy. I don’t think you’d feel at all like a third wheel around them.” He chuckled, then finished as he turned the car north, “Plus Mace will be there to keep you entertained.”

“Mace?”

“Yeah, Colt’s little brother…the consummate ladies’ man.”

Sabrina chuckled. “Ah, now I see.”

Maybe someone like Mace is exactly what I’m looking for. No strings attached
, she thought even as she checked out Dirk’s muscular forearms and the defined veins running down them.
But this Dirk guy…

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the CB on his dashboard crackling before a voice came through loud and clear.

“The chief has called a mandatory meeting. All firefighters, get your asses down to the firehouse.”

Her high spirits plummeted at the announcement over the CB. Well, damn, why did he have to be a firefighter? she thought as Dirk gave her an apologetic smile and picked up the CB handset to respond to the call. Why couldn’t he have been a police officer or an ambulance driver…anything but a firefighter? Unbidden, thoughts of her dad floated to the surface, but she pushed them to the back of her mind as she’d learned to do many years ago.

She managed a smile when he put the handset back on the CB holder and said, “Sorry, ‘bout that. Duty calls. I can still drive you to the Lonestar since it’s on my way.”

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