Authors: Beth Williamson
Tags: #Devils on Horseback, #Cowboy Romance, #Western, #Texas, #Contemporary
Table of Contents
Love doesn’t knock at the door. It breaks it down.
Devils on Horseback: Millennium
, Book 2
Itching to vent two years of repressed anger and grief, Hannah Blackwood is jonesing for a fight. Luckily, some idiot has wandered into the charred remains of her restaurant, just begging to give her and her .380 a little target practice.
When he turns around, her body burns with a dizzying reaction she hasn’t felt since she lost her fiancé. Hannah’s rugged, good-looking intruder is the man her brother hired to help her rebuild.
Part-time general contractor, part-time cowboy, full-time hard-ass, Dylan Bennett likes things done his way. The equally stubborn Hannah is a serious pain in the ass, but with a body that should be cordoned off with caution tape, she’s soon invading his fantasies. And becoming a very real wildfire in his arms.
Before long, they’re swimming in darkness born of their need. But to find their way to the light of love, they must let go of the anchors they once thought were lifelines.
Warning: Prepare for plenty of heat in the form of fireworks (both the gunpowder and sexual chemistry kind), piping hot biscuits, and sweet potato pie, and the fiery rebirth of two wounded souls.
Her Bucking Bronc
To all the hopeless romantics out there, like me, who believe in second chances, in true love, and in happily ever afters.
“Who is the complete idiot who designed this?” The man’s voice was a harsh whisper in the evening air. The charred remnants of the restaurant were supposed to be empty, but obviously, they weren’t.
Annoyance threaded up Hannah Blackwood’s back. Someone was on her property screwing with her building. Or what was left of it after it’d burned. There was a partial wall in the back that was to be removed tomorrow.
The stranger was there on a Sunday night after the sun went down. And no one, not even her brother Dax, was supposed to be on site. This was Hannah’s project. If one of her cousins was there sticking his nose in her business, she would whoop his ass.
It was bad enough Dax kept looking at her with pity every damn morning. The fire wasn’t her fault, for pity’s sake. Some bastard had burned it down, but the restaurant would be rebuilt. Life would go on. Blah blah blah. She was done hearing his platitudes. In fact, she was done with everything, including the asshole that was tromping around her property.
She pulled the gun from the hidden pocket in her purse then slung the leather bag crossbody to keep both hands free. As had become her habit of late, her brown hair was up in a ponytail, although she couldn’t remember if she’d brushed it that morning.
The .380 fit nicely in her hands as she crept forward. The orange-red splashes of the sunset made it difficult to see clearly. She waited for the man to speak again, but all was quiet.
Hannah would be pissed if the man were gone. She was jonesing for a fight with someone. Since Dax and his girlfriend, Sophie, were being so nice to her, she couldn’t let loose on them. Besides, they assumed she was sad and forlorn. They had no idea the volcano that burbled beneath the surface, ready to explode all over somebody.
A tall figure rose in front of her and she smiled, her grip tightening on the gun. She widened her stance, then paused for a moment to appreciate the man’s beefy shoulders and back below the shadow of his cowboy hat, before she cleared her throat and spoke.
“You have about five seconds to explain why you’re trespassing on my property before I put a new hole in your head.” She was pleased by how firm her voice sounded, although her heart was slamming against her ribs. No matter how much she practiced with a weapon, she’d never shot a person before. He was much bigger than a paper target.
The man stopped in the middle of reaching for his pocket. “Your property?” The fool had the nerve to sound annoyed.
“Yeah, my property. Who the hell are you?” Now that the anger had been unleashed she couldn’t stuff it back inside. After two years of cramming it back down her throat, she burned with self-righteous fury.
“Dylan Bennett.” He pointed to his chest. “I have my business card in my shirt pocket.”
Hannah could either let him reach for the card and possibly risk her life if he had a gun to grab, or she could get the card herself. She opted for neither and tightened her grip on the gun.
“What are you doing here, Dylan Bennett?”
“I’m supposed to be meeting the owner, Harry Blackwood. I’m the general contractor he hired to rebuild the restaurant.” He sounded so damn believable.
“Harry, huh? Nice try, dude.” She shook her head. “There hasn’t been a Harry Blackwood in a hundred years.”
A sharp sigh exploded out of him. “Who are
? And should I call the police because you’re holding a gun on me?”
“You’re welcome to. My cousin Kyle is the deputy on duty.”
“Shit.” He put his hands on his hips. “I’m done playing games, lady.” He turned around and she took a step backwards.
Hannah’s breath rushed out of her body so fast, she felt dizzy. The man was spectacular looking. He had longish sandy brown hair hanging to his collar, curling at the ends. His light blue eyes were topped with short lashes while his nose was long and patrician. A strong jaw was clean-shaven, not dotted with the scruff that was the “in” thing as of late. Nothing boyish about this cowboy. He was tough and chiseled.
It had been a long time since she’d had a visceral reaction when she caught sight of a man. She could appreciate a good-looking man, but none of them moved her. Hell, nothing had moved her in two years. Not since her world ended and her grief took over her life.
And she had to be attracted to
man? This idiot who couldn’t even get her name right?
His gaze narrowed. “Normally I respect a woman who knows how to handle a firearm, but I can’t say I like it pointed at me. You still haven’t told me who you are.”
“I’m the owner of the restaurant.
Blackwood.” She appreciated the way he flinched when she gave him her name. Any general contractor worth his salt knew who his client was. “I didn’t contact you or hire you.”
“I got a call from the other owner. Name started with a D.” He shrugged. “Harry, Hannah, it doesn’t matter. I’m here to do the job and I’ll do it right.”
“That so? If Dax hired you, he didn’t tell me.” Then again he’d been distracted the last couple weeks with Sophie. Hannah had also been moping around and avoiding people. Maybe he’d told her he’d hired someone, but she hadn’t listened. That wouldn’t surprise her.
“Can you put the gun away?” Dylan twisted his mouth and a dimple popped out in his left cheek. Sure, of course he had a dimple. Damn.
She lowered her arms but didn’t put the weapon back in her bag. “What do you know about the restaurant?”
He glanced at the blackened remains. “It was originally built right after the Civil War, then burned a year later and was rebuilt. The design wasn’t very good, which is putting it mildly. I’m surprised it didn’t burn down before now. The crude basement was dug long before we knew not to dig them because of the water table. The owners added a French drain around the building ten years ago.” He paused and she had to shut her mouth after it had dropped open in surprise. “Oh, and the biscuits are legendary in Eastern Texas.”
“Well hell, why didn’t you pull out the original blueprints?” She hated that she sounded annoyed. He had done his homework and was obviously professional enough to find out everything he could about the building.
“They’re in my truck.”
She gaped. “Seriously?”
“No, I’m yanking your chain.” He pushed his hat back. “You’re a testy little thing, aren’t you?”
Hannah was not, by any stretch of the imagination, little. She had been a healthy size 14 since she was a teenager. By some stroke of luck, she was curvy in all the right places and tall enough to accommodate her shape. Did she wish her boobs didn’t block the view of her feet? Yeah, probably, but she was proud of her body. The fact that this man called her little irked her.
She bracketed one hip with her hand. “You need glasses.”
His gaze traveled up and down her body at a leisurely pace. “I’ve got perfect eyesight.”
She resisted the urge to tell him to go to hell. If Dax had hired him, he must be qualified to be the general contractor. Her brother didn’t suffer fools or people who weren’t top in their field. He ran their family’s ranch with a strong hand and kept it in the black.
Although they co-owned the restaurant, it was hers. From the time she’d pulled up a stool and helped her grandmother make that first batch of Cindy’s famous biscuits, Hannah knew the restaurant was her future.
Now that future, already tarnished by her loss two years ago, was blackened by soot, literally.
“Why are you here?” she blurted.
“I just told you why I was here. I’m the general—”
“No, I mean, why now?” She waved her free hand. “It’s gonna be dark in another twenty minutes. Wouldn’t it be better to see the job when you can, you know, actually see it?” Her anger pulsed in her gut, pointed at this stranger like the loaded gun in her hand.
“I’ve been here for an hour. I like to see a job at all times of the day.” He crossed his arms, emphasizing the sheer size of his chest. The man was constructed of slabs of muscle. She wondered if he had the same color hair on his chest and then slammed her mind closed on that line of speculation. She was not going to allow herself to be attracted to him.
Hannah had to find a way to stop her growing fascination with the man. He had to have flaws. Somewhere underneath that delicious-looking outside were flaws waiting for her to discover them.
“Is that a problem?” His accent was definitely not Texas. She pounced on it.
“You’re not from around here.” She narrowed her gaze.
He quirked one brow. “No, I’m originally from North Carolina.”
“Hmph. A Tarheel.”
“No, I’m from Broadway, North Carolina. I never attended Carolina, so I’m no Tarheel.”
“That makes no never mind. I won’t ask you what you’re doing here in Texas. If you’re not from here, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived here—you’re a transplant.” She headed back to her truck, ready to get away from this man. “Maybe you should call and make an appointment next time, Broadway. Get off my lawn.”
Hannah knew she was being a bitch, but she didn’t seem to be able to stop herself. The fire at the restaurant had destroyed more than the building she loved.
Dylan stared after Ms. Hannah Blackwood with a mixture of amusement, astonishment and arousal. Three dangerous things that had no place in his life when he was doing business.
The woman had the balls to pull a gun on him. As a man who had a full holster in his back pocket, he appreciated the fact she was armed. He did not, however, appreciate a woman sneaking up behind him with a loaded gun.
He’d make it his job to always stay one step ahead of that female. She acted volatile and unpredictable at his presence. That made her dangerous. Dylan didn’t do dangerous, which meant he would do everything he could to avoid working directly work with her. That might prove sticky if she really was Harry Blackwood, or rather Hannah.
He pushed aside thoughts of the woman and finished his walk around the site as the sun sank into the horizon. The purple fingers of twilight reached across the sky. He had checked into the only hotel in town earlier. That meant he needed to find an evening meal somewhere in this Podunk town.
There was some kind of diner not too far from the hotel. He’d noted the parking lot had been almost full at two in the afternoon. He always followed the locals to find the best food.