Authors: Em Petrova
Lipstick ’n Lead
All Rights Reserved
Lipstick ’n Lead
Copyright Em Petrova 2016
Cover design by Love, Lust and Lipstick Stains
Electronic book publication January 2016
The content, characters and events in this book are entirely fiction. Any similarities are unintentional and coincidental.
Lipstick ’n Lead
By Em Petrova
“I’d tell you to kiss my ass, but then you’d fall in love and I’d never get rid of you.” Bella sashayed away from the the men lined up at the fence watching her.
The cowboy she’d just put in his place doffed his hat and held it over his heart, staggering a bit as if she’d wounded him. “You didn’t even give me a chance to prove what I got.”
“She knows whatcha got, Barns—and it’s the equivalent of that cow flop over there. Now stop harassing the lady and let her practice,” another boots-and-hat-wearin’ rodeo man called.
Bella glanced at the lineup. If she were a betting woman, she’d lay her cards on the quiet one, on the far right. The quiet ones always tried the hardest to get her in their beds. Maybe they believed that observing her would provide them with answers the others could never learn.
His folded arms rested on the top fence rail, plaid cotton bulging around his forearms. With his deep tan and that scruff of black hair on his jaw, he was pretty enough, but she wasn’t interested.
Twisting away, she gave her admirers a sway of her hips, which earned more than one hoot. She strode across the paddock, and her horse trotted right to her. Bella pulled a treat from her pocket and offered it to her horse named Josey Wheels. Her horse wasn’t her first barrel racing horse by far. No, this was her fifth.
As a kid, she’d started off with a slower horse that didn’t turn so fast or abruptly, but through the years as her skills developed, so had her need for faster, more precise animals to compete with. Josey Wheels handled like a luxury sports car—which reflected her name.
The mare was also as much of a diva as Bella herself. The proud toss of Josey Wheels’ head earned another round of whistles from the guys at the fence.
“Let’s give them a show, all right, my beauty?” Bella stroked her mane for a moment before launching herself into the saddle.
As soon as her behind hit the leather, she tuned out the racket the half dozen men made. She drank in the cool morning air and worked her animal. The barrels stood at intervals inside the paddock, and she took them slowly at first, giving Josey Wheels time to warm up. An injury wouldn’t be good right now, especially with a big competition tonight.
Bella looped the barrel and Josey shot toward the next. Bella flexed her abs as she leaned slightly, directing her horse. At one with her animal. Out here, she didn’t let anybody mess with her mind, which was how she’d won so many shiny belt buckles, ribbons and trophies.
Several racing schools had given her the skills, but mostly Bella ran on gut instinct. At the age of seven, she’d proven herself. By twelve, she’d set her sights on the rodeo and never looked back.
For her sixteenth birthday, her parents had scraped up enough cash to buy her a truck and trailer combo of her own and sent her off to competitions by herself.
That’s where her love of the open road and freedom had begun. Then she’d met Frazer, and well, things had gotten serious fast.
At least on her end.
She squashed her mental boot heel all over thoughts of Frazer and spurred Josey Wheels faster. A slight breeze trickled over her face and slipped its fingers into her hair. The heavy mass was pulled back, a hot, thick tail on her nape. After Frazer, she’d gone a little crazy and taken a pair of kitchen scissors to the length.
A few hacks and she’d sported a riot of waves around her shoulders that had driven her nuts for most of a year before it grew out enough to harness in a hair-tie again. The change of appearance hadn’t helped rid her mind of Frazer’s shitty words that were etched deep inside her.
You’re never gonna be better than me, Bella. Don’t think you can do better.
How many times had she rolled those words around in her brain? She’d spoken them aloud and even written them down, but she still couldn’t totally puzzle out his meaning.
At first she’d thought he meant she couldn’t get a better man than him. Then she’d spent months watching video footage of Frazer on his own horse, trying to see if he was a better rider than she was. He was good—had even earned plenty of titles and endorsements for his prowess. But comparing her talent to his when it came to barrel racing was like holding apples and oranges.
No, she had no damn clue what the man meant. Her final conclusion was he was stupider than she’d first thought and couldn’t string a coherent sentence together.
She pushed a breath out through her nostrils, feeling them flare. Josey Wheels snorted too, always attuned with her. She felt her horse’s ribs expanding with exertion, but they weren’t finished with this drill. Above all, she wanted that win tonight.
Frazer hadn’t won in Henderson, Texas, but she was damn well going to.
After Texas, she was on to Alabama, Arkansas and Florida. Some women she competed against didn’t travel as widely as she did, but she had nothing to tie her down.
Especially not a man.
She slowed her horse and made a few slow revolutions of the paddock before prancing down the line of guys at the fence. Their ranks had increased, and she offered them all a sassy smile, catching their gazes as she passed.
“Go out with me tonight, Bella.” She might toy with a man with such a charming smile as long as he didn’t expect more.
She swung back around to look at him a second time. She reined up. “You’re Jeb Anderson.”
His smile, slow and sugary, was exactly the type of thing she was drawn to time and again. “In the flesh,” he drawled.
“I might let you buy me a drink.”
He appraised her from the top of her cowgirl hat to the tips of her serviceable, not flashy, boots. She was a no-bullshit kind of girl.
“I bet you’re mighty thirsty after that run. Put up your horse and we’ll see about getting you a drink.” He shot her a grin, turned and walked away.
She watched him go—broad shoulders, rounded ass in Wrangler jeans, arms swinging freely. He was a man who knew ladies fell at his feet by the heaps. She wasn’t one of them, but she would let him buy her a drink and amuse her for a few minutes.
When she set Josey Wheels in motion again, she caught the glance of the man at the end. The quiet one. As she neared, he pushed off the fence, biceps bulging, his dark, intense stare following her.
Something stirred deep inside her. A much different feeling than what Jeb Anderson’s cocky, self-assured smile did to her.
I’m always in control,
she said to herself. With all men, she held the reins—period. She’d never find herself at the mercy of some asshole like Frazer again.
Finding someone better than you is easy, you son of a bitch. They’re all better than you.
This bulls and barrel event would be a total bore-fest if not for one smart-mouthed and sexy-as-sin contestant. Bella Roberts had them all sporting a set of blue balls, and Carter was no exception.
He watched her ride away, as tall and graceful in the saddle as a freaking rodeo queen. She’d been intriguing him since Fort Worth a month ago, and now he reckoned she was in his blood.
Only one way to get her out. I have to have her.
Gripping those trim hips of hers and pulling her down over his cock. Sliding into her from behind while he wrapped that long, thick ponytail of hers around his fist…
He clamped down on his rampant fantasies and focused on the things he knew about her.
Today was the first day he’d seen her agree to go out with any of the cowboys, fans or rodeo workers vying for her attention. He’d heard rumors of guys staying over in her trailer, but he scoffed them off as lies. A woman as cool and aloof as Bella Roberts wasn’t bedding every Wayne, Vince and Austin.
The only guy who’d even given her pause was that goddamn Jeb Anderson. A man like Jeb had the brains of a cowpoke. He’d never hold Bella’s interest. She was too smart for him.
Besides, he was trouble. If Carter had a buck for every time he’d seen Jeb in a bar fight, he wouldn’t need to earn prize money in the team roping event.
Carter shook his head, walking in the opposite direction that the feisty cowgirl had gone. He didn’t make it five steps before he stopped dead.
He’d changed his mind.
He swung around and strode right after her. Dammit, he was going to get some answers.
She glanced up from her task of removing her horse’s saddle, a wary expression in her gray eyes. The mahogany highlights in her hair seemed to flicker like flames, echoed deep in his groin. God, he wanted her. Since Fort Worth, he’d thought of little else.
“What can I do for you, cowboy?”
“It’s Carter Fallon.”
“From Team Fallon-Lopez. I know.” The honeyed way she drawled his and his partner’s names kicked up his libido another notch. She didn’t meet his gaze but continued brushing her horse.
He sidled closer. “How ‘bout you let me buy you more than a drink.”
Was it his imagination, or had she just rolled her eyes? His ego wasn’t so fragile, however. He stepped closer.
Bella’s confidence was sexy as hell. Her sure, quick movements. The way she carried herself. Dayummm, she was prettier close-up. With wide-set eyes and the longest lashes he’d ever seen, one look from her was a shot straight to his heart.
When she gave him the full force of her stare, his throat closed off.
“What do you have in mind, cowboy?”
“A steak, for starters. I think you know my partner and I won the pot the last three events, and I can afford to buy you more than a measly drink like that bum Jeb Anderson.”
She blinked at him. Christ, she had freckles on the bridge of her nose and lightly spattered across each high cheekbone. Another body part, far more south this time, roused against his zipper.
Carter closed the gap between them.
“Whoa, watch it, Carter. My horse—”
He examined the black and brown mare with the white socks. “What about her?”
“She…” Bella’s lips fell open, the words dying on them. “That’s odd.”
“What is?” He caught a whiff of Bella’s sweet honeysuckle scent. His balls clenched tight and his cock swelled a little more.
“Josey Wheels doesn’t like men.”
He reached out and patted the horse’s flank. The animal didn’t budge. “She doesn’t like men or you don’t like men?”
She tossed her head back and loosed a tinkle of a laugh. If the freckles hadn’t done him in, the laugh would have. Dammit, he wasn’t leaving this barn without the promise of a date.
“Is that old rumor circulating again? What’s the pool up to now? Three hundred? Last I heard I was sleeping with Wynonna Calhoun.” She waved a hand and her horse, mirroring her actions, flicked its tail.
“Three-forty I think.”
She made a fizzing sound of mirth. “Men. Ya’ll think just because a woman doesn’t fall to her knees and beg for your attention that she’s got to be a lesbian.”
When she moved to the side, Carter blocked her with his body. A wall of heat washed over his skin, scorching through his plaid shirt and Wranglers. Jesus, she was going to give him third-degree burns. His cock battered his fly, demanding to be used as roughly and long as necessary to get this little vixen out of his system.
“You’re in my way, cowboy.” Was that a hitch he heard in her breath?
“I’m right where I belong. Now about that steak dinner…” He caught the delicate point of her chin between his thumb and forefinger, gazed deep into her stormy gray eyes and lowered his mouth to hers.
The first brush of her lips sent his heart cartwheeling like an amateur falling off a bull. As her flavors permeated his head—cinnamon, honeysuckle, pure female goddess—a groan rumbled in his chest. Angling his head, he deepened the kiss.
Her quiet sigh filled his mouth. The heady sensation of falling took over, and he slid his arms around her, pulling her up against his body. Every curvy inch conformed to his muscle. So right, so perfect.
Probing the seam of her lips with his tongue, he molded her to fit his shape. Her lips parted with a gasp, and he didn’t waste a second. He plunged his tongue inside.
Honey. Pure honey-cinnamon-honeysuckle goddess. He couldn’t get enough. He hitched her against him, unapologetic for the state he was in. After all, it was her fault.
Need pulsated through his veins as he swept his tongue through her mouth. When she flipped her tongue against his, a primal roar boiled in his chest. He ran his fingers up the length of her spine and curled them around her ponytail. With a small tug, he tipped her head back and drank his fill.
Dizzy with need and the urge to possess her, he took what he wanted. And she gave back with as much fervor. Each nipping bite, every glide of her tongue spoke volumes about Miss Bella Roberts.
First of all, the rumors were false. And second, he was pretty sure his wallet was going to be lighter this evening after he bought her a steak dinner.
* * * * *
The minute Quint walked into the arena and set eyes on the curvaceous cowgirl climbing into the chute, his heart did a Texas tango. He stopped in his tracks to watch. What the hell was she doing? She wasn’t a bull rider.