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Authors: Mari Carr and Lexxie Couper

MisplacedCowboy

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Misplaced Cowboy

 
Mari Carr
&
Lexxie Couper

 

Foreign Affairs, Book Two

 

Flying halfway ’round the world to
meet his potential soul mate sounds like a fine idea to Dylan Sullivan—until he
discovers said soul mate, Annie, has gone looking for
him
. In Australia.
Now Dylan’s adrift, a bloke from the Outback alone in the bloody big city.
Until he’s rescued by Monet, a gorgeous local artist…and Annie’s best friend.

A dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker,
Monet has never met anyone like Dylan. Taking temporary care of the
sizzling-hot cowboy is easy; he’s friendly, funny and interesting. Keeping her
hands off him is decidedly
not
easy. That horny accent, that killer
grin…and as a successful artist, Monet is very much a
hands-on
sort of
girl.

Dylan and Monet hold back until
they learn Annie is engaged in her own foreign affair in Oz. Then all bets—and
clothes—are off. But it can only be a fling. An Aussie cowboy doesn’t belong in
New York any more than a city girl belongs in the Outback.

Now if only their hearts would
listen.

 

Misplaced Cowboy

Mari Carr & Lexxie Couper

Dedication

 

To all the Australian stockmen who make Australia the
country it is. And to all the women who love them.

 

Prologue

 

Annie: Mornin’ sunshine!

Dylan: G’day, love. How’re things in your neck of the woods
this evening?

Annie: Long-ass day. Started with rain. Ended with rain. The
middle bit was filled with my boss calling me Princess in a staff meeting.
Grrrrr. I may end up killing him soon.

Dylan: Don’t kill him. I’m too far away to bail you out.

Annie: LOL. Thanks for the offer, but Monet’s already
promised to have my back with the bail money.

Dylan: I think I like this Monet.

Annie: Yeah. She rocks. Actually, she might be the only
thing rocking in my world these days.

Dylan: That doesn’t sound good.

Annie: It’s not. You ever been sick of your life, Dylan?

Dylan: Me? Sick of life? Nope. Sick of Hunter at times. The
bloody bastard’s been giving me a hard time about chatting with a woman in
America again. I told him if he says another word, he’s dead.

Annie: Careful. I’m too far away to bail you out. Snort!
Sometimes I wish we lived closer.

Dylan: Me too, love. But let’s be serious, a city girl
wouldn’t last a day in the Outback.

Annie: What? You must be joking. I’d last a hell of a lot
longer on your little ranch than you would in my big city.

Dylan: Station, Annie. Station. We don’t own ranches Down
Under. Do you reckon you’d handle the snakes in the loo?

Annie: I deal with the rats in the sewers just fine.

Dylan: I’ll accept your offer of rats in the sewers and give
back crocs in the river and spiders on the toilet seat. How’s that sound?

Annie: Deal.

Dylan: Two days. I’d give you two days before you were on a
plane heading back to New York. Me, of course, well…I’d make one hell of a city
boy. Blend in like I was born and bred there.

Annie: You wouldn’t last a New York minute, tough guy.

Dylan: I tell you what. Let’s see who outlasts the other. A
Yank in the Outback or an Aussie in New York. Next week. Game?

Annie: Game on.

Dylan: Let me take a look at the flights online.

Annie: LMAO. Are we seriously doing this?

Dylan: I’ve never been more serious in my life. Okay. I’ll
see you in four days, city girl. This Saturday. Qantas. Sydney International.
One p.m.

Chapter One

New York

 

Dylan Sullivan gazed up at the Empire State Building
towering a thousand feet above him and thought,
Bugger.

He considered going with the tried and true, “I don’t think
we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto”, but seeing as he’d never been to the U.S.
before now, let alone Kansas, and he didn’t have a little yappy dog prancing
around his feet, he decided it was both clichéd and inappropriate.

Dylan’s chest squeezed tight.
His
dog, Mutt, was on
the other side of the world, probably curled up asleep in the back of Dylan’s
pickup on the cattle station he and his brother called home. Either that or
causing havoc with the wild kangaroos that kept seeking out water around the
main house. The fact Mutt wasn’t at his side, where the dog spent pretty much
every minute of the day when Dylan was working, just drove home the point that
Dylan was out of his comfort zone. Way out.

An Australian stockman had no business being in America.
None at all. There wasn’t a cow, kangaroo or shed to be seen.

Reaching up, Dylan removed his hat—a thoroughly beat-up,
well-worn Akubra—and dragged his fingers through his hair.

What the bloody
hell
had he been thinking, flying to
America?

What had you been thinking? You’d been thinking about
Annie. About finally meeting her face to face. About seeing if she smells as
good as you think she does. About finding out if her lips are as soft as they
look…

Yeah, that’s what he’d been thinking. Of course, when he’d
touched down at JFK International Airport, Annie had been a no-show. Which left
Dylan, well…screwed.

Turning away from the Empire State Building, he surveyed the
mass of people swarming around him. It had seemed like a good idea at the time
to leave the airport. Annie hadn’t arrived but that didn’t mean she’d stood him
up. After a few months of talking on the Net, he figured her to be a pretty
decent woman. Not the kind to leave a man in the lurch after agreeing to a
cross-global meeting. Hell, she’d been all for the challenge of a city girl and
a country boy facing off, and he’d told her what flight he was coming in on in
his last email. But the moment he’d deplaned, things had started going wrong.

He didn’t believe in omens, not like Aunt Joyce back home
who wouldn’t leave her house if she saw a row of ducks break formation, but
when he’d gone to collect his luggage—one solitary duffel bag—and found it
missing, he should have suspected things wouldn’t go as planned.

After two hours of waiting for Annie, of standing in a busy
airport surrounded by people who all looked as if they were in a major rush,
Dylan had decided to brave the unknown world beyond the glass doors and seek
her out. He had her address. Perhaps there was something wrong? A problem
preventing her getting to the airport?

A traffic jam had brought his cab to a halt, however, before
he could make it to Annie’s apartment. Determined not to wait in the stuffy
vehicle, he’d elected to walk the rest of the way.

He hadn’t expected a doorman who wouldn’t let him pass. Why
would he? He’d spent his entire life on Farpoint Creek cattle station, a place
half the size of Texas and roughly a thousand kilometers from Australia’s
closest high-rise apartment complex.

The man, a round and somewhat squishy bloke decked out in a
burgundy suit complete with gold buttons and matching cap, stood in Dylan’s
path, staring up at him with unwavering determination. “I’m sorry, sir.” He
shook his head, his American accent highlighting how disconnected Dylan felt
from everything he knew. “But Ms. Prince is not in residence and I cannot let
you pass.”

Dylan frowned, his exhausted brain telling him he’d missed
something really important in the man’s statement. “Sorry? What did you say?”

The man straightened a little more. “Ms. Prince is not
home.”

Dylan let out a ragged sigh. He removed his hat, raked his
fingers through his hair and returned the damn thing to his head. Not home?
Maybe she was at the airport waiting for him after all? Could they have just
missed each other? “Do you know when she’ll be back?”

If possible, the doorman snapped his spine straighter. Dylan
wondered for a jet-lagged second if the bloke thought he was going to throw a
crocodile or something at him. “I can’t divulge that information, sir. Now, if
you will please step away from the door?”

There was a threat in the words. Even in his tired state,
Dylan could hear it. Or a promise.
Walk away from the door before I call the
authorities.

Dylan walked away from the door. It wasn’t in his nature to back
down, but he’d come to New York to meet a woman he’d been flirting with on the
Net, not to start an international conflict between Australia and the U.S.

Stepping to the side of the building’s double glass doors,
he leaned his back against the cool marble wall. He’d wait it out. Wherever
Annie was, she’d come back, find him there—the unmistakable Aussie stockman in
a sea of suave New Yorkers—laugh at his obvious fish-out-of-waterness and then
they’d go inside and see if they had the same chemistry in the flesh that they
did online.

A lifetime on Farpoint Creek had, if nothing else, taught
him patience.

Forty-five minutes later the doorman stormed over to him,
squishy face set in a menacing glare. “Listen, buddy—”

Dylan stuck out his hand. “Dylan Sullivan.”

The doorman blinked. He jerked his glare—now a slightly
confused glower—to Dylan’s extended hand then back up to Dylan’s face.
“Err…Tommy. Tommy Taberknackle.”

Dylan gave him a smile and a nod. “G’day, Tommy.”

The doorman blinked again, his hand slipping into Dylan’s.
“I…you shouldn’t be…that is, Ms. Prince isn’t…”

A naked, entwined couple moving behind Tommy caught Dylan’s
attention.

He frowned, watching the utterly erotic sculpture of a man
and a woman making out move along the footpath, wrapped in the slim arms of
someone he couldn’t quite see. The sculpture stopped. The arms adjusted the art
as a leather-clad knee came up to help balance it precariously before one of
the slim arms waved about in the air.

A husky female voice called out, “Taxi!”—a fraction of a
second before the sculpture tumbled sideways.

Dylan leapt forward. He snared the sculpture—
bronze? Is
it bronze?
—just as it fell from the unseen husky-voiced woman’s arms.

She spun to face him, a relieved sigh escaping her full lips
as Dylan held up the unscathed sculpture. “Don’t worry, love.” He gave her a
lopsided grin. “I got it.”

Those full lips curled into a smile. “Thank you,” she said,
her accent subtle and—to Dylan’s ears—very, very sexy. She reached out to take
the sculpture back but he shook his head.

“It’s all right.” He repositioned the artwork in his
arms—definitely bronze, judging by its weight and surface temperature—and
smiled some more. “I’ll keep a hold of it until you get a taxi.”

“Thank you again.”

He nodded. “Welcome.” Damn, she was pretty. Even with black
sunglasses hiding her eyes, he couldn’t help but notice. The kind of pretty
that came from a finely structured face, thick black hair that fell about her
shoulders in an unruly mass of waves and a turned-up nose just made for
dropping a kiss on.

“Are you Australian?”

Dylan grinned. “The hat doesn’t give it away?”

She laughed, the sound warm and relaxed and
thoroughly…stimulating. A twinge of pressure pulled at his groin, making things
down there a tad uncomfortable. “The hat may have helped. But I have to admit,
it was mainly the accent.”

Dylan did his best to ignore the completely unexpected
physical reaction to her laugh. “Bugger. I was hoping I’d blend right in around
here.”

The woman’s lips twitched. Dylan got the distinct impression
her hidden gaze was taking him in from head to toe. “I think,” she leaned
forward as though sharing a secret, “the chance of you blending in anywhere is
fairly remote.”

Dylan’s cock jerked. He swallowed, his grip on her sculpture
tightening. His sleep-deprived brain told him she’d just paid him a compliment.
His red-blooded male hormones told him just as quickly what to do about that
compliment. His common sense, however, told him he’d flown halfway around the
world to meet with Annie Prince, and whoever the woman with the sexy voice,
kissable lips, gorgeous mane of hair and altogether too concealing sunglasses
was, she sure as hell wasn’t Annie.

He swallowed again, unable to think of a single bloody thing
to say.

“So,” the woman continued. “What’s an Australian cowboy
doing in New—”

Her question stopped dead. She stood motionless for a split
second, her lips parted, then she pushed those dark sunglasses to the top of
her head and stared at Dylan with eyes the color of a cloudless summer day.
“You’re Australian.”

Dylan nodded. Hadn’t they already established that?

Her blue gaze roamed over him, from the tip of his hat to
his boots and back up to his face. “You’re a cowboy.”

“Stockman,” he said. “We’re called stockmen back home. Or
graziers. But yeah, I guess over here you’d call me a—”

“Cowboy,” the woman said, an almost breathless quality to
her voice. “You’re an Australian cowboy,
the
Australian cowboy. Although
I have to say, Annie was right. There’s nothing boyish about you at all.”

“Annie? You know Annie Prince?”

“You’re her Aussie cowboy,” the woman continued, as if Dylan
hadn’t said a thing, her gaze taking him in again, her eyebrows knitting in a
slight frown. “And you’re
here
. You’re here and she’s…” Her stare
returned to Dylan’s face, her teeth—white and even and perfect—catching her
bottom lip.

Dylan’s heart beat faster. “She’s what?”

The woman let out a shaky laugh. “Oh shit. You’re here and
Annie’s in Australia.”

“She’s
where
?”

The question burst from Dylan a bit louder than he’d
intended. He adjusted his grip on the lovers in his arms, fixing the woman
before him with a dumbstruck stare. He knew it was dumbstruck by the way his
mouth hung open. If he were back home, he’d be catching flies by now. Of
course, he wasn’t back home. He was bloody seventeen thousand kilometers away
from home. He was on the other side of the bloody world to see a woman he’d met
online and now he was being told that woman was back where he’d come from?

Fuck a duck, his brother was going to laugh his arse off
when he found out.

“She’s in Australia,” the woman
not
seventeen
thousand kilometers away told him, an expression—part worry, part mirth—playing
with her features. “She flew out yesterday.”

“Why the bloody hell did she do that?”

Once again, Dylan’s voice was louder than he’d intended. Of
course, nothing had gone as planned in the last twenty-four hours so why should
his voice toe the line?

The woman before him laughed, that deep, throaty laugh that
played merry hell with his senses. If he hadn’t been so gob-smacked by what she
was telling him, he was pretty certain it’d play merry hell with them some
more.

“She went to meet
you
.”

 

Monet Carmichael knew she shouldn’t be laughing. Nor
smiling. The poor cowboy in front of her truly looked like the definition of
confusion. But oh boy, what a beautiful definition it was. Okay, not so much
that he was confused, but just the way he looked in general. His strong lips
and chiseled bone structure, the perfect growth of honey-brown stubble on his
jaw and chin, the hat.

Every inch of him screamed MAN. Virile, potent man.

Having grown up a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker, Monet was
experiencing her first in-the-flesh cowboy—and what a cowboy.

S
tockman, Monnie. He’s a stockman
.

She caught her bottom lip with her teeth again, the junction
of her thighs doing a funky little twisty thing she enjoyed very much.

Man
was correct. A beautiful man. A goddamn gorgeous,
sexy man. Complete with a goddamn gorgeous body his faded jeans and well-worn
flannel shirt couldn’t hide at all.

If it wasn’t for the fact he’d flown from Australia to meet
her best friend, Monet could quite happily stand there and undress him with her
eyes. Render him naked and imagine all the things a woman could do to a male
body like—

She caught the wildly inappropriate thought before it could
form a wildly inappropriate image in her wildly visual mind.

Just.

“Let me get this straight,” the Australian cowboy said, his
light green stare doing all sorts of wicked things to Monet’s resolve. Even his
eyelashes were perfect. She could imagine drawing each one in charcoal. Imagine
even better the way they would feel against her lips as she—

“Annie flew to meet me in Australia yesterday, despite the
fact I flew to the U.S. to meet
her
?”

Monet nodded. “You sent her an IM with flight details. Well,
some
flight details. The day, the airline, the arrival time. Although
you were wrong by an hour on that last one. Her flight didn’t touch down in
Sydney until—”

“Wait, wait, wait.” The cowboy’s confused frown grew deeper,
his Australian accent turning the word into a drawling song Monet found quite
enjoyable to listen to. “I IM’ed her about a Qantas flight to New York. The one
I was thinking of getting. And then the next day I emailed her the actual
details of the flight I’d booked a seat on.”

Monet blinked. Annie hadn’t said anything about the email.
In fact, Monet had been sitting right beside her best friend when she’d bought
her airline ticket to Australia, a Qantas flight touching down in Sydney on the
day her online Aussie cowboy…friend…had told her. Surely Annie would have known
he was flying over here? How could they get their wires crossed so badly?

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