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Authors: Mari Carr and Lexxie Couper

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BOOK: MisplacedCowboy
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She fell off the sofa, her knees thunking on the wooden
floor. The dull sound echoed through her apartment like a muffled gunshot.

“Fuck. Oh fuck.”

Dylan’s hoarse whisper jerked up her head and she stared at
him as she scrambled to her feet.

He sat on the edge of the sofa, his expression beyond
shell-shocked. His eyes were squeezed shut, his fists were buried in his hair.

“Fuck,” he muttered, shaking his head. “I’m sorry. I’m
sorry, I didn’t mean…” He rose to his feet and crossed to the window. “I’m
sorry, Monet. I shouldn’t have done that.”

Monet sucked in a ragged breath. She stared at his back, her
heart wild in her throat. “I should have stopped you.” Her voice sounded weak.
“We both need to…”

She didn’t finished. Instead, she spun on her heel and all
but ran to her bedroom.

Throwing herself onto her bed, she snatched up her phone and
dialed Annie’s cell number.

“Annie, I need you to call me back,” she burst out when
Annie’s message service kicked in. “I think I’m going to do something really
stupid, something you’re going to hate me for if you don’t call me back.” She
stopped. Pulled in a long breath. “Please call. I think…I think I’m in lust
with your Australian cowboy.”

She killed the connection with a jab of her thumb, dropped
her phone to the bed and stared at the wall.

Guilt coursed through her again. Turned the breath in her
lungs to choking pressure. She swallowed. How did she let that happen? One
second she was telling herself she was sending Dylan to a hotel and the next
she’s kissing him?

Begging him to get naked?

She picked up her phone again.

, she typed into her phone’s messaging app.
know you’re in Australia with Dylan’s family. I’m sure there’s a reason you
haven’t called me. I just wanted to let you know I will do everything I can to
keep my hands off Dylan. Everything. But girlfriend, it’s going to be HARD.

Hitting send, she fixed her focus on her closed door. What
was Dylan doing on the other side of it? Was he still there?

And what did she do if he was?

Hell, what did she do if he wasn’t?

The last thought brought a thick lump to her throat and a
stab of pain to her belly. Which made her close her eyes and draw in a long,
slow breath.

Annie had been through the meat grinder when it came to
guys. The last thing she needed was Monet doing the dirty with the one man she
seemed to genuinely connect with.

But what if you genuinely connect with him too? What do
you do then?

The question didn’t help Monet’s messed up state of mind at
all. She opened her eyes and stared at the door again.

“Go out there, apologize, ask him if he’d like a coffee and
then call a cab. That’s what you’re going to do. Got it?”

Simple, straightforward plan of attack. Easy. This should be

Five second later, when she opened the door and found Dylan
sitting on her studio sofa, elbows resting on his knees, head hanging down, hat
in his hands, she knew it wasn’t easy.

Or straightforward.

Because the second her gaze found him, her heart quickened,
her palms prickled and her stomach clenched.

And the second he raised his head and looked at her, a
haunted look in his eyes as a rueful smile pulled at one side of his mouth, she
knew the likelihood of her calling a taxi was slim.

“I’m sorry.”

His voice played over her fraying nerves, a deep, husky
timbre that sent tingles down her spine.

“That was bloody pathetic of me,” he went on, rising to his
feet. “I don’t know what came over me.”

I do.
Monet wanted to say.
The same thing that
came over me. Raw, primitive sexual desire.

She didn’t say it, however. She licked her lips and then
forced a smile of her own. “It’s my fault. I kissed you first back at the

His nostrils flared and she watched his Adam’s apple slide
up and down his throat. “You did.”

Monet let out a breath as shaky as her smile. “It’s the
accent. It does things to me.”

He cocked an eyebrow, the crooked smile stretching a little
wider. “All accents? Or just Australian ones?”

She laughed. “All accents. You should see me when I hear a
Scottish one.”

“So if I talk to you like Sean Connery…”

Monet burst out laughing at Dylan’s very atrocious Scottish

He grinned. “Yeah, it’s pretty bad.”

“Your American one is better.”

With a laugh, he raised his arm and placed his hat on his
head. “And on that note, I will take me leave of you.”

Monet’s stomach dropped. She stood frozen, the lump back in
her throat. “You’re going?”

He nodded. “Have to, love.
do things to me. If
I’d flown halfway ’round the world to attend a grazier’s convention, I’d have
you buck naked and flat on your back in that bedroom of yours before you could
say cowboy.” A smoldering light flared in his eyes at the claim, and Monet had
to bite back a groan. “But I flew halfway ’round the world to meet your friend,
which means everything I want to do to you—which is a lot, none of it platonic,
most of it filthy—I can’t. Not until I talk to her.”

Another groan of frustrated need and confusion threatened to
escape Monet. She stared at him, for the first time in her life wishing to God
she were a horrible, selfish person who didn’t care one little bit if she hurt
her best friend.

But you do care. Right?

“At least let me feed you first.”

The offer tumbled from her lips before she even realized it
had formed in her deluded, misguided brain.

Dylan gazed at her silently.

Monet’s lips tingled and she caught the bottom one with her

And then, the muscles in his jaw knotting, Dylan nodded.

Chapter Five


The smell of toast wafting from Monet’s kitchen filled
Dylan’s mouth with saliva. It had been ages since he’d eaten. He sat on the
paisley sofa watching her move about the small area, his legs loosely spread,
knees bent, his arms stretched along the backrest.

She was as conflicted and confused as he was. He didn’t need
to look into her eyes to see it. He could feel it in her body when he’d kissed
her, he could hear it in her voice when she’d asked him to stop.

Which meant saying yes to her offer of food was downright
bloody stupid. And dangerous.

So why did you agree?

He let out a slow breath. Because he was a masochist.

A horny male, don’t you mean? Letting your dick do your
thinking for you?

Yeah, there was that too. But when Monet had offered food
the thought of sitting down and sharing a meal with her as they chatted about
inconsequential things was too tempting to resist.

He’d force himself to keep his hands off her. It wasn’t
going to be easy, but he would. Hell, he hadn’t eaten since the flight from
Sydney to LA, crammed between an old man whose head constantly fell onto
Dylan’s shoulder every time he went to sleep and a woman who asked Dylan over
and over again if he knew Russell Crowe. Maybe that’s why he wasn’t being
himself? He hadn’t eaten and he hadn’t slept. He’d been awake for well over
twenty-four hours now. Surely that explained it all?

Oh yeah, jet-lagged induced cheating-bastard lust. Sure.
Makes perfect sense.

He was close to exhaustion, bloody close, but when Monet had
smiled at him and told him to stay where he was while she prepared their meal,
he’d simply smiled back and said, “Ta muchly.”

Now as he watched her, he was wondering what the hell he’d
been thinking. Any fatigue he felt was vanishing quickly just at the sight of
her, replaced with a charged energy he knew had everything to do with the way
Monet was dressed as she fixed them something to eat. A snug T-shirt covered
her upper body, an image of the face-hugger from
wrapped around
Leonardo da Vinci’s face on its front. Baggy black tracksuit pants hung low
from her curved hips, low enough for him to spy the twin dimples on either side
of the base of her spine. Low enough for him to notice the almost flat plane of
her belly peeking from beneath her shirt hem.

He knew the clothes weren’t meant to be sexy, but bloody
hell, he was damn near half hard. He wanted to walk over to her, lift her onto
the kitchen counter and bury himself in her sex.

Before he could ponder the thought, Monet turned and crossed
back to the sofa, two plates stacked with toast in her hands.

The smell hit him first. Distinctive and salty. He dropped
his stare to the plate. “Is this…” He looked back at Monet for a second, down
at the meal she’d prepared him and then back to her again, a grin pulling at
the corners of his mouth. “Is this Vegemite?”

Monet nodded, her own smile curling her lips. “It is. You
sent Annie a jar a while ago. She hated it. I mean
it. But me?”
She picked up a slice of toast, lavishly spread with the Australian delicacy,
raised it to her mouth and took a very large, enthusiastic bite.

It was, quite possibly, the horniest thing Dylan had seen

“I know the rest of my country thinks this stuff tastes like
crap,” Monet mumbled around a mouthful of toast, “but I love it.”

Dylan stared at her. His stomach growled. His cock throbbed.
He didn’t know whether to stuff his face full of toast—the first thing past his
lips aside from Monet since landing in America—or toss the plate aside and
devour Monet instead.

The decision was made by the woman herself. She swallowed
her mouthful, grinned at him and took another bite.

Dylan’s stomach growled again and, unable to resist any
longer, he grabbed his own slice and tore into it.

Thirty minutes later, several slices of Vegemite toast
consumed and an in-depth discussion about who was the better singer-song
writer, Nick Blackthorne or Garth Brooks, close to being resolved, he slumped
back on the sofa and closed his eyes.

“You’re tired?”

He smiled, giving his stomach a lazy scratch. “Absolutely

The sofa shifted beneath him a little and he forced open one
eye, watching Monet rise to her feet. “I’m going to call the airline. See if we
can track down your luggage. Then call you a taxi. Think you can stay awake
while I do that?”

He didn’t want to stop looking at her. She was beautiful and
sensual and she made him feel wonderful, but damn, he really
buggered. “Sure,” he said. Or maybe he mumbled. “Just let me close my eyes for
five minutes and I’ll be right as rain.”

Monet smiled. “Of course you will.” She reached down and
retrieved his plate. A distant part of Dylan’s mind told him she’d caught it
before it slipped from his fingers. Another part told him both eyes were closed

“Five minutes,” he reiterated, threading his hands behind
his head. “We can finish our Blackthorne and Brooks debate and then move onto
something important, like crocodiles versus alligators.”

Monet laughter chased him into unconsciousness.

* * * * *

Five minutes later, Dylan opened his eyes and discovered it
had been much longer than five minutes.

The apartment was shrouded in shadows, four squat
candles—almost melted down to puddles on a wide silver tray—the only source of
light. He rubbed at his face, dragged his hands through his hair and squinted
about himself. His body clock told him it was evening back home. The relative
quiet in Monet’s apartment told him his body clock knew shit on this side of
the globe.

So much for five minutes, Sullivan.

A soft noise sounded to his right and he swung his head
toward it
a slow breath slipping past
his lips at what he saw.

Monet lay asleep on the cushions beside him, her knees
tucked up to her stomach, her hands tucked under her head, her hair a glorious
mass of waves tumbling over her face.

Fuck, she’s gorgeous.

She was. And nothing like his normal type.

He watched her sleep for a long moment, letting his gaze
roam. Hunter always gave him shit about the kind of girl Dylan dated. Blonde,
perky. Perhaps a little ditzy. Pneumatic. Monet was none of those and that fact
stirred something deep inside him.

Love is blind
, his dad used to say.
Look at me and
your mum. I had a thing for tall, skinny redheads with skin the color of cream.
Your mum’s five foot three tall, half that wide with curves to boot and I don’t
think the night sky gets darker than her hair

Dylan drew another slow breath. This wasn’t love. It
couldn’t be. Not this quick. But it was…something. Something he hadn’t

Even during the three months since meeting Annie, he’d never
felt like this. Annie, whom he’d met on an online dating website he’d joined as
a lark basically to piss off Hunter. Annie, whom he’d chatted with damn near
every day since. She was warm and lovely and smart and quick-witted. He’d
called her his soul mate when Hunter had questioned his sanity, but now, sitting
here in the dark, watching Monet sleep, he knew his soul had been deluded.
Annie was amazing, but she didn’t make him feel like this. This…something.

And you’re going to do what about it, Dylan?

He didn’t know. But he did know one thing. He didn’t want to
fly back to Australia yet. He had seven days before his return flight. Seven
days to see if what he felt for Monet Carmichael was anything but lust.

Or should he get his arse on the next flight home, luggage
be damned?

Shifting off the sofa with as little fuss as possible, he
crossed to the massive window overlooking Central Park. Even at this hour of
the morning New York was a hive of activity. People moved along the sidewalk
below, lovers, joggers, tourists. The trees, covered in leaves the color of burnished
copper and draped with strings of fairy lights, leant the view a magical
quality. Dylan took it all in, its beauty unlike any he was used to.

That’s because you’re the Down Under Wonder, remember?
When was the last time you saw deciduous trees, let alone ones covered in
lights? The only time the trees lose their leaves back on Farpoint is in

He could appreciate the beauty of this place. It was
stunning. And yet, at the same time, it made him feel…


Something close to a lump filled his throat. Without meaning
to, he found himself turning from the window to take in the beauty of Monet
asleep on the sofa. Instantly a smile pulled at his lips. How was it possible
that someone he barely knew made him feel so good?

Love is—

Dylan killed the thought. It was a stupid one. Pointless.
Thinking of a thing like love, after less than a day, was ridiculous. If Hunter
were here, he’d punch him in the arm and tell him to stop being a bloody

Hunter. You need to talk to Hunter.

It was more difficult to turn away from the sight of Monet
than he’d imagined. Casting an eye around the dark room, he found the phone
he’d used earlier and dialed home.

Three rings later, the call connected. “You’ve reached
Farpoint Creek Cattle Station,” said his brother’s recorded voice, so like his
own even their mum got them mixed up at times. “Please leave a message and
we’ll get back to you soon.”

Dylan released a harried sigh. “Bloody hell, brother, I wish
you were there.” He ran a hand through his hair, for some stupid reason missing
his hat. “I need to talk to you about something. Mum tells me you’re looking
after Annie and I’m glad. Glad you two have hit it off. She’s…she’s lovely and
sweet and…” He scrubbed at his face. “Fuck, I’m confused here, Hunter. Really confused.
Maybe even messed up.”

The sound of movement made him turn back to the sofa and his
gut knotted at the sight of Monet sitting up, watching him.

“I gotta go, mate,” he said into the phone. “Give me a call
when you can.”

Disconnecting, he gave Monet a slow smile. “G’day.”

She smiled back, brushing a strand of her hair from her
face. “Hello.”

His pulse thumped harder in his neck. He was nervous again.
The same oh-shit-how-did-I-get-on-the-back-of-this-bull nervous he’d felt
earlier. “I got some sleep it seems.”

Monet didn’t answer. Instead, she slowly straightened from
the sofa and crossed to where he stood.

For a long second she stared into his eyes, her body heat
seeping into his. And then, without a word, she reached up onto tiptoe and
brushed his lips with hers.

It was a soft kiss. One he would have gladly deepened if
Monet had given him the chance.

But she didn’t.

Before he could smooth his hands around her waist and haul
her to his body, she stepped away from him, her eyes unreadable.

“I didn’t think we were going to do that again,” he
murmured, fighting to stay where he was. To not follow her, instead of doing
what his body was screaming at him to do and deal with the guilt afterward.

“We’re not.” Her voice was a husky whisper. “That was a
figment of your imagination.”

“’Fraid not. My imagination is a lot dirtier than that.”

She laughed as she walked away from him.

Fuck, he wanted to go after her, but he kept his feet
planted. What they’d done earlier, what he’d done to Monet—kissing her,
throwing her onto the sofa with the full intention of fucking her—was wrong. It
wasn’t fair to Annie. But damn, it felt so right. Nothing had felt
right. Until now. Until this moment, his lips still tingling with the warmth of
Monet’s kiss, her delicate scent still lingering in his breath.

“Monet?” he called, his throat tight.

She stopped halfway across the room, next to a large easel.
“I want to make love to you, Dylan.”

A hot shard of pleasure sank into his groin at her whispered

“But I can’t. So I’m going to do the next best thing.”

He swallowed. “What’s that?”

She didn’t answer. Instead, she stepped behind the easel,
the large board resting on it obscuring her from view.


A loud clunk echoed around the apartment a second before a
large spotlight flickered to life above the studio space, highlighting a stool
in its center and throwing everything else into deeper shadow.

“Will you step under the light please, Dylan?”

For some stupid reason, Monet’s disembodied request made
Dylan’s heart smack hard into his throat. “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to immortalize you in art.”

Dylan couldn’t help the laugh that bubbled up from his
chest. “Art?” He looked down at himself. “Will you call it
The Down Under

“Sounds like a perfect title.”

He scowled at the easel. “I was kidding, you know.”

“Shut up and stand in the light.”

He crossed the studio until he stood beneath the expanse of
light spreading over floor. “How do you want me?”

“It’s not really safe for me to answer that question.”

Heat flooded Dylan’s groin. “I didn’t…ah fuck, that’s not
what I meant.”

Monet’s head popped around the side of the easel and she
smiled. “I know. Now just relax. Be natural.”

Dylan grinned, wishing like hell the urge to stride over to
Monet and kiss her senseless would just bugger off. “Natural? Like this?” He
assumed the position of Michelangelo’s
. “Or this?” He changed to
that of Rodin’s
The Thinker
. “How bout this?” he asked, moving into the
famous Ancient Greek discus-throwing pose he remembered from his mum’s art

“How about you just sit on the stool?”

He laughed. “I can do that.”

He perched his butt on the edge of the high stool in the
middle of the light, resting one heel on the lower footrest and folding his
arms across his chest. “Better?”

BOOK: MisplacedCowboy
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