By Cait Lavender
“Hey, have you heard anything about—wait, what? The fuzz is after me?” I sifted through my recent actions, but couldn’t remember doing anything illegal that would put a cop on my tail. “Wait, you’re not talking about Tyler, are you?”
One of her husband’s favorite pastimes was making me pull over without cause. I was always tempted to pull a stunt like I was on Cops and lead him in a high speed pursuit. But since I’d gotten out of a few speeding tickets by dropping his name, I guess it was a wash.
“What, Tyler? No, I wish he was this hot.” She leered. “The game warden stopped by about five minutes ago asking all about the girl who lives on the Flint ranch.” She waggled her eyebrows at me.
It was Jesse’s mission in life to set me up with a man. It was the bane of her existence that I’d sworn off cowboys. A cowboy hadn’t worked out too well for my mom, and that was pretty much all there was around Raymond. It was probably the only lesson I’d learned from my mother.
“I have to say, Matt Albert wasn’t a fan of Mr. Warden asking about you. Gave me one scary glare when I told the hottie where you live.”
“Oh geez. You haven’t told Matt I’d date him again did you? The guy’s dumber than a box of rocks!”
The Albert clan was huge in Raymond. Half the population was related in some form or another, and Matt had his eyes on me since grade school. I’d always chalked up his infatuation with me to the fact we weren’t related. Kissing cousins were so Alabama.
Matt liked to get drunk at the rodeo and pick fights. The one date I had gone with him I ended up with four glasses of Coors on my shirt and a bruise on my cheek where the other guy had elbowed me to get at Matt. That had been four years ago. He was either tenacious to the extreme or stupid, and I leaned toward the latter.
“Of course not. Especially if you’ve got Hunky McWarden in the wings!” I rolled my eyes at Jesse’s outrageous nicknames. It was never a good sign when she waxed poetic.
“Why do you keep saying that? I thought the game warden was an octogenarian?”
“Yeah, that was Bill Freedman, and he retired last month. Officer Hotstuff must be his replacement. Lucky for us! Lord knows we need an infusion of new blood around here.”
While that was certainly true, I wasn’t in the mood to play ‘The Dating Game’ with Jesse. “Oh quit it. I’d better get home if there’s a popo waiting for me. Wish me luck!”
I walked back to my truck and looked down at Reggie.
“Sorry, I forgot your hot dog. I guess I owe you one.”
He hopped in the back, forgiving as always and off we went. I wondered why the warden would be looking for me. I hadn’t hunted or fished in years, not since grandpa’s health went downhill. I hoped one of my cows didn’t get out. That could be a nightmare if it ruined property or someone hit it with a car. Great, that’s all I needed right now.
I saw the warden’s forest green Silverado when I pulled in, but no sign of the warden himself anywhere. I lowered the tailgate of the Blazer to let Reggie down and he took off toward the barn. I trusted his instincts and followed him and found an image I could use to warm the lonely, cold nights. On the trailer of alfalfa was a 6’4’ Adonis. The man, or god, who I assumed was the warden, had his shirt off while he was unloading hay. His fantastic shoulders were bare and rippling as he unloaded bale after bale of hay. His biceps flexed as he squatted to pick up another and bless him, I had a front row seat to his fantastic rear.
The warden couldn’t have been any older than late twenties or early thirties, and his golden skin just added to the Greek god effect he had going. Something stirred in me while I watched him work, something I had never felt before. Pure unadulterated lust. I wanted that man more than anyone in my whole life.
Irritated with my surging libido, I tamped down my unwelcome feelings as much as I could. I definitely didn’t need that kind of complication in my life right now. He bent over and picked up another bale and I had to bite the inside of my lip to keep from moaning. No man should look that delicious. I nodded my head in agreement with myself and continued to gawk. His shoulders were nearly twice as wide as mine, and his broad chest narrowed to flat, rippling abs and a trim waist.
In the ten minutes I supposed he’d been there he had almost the whole trailer unloaded, and it didn’t even look like he’d broken a sweat. If I’d unloaded that much I would have been a puddle of exhausted goo. I stood there, staring at all his assets, for a few minutes longer before I climbed on the trailer and started helping.
When I came up behind him, he stopped working and stared at me. His nostrils flared wide, but he didn’t seem surprised at my arrival. Unnerved a bit by his piercing gaze, I picked up a bale. He just shrugged and resumed unloading, maintaining a silence the whole time we worked. In between bales he brushed his dark brown hair off his forehead to reveal two eyes the brilliant blue of sapphires.
He looked at me for a moment, and then unloaded the last bale of alfalfa. I hopped off the trailer, suddenly needing distance from his cobalt stare. Without the hay bales to occupy my hands, they were itching to touch the ripples of all six of his abs. I stared at the ground, shifting from foot to foot.
“Thanks. I really appreciate the help. If I was by myself, this would have taken hours.” I handed him his uniform shirt that was hanging off the side mirror of my truck and glanced at the name tag. “Officer Newcomb.”
“It’s warden Newcomb, but you can call me Cash.” He put his uniform back on and I couldn’t help feeling a sense of loss. The fabric covered a spectacular chest with just a judicial smattering of curly brown hair that drew together in a fuzzy line that lead south. Talk about a happy trail.