A Gentleman and a Cowboy

Storeowner Laci Monson can’t see that Finn Halliday is just the genuine cowboy she’s been looking for until he resorts to using borrowed duds to capture her attention. When things go wrong, will she be able to see the real man behind the clothes?

Read an Excerpt

Finn Halliday walked past the glass storefront of the Denver Duds Western Clothing store for the third time in fifteen minutes. He glanced in and spotted the gorgeous redhead behind the counter. Again. Walking to the end of the block, he mentally kicked himself for losing his nerve. Again. “Okay, this is it,” he vowed as he straightened his red power tie and buttoned the suit coat he’d borrowed from the ranch foreman. It fit too tight across the shoulders, and too loose around the hips, but he hoped it would be enough to catch Laci’s attention.

Taking long steps in the tight, borrowed shoes, he marched himself to the shop’s door and pulled it open. Overhead, the little cowbell jangled as crazily as his nerves.

Laci looked up, seemingly startled by the noise. “Hello.” She pasted on a smile that didn’t reach her eyes and came out from behind the length of old saloon bar that served as the checkout counter. “Welcome.”

Finn cleared his throat and headed right for her. Beautiful, with her straight red hair and freckles. Her gauzy white blouse skimmed over her nice breasts, and the long denim skirt just brushed the tops of her fancy black cowgirl boots.

She tipped her head. “Can I help you find something?”

His gaze shot from her feet to her dark brown eyes. Damn, he’d been staring, picturing her wearing only those boots as he made love to her. He searched his brain for the opening line he’d practiced as he’d worn out the sidewalk in front of her store. “Actually, I’m looking for work.”

Her eyes turned sorrowful. “I wish I could help, but I’m a one-woman operation. I can barely afford a paycheck for myself.” She cocked her head the other way. “Do I know you?”

He shook his head. Truth was, he’d been in here twice before in the last eight weeks when he’d gotten his long weekend off from the ranch. The first time he’d driven the four hours to Denver, he’d walked into the store to see what was on the racks. The next time, he’d come in just to see Laci. But when he’d tried to talk to her, wanting to ask her out, she’d been cold and professional. With her looks and curvy little body, men were probably always flirting with her, so he understood why she hadn’t fallen into his arms in gratitude for his attention.

Frustrated by his lack of success, he’d come up with a plan. “Ma’am, what if I told you I could help you sell clothes and it wouldn’t cost you anything but a few hours of your time.”

Her eyes narrowed and her lips pursed. “Uh huh. Right.” She crossed her arms. “And just what do I have to do during those few hours?” Her spunky reply gave his gut a sexy twist. Nothing he loved more than a redheaded spitfire.

He grinned. “Have dinner with me.”

Her whole body stiffened. “I’m sorry, that’s out of the—”

Finn held up a hand. “Let me explain, please.”

The soft background music played a song about a white liar. He should take that as a warning, but he wasn’t quite that smart. And Laci had been on his mind day and night for two months, now. Squaring his shoulders, he grabbed the reins, figuratively, and went for it. “I’m trying to break into modeling.”

It wasn’t entirely untrue, because since high school, women had told him he should be a model. “I’m willing to let you photograph me in some of your duds so I can add the work to my modeling…uh…résumé.” He’d nearly forgotten the word. “No charge except sharing one nice meal with me.”

* * * * *

Laci Monson couldn’t figure out why this rugged man with the suntanned face and workscarred hands would be standing in front of her in a poorly-fitted suit and a mis-tied tie. She’d seen his face before, she remembered those sea green eyes, but somehow, the black, slickeddown hair didn’t fit her memory of him.

“So, let me get this straight.” She uncrossed her arms and slid her hands into the side pockets of her skirt. “You’ll model for free, and take me out to dinner?” The pitch of her voice rose along with her eyebrows.

He nodded. “Yep. And I’m in town for three days. You’ve got time to make arrangements for a photographer, and check your calendar to see which night works for our date.”

“Date?” She snapped the word without meaning to. She did not date any of the dudes who came in to buy the urban cowboy clothes she sold. Now if she ever happened to bump into a real cowboy, one who actually knew how to mount a horse, it’d be a different story. But she had no hopes of meeting one here in this upscale shopping district in downtown Denver.

She’d grown up in a small town in Montana, and hadn’t really appreciated the working cowboy’s gentleman mentality until she’d had to deal with the citified variety. Her first real boyfriend had been the son of a rancher, and she’d never been treated more like a lady than she had by him. Some day she’d find another genuine cowboy to fall in love with.

He held up that hand again. “I’m usin’ that term very loosely here, Miss Laci.”

How the hell did he know her name? Her brows scrunched together for a second before she remembered her sheriff’s star-shaped nametag. “And your name is?”

“Finn.” He held out a hand. “Finn Halliday.”

As she took his big hand in hers, sparks tingled along her arm. When she released him, his calluses brushed her skin. Those were definitely not the result of using a keyboard all day the way most of her customers did. “Where are you from, Finn Halliday?”

“Northwest a ways.” He hitched a thumb in that direction. “But I get in to Denver about once a month or so.”

Northwest? That plus those calluses made her curious, but he didn’t look like he was going to say more. She looked him up and down. He was close to six feet tall, and his shoulders seemed plenty wide, but she couldn’t get a measure of what the rest of him looked like in that suit. “Before we talk terms, let’s do this. How about we find a few outfits for you to change into, then we’ll make a decision. Okay?”

He grinned wide, showing straight teeth. He’d make a very cute cowboy. She envisioned posters of him in the windows and maybe a cardboard cutout or two standing around the store. Especially in the women’s section. It’d bring in more women, and maybe a few who were looking to buy duds for their city cowboys.

He wagged one brow at her. “Just to let you know, I’m an…extra large.”

“Uh huh.” She barely refrained from rolling her eyes. If he wasn’t so damn charming, she’d boot him out.

* * * * *

Twenty minutes later, Finn stood in a big changing room surrounded by some of the fanciest, priciest duds he’d ever laid eyes on.

Laci walked in and set down a pair of cowboy boots in his size. “Extra large.” She smirked as she walked out of the room, shutting the door behind her. “Take your time. Saturdays are always slow here.” She left her scent behind, floral, like the first day of spring.

“Take my time? Hell, no,” he grumbled as he shed the tight shoes and uncomfortable tie in seconds. Stripping down to his navy boxer briefs and black socks, he looked at himself from every angle in the half-dozen mirrors mounted on the walls. He stepped closer to one mirror and evaluated the neatly groomed patch of dark hair on his chest. He’d followed the recommendations of an online modeling site and had done a passable job. Flexing his arms and chest, muscled from his work with horses, he murmured, “Not too bad, cowboy.”

“What?” she called.

“Nothing, Miss Lacy.” He tightened his abs. Would a peek at his pecs make her a little more willing to invest a few hours in him? Finn tugged on a stiff pair of jeans, slipped his feet into the butter-soft boots, and walked out of the room, buttoning the fly as he went.

She turned and her gaze dropped right to his package. Her mouth formed a tiny little ‘o’.

“Laci?” The droop of her eyelids ricocheted lust from his balls through his cock, causing an instantly hard member that pulsed and jerked.

She blinked and her glance slowly crept up his abs then ran back and forth across his chest and shoulders.

Feeling like a piece of meat, and kind of lovin’ it, he fisted his hands on his hips and tightened his biceps. “What do you think?”

She swallowed, licked her lips, and sucked in a breath. “What?” Her cheeks flared a pretty peach color.

“The jeans.” He turned his back to her, flexing for her. “Are they the right size?” He could almost feel her eyes burning into his flesh. His balls tightened and a flow of lava-hot desire inched up his spine.

“Jeans?” She nearly whispered it.

He caught her reflection in a mirror. Her gaze locked on his ass as she bit her lower lip. A shiver raced through her and beaded her nipples to hard, sexy points through her thin top.

He wanted her now, fast and reckless, not caring who looked in the window and saw them.

Her eyes lifted and met his in the mirror. “Finn. I…”

He gestured to the front door. “Lock it, Laci. Turn the sign to ‘closed’.”

She shook her head. “I’m sorry.” She backed away until she bumped into the checkout counter. “I don’t do this.” Her breath came faster, and she looked around as if she couldn’t believe her own response. “This is crazy.” She waved her hands in front of her. “I would still like to have you model the clothes, but I’ll pay you.” She sat in the big wooden chair on wheels by the cash register. “Not much, I’m afraid, but I can’t go out with you.” Placing her palms on her cheeks, she worked to steady her breathing.

He huffed out a breath. Damn it, this had gone all wrong. “I have a confession to make.” Strolling to the front of the counter, he leaned on it and tried to catch her eye. “Laci, I’m not who I said I was.”

Her gaze shot to his, confusion wrinkling her brow.

“It’s true, I do want to be a model, but…” He’d lay it all out and hope for the best. “But just for you.” Flattening his palms on the counter’s smooth wood, he searched for the right words. “I’m a ranch hand. A wrangler, at the Rodeo Basin Ranch out in Moffat County.”

It took her a moment of staring before her mouth opened. “Then why all this?” She gestured toward the changing room.

“I’ve been in here a couple times and couldn’t get your attention.” He ruffled his wetteddown hair and it released into waves, a lock of it tumbling onto his forehead.

Recognition lit her eyes. “You were dressed different, though. Like an urban cowboy, not a working wrangler.”

He shrugged. “My Sunday best. To impress you.” Here was the hard part; opening his heart to her. “Since the first time I saw you, I haven’t been able to get you off my mind.”

She shook her head. “Why should I believe you?” She turned away. “You seem to like to lie —”

“No more lies. I promise.” How could he make this right? He pointed to her computer. “You can load up the ranch’s website. My picture’s on the Staff page.”

She gave him a doubtful look, but typed anyway. In seconds she was comparing the picture on the site to his face. Her cheeks drained of color and she turned away. “Damn it.” She said it so softly, he knew she was going to shut him down.

“I’m sorry.” He walked back to the changing room and looked at his multiple reflections. “Stupid plan, Halliday.” He turned to close the door, but stopped. What was Laci doing?

* * * * *

As Laci walked toward the changing room, the pre-recorded music played a ballad about someone’s heroes always being cowboys. She stopped just outside the door, shaking her head at the tenacity of this man. He’d gone through a truckload of trouble to get her attention. Her. Plain old Laci Monson.

And Sweet Fancy Moses, he was a cowboy! A real one! Sexy as hell and cute and shy and sexy some more. When she’d watched him buff himself up for her, her body had slammed into high gear, her nipples tingling, her pussy creaming, and her belly tightening with pleasure so intense, her knees had nearly buckled.

She smiled at Finn’s confused look. “You know what, cowboy?”

He shook his head, frozen to the spot.

“Those jeans need to come off.”

He looked down at them, then back at her as a huge grin lit his face. “Yeah?”

Oh, God, what a gorgeous hunk of man. “Yeah.” That wavy hair, paired with the most beautiful eyes she’d ever stared into, did something funny to her heart. Her thighs shook as her core shimmied with need. “Don’t move.” She practically ran to the front door, locked it, and flipped the sign to ‘Closed.’ Then she actually did run, back to the changing room, closing the door behind her and sealing them in together.

“Laci, sweetie.” His hands shook as he reached for her. “Are you sure? Right here?”

She nodded as her brain cells began to plink like tiny fireflies. “Right here, right now.”

He pulled her against his lightly furred chest and she ran her hands up his sides and over his hot, muscled back. His eyes seared into hers as his hand fisted in her hair, tipping her head gently to the side. “You can’t imagine how many times I’ve dreamed of this.” His lips came down on hers, hard, demanding.

She tasted the cowboy’s tongue as it traced her lips, minty fresh with a spice all his own. Delightful shivers coursed along her spine and out through her nerve endings.

His hands were at the hem of her shirt and she lifted her arms to let him pull it off. The lacy
camisole she wore underneath stretched as he tugged it down under her breasts.

“Aw, sweetie.” His breath caught. “Beautiful.” He took her nipple into his mouth, sucking softly, nibbling on the peak, which sent sparks to her core, and tingles along her pussy lips.

Her hands slid down to where those sexy jeans rode low on his narrow hips, then snuck along the waistband to the button fly. She yanked, pulling buttons from eyelets as fast as she could until his cotton-clad erection poked from the denim and filled her hands. “God, you’re big.”

He gave her nipple one last suck and straightened, grinning at her. “Extra large. Remember?”

She could only nod as her hands caressed his length through the soft fabric of his underwear. “Condom?” She bit her lip. “A really big one?”

“Oh, yeah.” He stepped back and dug in the pocket of his suit pants, pulling out a strip of six condoms. Ripping one off, he turned back to her.

Tearing her gaze from that sweet ass she wanted to grab and hang onto for hours, she looked into his darkened eyes. The way he stared at her—like he wanted to consume her in one swallow—set her hips bucking once, wildly. Not caring how brazen she appeared, Laci unzipped her skirt and stepped out of it, her black thong panties barely covering her trimmed mound.

His eyes dropped to the V between her legs and he groaned as his body convulsed in a massive quake. “Laci.” He looked into her eyes. “You sure, now, sweetie?”

She tugged her cami over her head and tossed it. “I’ve never been more sure, Finn.” Desire jangled through her as her heart squeezed with the knowledge that she meant every word. Her mind registered the scents of pine soap and testosterone filling the room.

He bent, and in seconds, the boots, jeans, and his underwear were gone and he stood before her, all man, a drop of pre-cum glistening on the mushroom-shaped head of his cock. Her lips opened, wanting that shaft inside, along her tongue, tasting and sucking…

“I want to be inside your sweet pussy, Laci. This time, our first time, I want to love you right.” He opened the packet and rolled on the condom, then gripped the base of his staff. “Take off those sexy panties, slow and naughty, bend over for me.” He pointed his cock downward, his body rippling with tension. “And sweetie…” His voice rolled low and sensual. “Leave the boots on.”

His command and his actions sent heat and quivers racing through her belly, her core, swelling her pussy lips and sending a trickle of her juices down the inside of her leg. She hooked her thumbs in her thong, turned her back to him, and bent, dragging them down over her ass and along her thighs. Getting them off over her boots proved a challenge, but she managed—maybe even making it look seductive—and threw the scrap of lace at him.

Reaching out, he caught the panties and brought them to his mouth. With a deep inhale, he licked the spot where her cream had wet the fabric.

A roar of desire sped up her back and into her brain, heating her face and turning her mind into a spinning whirlpool of lights. She reached for the wall, touching the full-length mirror in front of her.

Suddenly, Finn was behind her. His hands landed on her hips, circling, running up and down her sides, his breath fast and wild. The reflection of their gazes locked in the mirror and his hands slid along her arms to her wrists. “Will these hold you?”

Through her lusty haze, she focused on his words as he wrapped her hands around the wooden clothes pegs mounted on the wall on each side of the mirror. She nodded. “They’re fastened to the studs.”

“Studs, huh?” His wicked smile turned his face into a sensual trigger and she nearly came just from looking at him. He slid his rough fingers down her arms to her breasts. His tan hands gently squeezed her pale flesh and his thumbs tweaked her nipples. “You make me lose control, Laci.” He bit her shoulder. “I’m like a wild stallion.”

The scrape of his thumbs shot flames down her belly to her core. Dropping her head back on his shoulder, she shook with the need to have him inside her pussy. “Now, Finn. I can’t wait.”

He ran one hand quickly down to her mound, his eyes following the movement in the mirror. “Love your red hair, woman. Sexy. Want to bury my face in you, make you come a dozen times.”

Her knees gave out and he tightened his grip to hold her upright. “Later?” She was taking a chance that he’d want more than this one time.

“Yeah. All night, sweetie.” He pressed his hard cock along the cleft between her ass cheeks. “And every way possible.” His fingers slid into her folds, gliding along her wet, swollen pussy. “Right now, though, it’s gotta be fast and hard.” He eased a big finger into her opening.

She shuddered and her channel tightened around him, sending floods of lust up her spine to deluge her brain with pleasure.

“I’ve wanted you for so long, woman. Months. I’ve dreamed of this. You can’t imagine how hard I am for you, Laci.” His eyes were nearly black with his lust. In one quick move, he bent his knees, grabbed her ass, and lifted her, settling the head of his cock at her opening.

In the mirror, Laci saw it all, his big, dark hands holding her thighs open, his pulsing cock right at her opening. Her own juices shining on her pink pussy lips. Using the pegs, she pulled herself higher and tipped her ass toward him to take him deeper inside her opening. “Please, Finn.” Her voice came out a whimper. “Now.”

“Now,” he growled as he thrust up and she let her body drop onto him.

He filled her, completely stretching her to the point where delightful twinges shimmied around her belly, sending her head swirling tighter and closer to where she would drown in pleasure.

He murmured words against her neck as he kissed and sucked her skin, sending waves of heat rolling through her. Pulling his shaft out almost completely, he waited a second before plunging back into her, deeper this time, as his body vibrated, hot and hard against hers. “Fuck… can’t last much longer. Sorry. Next time, I promise—”

“Make me come, Finn.” She circled her hips, grinding her ass and pussy and thighs against the virile rasp of his pubic hair.

He moved then—finally—taking her with strong, methodical thrusts that filled and heated her with each intoxicating entry and slick withdrawal.

Her breasts bounced with his pistoning strokes, her nipples almost painful in their sweet tightness. “Come inside me.” She couldn’t hold off the drugging pull of her raging orgasm.

Tightening his grip on her thighs, he bent his knees and began thrusting in a manic rhythm, fast and hard, just as he’d promised. His lips pulled back from his teeth but his eyes stayed locked on the reflection of hers.

She’d never seen a man so handsome in his ecstasy, and she let herself go as the sensual, pumping slide of his cock hit her perfectly, stroking her desperate channel. Laci screamed as the heat blasted through her core, up her spine, and into her head, submerging her, whirling through silent layers of color and sensation. Tingles raised goosebumps on her skin and her opening contracted, sucking greedily at Finn’s cock.

He moaned her name followed by unintelligible words as he thrust into her faster and his hands spread her wider for his pleasure. His body tightened and he froze for a long moment before withdrawing plunging deep into her, reaching his peak with a long groan.

As the world slowly righted itself and the flames that consumed her receded to a low simmer, she forced her eyes open to look at her cowboy.

Sweat beaded on his forehead and that wild lock of hair hung down over one eye. rubbing his cheek against her hair, he opened his lids and met her gaze. “Sweetie, you are ten times more than I ever expected.” He kissed her shoulder, lowered her legs, and eased his cock from her sensitized pussy. Finn picked her up in his arms, walked to the big chair in the corner, and sat, tucking her in close.

Laci ran her hand over his chest, the short hair tickling her fingers. “You’re an amazing surprise.” Her heart double-beat as the excited realization that she’d met her perfect man spread through her. “Can I change my mind and accept your invitation to dinner?”

He kissed her, slow and sweet, his tongue making a sensual sweep of her mouth. He looked at her, his expressive eyes soft, his smile almost shy. “Do you want to go out to dinner with the gentleman who walked into your shop?” He looked at the Western duds hanging on pegs around the room. “Or with the cowboy I changed into?”

Unable to resist his tousled hair, she laced her fingers through it, combing back that wayward lock from his forehead. “Finn, you’re that perfect combination; a gentleman and a cowboy. And if it’s okay with you, my apartment is just three blocks away.” She wanted him in her home and in her bed for as long as she could have him. She gave him a smile. “We can order in.”

“Anything you want, Laci.” He laid his hand on her neck and ran his thumb along her jawline. “You just wrap that old necktie around my throat and tug me along home like a lovesick colt.”