|Catch the stallion ~ win the ranch.|
A simple competition between bitter enemies...until
passion flares in the simmering Texas heat.
When his father announced his engagement to a gold-digger with a lying, scheming fourteen-year old daughter, seventeen-year old Tripp Warner left Warner Ridge Ranch and never looked back. Until the day he got the phone call that his father had died unexpectedly.
Reggie Reed lives with her guilt every day but can't quite work up the courage to track down the son of the man who raised her as his own. When Tripp shows up at his father’s funeral eleven years later--and a hell of a man to be reckoned with--he has no interest in her too-late apology. Worse, they’ve inherited half shares of the family ranch—but only if they work together to catch Mason’s Gold, the stallion a young Reggie let escape and made sure Tripp took the blame for.
Tripp proposes a secret competition to the beautiful witch who stole his life: whoever catches the stallion first gets the ranch all to themselves. It sounds simple, but once they’re out on the range, tempers and passions flare in the Texas heat and nothing goes as either of them expects.
“Stacey Joy Netzel is at the top of her game with CHASIN’ MASON. I was hooked at page one and stayed hooked until the end...you’ll love it!” Becky ~ Dark Angel Reviews 5 Stars
“I loved the twists and turns the author embedded throughout and I couldn’t help but want to see Tripp and Reggie reconcile their differences in the end. The story was quite vivid and if you’re looking for a contemporary cowboy/cowgirl story, this one will fit the bill perfectly.” ~ Diana Coyle Night Owl Reviews Reviewer TOP PICK
He should’ve arrived earlier than eleven p.m. on Friday to get a good night sleep before hitting the trail, but the last thing Tripp wanted was to spend any more time in Regan’s presence than he absolutely had to. It’d been bad enough the haunting scent of peaches had invaded his senses at odd moments over the past couple days, he didn’t need to look at the damn woman, too. He had to keep his objective in mind at all times—like when he’d delivered his last cutting remark the other night.
Her stricken expression had ignited a spark of guilt, but he ruthlessly doused it by reminding himself of all her lies. Fourteen was hardly a child, and she had known exactly what she was doing back then.
After retrieving his bag from the back seat, he made his way around the truck to drag his tired feet up the porch steps. The ranch house was dark, but Nana had given him a key so he’d just let himself in and go straight upstairs to bed. Tomorrow would be soon enough to deal with the hell his life had become thanks, yet again, to Regan.
“That’s far enough.”
Tripp froze at the unmistakable sound of a shotgun being cocked. A second later, the porch light flared bright.
Lifting his free hand to shield the glare, he squinted and caught sight of Regan, the shotgun in her slim hands pointed straight at him. In sharp contrast to the danger of the gun, she wore a silky-looking, butter-colored night gown that belled around her creamy thighs.
He didn’t believe she’d shoot him, but strangely enough, the thundering of his heart did not let up.
“I’d rather a kiss than a belly full of lead, Princess.” Now what the hell had possessed him to say such a thing?
“Tripp!” She lowered the double barrels.
He lowered his gaze—straight to her lips. Dangerous territory, especially when they glistened after a sweep of her tongue. So he shifted his attention, taking in her dark, glossy hair tumbling over her shoulders to cover her breasts that’d brushed his chest three nights ago. Blood rushed to his groin, same as it had then. He suppressed a groan. Further down, he noticed the hem of her nightgown ended too far above her knees to be considered a gown, showing off long, shapely legs that were only slightly less sexy in a pair of snug jeans.
She busied herself un-cocking the shotgun and removing the shells. The screen door creaked loud when she turned to go back into the house. Over her shoulder, she said, “I didn’t think you were going to be here until tomorrow.”
How in the world had he not heard the door open when she first came out? He hadn’t been that lost in his thoughts. Making his feet maneuver the rest of the steps, he couldn’t tear his gaze from the silhouette of her curves as the light shone through her filmy nightwear.
Heaven help me.
Turning away from temptation, he shut and locked the main door while pointing out, “I said I’d be back on Friday.”
“It’s after eleven.”
“It’s still Friday.” He wondered at the breathless quality in her voice—then again, he’d probably just scared the daylights out of her. When he turned back, she was reaching to place the shotgun back in its rack on the wall between the foyer and the kitchen.
Holy hell. Her flimsy hem lifted, then dropped, flirting with his libido. His hands fisted at his sides. This was the exact reason he’d arrived so late, but in true Regan-form, she’d ruined it for him, again.
Unless...Could this be deliberate? Had she waited for him in the skimpy outfit, so they’d be alone? His pulse sped up before his exhausted mind could decipher the full implications of her attire and control his traitorous physical reaction.
To prepare for an extended leave from his business, he’d worked over sixty hours in almost four days, then driven twelve hours from Galveston to the ranch. All he could think to ask now, was, “Why aren’t you in bed?”
“I couldn’t sleep, so I came down to make a cup of tea. I was just about to go back upstairs when I heard the truck door slam.” Facing him, she planted her hands on her hips, the gesture raising the hem of her nightgown once more. “We don’t normally get visitors at this hour, and with just me and Grandma in the house, I can’t be too careful.”
An unexpected surge of protectiveness surprised him, but he thrust it aside. Her explanation was plausible, and she had seemed relieved when she realized it was him on the porch…but the Regan he knew had always been a superb actress.
“I didn’t hear the door open.”
She frowned with a hint of suspicion. “The screen door only creaks after the half-way point—I slipped through.”
“And it didn’t occur to you it was me?”
She threw her hands up. “Excuse me, but the truck out there doesn’t exactly look like the car you had earlier this week. Besides, I expected you hours ago, not the middle of the night.”
“Sorry to disappoint you.”
“Hardly,” she said with a delicate snort.
Yet her eyelids lowered as her gaze swept down and up, taking stock of the comfortable T-shirt and old jeans he’d worn for the long drive from Galveston. Something flickered in her eyes, something hot and erotic he instinctively recognized as more dangerous than a rattle snake.
Thankfully, she shut it down quick and lifted her chin so her cute little nose stuck in the air. “And now that I can see there’s no danger to Grandma, I’ll see you in the morning.”
Her bare feet whispered across the floor toward the stairs. He opened his mouth, then closed it. Shut up. Don’t go there. Don’t— “What about you?”
Her right foot hit the bottom stair, her nightgown swaying with the enticing movement of her hips. She paused and turned. “What?”
Hooking one thumb in the front pocket of his jeans, he took slow, measured steps across the floor. Tension spread through him like the flush sweeping across her pale skin. Her fingers tangled in the material of her gown, tugging the hem lower as he came to a stop in front of her. Unfortunately, she also succeeded in lowering the neckline. The thud of his bag dropping to the floor made her flinch.
Tripp lowered his tone. “You said there’s no danger to Nana, but what about you?”
Her voice cracked and her throat muscles worked fast. He dropped his gaze to the rapid flutter beneath the rosy skin at the base of her neck.
He lifted a hand and rested it on her shoulder. With one finger, he felt her life pulse beneath his touch. Anticipation hummed along his nerve endings, making him excruciatingly aware of every shallow breath she took. “Fine doesn’t begin to cover it, Princess.”
When he slid his fingers into her silky hair to rub the back of her neck, her eyelids lowered, then closed. Her hands rose to press against his chest and the simple touch stoked the fire in his blood higher.
God, he was pretty sure he hated her, yet he damn sure wanted her. It was the craziest thing.
He shifted closer, slid his other hand over the curve of her hip to press against the small of her back, leaned in to inhale the evocative scent of peaches. The heat of her skin burned through the thin, satiny material of her gown to warm his hand where it rested along her spine.
The lure of her moist lips pulled him until his mouth hovered above her mouth; his unsteady breath mingling with hers.
“You hate me,” she whispered, her hands fisting in his shirt.
“Such a strong word—hate,” he murmured, even though he’d just thought the same thing.
Avoiding the sheer entrapment of her mouth, he lightly brushed his lips over her smooth cheek with its charming freckles. But it wasn’t enough to simply sample her. With the hand buried in her hair, he angled her head to give him access to the delicate column of her neck. He pressed his tongue to her pulse, licked, then sucked gently.
Sweet as pure honey. She made a small noise deep in her throat. His body throbbed in response as his arm curled tighter around her waist.
“You…d-don’t like me, then.”
Stubborn witch wouldn’t let it go. That hadn’t changed. He worked his way back to her mouth. If the outside of her tasted so delectable, the inside must be positively sinful. “Do you like me?”
Her violet eyes opened and locked with his, making his heart thump hard.
“Don’t mess with me, Tripp. Please.”
The sincerity in her voice was astounding.
“Who’s messing?” he asked, making light of her plea while brushing his thumb over her moist lower lip.
“You’re going to take the ranch from me—this isn’t playing fair.”
The reminder of what was at stake in this game was just what his mind needed to finally override his body. Sensing her weakened defenses, he deliberately lowered his head to whisper against her mouth. “Like you played fair all those years ago?”
In a heartbeat, she stiffened and shoved against his chest. Tripp held on. Let her see who’s in control now. Her eyes widened, and then darkened with a fury that turned him on even more. As the fierce thunderclouds in her eyes paralyzed him, his heart pounded beneath her palm, keeping time with her uneven, incensed breaths.
And just like that, something changed, struck so deep inside his chest it terrified him.
Tripp released her and spun away. As she grabbed the railing for balance, he braced a hand on the wall and hung his head, fighting for a lungful of air.
“Go to bed,” he rasped. “We leave at dawn.”
She didn’t reply. When he dared a glance, she was halfway up the stairs, white silk panties playing peek-a-boo with the hem of her nightgown. Tripp uttered a low groan and made for the porch like the hounds of hell were on his heels.
Saddle up and enjoy the ride!
Thanks for reading!