TAMING CHRISTMAS will be included in the Christmas Wishes and Cowboy Kisses boxed set, coming to ebook retailers October 25!
You’ll get 23 never-before-published sweet holiday romances brimming with all the joy and wonder of the season.
Just for fun, you’ll find the first chapter of TAMING CHRISTMAS below.
Taming Christmas – Chapter One
“Do you need a napkin?”
Huck Powell turned and glared at his friends. Cort McGraw and Tate Morgan smirked as Cort held out a cocktail napkin and tipped his head toward a group of pretty girls lingering twenty feet away.
“I think I see a little drool starting to drop,” Tate said, pointing toward Huck’s chin. “The only question is if the cause of it is the redhead, blonde, or brunette.”
Huck sure wasn’t going to tell the two troublemakers he hadn’t been able to take his eyes off the girl with the wavy blonde hair since he saw her walk by ten minutes ago. She stayed with the two other girls, so it gave him hope she wasn’t there with a date or a husband. She looked to be around his age, although there were days Huck felt like he was pushing fifty instead of being a man in his mid-twenties.
Unwilling to provide fodder for Cort’s or Tate’s jesting, Huck turned his back to the women and feigned disinterest as Cort handed him a plastic cup filled with ice and Coke.
“Aw, quit giving ol’ Huck a hard time,” said Jason Price, one of the rodeo pickup men, as he walked up behind Huck and thumped him on the shoulder. “Cut some slack for the bull-riding champ of the Pendleton Round-Up. After all he went through today, he deserves a little respect.”
“Oh, we respect him for winning, sir, but Huck has got no game when it comes to the girls.” Cort grinned and motioned to the three females who were casting glances their way. “He’s been eyeing them long enough he’s lucky security hasn’t tagged him as a sicko or stalker and hauled him out of here.”
Huck tamped down the urge to slug Cort in the mouth to stop him from talking. Just because Cort had won the steer wrestling event and Tate had placed in saddle bronc riding didn’t mean it gave them free license to harass him all evening.
Then again, he was usually the one tormenting them. However, that afternoon when he’d made his trademark leap off the back of a bull after riding it the full eight seconds, he’d taken a hoof to the head and another to his gut. His brain felt like someone had tried to pack the space between his ringing ears with cotton. A tight ball of pain pulsed in his belly, while the dull throb in his thigh made it clear he hadn’t imagined the bull stomping on him as he charged off after the bullfighters.
Huck figured a good night’s rest would ease the misery in his stomach and thigh and send the headache thumping near the base of his skull packing. It shouldn’t be too long before the pain medication the doctor gave him kicked in. At least he hoped it would take the edge off soon.
He should have listened to the doc’s advice and skipped the dance, but he’d been in a mood to celebrate. Things had gone well until he’d seen that cute blonde walk in, then he’d suddenly felt like all his circuits had fried, leaving him barely able to remember his name.
“It’s the blonde one, isn’t it?” Tate asked, looking from him to the women. “She’s pretty, and she looks nice. The redheaded one reminds me of a cantankerous mule, and the brunette looks like trouble.”
“The blonde does look nice, and she’s got a great figure,” Huck mused and took a deep drink of his soda. “She’s the kind of girl I wouldn’t mind giving a tick check after a day out in the sagebrush.”
Cort hooted with laughter, Tate chuckled, and Jason merely shook his head. Huck couldn’t believe he’d just said that aloud. Embarrassed, he thought about storming off, but that would only cause Cort and Tate to be even ornerier later.
“Why don’t you go introduce yourself, Huck? Ask that girl to dance. Take her a drink,” Jason said, giving Huck a nudge forward along with a look of warning. “But make sure you behave like a gentleman.”
His voice echoed in Huck’s mind, stirring memories of his father. Hank Powell had raised him as best as he’d known how, and Huck missed him every day he’d been gone.
Shrugging off maudlin thoughts, Huck glanced at the group of girls, finished his soda, then headed over to buy three drinks.
He grinned and accepted congratulations from well-wishers as he waited for his order of three fruity mocktails made with a blend of juices and club soda. A lively fast-paced song began to play as he picked up the drinks and started toward the girls through the crowd. He attempted to two-step his way across the dance floor, doing his best not to drop the drinks.
He’d just approached the women when someone bumped him from behind. He tripped over his feet, nearly fell into the girls, and spilled all three beverages down the front of the redhead. She screeched and spun around, making a beeline for the restroom with the brunette following close behind her.
That left Huck facing the blonde who held a great deal of censure in her gorgeous blue eyes.
Before he could speak to her or offer an apology, though, Cort and Tate flanked him.
Tate removed his hat and politely tipped his head. “We’re so sorry, miss. Huck isn’t completely housebroken. His last girlfriend told him she’d rather bring home a feral cat than let him into her apartment again.”
“He’s been kicked in the head one too many times, miss. Don’t judge him too harshly,” Cort said with a pleading, boyish smile. “He doesn’t have the sense to know better, and he doesn’t possess the ambulatory skills of a drunken baboon.”
Huck’s hand curled into a fist as he considered how much attention it would draw if he tackled Cort and Tate and pummeled them into silence. Cort was several inches taller and many pounds heavier than he was, but as angry as he felt, Huck knew he could take him down.
Before he could start swinging, the blonde woman grinned. “He seems harmless enough, even if he’s about as smooth on his feet as a one-legged ostrich on ice.”
Tate and Cort both snickered.
“Where are you from?” Tate asked, taking a step closer to the female who had cast a spell over Huck.
Never, not once in all his life, had Huck been as instantly attracted to anyone as he was to her. In that moment, he wasn’t sure he liked it. The foreign, intense feelings left him nervous and unsettled.
“New Mexico. My folks have a ranch near Santa Fe. I talked my boss into sending me here this week to do some research. My friend Jenny and her cousin tagged along for fun. I’m Mara Evans.”
“Well, Mara Evans, it’s our pleasure to make your acquaintance,” Tate said, nudging Huck as he stood in a sticky puddle of spilled drinks. “I’m Tate Morgan. The big guy is Cort McGraw. The dolt with zero coordination and a red face is Huck Powell.”
Recognition registered in her expression as she smiled again. “Congratulations to all three of you for doing so well today. It was fun to watch you compete.”
Huck usually had no trouble charming women. He’d even been known to be witty and clever with his repartee, but as he stared at the female with rosy cheeks and pink lips, he figured his level of intelligence probably wasn’t up to par with a clod of dirt.
Tate and Cort elbowed him when he remained silent. If they kept that up, he could add cracked ribs to the other injuries he’d gained that afternoon. Slogging through his mind for something—anything—to say that wouldn’t prove his sudden lack of astuteness, he came up empty.
Woozy from his injuries or maybe the spell she’d cast over him, he grinned at Mara. “Want to dance?”
Much to his chagrin, the woman laughed—outright laughed—at him.
“I don’t think so, cowboy,” she said, giving him a dismissive look. “You can’t seem to stay on your own two feet, and I’m not willing to sacrifice mine.”
Tate Morgan is as tough as they come. He can handle the wildest bronc on the rodeo circuit, but he loses the ability to think straight around the beautiful woman he keeps running into at the airport. Completely captivated by the uptight executive who makes it clear she detests cowboys, Tate will have to work a little holiday magic if he wants to win her heart.
Married to her job as a corporate trainer for a successful direct sales company, Kenzie Beckett doesn’t have time for a man. Besides, after being burned twice by two-timing losers, she refuses to allow a third opportunity to exist. Unfortunately, no one told that to the handsome rodeo cowboy who catches her eye at the airport. He’ll need more than a pair of fine-fitting jeans, dusty boots, and dimpled smile to break past her resistance and bring her a heaping helping of holiday cheer.
Full of laughter and tender romance, The Christmas Cowboy takes readers on a sweet Christmas adventure to a happily ever after.