The Cowboy SEAL's Jingle Bell Baby

By: Laura Marie Altom

Prologue

’Twas the night before Easter...

“How about letting a cowboy buy you a drink?” Navy SEAL Rowdy Jones slurred his words, but the evening’s libations bolstered his courage. As such, he’d moseyed over to the gorgeous little hottie who’d stolen his last rational thought.

She appraised him as if he were a stud sire up for auction.

“Want me to spin around so you get the full force of my magnetic attraction?” he asked with a grin.

In a dive bar filled with boot-wearing, beer-guzzling cowboys, she sipped a martini. Her white dress clung tight enough to have been painted on. She had the face of an angel, with cherry-red lips and a sleek wave of blond hair his fingertips knew would feel silky.

Instead of speaking, she downed more of her drink, then raised her hand, motioning for him to twirl.

More than a little turned on by her silent take-charge demeanor, he raised his longneck beer high, gyrating his ass in time with George Strait’s “All My Ex’s Live in Texas.”

He didn’t just want this gal; he had to have her—all of her. Down and dirty and every way in between.

In his thirty-odd years, he’d gotten pretty good at sizing up a man’s or woman’s character. The woman’s exterior screamed iceberg dead ahead. But a sadness in her eyes made him wonder if her carefully applied outer persona was eggshell fragile.

“Like what you see?” he asked on the turn around.

Without a trace of a smile, she nodded.

“Wanna get a room?”

She nodded again.

She set her drink on the bar, then held out her hand as if she were a princess and he her loyal subject.

His brain couldn’t quite compute the fact that she was taking him up on his offer, but he wasn’t complaining. He paid their bar tabs, then led her through the maze of Saturday-night heroes, all striving to outshine one another with their tall tales.

Though the next morning would ring in Easter, their miserable portion of North Dakota hadn’t gotten the memo. Earlier that night at the annual rodeo, the temperature had been pleasant enough, but a front must’ve moved in and cold wind whipped his mystery gal’s formerly smooth hair into a wild, sexy tangle.

Given the nasty weather, the bar’s exterior was lonely. Neon beer signs glowed through dusty windows. The parking lot’s one light didn’t do much to show their way to the adjoining motel.

Giddy Up Inn wasn’t fancy, but he’d heard from temporary cowboys hired to move cattle from seasonal ranges that it was clean.

The lobby was plain.

A single red Formica counter held a cash register and a few struggling plants. The air smelled of Lysol and the coffee brewing on a corner stand.

Rowdy paid cash for the room, and the weary-looking clerk handed over an actual key attached to a plastic horseshoe.

Back outside, Rowdy sheltered his dream girl from the worst of the wind. He found room twenty-one and slipped the key into the lock.

The room was cold, so he quickly shut the door and turned on the heat.

The woman stood just inside the door.

She hugged herself and looked on the verge of crying.

“Look,” he said, “if you’d rather call this off, I’d understand.” He hooked his thumbs in his Wranglers’ back pockets. “I mean, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be disappointed, but my momma raised me to be a gentleman and—”

“You always talk this much?”

She flew at him like a summer wind—wild and hot.

She braced her hands to his stubbled cheeks, slanting her lips across his with what he could describe only as an angry, frenzied need. He met the sweep of her tongue and groaned.

When she reached for his belt buckle, he was all too happy to help her along. She jerked his denim shirt open with enough force to rain buttons onto the carpeted floor. She pressed her small, nimble hands to his chest, kneading his pecs, skimming his abs. She trailed her lips over his bare skin, nipping his left biceps, sucking the hollow at the base of his neck.

Her every action screamed desperation.

The gentleman in him wondered why.

The horny bastard only wanted more.

He spun her around, jerking down the zipper on her dress. It might be white, but her attitude was bad-girl red. He let the garment drop to the floor, and with her back to him, he kissed her neck, cupping his hand to her belly to press her against his obvious need.

Her bra and panties weren’t from around these parts. White lace fine enough for him to rip off her with his teeth yet fancy to the degree he wasn’t ashamed to admit he felt damn near intimidated.

As if her curves weren’t tough enough to handle, there was her scent—once again at odds with her outer ice queen. How could she look so cold, and yet, when he breathed her in, smell like sunshine and lemonade or wildflowers swaying in a gentle breeze.

His physical ache to be inside her had grown to a near-frantic need. A nagging voice told him to at least dig a condom from his wallet. After a few tries in between kisses, he finally managed to roll one on. But too many beers and two hands filled with her ample breasts made him not much interested in anything beyond unlatching her bra and then dragging down the sheer panties.

She dropped his jeans and he was damned glad to have gone commando.

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