Mar 25 2011 5:00pm
An exclusive extended excerpt from Chapters 1-3 of the the fourth installment in the Armed and Dangerous series, Clay (available April 12, 2011), by Cheyenne McCray
Author's Note: Clay: Armed & Dangerous has its foundations in a novel, Wildcat, I wrote several years ago for a small e-publisher. If you read that short novel, you will find this endeavor different. This novel is twice as long as the original book and richer with more action, adventure, and mystery.
Clay is by far the most erotic of all of the Armed & Dangerous books. Be sure and handle with oven mitts!
Rylie Thorn pulled at her earlobe as she guided her battered ranch pickup into the parking lot of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department. The stupid wreck bucked and hiccupped like it wanted to die, then steam billowed out from under its hood as she slammed on its bad brakes and threw it into park. The poor old work vehicle wasn’t meant for driving distances, but it wasn’t like she had a whole lot of choices.
None, in fact.
Rylie wished she could spit smoke like the wreck. Just driving the piece of shit was an unwelcome flashback to childhood. They had struggled so much. And her mom, the doormat . . . She shook her head.
Then and now. Big difference. Life wasn’t easy, but it was nothing like her early years. Rylie knew things would get better soon, and she’d damned sure never be anybody’s doormat.
She used an old rag in the seat to wipe sweat off her forehead. Air-conditioning? Of course, the beat-up hunk of junk didn’t have any air. She jerked the keys out of the wreck’s ignition and slammed the door as she got out. She’d had it up to here with the damn truck thefts, and she was determined to give the new hotshot sheriff a piece of her mind.
Rylie had been pissed about Skylar MacKenna’s cattle being stolen last year, and now trucks were going missing all along the border. The Thorn Ranch had been ripped off. Things had definitely gotten personal.
She marched across the parking lot to the sheriff’s office, her boot heels clattering against the pavement and her jeans skirt bouncing against the back of her knees. She had on short sleeves, and it was past hot already. Spring never could hold off summer in Douglas. Even though it was only April, the second the night’s chill burned away in the morning, she started to sweat. Being furious didn’t help that situation one bit.
She shoved the glass doors open and stomped into the reception area. A busty brunette raised a sculpted eyebrow, her scarlet lips set in a what-the-hell-do-you-want smile. “May I help you?” “I’d like to see Sheriff Wayland.” Rylie propped her hands on her slim jean-clad hips. “Now.” “I don’t think he’s available.” Boob Queen gave a don’t-you-wishhe-was-available sniff as she picked up the phone. “Let me check.”
Her temper escalating beyond eruption level, Rylie glanced past the reception area. She looked into a room that was empty save for desks sporting computers and equipment . . . and that sorry excuse for a deputy, Hazard Quinn. Young, dark-haired, too good-looking for his own good—Quinn was more country-music-star-to-be than skilled law enforcement—at least in his own mind.
Without so much as a by-your-leave, Rylie headed straight for Quinn. She set her gaze on stun with shoot-to-kill as an alternative if the deputy didn’t give her satisfaction.
“You can’t—” Miss Mega-Tits spouted behind Rylie.
“I need a word with you.” Rylie strode right up to Quinn, propped her hands on her hips, and frowned up at him. At just fi ve feet four, she only came to the deputy’s shoulder— but her glare was enough to cut down a man three times her size. And Rylie knew how to wield her icy gaze like a sword.
Quinn’s Adam’s apple bobbed and he diverted his eyes, waving off Boob Queen, then turning his attention back to Rylie. “What do you need, Ms. Thorn?”
“I’ll tell you what I need.” Rylie poked one finger at his deputy’s star, punctuating each word with a jab at the metal. “I need my trucks back. I lost five last night. Five. At the same time! Four of the ranch hands’ vehicles, and my personal truck, too. I need you guys to get off your asses and figure out who the hell is stealing everybody’s rides.”
Quinn stepped back. “We’re working on it. It’s a borderwide problem.”
“Don’t give me that crap.” Rylie advanced on the deputy as he retreated. “Get me the sheriff. Now.”
“What can I do for you?” A deep rumbling voice startled Rylie out of her tirade and sent shivers down her spine.
She whipped her head to the side and her gaze locked with the most amazing crystalline green eyes—and the hottest man she’d ever seen. Her entire body shivered, every coherent thought fl eeing her mind as she got lost in the pull of those magnetic eyes.
He had his hip and shoulder propped against the doorway of an office, his thumbs hooked in the pockets of his snug Wrangler jeans, and a copper sheriff’s star on his shirt. The man raised one hand to push up the brim of his tan felt Stetson as he studied her. His sable mustache twitched as he smiled.
Oh. My. God. For the first time in her life, Rylie Thorn was speechless.
Sheriff Clay Wayland studied the little wildcat who’d stormed into his office and ripped Deputy Quinn a new one. Damn she’d been cute as she’d spouted off at Quinn. Clay had enjoyed watching the flush in her fair cheeks, how her short blond hair shimmered as she spoke, and the way that sprinkling of freckles made her look so damn adorable.
He’d almost hated to interrupt her. And now . . . well, hell. The desire that sparked in those chocolate-brown eyes charged up his own libido. Something in his gut told him this was a woman worth getting to know—in every way a man could know a woman.
Copyright 2011 by Cheyenne McCray