Sat
Jun 10 2017 12:00pm

Donna Michaels Excerpt: The Right Ranger

Donna Michaels

It’s time to claim what’s his…

Haley Wagner’s life just got a lot more complicated. As if turning her struggling ranch around isn’t tough enough, she’s forced to call him for help. With his hard eyes and even harder body, Cord is an irritatingly sexy contradiction of hot and cold. How can she possibly hide her embarrassing secret when just looking at Cord is a combustible event?

Former Army Ranger Cord Brannigan has a secret, too. He promised his fallen teammate he’d protect the tempting, fiercely independent Haley from a distance, but now they’re stuck together for three weeks. Alone. Keeping his hands off will take every ounce of control he can muster. And that control is slipping…

Get a sneak peek at Donna Michaels's The Right Ranger (available June 12, 2017) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

At the dinner table the next night, Cord did his best to be polite and contribute to the conversation, in an attempt to make up for running out on the two dinners she’d made that week. The first was an oversight. The second was his survival instinct kicking in. His inner safety mechanism after nearly combusting from that hot-as-hell kiss in her bathroom.

There was no way he’d be able to sit at a table with her and pretend it never happened. Pretend he didn’t want to have her for dinner, and then again for dessert.

Because, son-of-a-bitch, that was exactly what he wanted to do then…and now. He was living dangerously just being in the same room with her. She was trouble.

He was having the hardest time concentrating on what she was saying as he watched her sweet lips move, remembering how they’d tasted. Remembering how damned incredible they’d felt devouring him.

Shit.

That wasn’t helping him. He ripped his gaze from her mouth, stared down at his plate, and frowned. Jesus, it was empty and he barely remembered eating the bacon cheeseburger she’d grilled while he’d taken a quick shower. Get a damn grip, man.

Her ability to knock him off balance, to obliterate his control was a huge issue. It had to stop. He couldn’t…wouldn’t give in to his attraction to her. She was Drew’s widow for Christ’s sake.

His stomach knotted. How could his buddy have been so damn foolish?

Haley had been a loyal, trustworthy wife to Drew. She’d supported her husband. Never would’ve betrayed him or given him cause to worry, especially during deployment. He’d been so damn envious of their relationship. Why the hell had his friend jeopardized it?

You could have it now, his mind insisted.

But he wasn’t looking for a woman. Didn’t want that complication. Hell, he was still dealing with issues from that last mission. If he’d done his job better. If he’d been…more…then he wouldn’t be sitting at this table now. Drew would be here helping his wife, not Cord.

Didn’t matter now. That was all in the past. He was there to fulfill his promise to Drew to take care of Haley. Only, it wasn’t just for Drew, was it? No. It was for himself, too. He liked Haley. There, he admitted it. He liked her. She was a good woman, and he wanted to help her out.

 

Even if she was stubborn as hell.

That afternoon he’d told her she could let the stall go and work in the new barn, setting up the stalls there, away from the muck, and the spiders, and heavy lifting. She’d hit him with a surly brown gaze that had as much as said, “Like hell, pal.” No way was she going to leave before finishing the one she’d started.

Admiration seeped into his chest and straightened his spine. Typical Haley. Responsible. Hard headed. Beautiful. He stilled. Not the path his thoughts needed to head.

“So, how many vets are at your ranch now?”

A safe subject. One he liked to talk about.

He lifted his gaze, finding hers filled with genuine interest. “Twenty-three,” he replied. “Nineteen men, four women.”

“Women?” Her brows rose. “Where do they all stay?”

“In separate barracks.”

“Barracks? That’s pretty great.” She smiled. “So is what you do for them.”

The approval in her gaze sent a responding warmth through his chest. He nodded, reaching for his water to alleviate his suddenly dry throat.

“I’m sorry I haven’t gotten up there to see it.” Color rose high on her cheeks, amplifying the impact of the honesty in her gorgeous brown eyes. “I feel bad. I hope you all know I think it’s an incredible thing you’re doing.”

What was incredible was the way she regarded him with a rare genuineness that reached to his soul and soaked in like rain in a desert. If he allowed it, if he let her in, she could easily become addicting.

She already was, his mind whispered.

He ignored it.

“Thanks.” He cleared his throat and fought for the control he felt slipping away at a rapid pace.

“Well, I…uh…should clear these dishes and go grab my shower.” Her gaze was hesitant, and heaven help him…heated.

“I’ll take care of the dishes,” he offered. “You go ahead.” He needed her to leave. Now. Before he cleared the table with a quick brush of his arm to make room for her body.

Damn. What happened to her being off-limits? To not wanting complications?

They seemed to fly out the damn window with one bat of her genuine, honest eyes.

“Okay. If you’re sure.” She rose to her feet, hesitating while she waited for his response.

At that moment, the only thing he was sure of was if she didn’t leave, right then, he wasn’t going to be able to hold onto his dwindling control. His attraction to the woman had never been stronger.

He nodded. “Yep.” And to prove it, he stood and started to gather their dishes, needing to fill his hands with something to prevent him from reaching for her.

“Thanks.” She smiled. “I’ll only be a few minutes.”

He carried his armful to the sink, grateful for the distance. “No rush,” he called over his shoulder, and spent the next ten minutes returning the kitchen back to predinner condition.

It was good to have a purpose. He thrived under those situations, otherwise his mind wandered. But even with a task to do, he still couldn’t completely concentrate with the sound of the shower running just down the hall. His mind kept conjuring up images of Haley soaping up her lush curves, and he now sported the biggest damn hard-on he’d had in years. If not ever.

Before she finished, he needed to get to his bedroom and stay there. At least until she was safely in hers and the temptation was gone.

And just as he neared his door, the one across from it opened and Haley emerged, in a pale blue robe that clearly outlined her mouthwatering nakedness underneath.

Son-of-a-bitch.

He should’ve gone to the damn barn.

“Oh.” She blinked and seemed to have trouble drawing in air.

Like him. Where the hell had all the air gone? It messed with his head. Hell, his whole damn thought process ceased until his needs became wants and his wants became needs.

“You shouldn’t look at me like that, Cord.”

He watched, mesmerized by the pulse at the base of her neck, pounding out a crazy beat. “Like what?”

Her chest rose on a strangled inhale. “Like you want me as bad as I want you.”

Ah hell. Her words energized the heat flowing through his veins, and when he lifted his gaze and found hers dark with the same fierce need racing through his body, it was too much.

It was too damn fucking much.

“Jesus, Haley, don’t say stuff like that.”

“Even though it’s true?”

“Yes. No…fuck.” He sucked in a breath, but the oxygen arrived to his brain too late.

He had already stepped into her. 

***
Copyright © 2017 by Donna Michaels.
***
Learn more about or order a copy of The Right Ranger by Donna Michaels, available June 12, 2017:

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She read to me before I could read and opened up that magical world where I still reside today. Then came television and movies. Now I had three avenues that fed my imagination…and boy could I eat! As you no doubt figured out, this lead to my writing career. I’m a NY Times, USA Today, and Amazon Bestselling Award winng author. Phew, that was a mouthful! Multi-published in e-book and print with several publishers, I certainly have a ton of voices in my head.

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