Studs in Spurs: Mustang
"a wonderfully sexy and fun story” ~The Romance Studio
This cowboy is looking for more than just an eight-second ride.
Mustang Jackson does two things well—ride bulls and love women, so the injury that takes him out of competition leaves him only one way to make a living. Unfortunately, getting paid to be a stud in front of the camera isn’t as fun as private conquests. But when he goes home broke and broken to heal and catches sight of Sage, the neighbor girl all grown up, recuperating at his parents’ house gets a lot more interesting and a whole lot more complicated.
Bucked was originally published by Samhain Publishing. This edition is a reissue, reedited but without any substantial additions or changes to the story.
10 years ago
Sage Beckett dropped to her knees and peered past the dust bunnies beneath the bed. Pushing aside the white eyelet dust ruffle, she squinted into the darkness searching for what she knew was there somewhere.
“Hey there, Little Bit. Whatcha doing under there?”
The sound of a familiar voice had her heart pounding and not only because he’d startled her. Sage’s pulse routinely raced from simply thinking about the boy who lived on the next street over.
She swiveled her head to find those piercing blue eyes that melted her from the inside focused on her.
“Um. Nothing.” Guiltily, she let the bedcovers fall back into place and jumped to her feet.READ MORE
“Where’s Rosemary? Do you know?” Michael leaned casually against the doorframe as if he had no clue what his mere presence did to her pubescent body.
Of course, he had no idea how he affected her, how she felt about him. To him she was just Rosemary’s little sister, the middle schooler who followed them around the house and who they were forced to let tag along to their high school games.
Michael would never see her as a woman. Would never know the very real and adult feelings she had for him. Not as long as her older sister Rosemary was around anyway.
“I don’t know. She’s not home from school yet.” Which was why Sage had been under the bed looking for Rosemary’s diary. Her sister would never tell Sage what was happening with Michael, but that diary did.
“Do you think your grandmother has any of those empanadas she made yesterday left in the fridge?” Michael’s devilish grin drew Sage’s gaze to his perfectly shaped lips and made her immediately think what it would feel like to kiss them.
Rosemary had kissed those lips. In fact, her sister and the object of Sage’s secret affection had not only kissed. They’d done much more than that already and Sage had read every heartbreaking detail.
She pressed a hand to her churning stomach. The pain of what she’d read the last time she’d snooped in Rosemary’s diary was still very present. The fear of what she’d read next made her ill.
Her eyes dropped to his hand braced on the door molding. What she’d give to feel that hand touching her own breasts.
Ha! What breasts?
Rosemary was the sister who had the boobs in the family. Sage had nothing. Nothing that could attract Michael compared to what Rosemary had.
“Little Bit, you feeling okay?” His words kicked her into action.
What was the good in wallowing in self-pity? He was here. Rosemary wasn’t. For now at least he was all hers.
“Yeah. I’m fine. Come to the kitchen. I’ll heat up those empanadas for you.”
His face broke into a wide smile. “You’re the best.”
As she led the way to the other room, Sage prayed one day soon Michael would realize that was the absolute truth and forget all about Rosemary.
Reaching into the fridge, Sage pushed aside the lettuce and grabbed the foil packet she’d stashed there the night before.
She always remembered to hide some empanadas for Michael, knowing he’d be there looking for leftovers the next day. On the other hand, Rosemary obviously couldn’t remember to even come home right after class.
It was pretty apparent to Sage which one of them deserved him more and it wasn’t her older sister.
Michael scraped the kitchen chair across the floor and straddled it so he faced her while she reheated the food.
Knowing he was watching, Sage wished even more keenly her body would mature and catch up with the rest of her.
She was doing advanced schoolwork that put her on the level with kids two years older than she was. Emotionally she was an adult, capable of caring for him far better than her selfish sister.
So why didn’t her teeth get straight already so the braces could come off? And when would she be old enough to get contact lenses and ditch her ugly glasses?
Some boobs would be nice too. Not huge, but enough to catch Michael’s attention.
“Did I tell you? I got that summer job.”
Sage spun away from the counter to face him. “You did? The one on the ranch?”
“Yup.” He nodded. “That’s the one.”
“That’s so great. I know you really wanted it.”
“Oh yeah. I was desperate. My father was looking into getting me a job working with him. Me and my father, together, every day for the summer . . .” Michael let the sentence trail off but she knew exactly what he’d left unsaid.
Sage cringed in empathy. “That would have been bad.”
She couldn’t count the number of times Michael had shown up at their back door red-faced and sullen after a fight with his father.
“Yeah, tell me about it. Anyway, some of the job will be stuff like cleaning out the barn, but I’ll also get to learn how to handle the stock. And the guys I’ll be working with said they’ll teach me how to ride bulls like they do.”
“Really? They ride bulls?”
He leaned forward, the excitement evident in the expression on his sun-browned face. “Hell, yeah. Do you know how much money they make? One guy rode in a competition last weekend and won. He got five thousand bucks and this really cool belt buckle.”
“Five thousand. Wow. That’s really good.”
“I know.” He bobbed his head with an enthusiastic nod. “I could work all summer with my father and not make even near that.”
Michael’s entire body visibly vibrated with his excitement. So much so she hated to bring up the next question. “Have you told your parents about getting the job yet?”
Eyes lowered, he began picking at a chip in the edge of the well-worn kitchen table. “No. I guess I have to soon though. I’m supposed to start work this weekend.”
Sage’s mood fell right along with his. Her guilt at having smothered his good mood with the mention of his parents overwhelmed her.
The toaster oven dinged and the aroma of her grandmother’s home cooking filled the kitchen, telling her the leftovers were done heating.
Grateful for the distraction, Sage grabbed a potholder and pulled out the hot tray of meat-filled pastries. She slid them onto a plate and turned toward Michael, hoping the sight of his favorite food would cheer him up again after she’d depressed him.
Putting the dish on the table, she resisted the urge to brush her hand over his.
“Hey. Do you want to come over for dinner after your first day of work? Maybe Grams can make something special and we can celebrate.”
He lifted his gaze to meet hers. “Okay.”
Rosemary blew in through the screen door and dropped her bag on the table, narrowly missing the plate of food. “Celebrate what?”
“Michael got a job working with bulls at a ranch.” Sage shared that news with the enthusiasm it deserved, knowing how much he had wanted that job.
She only hoped his father would let him keep it when he heard what he’d be doing. His son cleaning stalls and handling farm stock would not make Mr. Jackson happy. Riding bulls would be even worse. Sage knew the man enough to know that for a fact.
“A ranch? Doing what? Shoveling manure? Lovely.” Rosemary let out a snort. “Bobby’s working at his father’s company for the summer.”
Popping in a big mouthful of food, Michael chewed and swallowed. “Wearing a business suit, talking on the phone while trapped inside an office all day selling insurance? Yeah, that sounds like a really fun way to spend the summer.”
“Whatever.” Her sister rolled her eyes before they narrowed in on the last empanada as it disappeared into Michael’s mouth. Rosemary spun to face Sage. “I thought there were no leftovers last night. I wanted seconds and when I asked you, you said they were all gone.”
Maybe if her lazy sister had gotten up from the table and actually walked to the stove to look for herself she would have found them. As it was, Sage was glad she hadn’t so she could save these for Michael. “Um, I found a few on another tray Grams left warming in the oven. Sorry.”
Behind Rosemary, Michael smiled and stood. “Sorry, Rose. All gone. You ready to go study for that test?”
“Yeah. Grab my book bag, will you?” Rosemary breezed out of the kitchen empty-handed and headed down the hall toward her room without a backward glance.
Grabbing the bag, Michael winked at Sage. “Thanks, Little Bit. Those hit the spot.”
She felt her cheeks grow warm. “You’re welcome.”
Then he was gone too. She heard Rosemary’s bedroom door close behind him. No doubt they’d lock it and there would be more than studying going on.
Sage swallowed to rid herself of the acid taste in her throat.
Life simply wasn’t fair.COLLAPSE
Michele on The Romance Studio wrote:
“Cat Johnson continues to be one of my favorite authors. Whether it is in military, contemporary or the cowboy arena she definitely knows her alpha males…"
“Sparks fly in this sexy cowboy story…a wonderfully sexy and fun story”