Studs in Spurs: Chase
"Chase is a wonderful hero" ~ Dear Author
What happens in Vegas…sometimes follows you home.
Pro bull rider Chase Reese knows things move faster than an eight-second ride in Las Vegas. He just never expected to be driving home from the national championship with a wedding band on his left hand and no clue how it got there.
Though he can’t complain about Leesa or the chemistry they have together. But the stripper bride Chase brings home to meet the family has a secret—a deadly one that could endanger them all.
Ride was originally published by Samhain Publishing. This edition is a reissue, reedited but without any substantial additions or changes to the story.
Winner of the Authors After Dark Bookie Award for Best Western Romance of the Year
Chase pulled the metal chair from beneath the table with a loud scrape and sat heavily.
His hangover was manageable now that he’d eaten, but he still felt like he could easily crawl back into bed and sleep for the rest of the day. Maybe even straight through to tomorrow when he would start the drive for Oklahoma and home.
Garret plopped down into the folding chair next to him. They were seated near the back of the room filled with forty bull riders, all lined up on one side of a long row of tables.
“You know, when we’re done with this thing, you’re telling me exactly what happened in that back room.” Garret grabbed the marker from the table and sat armed and ready for the onslaught of fans as the doors were opened and people of all ages, colors, shapes and sizes began to filter in.READ MORE
“Why are you still harping on this?” Chase picked up his own marker and waited too, hoping the smell of tequila wasn’t still seeping out of his sweat glands and pores. He was a role model for the younger fans, after all. He couldn’t smell like he’d just scraped himself off a barroom floor. “I told you, Garret. Nothing happened.”
“Something damn well better have happened. I paid for it to. I seriously hope you got a good lap dance at least.”
“Will you please hush up? They let the fans in.”
At Garret’s deep frown, Chase decided he’d better appease him with something before Garret stormed back into the club and demanded a refund.
Visions of what had really happened filled Chase’s head. He’d gotten the lap dance, all right, plus some, but he wasn’t going to tell anyone that.
“And don’t worry. You got your money’s worth. Okay?”
Garret seemed pleased by that revelation. “Good, but actually it was you who got my money’s worth. Though I didn’t do too badly with that other dancer myself. She gave me one hell of a lap dance right at our table. We didn’t get to go into the private back room the way you did for a little extra—”
Chase kicked his friend under the table none too gently with the toe of his boot. “Shh. People can hear you.” He glanced up at the elderly woman approaching the bull rider at the table next to his. Hopefully, she had poor hearing.
Garret sighed. “Damn. I hope this thing doesn’t go too late. I can barely keep my eyes open.”
Eying a table in the corner covered in canned soft drinks, Chase regretted not grabbing one before he sat down. Caffeine sounded pretty good right about now.
Yeah, he’d slept until noon, but he wasn’t sure passing out drunk just before sunrise was the equivalent of getting a good night’s sleep.
A nap sounded pretty good, but Chase doubted he’d be able to sleep if he went upstairs to lie down after this thing anyway. He kept reliving over and over again every vivid detail of what had happened, even now, out in public. He only imagined it would be worse alone in bed.
Being tired was a small price to pay for the incredible memories from last night. He wouldn’t have changed a thing even as he smothered a yawn that snuck out of him.
“Dude, you better rally.” Garret’s voice held a tinge of panic. “One of the guys is having his brother go to pick up beer and bourbon for us while we’re stuck here. I’m hoping to find a couple of hot chicks at this thing to invite up to our floor for the party after.”
Shaking his head at Garret’s one-track mind, Chase said, “I’ll be okay once I get something to drink.”
“I hear ya. A little hair of the dog that bit you always helps.” Garret grinned. “I’d stick to beer though. You don’t do too good with the hard stuff.”
Chase usually didn’t drink the hard stuff. Last night was Garret’s doing. “I was talking about drinking a pop for some caffeine, but yeah, I’ll be sticking to beer later.”
If he could bring himself to drink alcohol at all.
A fan approached Chase’s table and Garret’s chatter about alcohol thankfully came to an end.
For the next hour it would be all smiles and autographs with every bull rider on his best behavior.
There’d be some photos and lots of small talk, which was pretty much the same no matter what city they were in.
Not that Chase minded. Without the fans the sport wouldn’t be anything except a bunch of guys watching each other get thrown in the dirt.
It would have been better if the meet and greet wasn’t after a night of debauchery however. That wasn’t the fans fault though. Come to think of it, it wasn’t Chase’s fault either. He sent another nasty look at Garret.
In between signing programs and T-shirts, he vowed to come up with a plan for revenge. Chase was just wondering what he could do to get back at his friend when he felt Garret’s boot knock into his. He moved his foot, figuring it was an accident, when it happened again.
As he handed a signed T-shirt back to one fan and accepted an event program to sign for the next he shot Garret a sideways glance. “Dude. Why do you keep kicking me?”
When no answer immediately followed, Chase handed the autographed program back to the older woman and her husband, and then turned his attention to Garret.
“Check her out.” Garret tilted his head toward a woman a few people behind the couple Chase had just finished with. “She’s totally your kinda girl.”
Garret was matchmaking even as he smiled for a fan and signed his name on a T-shirt for her.
“What?” Chase frowned. What the hell was Garret talking about?
“That chick in the ball cap. Invite her to the party tonight. She looks like your type.”
Curious now as to what Garret thought was his type, Chase couldn’t help but take a look. Her baseball hat was pulled down low over her eyes. He couldn’t see much of her face beneath the brim, and she was still pretty far away, but he saw enough to determine she was cute.
Strangely there was no smile on her face and none of the usual fan interaction. She just moved from one rider to the next until she was standing in front of the guy seated next to Chase. She silently thrust a T-shirt at the Brazilian bull rider.
The hair the cap didn’t cover was long and a silky brown, just like he liked it. It swung across her shoulders as her head swiveled and she glanced toward the doors.
She turned back to take the shirt handed to her and then took a step to the side until she was at Chase’s table.
With him sitting and her standing directly in front of him, he could now see beneath the brim of her hat. He saw her green eyes open wide as she recognized him. It was just about the same moment he recognized her.
He tempered his outward reaction, mainly to prevent Garret from noticing who she was.
Dressed down in jeans and a sweatshirt with no makeup, and away from the strip club, it was a good possibility none of the other guys would connect her to last night. He wanted to keep it that way.
Chase didn’t react on the outside, but inside he reacted in a big way. His pulse began to race and his mouth went dry. That didn’t prevent him from doing the one thing he regretted not doing the night before though.
Reaching for her T-shirt, he asked, “What’s your name?”
With sweaty palms, he waited for her answer and wondered at her presence. Had she come specifically to see him? Did one of the guys tell her last night who they were and where they’d be today?
A dozen questions raced through his head, but for now he’d settle for the answer to just one. Her name.
For some reason, she appeared as nervous as he felt. He watched the tip of her tongue shoot out. He couldn’t help picturing that tongue elsewhere, licking something else. Something on him. Something that was beginning to wake up.
She hesitated. “It’s Leesa, spelled L-E-E-S-A.”
Her voice cut a path right through him. If there had been any doubt in his mind as to who she was before, it was erased when he heard her speak.
Memories of that voice against his ear not much more than twelve hours ago caused a visceral reaction and he felt himself stiffen even more inside his jeans.
Chase swallowed away the dryness being near her again seemed to cause in his throat. He hadn’t felt this nervous around a woman in a long time. “That’s a really nice name. I’m Chase. Chase Reese.”
“Nice to meet you, Chase.” She spoke in a level tone that held no recognition, but she didn’t control the look in her eyes as well as she did her voice. She remembered him.
Nice to meet you . . .
He frowned at the fact that she was definitely trying to act like they didn’t know each other. The question was why?
She watched him closely, until she glanced at the doors one more time. That brought up yet another question. Why was she acting so nervous? Who did she keep checking the entrance for?
Did she have a boyfriend? Maybe she didn’t want him to see her with a customer she’d been pretty intimate with the night before? Or maybe she didn’t want her boss or coworkers to see her. Maybe not dating the customers was a club rule, not her own.
If that was the case, why was she here in the first place?
Maybe she couldn’t stay away from him, just like how he couldn’t keep his mind off her.
Whatever was happening, he didn’t intend to let her get away again, though he wasn’t quite sure how to keep her around.
Garret’s boot knocked his again. Chase was ready to clock him as his friend whispered, “Invite her to the party.”
The fans intent on getting Chase’s signature started to cluster behind Leesa. Others stepped around her and moved on to Garret and then on to Luke Carpenter at the next table.
Meanwhile, he had yet to sign her shirt. He had a horrible feeling once he did and handed it back to her, she’d be gone from his life again. He didn’t want that to happen.
That kicked him into gear and overrode any shyness or doubt he harbored.
He scribbled her name, followed by his name on the T-shirt, and then glanced up. “Um, we—the other guys and I—are having a kind of party upstairs right after this is done. Nothing special. Just some beer and chips and stuff, but with all of us staying here, we have the entire floor to ourselves so it should be pretty cool. You know if you wanted to come.” He found himself holding his breath waiting for an answer. “Do you want to?”
She glanced around the room. “When is this over?”
His heart fluttered with excitement that she was even considering it enough to ask. “The meet and greets usually last about an hour or so.”
“Then after we could go upstairs together? To your room?”
His heart fluttered with anticipation. “Um, yeah. When I’m finished, we can go upstairs together.”
Did she sound excited to be going upstairs with him or was it wishful thinking on his part?
Actually, she sounded a little cautious, but that was fine. A woman should be cautious when getting invited somewhere by a guy she barely knew.
Leesa hesitated a beat before asking, “Can I wait in here for you until you’re done?”
Out of the corner of his eye, Chase saw Garret watching the discussion with a little too much interest, but he ignored him. “Sure. You can wait right over by the refreshments, if you want. No one will bother you.”
“Okay. Thanks.” She reached out and took the T-shirt he’d autographed but hadn’t had the mental capacity to remember to hand back to her.
Bypassing the rest of the riders, she went directly to the refreshment table and busied herself with choosing a soft drink.
“Oh my God. How did you do that?” Garret’s voice was low and filled with shock.
“Do what? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Chase glanced at Garret and then took the program from the fan who had stepped in front of him the moment Leesa had left. He smiled and pretended Garret wasn’t there. “Who should I make this out to?”
“You know exactly what.” Garret continued to harass Chase even though he should be paying attention to the fan in front of him.
“Here you go. Thanks for coming.” Chase returned the signed program to the little boy standing shyly at his table, then dealt with Garret, hoping he’d shut up. “We’ll discuss this later. Okay?”
Garret released a loud expulsion of breath. “Fine.”
Chase caught him shaking his head and staring in the direction of the refreshment table. He followed the path of Garret’s gaze and saw Leesa still there. He felt relief that she appeared to really be waiting for him to finish. For a moment he’d feared she wouldn’t.
He saw Leesa tear into a bag of pretzels as if she hadn’t eaten in days, all while her gaze kept sweeping the room, in particular the entrances.
There was definitely something strange going on, but at least she was coming upstairs with him. He’d figure it—and her—out eventually. He didn’t intend to leave Vegas until he did.
A woman began holding a long conversation in Portuguese with the Brazilian rider next to him and caused a lull in the procession of fans to Chase’s table. As the rest of the fans waited behind her, Chase used the break to estimate how many more people there were in line and how soon he could get the hell out of there and upstairs with Leesa.
During his perusal of the crowd, he spied a girl with plenty of boobs and skin showing. Leesa may be his type, and he was still amazed Garret had nailed that one on the head, but this chick was definitely Garret’s type.
This time, it was Chase who did the prodding. He elbowed Garret and nodded toward the girl in line. “Hey. Let’s invite her upstairs.”
“Why? You need two women all for yourself?” Garret scowled.
“Not for me. For you, silly.” Chase wanted Garret occupied so he’d stay out of his and Leesa’s hair.
Hopefully out of their shared room too, if he could manage it. Maybe he could get them to hang in Skeeter and Aaron’s room. Or out in the hallway. Chase didn’t care, as long as he had some time with Leesa to talk.
Okay, talk and maybe a few other things too.
Garret looked moderately happier at the thought of having this girl for himself. “Okay. Cool. I’ll invite her though. You keep your mouth shut on this one, Romeo.”
Fine with him. Chase nodded. “No problem.”
Glancing one more time and seeing Leesa still there loitering in the corner by the refreshments, Chase couldn’t help but smile. The day had started out rocky, but tonight had the potential to be a very good night.COLLAPSE
"Chase is a wonderful hero"