42 days until the official release of ONE NIGHT WITH A COWBOY, and even though it’s been on preorder at Amazon and BN for a while, and the paperback ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) have been out for review for about a month now, and the digital ARC is going up on Netgalley any day, release day is still the most exciting time for an author. The launch of a new book in a new series with a new publisher is even more so.
I’ve already shared an excerpt of the hero and heroine sneaking off to a hotel together, and the hilarity that ensues. You can read that here.
But One Night with a Cowboy didn’t end up to be all fun and sex. The hero is a cowboy, yes, but he’s also a soldier. My non-fiction research for the chapters that take place in Afghanistan took me to a very dark place, and because of that, some of the scenes are deadly serious. I think it’s important to honor our troops by showing even just a glimpse of the reality there. Here is one of those scenes.
EXCERPT (RATED PG for Violence)
“So, you got a girl at home, Jenkins?”
The rounds had slowed, but they sure as hell hadn’t stopped. Maybe the enemy fighters were starting to run out of ammo and were forced to ration it. Good. Maybe they’d run out completely. That thought gave him a small amount of hope.
“You want to talk about home now?” Tuck still had to raise his voice to answer.
Conseco shrugged beneath his body armor. “Sure. Why not? You got something better to do?”
Tuck glanced at him. “I’d feel better if I were shooting back.”
“We all would.” Conseco blew out a sound of disgust. “If you’d like some ventilation holes in your helmet, go ahead. Stand up and try to take a shot. Otherwise, we’re stuck here waiting.”
They exchanged looks, and Tuck realized Conseco was right. He gave in and answered. “No, I don’t have a girl at home. Well, I kind of did. But not really. I don’t know.”
Tuck realized how pitiful that sounded. He laughed, but it was short, more like a wheeze as the bullets peppering the ground in front of him kicked up enough dust to make him choke.
“You don’t know?” Conseco laughed.
“I’m not quite sure.” Pressing back as close as he could against the wall—and safety—Tuck admitted the sorry truth. “I didn’t mean to, but I think I might have totally ended any chance we had by leaving.”
That he wasn’t sure where he stood with Becca, where he wanted things to stand between them, was a pretty sad state of affairs. Especially since today could be his last.
“Sounds like there’s a story there.” Conseco angled just his head toward Tuck. “Tell me about her. What happened?”
“Seriously? You want to hear it all?” The incoming fire had slowed to sporadic bursts, making talking a little easier.
“Sure, I’m bored and we could be here a while. It’ll help pass the time. I’ve heard all these other sorry bastards’ stories a hundred times over the last nine months. It’ll be refreshing to hear something new for a change.”
Tuck had never felt so helpless, and Conseco was bored and wanted to chitchat. But in this situation the man next to him was the one with experience, and like it or not, Tuck was the cherry.
Since he hadn’t been struck yet, he calmed himself enough to glance around them and reevaluate the hellish situation. Shooting back was out of the question. Even if his weapon was trained in on where the insurgents were hiding, which it wasn’t, to get a clear shot he’d have to expose himself to their hail of bullets.
His teammate was right. The best thing to do was sit and wait for air support, or for the bad guys to run out of ammo. Either way, it was going to be a little while.
“All right.” Tuck shrugged and was reminded of the weight of his pack braced against the rock wall.
Even though he’d never told the story in its entirety, not even to his best friends, he swallowed away the dry grit in his mouth and launched into the tale of two city girls who walked into a rodeo one July night in Oklahoma. He somehow felt he had to tell it, from start to finish. That another living person knowing it all would keep the memory alive because there was a very real chance he wouldn’t leave this valley. At least not that way . . . alive.
He glossed over the very intimate bedroom details, but told Conseco everything else, right down to his deciding to leave when they got caught in the library on the security video and how he thought he had to, before they both got into trouble.
When he’d finished, Conseco shook his head. “That’s a hell of a story. Sounds like true love to me. Like a damn fairy tale.”
“Nah. We weren’t that serious.” The statement rang so false in his ears, he elaborated to make it sound more convincing. “Just having some fun together.”
That didn’t sound any more truthful.
Love. The other reason Tuck had left in such a hurry. Love was a word Tuck had deliberately avoided saying or even thinking, yet Conseco spat it out easily. Maybe daily near-death experiences did that to a man. The fear of love and getting hurt by it was starting to feel ridiculous as real pain, the kind inflicted by automatic weapons, loomed literally at their feet.
But as for the fairy tale? No. Tuck couldn’t embrace that concept even a little bit, because being crouched against a rock face braced for the impact of the bullet that would take his life while Becca was back in Oklahoma totally unaware of why he’d really left was certainly no fairy tale ending.
“Here’s my question.” Conseco paused to spit a dribble of tobacco-tinged saliva into the dirt. “If you were having so much fun, then why the hell did you leave her and volunteer to come to this shit hole? I would have said fuck it to the university and their fucking rules and kept seeing her on the sly.”
Another bullet hit close enough to Tuck he could hear the whoosh of it passing his ear. To hell with it. If this were the last thing he ever said, the last man he ever spoke to, he intended on speaking the truth. That old saying was true. There were no atheists in foxholes, and though he would give a year’s salary just to have a foxhole to hide in right now, this shale crevice was close enough.
As if Conseco was a priest and Tuck at confession, he finally spoke the truth. “I guess I left because I love her.”
“Did you tell her you love her?” Conseco’s dirt-encrusted brows rose beneath the rim of his helmet.
“No.” A round hit particularly close, sending shards of rock into Tuck’s face. He closed his eyes to protect them and then blinked away the dust.
Conseco let out a snort. “You should have.”
Didn’t Tuck know it.
“Hold on to your hat…ONE NIGHT WITH A COWBOY is one sexy romp with a sweet and hot hero you’ll want to keep around for longer than one night! Cat Johnson knows cowboys and the Oklahoma Nights series is a must read for fans of western romance.” ~ Lorelei James, NY Times Best Selling author of the Rough Riders and the Blacktop Cowboys series
An Oklahoma Nights Romance, Book 1
One Sweet Ride…
Oh yeah. A single look at the leggy blonde in the stands and Tucker Jenkins is
ready to buck all night long. It’s time to forget all about his cheating ex and his usual hands off policy.
One Hot Night…
Becca Hart is an East Coast professor. Not a buckle bunny. But no degree can prepare her for the moves of the sexy bull rider she hooks up with at her first rodeo … Or the shock of finding him at her first Oklahoma State University staff meeting.
One Happy Ending…
Tuck knows it’s all about holding on, no matter how wild the ride. Now he just has to convince Becca that a rough start out of the chute doesn’t mean they aren’t a smokin’ combination …