A Cowboy Out Of Options That's how Rory McAlister feels when he leaves Colorado for the concrete jungle of New York City. He needs this money for a very good reason-only somebody should have warned him donning designer duds meant butting heads with Elizabeth Harrington-Smyth. The bossy ad exec is determined to turn Rory into the original Rhinestone Cowboy. Over his dead body! With her job hanging by a thread, Elizabeth's got to deliver the goods for Devlin Designs-or else. She asked Rory because of his rugged, authentic-and, frankly, gorgeous-looks. But could she have chosen an ornerier model? At least Rory will be heading back to his ranch and out of Elizabeth's life soon. Because New York is no place for a cowboy...and a Colorado ranch is no place for a big-city girl. Even if these two opposites are falling for each other!
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Avid daydreamer Julie Benson always loved creating stories. A sociology degree from the University of Texas at Dallas and three boys later, she actively pursued a writing career to challenge her mind and save her sanity. Now she writes full time in Dallas, where she lives with her husband, their three sons, two lovable black dogs and various other creatures. While her house is never quiet. It is full of heroes.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :
Estes Park, Colorado
"There is no way I'm getting on a horse."
Elizabeth Harrington-Smyth pulled into the Twin Creeks Ranch parking lot, vowing she'd never attend another wedding, not even her own should she ever make time to date. So far, being her cousin Janice's bridesmaid hadn't been the greatest experience. And don't get her started on the problems with the whole destination wedding idea that was the trend now.
"Estes Park is so beautiful, and what better way to see the scenery than going horseback riding?" Since moving to Denver three years ago, Janice had gone all outdoorswoman. Today she really fit the part, wearing jeans, a denim shirt and a red bandanna tied around her ebony ponytail.
Elizabeth shuddered. "Looking at the mountains as I sat in the hotel bar was good enough for me."
"I think this will be a great bridesmaid outing," chirped Laura, obedient bridesmaid number one. Her Katie Couric perkiness had overwhelmed Elizabeth within five minutes of meeting Janice's coworker.
"I was hoping we'd get time to go riding. It's something I've always wanted to try," chimed in Claire, perfect bridesmaid number two, as they spilled out of Janice's Camry. In addition to being a morning person, Claire had the irritating characteristics of being tall, slender and possessing a disgustingly high metabolism.
"I let you out of the hike yesterday because you were queasy and tired from the altitude, but I want us to have a good time together," Janice insisted. "It's girl bonding."
"The wedding party activities are half the fun of being a bridesmaid," Claire said.
According to whom? Clearly, Elizabeth and the rest of the bridal party had different definitions of fun.
Dust swirled around her, making her sneeze. It seemed as if they were surrounded by bales of hay. At least she'd taken a Claritin this morning, so she wouldn't look like a red-eyed monster due to raging allergies.
"My idea of a good time is having a massage, facial and pedicure at the hotel, not riding on a smelly horse." Elizabeth waved a fly away from her face. "The outdoors is pretty to look at, but I'm not keen on actually being in it. I'll wait here by this fence—"
"It's a corral, Elizabeth," Janice corrected.
"Then I'll wait here by the corral. The rest of you go ahead and enjoy."
"I've never ridden a horse, but I'm willing to be adventurous, Elizabeth," Laura coaxed.
"You're here, so you might as well come with us," Claire added.
"I'm afraid my Jimmy Choos aren't meant for horseback riding." Now that was an excuse any woman could understand and respect.
"Didn't I tell you to wear sensible shoes that you didn't mind getting dirty?" Janice asked.
Elizabeth stared at her cute leopard-print flats and her blood pressure rose. "All you said was wear sensible shoes, which I am. These are flats. I'd never have worn Jimmy Choos if you'd mentioned getting dirty."
"Sorry. I guess I must've forgotten the getting dirty part."
Janice flashed her an I'm-the-bride-forgive-me smile. "There are so many details to planning a large destination wedding. I'm surprised I haven't forgotten more things. You'll have to make the best of the situation now."
The cool March breeze blew a strong odor of horse manure Elizabeth's way. "Too late. It smells terrible out here. Flies are everywhere, and the quiet is driving me crazy. Everyone moves too slowly! I almost mowed over two people when I walked down to the hotel lobby to get coffee this morning."
"Exactly why you should join us," Claire insisted. "You need to slow down and learn to appreciate nature's gifts."
"I'm in advertising. I determine what people appreciate, not the other way around. And who says I don't appreciate nature?"
"You have to go, Elizabeth," her cousin whined. "I want all of us to go. This means so much to me."
Elizabeth bristled. "Isn't it enough that I took off work for your wedding when I've got a major ad campaign due? Between all the activities, the spotty internet service and a slight case of altitude sickness, I haven't gotten half the work done here that I need to."
Her job was hanging by a thread. Devlin Designs wanted to launch a new jeans campaign and she had the perfect one all mapped out, but couldn't find the right spokesman. On top of that, the contract for the remainder of Devlin's business was up for renewal soon. No spokesman, no new campaign, no contract renewals—and then she'd be out of a job.
"What an honor, you taking off work to come to my wedding," Janice snapped.
Laura and Claire slid a few feet away, obviously wanting to avoid the awkward conversation.
In addition to the wedding, Elizabeth had hoped to spend a little time with her parents, who were flying in, as well. But when she'd checked her voice mail after arriving in Denver she'd learned they weren't coming.
"I'm sorry, Janice, really. I'm out of sorts. Did Mom and Dad tell you they've headed off to some mountain in Germany on an archeological dig? I haven't seen them in forever, and though I shouldn't be, I'm pretty disappointed."
"No. How could they do that at the last minute? Don't they know we'll have to pay for their dinners whether they're here or not?"
Elizabeth shrugged. "They said a bone flute and an erotic figurine had been discovered there. If these pieces are authentic, it'll be the best example Upper Paleolithic art ever. They insisted they absolutely couldn't pass this up."
"They say that about every dig."
"You think I'd be used to their last-minute cancellations by now." Elizabeth smiled weakly. This kind of parental disinterest and disappointment had filled her life for as long as she could remember. "Then there's work. My job's on the line with this campaign."
"Come on, Elizabeth. You're not going to lose your job. They'd have to hire three people to replace you," Janice said.
"We're on the verge of losing a client that represents over half of our business." Her cousin didn't realize how precarious the advertising business was.
Elizabeth was good at what she did. She knew this crazy ad world well. No one had given her the management supervisor job; she'd earned it. She'd started at the bottom and from there studied the market, worked hard, learned from her superiors and was the ultimate team player. She gave two hundred percent without being asked, and had eventually secured her current position. Unfortunately, sometimes hard work counted for squat.
"If we lose this account the company will have no choice but to lay off a lot of people, including me, since it was my account."
"Work is all that matters to you." Janice crossed her arms over her chest. "You're a workaholic. You always have been. You're just like your parents."
Ouch. "I am not, and that's a low blow."
"You need to get some balance in your life," Janice continued, shifting into sympathetic mode. "You're all work and no play. You need to date. Have fun."
Elizabeth winced, knowing where the conversation was headed. Why did every married or engaged person feel they possessed a sacred duty to impart relationship advice to single relatives and friends? "Work is so crazy right now I don't have much time for anything, especially dating."
"Is it a time issue, or is it because no guy meets enough requirements on your ridiculous checklist?"
"It's not silly. I have to know what qualities I want in a partner, and what things are deal breakers."
"You'll be surprised how fast you'll throw out that list when you find the right guy."
Elizabeth had begun to think the right guy for her didn't exist. Or if he did, she worried she wouldn't find him without a map and a guide.
She grabbed a deep, calming breath. "Can we start over? I know I haven't been the most fun lately. We've had one round of layoffs already at work, and with this client halfway out the door, I'm way past stressed out."
"It's really that bad?" Janice asked, genuinely concerned.
"I'm sorry my wedding turned out to be poor timing for you." Janice reached out and clasped her hand. "I appreciate you being here, considering what's going on with you. Is the altitude sickness getting any better?"
Biting her lip to hold back her emotions over her cousin's unexpected empathy, Elizabeth nodded. "I'm tired and a bit queasy, but I can handle it, as long as it doesn't get worse."
"Look at that gorgeous cowboy walking our way," Claire said, popping up beside them. "Not that your wedding isn't reason enough, but this guy makes the entire trip worthwhile."
Janice squeezed Elizabeth's hand and let go. "Yum-oh." Her face lit up like Times Square after dark. "Elizabeth, you've got to see this guy. He's behind you a few feet. Turn, but don't be obvious that you're looking."
Behind her in the corral stood an attractive cowboy. His dark brown hat cast a shadow over his face, but didn't conceal his strong jaw or classic cheekbones. Dressed in a simple navy button-down shirt, jeans, chaps complete with leather fringe and dusty cowboy boots, he was the real deal.
"I'd be willing to risk getting hay in all sorts of awkward places for a little time alone in the barn with him," Claire said.
"Close your mouth, Janice, or you'll start catching flies," Elizabeth teased. "Plus you're getting married tomorrow."
"That doesn't mean I'm dead. I can still appreciate the ...
Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.
Description du livre Harlequin, 2011. Mass Market Paperback. État : New. book. N° de réf. du libraire M0373753853
Description du livre Harlequin, 2011. Mass Market Paperback. État : New. N° de réf. du libraire DADAX0373753853
Description du livre Harlequin, 2011. Mass Market Paperback. État : New. Never used!. N° de réf. du libraire P110373753853