Country Boy, City Girl
Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : Cynthianna
Word Count :52895
Publication Date :2018-11-16
Series : #
Heat Level :
Category : Contemporary Romance
- Product Code: 978-1-4874-2135-9
Can city girl Ronnie find love in the small-town Ozarks without the constant meddling of her rich and handsome country boy neighbor, Dave Darden?
City girl Veronica "Ronnie" Hawthorn has found peace at last in the Missouri Ozarks town of Green Springs. She and her young daughter, Natalie, are excited at the prospect of running their own arts-and-crafts store in an old farm house. But when city girl Ronnie "falls" into her handsome neighbor's arms, she is surprised to discover that country boy Dave Darden is one of the most eligible bachelors in America.
Dave is intrigued by his sexy new neighbor and simply adores "Nat," but his need to run every business he encounters efficiently gets in his way of impressing Ronnie. She wants to run her store--and her life--her own way without Dave's (or anyone else's) meddling. Can they get past their pride and acknowledge their love for each other?
It feels so good to be up to my elbows in mud again.
Ronnie sighed. Self-imposed pressure faded away as the rhythmic thump, thump, thump of the clay hitting the table surface over and over again lulled her into a blissful state of relaxation. The overwhelming strain she had endured these last ten months was forgotten while she vigorously kneaded the firm white clay in her small, yet capable, hands.
“Small hands, big heart,” her mother had told her time and time again. Mama’s heart had been big, too, but not strong enough to survive her last heart attack. How Ronnie wished Mama could have lived long enough to see Natalie born.
Now was not a time for regrets. The stiffness in Ronnie’s shoulders, the small pain at the base of her neck, which usually signaled a tension headache coming on, simply vanished as she and the clay became one. A woman alone starting a new business venture, Ronnie felt every bit as malleable as her chosen medium
Her lips came together in a hum. She worked the clay ball over and over until the last of the air pockets were worked out. She rolled it over one last time, then unceremoniously plopped it onto the center of the wheel. She adjusted her work apron and sat on the low stool, tucking a few stray blue-black hairs behind her ears before wetting her fingers in the jar of slip. A moan of pleasure sprang forth from deep within her as she sank her thumbs into the clay’s cool center, gently nudging and pulling it to form the sides of the bowl.
Today was the first day of her new business, and she wanted to always remember it as a happy one. The pitch of her humming soon matched the whine of the electric potter’s wheel, tuning out troubling doubts and painful memories. The dusty, earthen aroma of the clay transported her thoughts back in time. She could almost pretend she was still in art school, long before she met Jim, fell in love, got married, had Natalie, and buried her desire to become an artisan under a soccer mom façade. The Green Springs Arts and Crafts Gallery opened a new chapter in life for both her and Nat. Ronnie made a silent vow—this story would have a happy ending.
The haunted-house creaking of the back screen door instantly alerted her to another’s presence. A little girl’s giggle gave her would-be assailant away.
Silly, Nat! She’s sneaking up on Mommy to play Guess who?
It was nothing short of miraculous. In the few short days since they had moved from the city to Green Springs, Natalie had left the sadness of her father’s recent death behind and rediscovered her childhood. Ronnie couldn’t wait to spring a surprise of her own on her playful six-year-old daughter.
Ronnie bent further over her work, pretending not to hear Natalie’s approaching footsteps as they were heralded by the squeak of the old farmhouse’s pine floorboards. Squeak, squeak, squeak… She stifled a laugh and kept focused on the clay, her reflexes readied for her own response. She sprang into action the instant a tickle of warm breath brushed against the back of her neck.
“Got ya!” Ronnie spun around on her stool and closed her eyes before she planted the biggest, wettest, sloppiest kiss she could manage.
A jolt of electricity raced from her lips and traveled along the nerve highways of her body, awakening places inside she had believed were dead and buried along with Jim. Her eyes grew wide.
Surprise! These lips didn’t belong to her daughter.
Stunned, Ronnie pushed with all her might against the stranger’s wide shoulders but found herself held fast in his powerful embrace. She pounded her fists, but her actions only caused him to crush her curves closer to his muscular chest. His tongue entered her slightly parted mouth and enticed an immediate response from within her, frightening in its intensity. Her mind spun so fast she toppled off the stool and landed like a bag of clay into the newcomer’s formidable arms.
It seemed an eternity before the stranger lifted his lips from hers, releasing her from his daring grasp. Ronnie melted onto the floor, her power even to protest this despicable interloper’s brazen behavior vanquished.
“If this is how you greet all your male customers then I’ll lay odds this place turns a profit its first month,” he panted, his baritone drawl flavored with the familiar Ozark twang. He pulled himself up from where he knelt and wiped at the clay stains on his well-tailored oxford shirt before offering her a hand.
Ronnie’s cheeks burned, but she gratefully accepted his assistance.
Her assailant towered over her. He was well-built like a cover model, clean shaven with strawberry blond hair and striking honey-brown eyes. An impish smile spread across his wide, sensual lips, nicely accentuating his high cheekbones and square chin. He emanated an air of sophistication in his businessman’s clothes, yet the smattering of freckles across his nose somehow revealed a country boy at heart. Ronnie could barely breathe, but whether it was due to embarrassment or this man’s masterful kissing, she didn’t dare guess.
“I’m so-so sorry,” she stuttered. “I thought you were my daughter, Nat, sneaking up on me. P-p-please, forgive me.”
The stranger’s eyes twinkled at her predicament. He flashed his pearl-white teeth and gave her a southern gentleman’s mock bow. “You are completely forgiven, ma’am. The young lady herself told me how she enjoys giving you a good scare now and then and bet me a big wad of bubble gum I wasn’t game enough to do so. I just couldn’t refuse her wager.”
The sounds of Natalie’s tinkling laughter in the kitchen and the slamming of the back door verified the truth of his statement. Ronnie definitely needed to have a long, serious talk this very afternoon with her daughter about talking to strangers.