His last eight seconds could lead to the longest, most satisfying ride of his life.
Studs in Spurs, Book 4
Annie Grant is at the top of her game as an on-air interviewer for the pro bull-riders tour. In all those years standing within microphone range of thousands of sexy cowboys, she's never been tempted...until now. Now that respected veteran Luke Carpenter is no longer with his longtime girlfriend, he's back on the market. And Annie is buying.
Luke knows his days are numbered. Every year the rookies get younger, the bulls get ranker and, like it or not, the time is coming when he'll be hanging up his spurs. After a sizzling hot night with Annie, he realizes that maybe this old dog can learn some new tricks. But quicker than a bull can spin, things get complicated.
A tragedy forces Luke into a no-win decision: hang onto the tail end of his career, or retire early for his family. Either way, he can live with his choice. Question is, can he live without Annie?
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September 12, 2011
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Excerpt from Hooked by Cat Johnson
"Thanks." Would he leave now? She really didn't want him to. "Um, I could make us some coffee, or decaf..." She swung her arm in the general direction of the bathroom where the machine was, as unappetizing as that juxtaposition was.
"Sure. That would be great." Luke let the door swing shut.
Annie took the keycard he had handed her and dropped it onto the dresser along with her bag. The surface was a little messy but at least housekeeping had made the bed--the big king-sized bed. She yanked her gaze away from that and glanced guiltily at him, and noticed Luke was staring in the same direction she had been, at that big inviting mattress.
He turned to her and she could have sworn he blushed. "Annie..." He took one step closer, until he was directly in front of her, and then he stopped.
"Yes?" Oh God. Don't get too excited.
"I don't really want any coffee." His eyes focused on her intently.
What was he trying to say? He wanted to leave? Then why was he so close she could feel the warmth of his breath? "Oh. That's fine. I know it's late--"
He laughed. "No, that's not it. I meant I didn't come inside for coffee. I came inside because I wasn't ready to say goodnight to you yet."
She swallowed hard and forced herself to bring forth the sultry, smooth-talking woman that had to be somewhere inside her, buried deep. "Good. I'm not ready to say goodnight to you either."
It wasn't incredibly clever, but it was sincere, and she had delivered it in her best sexy television announcer voice. The one she used for auditions but rarely remembered to use on air.
"Good. I'm glad." Perhaps it was her imagination, but she thought his head dipped just a fraction of an inch lower. His gaze broke from hers, and then he shook his head. He let out a short laugh. "I've been out of this world too damn long."
"What world?" Annie had trouble getting that question out since breathing seemed extra hard with Luke so close.
He brought his gaze back to hers. "The dating world."
"Oh." Tonight was a date? Her mouth went dry at the revelation. Good thing she hadn't known that or she would have been even more awkward than she had been.
"You had asked about Lilly. Well, she and I have--had been together for a long time. Since right after she graduated high school."
The last thing Annie had imagined doing in a hotel room with Luke Carpenter was standing by the door talking about his ex-girlfriend, but she had to admit what he'd just revealed was a fascinating tidbit of information.
"Really? Wow. That's a long time." A very long time for a man to date a woman and not get married. She didn't say that last part out loud. There was obviously something that stopped them from getting married. What was that? His career, maybe?
"Yeah, I guess. What I'm saying is, it's been a really long time since I've had to tell a girl--woman--how I feel. Or, you know, let her know I'm interested in her, um, you know..." He glanced at the bed then back to her.
Her eyes opened wide. "Physically." The word slipped out, soft but definitely audible.
"Yeah. Physically." He looked relieved she'd supplied the word for him.
Now that the cat was out of the bag, what the hell. She might as well go for it.
"Are you saying you're...interested?" Annie swallowed hard and waited for the answer.
He let out his breath in a short burst of air. "Oh God, yes."
Luke took his hat off. He worked the rim in his hands, spinning it round and round. He kind of looked like a little boy waiting for permission to do something. This was so not how she pictured this night going. Talking about sex was...strange. Like they were negotiating contracts.
It must be the gentleman in Luke that had him checking with her before he made a move. The few men she'd dated back home in the off-season hadn't been like this. Actually, as she thought about them--fumbling to kiss her goodnight, slobbering on her whether she turned her cheek to avoid their lips or not--the negotiations she was currently in with Luke were far preferable. Especially if they led to the outcome she wanted. Him in her bed.
As long as they were talking things out first, she might as well get all her anxieties out on the table. He'd already alleviated one fear--it was pretty obvious he hadn't been sleeping around since his breakup, or he'd be better at this. That helped her insecurities. At least she wouldn't be competing against some twenty-year-old he'd been with last night, or last week, or whatever. But there was still one more thing weighing on her mind.
"We need to make a deal."
His hat stopped slowly rotating in his grasp. "What's that?"
"Whatever happens between us now, or even afterwards, won't affect our professional relationship." Now that she thought about it that was a lot to ask of both of them. Sex changed things. Hell, just this little talk would change things between them, whether they did it or not. She glanced up at him. "Do you think we'll be able to do that?"
He nodded solemnly. "I do."
She wasn't so sure, but she wanted this man too much to worry about it any further. With the knowledge that she would very likely regret this when she was able to think again, she nodded. "Okay, then."
His brows rose. "So that means..."
"It means you might want to put down that hat and take off those boots." She smiled at his reaction.
"Yes, ma'am." His excitement was nearly tangible as he tossed his hat onto the dresser and then turned back to her. "As soon as I do one other thing first."
"What?" Was there a quaver in her voice as Luke's head dipped lower toward hers?
"This." That one word was spoken just shy of her lips, then Luke was kissing her.
She couldn't say he kissed her breathless because she was having trouble breathing to begin with.