Trina Mattews lost her husband of sixteen years to a tragic accident. Starting her life over in the small town of Hailey, Texas, at the age of thirty-eight sounded like a good idea but she never counted on the loneliness she'd experience.
Navarro Raine is the hottest man she's ever seen. He's tall, with piercing blue eyes and Native American beauty. He fills her nighttime fantasies and makes her wonder about all the things she's yet to experience in bed. And Navarro has a reputation for being very good in that department...
Discovering he's about to lose his family ranch, Trina has the perfect solution for both of them. She's willing to offer Navarro the money to save his ranch if he'll give her the kind of sex she's only read about. It might be the craziest thing she's ever done but after years of vanilla sex, she's made up her mind--it's time to taste a few more flavors.
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Ellora's Cave Publishing, Incorporated
November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Propositioning Mr. Raine by Laurann Dohner
The burn of whiskey slowly eased from her mouth down into her belly. Trina bit her lip and placed her glass down carefully on the table, taking a deep breath. Her nerves were on edge and she figured a few shots of liquid courage were just the trick to get her to do something totally insane. She took another deep breath, expelling it quickly, and then lifted her gaze to glance secretly at the reason she wasn't at home in bed reading a good book as she typically did every night.
In the corner of the bar sat the man who occupied a lot of her nighttime fantasies. He appeared to be in a foul mood as he stared at his hands, wrapped around a glass of some strong blend of alcohol, and nursed his drink. She could guess that right now Navarro Raine was feeling the weight of the world on those big, broad shoulders of his. For days the gossips in town had been busy spreading the word that Navarro's younger brother, a man with a well-known history of drinking and gambling problems, had taken a twenty-thousand-dollar loan out against their ranch that they couldn't pay back.
Missy, down at the post office, said it was a damn shame the Raines were losing their place. Mike, at the gas station, had smugly grinned when he'd said it would be good riddance of the whole Raine family when the bank foreclosed. Trina had listened to it all, feeling really bad for the man she secretly had a crush on. They'd never spoken to each other so she hadn't had an opportunity to tell him she was sorry for the mess he was in.
The grocery checker just that morning had given Trina the latest gossip going around town. Navarro's long time girlfriend, a leggy redhead named Tammy Brent, had dumped him as soon as she'd heard he was going to lose everything. It had pissed Trina off when she'd driven home, thinking how unfair that was. She'd seen the younger woman all over town, but had never liked the outspoken, trashy woman much. It spoke volumes of Tammy's low character to dump a man when he was down for trouble not even of his own making.
Trina swallowed another sip of whiskey. The liquid burned down into her belly again. As she'd put away her groceries hours earlier, her mind had fixed on Navarro's money problems, his mean ex-girlfriend, and suddenly a crazy plan had formed. It is crazy, she reminded herself. He's never going to go for it in a million years and he'll think I'm a nut job.
Her gaze lifted again, automatically locking onto Navarro. Only a blind woman couldn't see how hot he was and there wasn't a damn thing wrong with Trina's eyesight. Her attraction to him was so strong that her heart raced every time she laid eyes on the tall hunk. Her panties were wet just watching him from across the room.
He stood about six-foot-two with silky black hair that fell to his shoulders, accented by his deeply tan skin. He worked out often, judging from his muscular arms and broad shoulders that tightly filled out a red flannel shirt. Though he was sitting, she knew he had lean hips, a tight ass that looked amazing in his faded jeans, and long, muscular legs. He always wore jeans that molded to every inch of his body, from hips to calves and he kept his big feet encased in faded black cowboy boots. He was damn near perfect from the neck down.
A scar ran a few inches along his jawline, a thin white line only noticeable if he tilted his head back in good lighting. She'd heard he'd gotten that from his rodeo days when he was younger, working the circuit. A few more scars were said to be at his temple but his long hair hid those. He had the kind of eyes a woman could stare into for hours--a dark, stormy blue framed by thick black eyelashes. His bone structure was strong with dominant cheekbones that some might think made him appear a little harsh but Trina didn't agree. He was just damn sexy to her.
One glance at her watch revealed that if she didn't do this now, he'd leave soon. He worked hard on his horse ranch and when he visited the only bar in town, he usually left around nine o'clock. She assumed he got up early just as did most people in the area. She was learning a lot about ranching since she'd moved to the small Texas town of Hailey a few months before.
Forcing her courage, she took a deep breath and stood, swallowed hard, and walked toward his table. She was glad it was Tuesday night and the bar was almost empty, knowing she'd have been more afraid of doing this if there were a lot of witnesses around. He's going to lose his home, I'm really lonely, so just do it, she silently ordered herself. What do I really have to lose? I could be helping him.
Navarro seemed to sense her coming toward him and he looked up. His beautiful, dark blue gaze locked on Trina. She almost turned and fled but managed to keep moving toward him even though a blush rose in her cheeks. She paused in front of his table and nervously shoved back a long strand of her curly blonde hair that fell forward.
"May I sit?" Her voice was a whisper. "I have a proposition for you."
Surprise flitted across his features but a second later his dark eyes narrowed suspiciously. His full lips twisted into a frown but he jerked his head in a nod. He let go of the glass and motioned to one of the chairs opposite him. She slowly took a seat.
Trina locked her hands together in front of her on the table so he didn't see them trembling. Her entire body was shaking slightly from nerves and for the hundredth time she pondered if she should go see a shrink since she was crazy to be doing this. She was at least aware how nuts it was so that gave her hope that she hadn't totally lost her ever-lovin' mind. Biting her lower lip, she forced herself to meet his gaze.
"What is on your mind?"
She shivered a little at the sound of his voice. He had a gruff, deeply masculine, sexy voice that made her stomach tighten. She wished she had another drink, her courage sliding away from her as fast as the warmth in her belly had from the whiskey she'd drunk before approaching him.
"I'm--" She had to clear her throat. "I'm Trina Mattews."
"I know who you are."
That surprised her. "You do?"
He nodded. "You bought the Vern's farmhouse when they retired to Oregon."
She swallowed the lump that formed to her throat. That was one less thing she'd have to say since now she wouldn't have to explain what she was doing in Hailey. She nodded.
"I did. I saw it for sale on the internet and bought it a few months ago. I lost my husband last year when he was killed in an accident at work. I'm from Southern California and I wanted to live somewhere that I wouldn't have to be constantly reminded of my loss."
Trina was proud that she'd gotten that bit of information out without her voice breaking. It had been fourteen months since the devastating reality that Ted had been killed. The move from Southern California to Hailey had helped a lot and she was finally starting to get on with her life, leaving almost everything behind so little reminded her of her marriage.
"I'm sorry. I hadn't heard that." His gaze softened.
"You mentioned you had a proposition for me? Do you want to buy a horse? I have a few that come to mind if you're just learning to ride. I not only breed them but I train them."
Trina hesitated. "I don't want a horse. I don't even want a puppy. I..." She swallowed, realizing it was harder talking to him than she had thought it would be. "I mean, I'm not looking for a pet or something to take care of because honestly, I have a hard enough time taking care of myself some days."
Sympathy filled the man's expression. "You really loved him, huh?"
She nodded. "We were married for sixteen years."
A stunned look passed over his face. "Wow. I think the longest relationship I was ever in was two years when I was married but it didn't work out."
She took a deep breath. "Whatever we say here, can it stay between us?"
His eyelids narrowed a little again while he raised his glass to his lips to take a sip. He swallowed and his glass kissed the table when he put it down gently. "I'm not a gossip if that's what you're asking."
"I didn't think you were. This is embarrassing and I'd just like your assurance that you won't repeat anything I say to you. Can I have your word? I heard you were very trustworthy."
He nodded. "Sure. I won't repeat anything but I'm kind of confused though. You don't want to buy a horse from me so do you need some help around your place? Is that it?"
She hesitated. "I heard about your brother and what he did."
Anger made his mouth tighten into a firm line. "Yeah, well, I figured it had gotten around that I'm going to lose my ranch. Some people are probably pretty happy about it."
She didn't know what to say to that. "I... Damn, this is harder to do than I thought it would be. I rehearsed this in my head a hundred times on my drive to town but now that I'm facing you this is so embarrassing."
He frowned at her. "Just say what you want to say."
She met his blue-eyed, intense gaze that caused her heart to pound in her chest. He had utterly sexy and beautiful eyes. "The company my husband worked for had to pay me a settlement because it was their fault he died. I don't want to go into the details but someone screwed up and Ted was killed. Ted also had a life insurance policy so money isn't an issue with me." She paused. "I have enough money to save your ranch."
Shock widened his eyes and his hand tightened on his drink, turning his knuckles white. Long seconds passed. "You'd be willing to loan me the money? I'd be good to pay it back. I tried getting another loan but my brother has kind of screwed up our credit. I won't lie about that. It's in the shitter."
"No loan." She hesitated. "I mean, I could do that but then you'd have to pay it back. I...uh...have a job in mind for you to earn the money."
Navarro frowned again. "Look, I don't know what kind of job you have for me but all I know is horses. I am handy with a hammer and can paint. I've done shit on my own house over the years. I put in a new floor and I patched my own roof. I--"
"Not that," she cut in. Embarrassment heated her cheeks. "This is really harder to say than I thought it would be."
Dark blue eyes watched her. "Just say it."
She nodded, letting her gaze drop to his chest, not looking directly into his eyes helped a little. "I was married for sixteen years. Don't ever doubt that I loved my husband because he was a great guy but he worked too much and he was kind of uptight. I thought it was cute." She paused, knowing her cheeks burned hotter now. "I heard you're a real lady's man and I heard that you're...uh...well versed in the bedroom."
Trina saw his chest rise and fall in a quick way as he sucked in air, obviously surprised by what she'd said. She didn't blame him one bit for the reaction either. The silence between them was absolute and very uncomfortable. She wished the seat would open up under her and that she could disappear. This was way worse to do for real than practicing in her head and she could feel his gaze on her while she imagined he was shocked speechless. She licked her dry lips and decided to finish the most humiliating discussion of her life.
"This is harder to say than I thought it would be. I loved Ted but he was, um, not really adventurous in bed. I thought maybe I could give you the money you need to save your ranch and maybe in exchange you could give me what I want. I can't imagine what you think of me right now but I'm not a bad person. I just never had a great sex life. I'm lonely and...shit..." She went silent. "This was a bad idea."
"Is this some kind of joke?"