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Catching the Cowboy (Circle B Ranch #2)
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Settling down and starting a family is something Diesel has considered, regardless of his one-night stand reputation. However, he just might be single forever since who he wants is off-limits—his best friend’s little sister.
He’s been in love with her for years, but betraying his friendship could ruin everything.
Rowan Bishop is over men, especially after finding out her boyfriend cheated and left her heartbroken. After graduating from college, she’s back home and has to face the one guy who purposely gets under her skin—her older brother’s best friend.
She hates that she’s attracted to him, but she’s willing to fight for who she wants.
Spending time together is a bad idea, but neither can deny the chemistry sizzling between them. Late night talks turn into spontaneous adventures and just when Rowan’s willing to admit how she truly feels, Diesel’s past catches up with him and ruins their picture perfect romance.
One secret turns into another and before either can grasp their new reality, more truths unravel—threatening to expose their forbidden relationship.
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TEN YEARS AGO
I stare at her.
I stare at her a lot, actually. An embarrassing amount of time.
But Rowan doesn’t notice. She hardly acknowledges me, except for when she brushes me off and rolls her eyes at my lame attempts to flirt. I shouldn’t be flirting with her, considering she’s my best friend’s little sister. Riley’s three years older than her, which makes him even more protective. She’s only a year younger than me, though.
Tonight’s her eighth grade winter formal, and since I’m a freshman in high school, I can’t go to protect her from those little pricks. They mindlessly stare at her tits and long, tanned legs and aren’t subtle about it. I spent the better part of middle school giving them threatening glares. And even though I told myself it was for Riley’s sake—as his friend—that was mostly a lie. I did it because none of them deserved her, and I wanted her for myself. Still do.
Given that she pays no mind to me, I’ve resorted to making fun of her instead. It’s not the type of attention I want, but for a moment, it means I have hers, even if she’s telling me off or smacking me. It’s childish—like a boy chasing a girl to pull on her pigtails on the playground—but it’s the only way Rowan will actually look at me or speak to me.
Pathetic as hell, I know.
One of these days, Rowan Bishop will notice me as more than a nuisance or her brother’s best friend. Guaranteed.
“Boys!” their mother screams out the second-story window. River’s like a mom to me, considering how long I’ve known the Bishops and how much time I spend on the ranch. “Hurry up! She’s ready to go, and I need to take pictures!”
Riley and I jump out of his dad Alex’s truck and rush toward the house. Even though we’re still dirty from the day’s work, we try to brush off as we head up the steps to the porch. I help on their family ranch on the weekends and during the summer. It’s my own personal escape, and I can’t wait until school’s over so I can be here every day. It’s much different here than in town where I live, and I never want to leave.
The front door whips open, and we enter. I wait with bated breath for Rowan’s grand entrance down the staircase. My clothes and hair are a mess, and I’m embarrassed by how much of a disaster I must look, but when Rowan rounds the corner in a bright pink gown, my throat goes dry. Even if I were dressed in my Sunday best, I’d still be out of her league.
She smiles wide, her adorable dimples peeking through, as she holds the railing and walks down. Alex and River wait by the bottom step with pride filling their faces. Pulling out her phone, River begins taking pictures, then demands a daddy-daughter photo. Alex is wearing his typical cowboy hat, Wranglers, and work T-shirt and smiles next to Rowan who looks like royalty.
“Get in the picture, Riley,” River orders, waving him over after she gets a few good ones of just the two of them. She snaps several more, and then I step in.
“You need a family photo with all of you,” I tell her, reaching for her cell. “Get in the picture, Mrs. Bishop.”
She hands it over. “Oh, you’re a gem, Adam!” Aside from my mother and grandmother, River’s the only other person who uses my real name. I’ve repeatedly told her to call me Diesel—a nickname I’ve had for as long as I can remember—but she insists I’ll always be Adam to her.
“No problem, Mrs. B.”
River stands on one side of Rowan, and Riley and Alex are on the other. I step back, then click a few shots. Aside from their different hair color, Rowan looks identical to her mother. Riley’s always resembled his dad, even when he was younger.
“One more,” I say, then motion for them to move closer and tell them to smile wider.
Rowan doesn’t look at the camera. Rather, she flicks her eyes to mine, and when the corner of her lips tilts up, I imagine that smile is for me. A grin fills my face, and my imagination goes wild with thoughts on how I’d make this night memorable for her if I were her date. It’d be nothing short of perfection as we danced to her favorite songs, drank punch, then ended the evening with a quiet stroll under the stars.
“Alright, I’m gonna be late!” Rowan lifts the front of her ball gown, revealing cowboy boots, then walks out of the group. I smirk at her shoes, knowing she’d never wear heels unless she was forced. Hell, I’m surprised she’s even wearing such a poofy dress. She’s worn sundresses to church before, but never something this fancy. She’s a natural tomboy, born and raised on a ranch, and has always preferred getting dirty over pompoms. Riding horses is second nature to her, and she often gives me a run for my money when it comes to hard work and getting chores done. It makes me like her even more.