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Have you ever had one of those really bad days at work?
I blame my bestie and partner in chaos.
But I’m an adrenaline junkie, and now, here I am.
But you haven’t seen him.
Well, he was until a few minutes ago.
But wait. Maybe I’m not.
The Dare is a full-length romance with a HEA and no cliffhanger.
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“When you’re ready, gimme that nod, darlin’!” The guy’s voice is loud over the din surrounding me and there’s definitely a false note to his twang.
Poser . . . but damn, does he look great in those skintight jeans that leave nothing to the imagination. He’s going for the ‘what you see is what you get’ look and it’s serving him up to every pair of eyes in this place.
No judgement, though. It’s not like I’m any different.
I watched a YouTube video to get my cutoff shorts just right, I borrowed a pair of cowgirl boots with actual fringe, and I’m wearing an add-a-size pushup bra to make my breasts look bigger as they nearly bounce out of my low-cut tank top. I look like Daisy Duke and a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader got together, and I’m their style-baby creation for a reality television show called So You Wanna Be a Sexy Cowgirl?
How did I end up here, anyway?
Here is a honkytonk on the rough side of town, when I don’t even know how to two-step or line dance or any of the other stuff I’ve been doing all night.
Here is with my long legs wrapped around the vinyl of a mechanical bull and a cowboy I don’t know straddling me from behind. Apparently, we’re riding together, which seems unprofessional but also completely improper, so I’m down for it.
Here is in that moment I live for. I wait for my blood to sing through me and to feel its hot burn from the top of my head to the tips of toes and everywhere in between.
Anticipation. Excitement. Restlessness.
All so loud inside my head that everything else is shut out. There’s no real world, no pain, no doubts, only hope that the next dare will leave me adrenalin-filled and buzzing, high on the danger and risk.
It’s my favorite moment, right on the edge of greatness.
Another voice whispers in my ear, “You’re not having second thoughts, are you? Give the man his nod and let’s ride, baby.”
I’m not this guy’s baby, but the high flows through me and I look to the bull man. His eyes are hungry, whether for me or to watch me fall off this thing, I’m not sure, but it’s all the same.
I nod, and my last conscious thought is that he has a pretty smile before everything in my head becomes a shout.
Hang on! Squeeze with your knees! Grip the rope!
I’ve got the knot of the length of rope in one hand, my free hand waving around like a maniac for about zero-point-two seconds. Then I give in and grab the knot with both hands. It’s not pro-style, but I don’t give a shit as I hoot and holler and hold on for dear life.
Behind me, the cowboy whose name I don’t even know has his arms wrapped around me to fist the base of the rope, which suddenly seems very phallic with both our hands gripping it. His thighs squeeze me as he pulls me back against him with every jerking move of the machine beneath us. I can feel him, hard and long against my ass when we bump together, which has to hurt because we’re not talking an easy jostling here.
But the operator must be in cahoots with Cowboy because the rhythm becomes less jerky. Instead, we spin a bit but the forward and backward movement is smooth and wavelike. Cowboy’s grunts don’t sound so much like work to hang on now. Instead, he’s groaning in my ear like he’s enjoying this a little too much.
But still, I hold on, praying for the eight.
One last maneuver has Cowboy bouncing against my ass, and if there weren’t two layers of denim between us, I have no doubt he’d easily slip right inside me with those thrusts.
The thought makes me unsteady, and I lose my grip, slipping off to the side. Cowboy tries to save me, but I fall from the circle of his arms, my legs flying up in the air as I bounce to the cushions below the bull.
The crowd cheers all around me, and my eyes jump to the digital readout.
Nine point five.
I wait for the second-best feeling to wash through me. Success, accomplishment, power.
Son of a bitch, I made it! Plus overtime!
I jump up and make a high-kneed victory lap around the padding, slapping hands as I go.
When I get to my bestie, she grabs my shoulders and shakes me almost as hard as the bull did. “Oh, my God! You did it, you crazy bitch! That was epic! Awesome! Hell, yeah!” she calls out in a fake twang of her own, and everyone around us cheers again as they hold up their beers.
The smile on my face is so big my cheeks hurt.
“That was some ride. What’s your name?” I turn to face the deep voice behind me. Cowboy is looking me up and down like a snack. Like we’re already halfway through foreplay and I’m a foregone conclusion.