Much Ado About
Hearts of Owyhee #3
Of all the heroines in my books, I got the biggest kick out of Jake O'Keefe. Eh, Jake? A woman?
That's what hero Ben Lawrence thought, too. Here's an excerpt of Much Ado About Mavericks where the two of them introduce themselves.
Much Ado About Mavericks
Copyright © 2013 Jacquie Rogers
Ben Lawrence could hardly wait to see his mother and sister, even if his stomach soured every time he thought about his childhood home. But he had to take care of the family and ranch now that his father had died. Worse, he had to contend with Jake O’Keefe because Pa thought his own son too incompetent to hire good people, even after four years at Harvard and nine years of practicing law.
The soda was refreshing and he took his time while she waited, not patiently, shifting her weight from left to right, then tossing a few pebbles.
“I think we should reintroduce ourselves.” He placed the mug on the boardwalk and offered his hand. “How do you do? I’m Benjamin Lawrence, visiting from Boston.”
“Janelle Kathryn.” She grabbed his hand and shook it vigorously. “I’m surely pleased to meet you.”
He tested his shoulder to see if it still functioned after her hearty handshake. Then, just to knock her off guard, he took her hand and kissed the back of it with grandiose gallantry. “My pleasure, Miss Janelle.”
♥ ♥ ♥
Jumpin’ juniper berries! Jake snatched her scorching hand away from Skeeter’s lips. His well-placed little smacker burned hotter than a branding iron in August. Only better, but she sure as shootin’ wouldn’t admit it to a soul. Ever. Of course, she had no intention of washing her hand for a month either. That hot kiss sent goosebumps clean down to her toes.
She sucked in a deep breath and cleared her throat. “Let’s go.” She hopped onto the wagon and picked up the reins.
Ben leapt onto the seat and took the reins from her. “I’ll drive.”
His thigh rubbed hers. She didn’t know how he could think right if he tingled anything like she did. But, he probably didn’t. She inched away from him as the buckboard moved out of town. She focused on the sagebrush—at least it didn’t knock her plumb senseless. He was too damned good-looking in a dandified sort of way. Taller than she was, too, by a few inches. Few men were. She stood even with Whip, who, although bent with years of hard work, was taller than the rest of the men.
It ate at her that Skeeter muddled her mind so, and she had no idea what got into her to tell him her real name. She’d better set him straight.
“Just so’s you know, I ain’t no simpering female. Folks around here call me Jake. Jake O’Keefe. I expect you ought to call me that, too.”
She nearly laughed at his horrified expression.
“Jake O’Keefe? My foreman?”
Just what she needed—a greenhorn who didn’t think she could do a man’s work. Well hell, she’d already proven herself better than any hand in the territory, and she wasn’t about to do it again—especially to a feller they called Skeeter. “Yup. And just so’s you know, Harley Blacker hired me on with the Flying B, so as soon as I show you the ropes, I’ll be leaving the Bar EL.”
He set his lips firm like he was cogitating. She didn’t know what there was to think about—she’d laid out the deal square enough.
Finally, he said, “All right then, Jake, just so you know, my name is Ben. Benjamin Lawrence. I expect to be called that.” His jaw tensed and his cheek twitched just a might. “And I’d appreciate it if you’d stay on the Bar EL, at least until I get the family affairs settled. I’ll be going back to Boston as soon as I can.”
“Got a woman?” Jake could’ve slapped her own fool face. Why the hell would she care? But that tickly feeling deep inside seemed to make her lose all her brains.
“I have a law practice there. And friends.” He pulled on the right reins and flicked the left side, turning the team onto the Lawrence road. “A lady friend, too.”
Probably some frilly-assed, sappy female who batted her eyelashes at him and giggled at any harebrained thing he said. Men seemed to like such silly critters, although, for the life of her, she couldn’t see why. “Well, I ain’t staying, so you’d better be on the lookout for a new foreman. Fred’s probably your man—he’s been sourer than five-day-old pissed-in milk since the old man chose me over him.”
“Don’t want him. I need you.”
“How much is Blacker paying you?”
“Eighty dollars and found.”
“I’ll give you a hundred.”
She shook her head. “One-twenty and found.”
“And found—ain’t interested in eating my own cooking.” She’d starve to death if she did. Whip had taught her how to rope, shoot, and just about everything else, but he never could teach her how to cook. Every concoction she had tried ended up looking and smelling like fresh-branded cowhide. Not that she’d wanted to learn in the first damned place.
He nodded. “And found.”
“I’ll take it. Six months I’ll give you. But come spring, I’m working my own ranch, so you better get used to the idea.”
“One-twenty and found for any months you work after six.”
“I ain’t budging.”
“All right, for now I’ll take six months at a hundred and ten dollars and found. Shake?”
She wasn’t so sure she wanted to feel his hand on hers again—more dangerous than a rattlesnake with a toothache. Grabbing his hand, she gave it one shake and let go immediately, wiping her hand on her pants. “Deal.”
But it would be a helluva long six months if she buzzed like her guts were filled with bumblebees every time Ben Lawrence took a gander at her.
♥ Hearts of Owyhee ♥
Where the Old West really happened!
Where the Old West really happened!
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