Cowboy Boots and Untamed Hearts by Natalie Acres
Cowboy Boots and Untamed Hearts Moves Faster than the hit TV show “24”
[Menage Amour 70: Erotic Western Menage Romance, F/M/M/M/M/M, BDSM, Suspense]
Sydney has a problem with Bitch. The horse her father treasures more than gold is running loose and a blizzard is headed for Southwest Virginia. After spending the entire morning chasing the darn animal, she discovers she’s probably not going to earn Cowgirl of the Year for her efforts.
So what’s a damsel in designer jeans to do? Call in reinforcements and fortunately, she knows where to find them.
The Donovan men are known for their good looks, alpha-male ways, and their skills behind stacks of hay bales. It’s their skills that often keep Sydney up late at night, only she’s just dreamed about them. She’s never had the opportunity to act on them because her father’s career often kept her on the move.
A blizzard strikes out and the Donovan brothers want to take the first step and make Sydney their own. Only first they’ll have to reveal a torrid past and answer some tough questions about their family and Sydney’s father. Soon, they discover their innocent little Sydney harbors several secrets of her own and from out of nowhere, a stranger rides in the storm with a surprise for the Donovan brothers.
Her feet touched the floor, sort of, or did they make contact at all? She wasn’t sure. The air around her held a different texture than what she remembered before she fell asleep. She couldn’t see anything but shadows, or were those imagined, too?
Maybe she was dreaming.
Guns fired and a few blasts went off around her.
No, she didn’t have audible dreams. Not like this.
Someone held her tight, close enough to form a second skin. He guarded her with his own large frame and whispered something in her ear. Reassurance maybe, or was it a warning?
She tried to focus, but it wasn’t easy. When her personal bodyguard released her, her hand was quickly cupped in a much larger one.
Riley was the one who dragged her. They hurried down the hallway like it opened up in front of them only to allow their passage. Then the area sealed off behind them. She heard a swooshing sound and a breeze assured her of a lot of movement. Bodies formed a wall and shielded them. Guns fired with repetition.
It was indeed like a dream, at first. Riley helped her through the darkness, like a man determined to haul his woman out of danger. He tucked her at his side and carried her away.
Sydney glanced over her shoulder. She saw men, too many of them rushing at them. Oh God, this is a nightmare. She reminded herself of those she used to have as a teenager. This wasn’t any different, she told herself. Over and over again, she tried to make a believer out of herself. Only, it didn’t work. She wasn’t able to convince
herself. Reality is hard to deny.
“Riley!” She heard Brock’s voice, the anger and pent-up rage filling the area. “Riley! Tell me something, now!”
Horror. That’s what she heard. Brock’s rage and his uncertainty.
“Ice cream, baby! Count on it!” Riley used her safe word and gave it a whole new meaning. In the midst of all this, he used it to inform the others. She was safe.
“Riley,” she mumbled. Her throat, even though dry, finally allowed her to mutter his name. She tried to keep up, hold on, survive…and above all else, live.
Her home was black. The rooms were never this dark. She felt around for a switch and Riley smacked her hand away. “Leave it off, doll,” he said. “Only do what I tell you to do.”
“What’s happening?” she asked, ignoring the fact that he pulled her into the freshly fallen snow and lifted her into his arms. They were waist deep. There wasn’t a way out.
Gunfire and loud kabooms surrounded them.
“Riley! This is crazy! You can’t possibly carry me through this much snow!”
He pushed forward. Determination etched in his jaw, he seemed to swim through the drifts. A tight line of concentration drawn in his brow, he tried to hold her above him but even as he cradled her body to his, must have recognized his failure.
She was freezing and her teeth chattered to prove it.
“Shh.” He pressed on, inching closer and closer to the largest tree in their yard.
“Riley! We can’t make it out here. We’re going to freeze to death.”
“Just a little more,” he said, offering her assurance. “Hold on tight, baby. We’re almost there.”
He stopped short of reaching the tree. His hips jerked and he jiggled his lower leg back and forth.
Panic shook her. They weren’t getting out of this alive. The only positive she found in any of this was that she wouldn’t live to see or hear about her father’s disappointment. He wouldn’t be too pleased with the Donovans either, if any of them survived.
Riley pressed forward, his body a rock of tremendous strength, he grunted aloud as he tore through nature’s defiance with more power than a workhorse, more determination than those fighting wars. He wasn’t ready to admit or accept a failure.
She silently prayed for them. They had to make it. Brock and Luke, Kevin and Jett, if she couldn’t make it out of this, they had to survive. She didn’t want to die in vain and oh heaven help her, she couldn’t stand to think of Riley losing his life to save hers.
Choking back tears, she screamed out at once. “Riley! Take me back!”
He wiggled his leg again. “Shit, Sydney. Just be quiet for one second.”
She looked back at the house. She saw a large form in one of the front windows. The person seemed to lurk over them, right above them, and he stood in one place, watching them. She felt his eyes on her and then she saw a gun.
Duck! Riley! Duck!
She froze and she never uttered the first word. Her senses kicked her ass and when she needed it the most, her voice failed her.
A loud click sounded out below them. Before she realized what happened, Riley grabbed her tight around the waist and they slid through some sort of underground tunnel.
“Ril……ley!” She gripped his neck as they slid down the chute.
When they landed in the open, sterile-type room, she was without the blanket he’d wrapped around her earlier and even in the midst of danger, he found amusement.
“Damn baby, give me a minute here before you strip.” He laughed at his own wit. “Man, it’s cold.” He stared at her nipples and quickly ran his hands over her arms before moving by her.
She didn’t find him particularly funny. With her teeth clattering away, she glared at him and waited for him to explain. She was chilled to the bone and certain even her blood cells had tiny icicles hanging from them.
He moved around her again and provided a little friction rubbing her skin. He tried, unsuccessfully, to work the cold out of her bones. It didn’t help. “All right then. Remind me to talk to the others. You’re going to have to sleep in your clothes from now on.”
She folded her arms over her chest. He crawled back into the hole that just spit them out and tried to see if he could find anything they left behind there. Why he bothered, she wasn’t sure. It probably held more water than his overcoat.
“Shit!” he complained wiggling out of his jacket and then stripping his hoodie off in order to hand it to her. “Put this on,” he said, looking at her with a man’s lust even in the wake of danger. “We have blankets and supplies in the back but you have
o give me a minute.”
He pulled down some sort of projector and quickly walked over to the wall where there were a lot of buttons, levers and panels. He started hitting a few of them, and then pulled out a released tray and pounded away at the keyboard found there. Then, he grabbed her and held her head tight against his chest.
A loud boom sounded out around them. He never flinched.
“What the hell was that?” she screamed, her body shaking with fright. “Riley?”
“I had to collapse the tunnels,” he said, rushing to a closet and gathering socks, shirts, and blankets. He handed them to her before returning to the monitors now alive with blinking lights and a humming sound, irritating enough to draw her palms to her ears.
“You did what?” she shouted.
“There was only one way in here and one way out.” He hit a button and with the maneuver, the loud noise stopped at once.
“And you demolished both at one time? Are you insane?” Her heart pounded a little harder than before, if that was possible.
“No, but you might as well know, I am a little nuts.”
She stared at him blankly and without thinking looked down.
“Ah now, baby. Look at you with your dirty mind,” he said, grinning. “I’ve already rubbed off on you, eh?”
“Riley Donovan, let me assure you that sex is not on my mind, right at the moment.”
“That’s okay, sweets. It’s always on mine so I can think about it enough for both of us. For now, I can cope with it, but we’re going to have plenty of time in here so make sure it’s only temporary. I like my subs ready when I am.”
“You’re not funny and right now, you’re not even sexy.”
“Liar,” he said with a grin. “I’m cake frosting and I know it.”
Good grief. Why argue with an ego? There was no way to win.
He took a quick leap forward, grabbed her around the waist and kissed her lightly on the lips. “Give me a few hours and I’m the only thing you’ll think about. I swear it. There’s not much to do when you’re fifty feet underground and no one knows where you are or how to get to you.”
* * * *
“Are they clear?” Kevin’s head mashed against the master bedroom wall. “Riley? Jett? Luke?” He took a deep breath and then shoved a clip in his gun. “Brock? Damn it to hell somebody answer me!”
A large form shifted behind him, Kevin wheeled around and pointed his gun, then lowered it. “Shit, don’t sneak up on me like that.”
Brock grabbed his forearm and pushed him toward the large recreation room. “Would you rather I announce it so everyone can find us. Move your ass. That cry for Momma outburst, or whatever the hell you call it, just compromised your position.”
Once there, Brock gave Kevin a push inside. Jett slumped over Luke’s body.
“Luke?” Kevin rushed to his brother’s side.
“He’s all right,” Brock said in passing. He moved his hand to the curtains and looked out over the yard before pointing to the door. “Keep your gun aimed over there.”
“What the hell have you brought up on us?” Kevin knelt beside of Luke and ignored Brock’s order. He stared at his oldest brother before he swiped Jett’s hand away to take a peek at Luke’s shoulder. “You gonna make it?”
Luke pressed his head against the wall. “Yeah, bullet only grazed the skin.
“Did Riley and Sydney make it out?” Kevin questioned Jett.
“They’re out,” Brock answered, watching the snowmobiles leave the property.
“How about everyone else? Did they all leave?” Jett asked.
“How would I know? I have no idea what the count was from the beginning. They all came out of nowhere and at once,” Brock replied.
“I asked you a question,” Kevin reminded Brock. “Who are you running from?”
Brock narrowed his gaze on Jett and he continued to work at bandaging Luke’s shoulder. Apparently, the effort required his undivided attention.
Kevin tossed aside his weapon and rushed him. “Damn it! Answer me!” He held him pinned to the wall, his clothing bunched up in his hands. “Who followed you here?”
Through gritted teeth, Brock hissed. “I think you got the wrong brother.”
With steady hands, Jett tucked in the white cloth at both corners and gave Luke a good once over. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Good as new,” he said patting the wound but wincing the second he touched it.
From a squatted position, Jett slowly stood again and walked over to the window with a pointed question for Brock. “I take it you remembered about all the tunnels?”
He confirmed it when he said, “Dad went over everything with me a dozen times before I met up with you.” He pointed to the large Oak.
“Leave it to Riley to make his way to the best hideout on the place.”
Luke raised his eyebrow. “I doubt he sees it that way. I don’t know about you guys but buried alive isn’t something I find all that appealing.”
“He’s never been in the bunkers,” Jett informed. “Dad kept him away from the business for as long as possible.”
Brock stroked his rough growth of yesterday’s stubble. “Well pretty boy, let me tell you all about that particular bunker. Riley chose it specifically since he’s in good company down there.”
“Tell him later,” Kevin growled. “Tell me what you meant by `wrong brother’ and don’t point at Luke because I’m not buying it.” He narrowed his gaze on Jett all at once.
Brock chuckled. “Yeah, you got one of `em in your sights. The other one is buried under that drift out there with one beautiful snow angel.”
Jett’s clenched fists hung at his side. Brock backed away from him and took another position near one of the other windows. Kevin moved closer to Jett searching for answers.
“Tell me about Venezuela,” he demanded.
“Kevin, right now we have a few other things to—
“Tell me about South America.” Each word barely squeezed beyond Kevin’s tight lips. “Now.”
Luke searched for a better understanding, too. “Kevin and I know that last operation had its problems, something went terribly wrong when you and Riley were in Caracas.”
“Jett, when you two came back here, Riley wasn’t the same. He was a loose cannon ready to fight—or knowing Riley, fuck—anyone or anything just to work out his anger. He covers it up with humor, but he ain’t right, and you know it!”
“Great,” Brock groaned. “The one with the loosest screw has my woman underground.”
“She’s not your woman!” Jett shouted, and he probably believed his outburst.
“I beg to differ,” Brock said, turning to check out the youngest. “Ever been shot before?”
“No, and this doesn’t count. It missed.”
“Barely,” Brock advised.
“Jett!” Kevin screamed. “I want some answers.”
“Can you wait for them, sweetheart?” Brock snarled. “I mean, considering we don’t know who is still here with us, can you reschedule this walk down memory lane for another more appropriate time? I’ll try to arrange tea and crumpets.”