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He may not be a cowboy… But that won’t stop him from wrangling her heart.
Chase O’Donnell is the proud new owner of the Caldwell Ranch—or maybe he’s not so proud. Annoyed would be more like it. After receiving the news of his inheritance, Chase’s first thought is to sell the ranch and be done with it—until one night with a beautiful blonde at a local honky-tonk has him changing his tune…
Norah McKade is surprised by her instant attraction to the handsome new stranger, and even more surprised when she finds out he’s her new neighbor. But with Chase only being in town for a short amount of time, Norah determines getting tangled up with him a bad idea and promptly places Chase in the friend zone.
Although a bit reluctant, Chase agrees to Norah’s terms—but he’s not about to deny or ignore the fact that there’s more between them than just sexual attraction. He’ll have to pull out all the stops to get her to change her mind and prove to her that it wouldn’t be such a bad thing for her to fall in love with him.
Apparently she was doing this whole flirting thing wrong.
Had to be.
It was the only reasonable explanation for why Chase hadn’t picked up on the fact that she was interested in him.
Maybe she was trying too hard?
For the past four days she had made little comments with hidden innuendos and had done her best to make it obvious she was checking him out. And then there was the somewhat revealing clothing she chose to wear around him; another effort to help catch his eye and let him know what she was thinking.
But none of that was working with Chase.
Of course, there was always just telling him that she’d changed her mind and wanted something more between them. But for some reason she just couldn’t muster up the guts to tell him that. Maybe she was just too much of a chicken to admit that she’d been wrong this whole time.
“Lookin’ good,” she heard Chase say, his voice drifting up to her from where he stood on the ground.
Okay, so maybe she wasn’t doing something wrong after all. She stopped her brushstrokes against the house and held onto the ladder as she looked down to him.
“Liking what you see, O’Donnell?” she asked him, adding a generous amount of flirtatiousness to her voice.
“Yes, ma’am,” Chase answered her with a grin from beneath the brim of his baseball cap. “You weren’t kidding when you said you were good at painting.”
She tried to hide her disappointment as she looked back to the house and continued with her task.
“I’m all done down here,” Chase said. “Let me know when you’re done and ready to come down. I’ll hold the ladder for you.”
“Okay,” Norah answered him, not bothering to look his way.
Brushing the last few strokes of the sunny yellow paint against the house, Norah tossed her paintbrush into the container of paint and began making her way down the ladder.
At least, that’s what she’d meant to do.
With her mind still focused on Chase and his inability to pick up on her come-ons, Norah tossed the brush against the rim of the paint container instead of inside of it. It flopped off of the top and spiraled down to the ground. Norah instinctively reached out to grab it, causing the ladder to unbalance.
“Oh no!” she shouted.
The brush would’ve landed in the grass if Chase hadn’t scurried over to the ladder to steady it, but instead it slapped right on top of his navy ball cap and slid down the brim before falling to the ground.
Norah sucked in a shocked breath of air. “Oh my God.”
She hurried and made her way down the ladder, careful to hold onto the paint container in her hand so she didn’t have any more accidents. With a few last steps remaining, Norah jumped from the ladder and set the container on the ground before looking to Chase.
His expression was blank, almost dumbstruck.
“Chase?” Norah asked cautiously.
“What. The. Hell?” Chase asked, speaking the words slowly and quietly.
“I am so sorry,” Norah said. “I didn’t mean—”
“I told you to let me know when you were ready to come down,” Chase said. “What were you thinking?”
He cut her off. “You could’ve fallen and seriously hurt yourself.”
“But I didn’t,” she told him, trying to smooth out the situation.
“Thankfully,” Chase said, let out a relieved sigh as he took his hat off and ran a hand through his hair. “You’re gonna kill me, woman.” He then looked at his hat and his eyes widened at the bright yellow paint streaked across it. “Ah, damn it. This is my favorite hat.”
Norah bit her lip to keep from laughing but couldn’t contain it. She let out a short burst of laughter and quickly covered her mouth with her hand. “I’m sorry, I’m—”
Chase narrowed his eyes as he looked at her. “You think this is funny?”
“No,” Norah quickly said but then changed it to, “Well, yes, it is kind of funny when you think about it.” She laughed again.
“Oh, okay,” Chase said with a nod as he placed his hat back on his head and quickly reached to the ground for the paintbrush.
He popped back up before she had a chance to dodge out of the way and slapped the brush against the front of her shirt; her favorite dark gray Rolling Stones t-shirt. Her mouth fell open as he drug the yellow paint between her breasts down to the knot she had tied at the hem of her shirt.
“You jerk,” she gasped.
He gave her a smart-ass smirk as he dropped the paintbrush. “How’s that for funny?”
“You ruined my shirt,” she told him, her voice still full of disbelief as she tugged on the fabric to look at the damage done.
“And you ruined my hat,” Chase said. “So now we’re even. What do you know about the Rolling Stones anyway?” He gave her a half smile and knelt on the grass as he collected the paintbrushes.
She dropped the soft fabric and planted a hand on her hip. “Is that supposed to be a dig at me? ‘Oh that country girl don’t know nothin’ about good music’,” she said, deepening her voice for that last part.
Chase chuckled and looked at her. “Was that supposed to be me?”
She smiled bashfully. “Maybe.”
Chase grabbed all of the brushes and dropped them in an empty bucket before walking back over to her. “Look, I’m sorry if I offended you,” he said and shrugged his shoulders. “I’m just surprised. I thought you only liked country music.”
“Well I don’t,” Norah told him. “That’s like me assuming you only like rock or rap or something.”
“Well, which is it?” Chase asked her, the corner of his mouth turning up slightly. “Give it a guess. Let’s see just how well you think you know me?”
She gave him a playful smirk. “Okay.” Crossing her arms over her chest, Norah brought one of her hands up to her face and tapped her finger against her chin as she thought about her answer. “I’m thinking you’re more into upbeat tunes rather than the slow stuff. Right so far?”
“That’s a good start,” Chase said.
“And even though you like today’s music you really prefer the older stuff.”
Norah pursed her lips as she continued to tap her chin with her finger. “I’m thinking you’re a seventies kind of man.”
Chase applauded her. “Nicely done, Miss McKade.”
“Why thank you, Mr. O’Donnell,” Norah said and uncrossed her arms. “But I’ll do you one better. I bet you I can go as far to guess who your favorite artist from that time is.”
“Okay,” Chase told her, clearly amused. “Let’s hear it.”
“Hmm?” Norah said as she pursed her lips again and moved her eyes to look at the sky. “Let’s see there’s Foghat, Aerosmith, The Who—” She stopped short and snapped her fingers as she looked directly at him. “I got it! ABBA.”
“ABBA?” Chase said with a raised eyebrow and gave her a befuddled expression.
“Mmm-hmm,” Norah replied with a teasing smile. “You know you rock ‘Dancing Queen’ when nobody’s looking. Don’t deny it.”
Chase shook his head with a small laugh. “I think you are sorely mistaken. But good try though.” He walked away from her and back to the mess of supplies scattered about the ground.
“Aw, did I hurt your feelings?” Norah asked, sporting a pouty face as she followed him.
“A little,” Chase joked, sniffing as he wiped away a fake tear with the back of his hand.
“Aw. Cheer up, Chase,” Norah said in a fun and almost girlish voice as she gently grabbed at his side. “Come on. Come on.” She continued her efforts to tickle a smile out of him but it just wasn’t working out for her.
“What are you doing, woman?” Chase asked, lifting his arm to watch her.
“Trying to make you laugh,” she answered.
“I’m not ticklish,” Chase told her and blocked her hand from grabbing at his side.
“I bet you are,” Norah said. “You’re just really good at hiding it.”
She laughed softly as she grabbed for his side again, but was a bit caught off guard when Chase took hold of her wrist. Simultaneously, and before she even had time to move out of the way, Chase reached out with his other hand and grabbed at her side just as she had previously done to him. Norah shrieked and scrunched her body before quickly jumping away from Chase.
“Oh, are you serious?” Chase asked with a wide grin. “Look who is ticklish.”
“Chase, don’t you dare,” Norah warned, giving him a stern look and pointing her finger at him.
He stalked towards her.
“I’m warning you,” Norah said, walking backwards to keep an eye on Chase. The back of her leg hit one of the paint buckets and she instinctively looked down for the briefest moment before returning her eyes to Chase. He was standing no more than a few feet away from her, staring at her with a hungry look in his eyes.
She took a slight step to the side.
She took another step in the opposite direction.
He followed once more.
Her fun little game of let’s-get-a-laugh-out-Of-Chase had quickly turned into a game of cat and mouse with Norah being the prey and Chase being the hunter.
Keeping her eyes on Chase, Norah slowly began to take another step but quickly faked it and bolted in the opposite direction. Her efforts to escape him were fruitless. Chase quickly caught up to her and swung both of his arms around her waist, picking her feet off of the ground as he pulled her to him.
“Chase!” Norah squealed as he tickled her. She laughed uncontrollably as she attempted to free herself from his hold.
He was laughing too. The deep sound of his voice was right against her ear, sending what felt like a current of electricity down her neck and spine.
Norah had no objection to being pressed against Chase the way she was. All she needed, though, was for him to stop tickling her long enough for her to take advantage of it. She swatted at his hands and attempted to wiggle free but only caused herself to lose balance. She fell to the ground and took Chase with her.
“Oh my God!” Norah shouted between laughs. “Stop! I can’t breathe!”
Chase laughed breathlessly and removed his hands from her waist, resting them against the ground on either side of her body.
She focused on taking slow, deep breaths as she stared into Chase’s green eyes. How she had been able to say no to that face time after time was a wonder to her. But even though the man was extremely attractive, that wasn’t the only reason she wanted to be with him. She honestly and truly liked him for who he was and she was going to tell him exactly how she felt right now. Either that, or kiss the hell out of him.
In November 2011 author Kimberly Lewis stepped into the writing world with her first contemporary Western romance, When the Heart Falls.
Born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, this country girl caught the creative bug at an early age, doing everything from drawing to writing short stories.
After rediscovering her love of romance novels, Kimberly found the inspiration to pick up a pen—or in this case a laptop—and began writing her first novel. Since then she has continued to write and credits her husband and her wonderfully crazy family and friends, who with their love and joking demeanor provide her with the ideas that inspire her novels.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, horseback riding, and spending time with her amazing family.