Wanted! by Vicki Lewis Thompson

By SMW Staff

Photographer Dominique Jeffries has come to Wyoming to find herself—her creative self, her sexual self. After escaping the engagement from hell, she’s dying to break loose and live a little. And seducing a shirtless, sweaty cowhand looks like just the place to start….

Nick Chance isn’t exactly a cowhand but, hey, he’ll be whatever the lady wants! Only he soon realizes that this is more than just a quick roll in the hay. There’s something about Dominique that calls to him, something about her that completes him.

There’s only one problem. Dominique wants a fling, not another relationship.

Little does she guess how easily she’ll be persuaded to take a Chance—again and again and again!

Present Day

Nick Chance was pissed. There was no logical reason to fence this rocky section of the Last Chance Ranch. It would make a lousy pasture and was too far from the barn to work as a corral.

But big brother Jack had decreed that it should be fenced “just in case” they’d need it someday. There went Nick’s day off. Jack had discovered that Nick had no vet duties today, either at home or at any of the other ranches in the valley, so he’d handed Nick a posthole digger.

Nick had been tempted to suggest where Jack might shove his posthole digger, but going off on Jack wouldn’t solve anything. The guy was harder on himself than he was on anyone else. The rollover that had killed their dad last fall wasn’t Jack’s fault, but nobody could tell him different.

So Nicholas Chance, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, was driving one of the battered ranch trucks instead of his primo medical rig, and he was digging postholes that didn’t need digging. What the hell. He’d work on his tan. Climbing out of the truck, he took off his shirt and tossed it into the cab. Then he grabbed his worn leather gloves from the dashboard.

Before he lowered the tailgate and got serious about the project, he parked his butt on the fender and took a moment to appreciate the view of the Tetons. A raven gave him a flyby and what Nick interpreted as a caw of approval.

He couldn’t stay mad in country like this. His gaze roamed over the soft gray-green of sage livened up with spring flowers, including two of his mom’s favorites—pink wild geraniums and sunflowers. Rain had fallen the night before, swelling the creek that he could hear gurgling, although it was hidden by evergreens.

He caught a whiff of loamy earth and wet pine needles. The June sun was warm, but not warm enough to melt the snow still clinging to the jagged peaks. Nick never tired of looking at them.

A favorite memory surfaced, as it often did when he gazed at the mountains. Jack, leaning against the corral, had informed ten-year-old Nick and nine-year-old Gabe that the mountains were named by a French guy and Tetons was the French word for tits. Nick and Gabe had fallen over laughing, but Jack, a worldly fourteen, had predicted that someday they’d find the subject of tits fascinating instead of screamingly funny.

Nick smiled. As usual, Jack had been right, although Nick considered himself more of a leg man than a breast man. Gabe, on the other hand, liked his women generously endowed. Jack generally did, too, although since last fall he seemed to have lost all interest in anything frivolous, which apparently included dating.

Nick had plenty of interest in dating and didn’t consider it the least bit frivolous. But he had no current girlfriend, and Jack’s slave driver mentality didn’t leave much time for developing a new relationship.

Nick sighed and levered himself away from the truck. Jack’s mom had taken off when Jack was a toddler, so losing their dad had hit him extra hard. Nick and Gabe still had their mom. So did Jack, but despite all the love Sarah Chance had given him, he’d never forgotten he was her stepson.

The guy had issues, and Nick understood that, but things would have to change soon or Nick would be forced to take him on, even if Jack was officially in charge according to the terms of their dad’s will. Jack might be top banana, but Nick, Gabe and their mother, Sarah, each owned a fourth interest in the ranch, which meant they had some leverage.

At least they’d all agreed not to sell the place despite the outrageous price the ranch would bring. With very little private land left near the Jackson region, the Last Chance was worth a fortune. But it was not for sale.

That had to be some comfort to the hands, who loved living and working on a privately owned spread. These days the Last Chance raised horses instead of cattle, but it was still a working ranch and that was a triumph in today’s economy. Making ends meet could sometimes be a challenge.

Jack seemed to take that challenge a little too seriously, though. His idea of a workday had expanded until everyone was putting in twelve to fifteen hours. The hands were ready to mutiny and their foreman had dropped broad hints about quitting.

Gabe was the lucky one, Nick mused as he let down the tailgate and grabbed the posthole digger. Gabe’s cutting-horse events gave him an excuse to leave for most of the summer. He was the best competitor of all of them, and by riding in those events he promoted the Last Chance horses and theoretically brought in buyers. He also didn’t have to put up with Jack.

Pulling one of Jack’s surveyor’s stakes out of the ground, Nick tossed it in the back of the truck and jammed the posthole digger into the dirt.

By his tenth hole he’d dug up enough rocks to last him the rest of his life, and stacked them in a pile about three feet tall, his personal monument to stupidity. He was sweaty and bored. Like all the Chance men, he was perfectly capable of manual labor. But he’d spent years in school to become a large animal vet partly because he preferred a mental challenge to a physical one.

Planting the posthole digger in the ground, he took off his gloves and tucked them in his back pocket. Then he pulled a blue bandanna out of the other pocket, removed his straw cowboy hat and mopped his face. After replacing the bandanna and settling the sweat-stained hat on his head, he started counting the remaining surveyor’s stakes to see how many holes he had left before he could be released from bondage.

That’s when he saw her. She stood facing him, about twenty yards away on the dirt road he’d come in on. She slowly lowered her big-ass camera complete with telephoto lens, but he suspected she’d already taken at least one shot of him, if not more. He decided if she had the balls to take a picture of a perfect stranger without asking, he could give her the once-over without feeling like a male chauvinist pig.