Saved by the Cowboy


By A.J. Pine

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ebook (Digital original)


ebook (Digital original) $1.99 $2.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 7, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Cowboy to the rescue
Once upon a time, Sheriff Cash Hawkins left his simple life for something bigger—and came home with a broken heart. Now he has everything he needs right here in Oak Bluff, California—his job, his dog, and a quiet ranching town best explored on the back of a horse.

Olivia Belle believes in fairy tales—just not for herself. So when her boyfriend drops to one knee at his sister’s wedding with a proposal that is more business than romance, she hightails it out of San Francisco in search of the only evidence she knows that true love exists—her grandparents’ lost love letters from fifty years ago.

When Olivia speeds into his town like a modern-day Cinderella in her ball gown and glass slippers, Cash’s careful existence is finally thrown for a loop. Maybe the answer Olivia’s looking for is in Oak Bluff, but the life she ran from is more than 200 miles away. As for Cash . . . he knows a thing or two about being left on bended knee. Olivia Belle could be his happily ever after . . . if this runaway bridesmaid doesn’t run off with his heart.

“A fabulous storyteller who will keep you turning pages and wishing for just one more chapter at the end.” — Carolyn Brown, New York Times bestselling author, on Second Chance Cowboy

“Cross my heart, this sexy, sweet romance gives a cowboy-at-heart lawyer a second chance at first love and readers a fantastic ride.” —
New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ryan on Second Chance Cowboy


Chapter One

Sheriff Cash Hawkins sat comfortably in his police-issue Chevy Tahoe. There was a beef brisket sandwich from BBQ on the Bluff cooling in the bag on the passenger seat. He’d just cued up a new audiobook on his phone and connected the Bluetooth. His German shepherd, Dixie, chewed on her rawhide in the back.

A pretty perfect Saturday night if he did say so himself. Well—except for the thick, calligraphied square envelope sticking out from the passenger seat visor. Still unopened.

He unrolled the top of the take-out bag and breathed in the savory aroma of homemade barbecue sauce and locally sourced beef.

“Damn, that Lily Green can cook. Can’t she, Dixie girl?” he called back to his companion. But then he remembered that Lily and Tucker Green—the husband and wife duo who’d opened the restaurant together—had just split, Tucker having bought out her portion of the business.

“Still her sauce recipe, right?” he asked aloud. “Tucker wouldn’t be fool enough to let the woman go without getting all her secret recipes.” And yes, he knew he was talking to the dog. He and Dixie had some of their best conversations on quiet Saturday nights doing traffic patrol. It was why he always insisted on taking the shift, even though as sheriff he sure as hell didn’t have to. He liked it. Not that he’d let any of the other officers at the station know.

First he set up the radar and positioned it in the direction of oncoming traffic, though he knew there’d be none. There never was. He pressed play on the audiobook, then started removing the foil wrapper from the sandwich, readying himself for that long anticipated first bite, when his teeth sank into the warm, toasted roll and all the good stuff in between.

Except something in the distance caught his eye—a car barreling down the opposite side of the street way too fast for comfort. He didn’t need an official readout to tell him it was well over the limit. Still, he sighed, laid the sandwich on top of the bag in the passenger seat, and readied his finger on the trigger of the radar gun.

“Speeding down my street when I’m about to eat some damn good barbecue,” he mumbled.

Dixie’s ears perked up.

“Sorry, girl,” he said. “No tasting the goods until I take care of Speed Racer out there.”

He nodded toward the windshield just as a canary yellow Volkswagen Bug zipped by.

“Seventy-two miles per hour?” he said, shaking his head. Then he flipped on the lights, pulled into the all but empty street, and sped off after it.

It didn’t take the car long to stop. In fact, as soon as the siren made its first wail, the driver hit the brakes, and he was pulling up behind the offender in a matter of seconds.

Dixie howled. She wasn’t used to this much police action on a Saturday night. In the three years since he’d been elected sheriff of Oak Bluff, Cash could count on one hand the number of traffic violations for which he’d written actual tickets, and none of them happened on his Saturday night watch. Not much happened in the way of criminal activity, period, and he was planning on keeping it that way.

He hopped out of the truck and strode toward the yellow Bug but stopped before reaching the window. His brows drew together. Half of some sort of ball gown was hanging out the driver’s side door. It was torn and tattered, like it had been dragged along at seventy-two miles per hour for the better part of the afternoon and early evening.

Cash shook his head and approached the window, which was still closed. He rapped on it with his knuckles.

It lowered.

Yep, that was a ball gown, all right. A purple one. And inside the gown was a knockout brunette with soft curls tumbling over her bare shoulders…A knockout brunette who’d just broken the law.

He lowered his aviators down the bridge of his nose.

She gasped. “Wow,” she said. “I thought that just happened in the movies.”

“Excuse me, ma’am?”

“That!” she said, grinning and nodding toward his glasses, her bright blue eyes glowing in the setting sun. “The whole shades-down-the-nose thing, the instant intimidation. It’s so amazingly small town. I love it!”

Cash cleared his throat, trying to ignore how her smile lit up her face or how soft her pink lips looked. He wasn’t having a ton of success. “Ma’am, do you have any idea how fast you were driving?”

Her smile fell. “Do I really look like a ‘ma’am’ to you? I know some people think ‘miss’ is a little degrading, but I’m all for it. Call me ‘miss’ till I’m gray and old—not that I’ll go gray gracefully.” She laughed.

Ma’am,” Cash said with more force, and the laughing ceased. “You were going seventy-two in a fifty-mile-per-hour zone.”

She bit her lip. “That’s bad, right?”

He nodded. “It’s breaking the law, so yeah. I’d say it’s bad.”

She sighed, then held both her hands toward him, palms up. “Book me,” she said. “Lock me up and throw away the key—as long as I make it to Oak Bluff by ten. That’s when the B and B closes for the night.”

Cash scratched the back of his head. Then he glanced over at his car—the one that had OAK BLUFF SHERIFF painted on either side. He was a man of the law. Rules and regulations. This was all part of the job, which meant he should not let himself get distracted by her teeth grazing her full bottom lip—or the vulnerability he sensed beneath the brash exterior.

“License and insurance card, please, ma’am.”

She smiled again, but something in it seemed forced. It wasn’t as if he knew a thing about this strange woman, but he was trained to read people. Despite not flinching at being pulled over and possibly arrested, she radiated a nervous energy he couldn’t ignore. He’d venture a guess she was not as brazen as she’d have him believe, and something about that bothered him. Cash didn’t get pretense. He might have been a quiet man, but he was a man of meaning—meant what he said and meant what he did. Why couldn’t everyone else just do the same?

“Right,” she said. “I’ve got them both right…” She trailed off as she acted like she was rifling through a giant bag when all she’d done was click open what looked like a fancy as hell billfold.

She chuckled. “So…you’re going to love this, Officer”—she squinted to read his name badge—“Hawkins.”

“Sheriff Hawkins,” he corrected her.

Her cheeks flushed, and he had to remind himself that he was here to write this woman a ticket—not find her in any way attractive.

Sheriff Hawkins. So—Sheriff. I wasn’t even supposed to be driving tonight. I left everything in the hotel room except for what I needed. That’s why I only put my lip gloss, the room key, and my phone in the clutch.”

“The what?”

“Clutch,” she said, starting to lift the wallet-type contraption.

“Ma’am, please keep your hands on the steering wheel if you’re not going to produce the items I’m asking for.”

She dropped the clutch, or whatever it was, and placed her hands at ten and two with a self-satisfied grin. “It’s a purse that you clutch in your hand. Only enough room for the essentials.”

He crossed his arms. “Something’s not adding up.”

She narrowed her eyes. “Look, you can try to find me guilty of speeding—”

“Seventy-two in a fifty.”

She rolled her eyes. “But I’m not a liar.”

He raised a brow. “The keys?”


“The car keys, ma’am. If you only put the essentials in your clutch, where’d you get the car keys?”

Her mouth opened, then closed. Finally she blew out a breath. “I keep the key in this little magnet case and hide it behind the back wheel. Just in case.”

Good Lord, why did he even ask? He didn’t have time for this. Okay. Fine. He had all the time in the world. But all he’d wanted to do was eat his damned sandwich and watch the sunset. He and Dixie would listen to a few hours of a new book, and then they’d go home and have an off-duty beverage or two. Well, Cash would, at least. Dixie would get a fresh bowl of water with two ice cubes—her favorite. But instead his sandwich was getting cold, and he hadn’t even heard the opening remarks of the book, let alone gotten to chapter one.

“In case what?” he asked. Because how the hell long was it going to take to get to the end of this—this situation?

She shrugged. “In case I need to get the hell outta Dodge on a moment’s notice.”

He pressed a palm against the doorframe and leaned down to the window so they were eye level with each other. He could smell hints of her perfume—a light citrus that made him think of an orange grove.

“No license, no insurance, and twenty-two miles over the speed limit. Ms.…?”

“Belle,” she answered quickly. “Olivia Belle.”

“Please step out of the car, Ms. Belle.”

She scoffed. “You’re not serious, are you? I can pay the ticket. I know my debit card number by heart. And I know you can punch my license plate number into your computer thingy and find me. It’s my car, registered in—shit. Michael co-signed for the loan, and that damned bank put his name on the title. Stupid patriarchy,” she mumbled. Then she groaned and opened the door, and the rest of the dress erupted out into the street as she exited the vehicle.

“Lemme get this straight,” he said, averting his gaze from how the bodice of the dress fit her curves like it was meant for her body and hers alone. The dip and swell of her hips, the way the cut of the dress made a heart below her collarbone, and how the soft skin above her breasts rose and fell with each measured breath. “You were just driving twenty-two miles over the speed limit with no license or insurance in a car that is registered to a Michael?”

She winced but nodded.

He shook his head. He didn’t want to do it like this, but if he brought her in any other way, the whole department would call him on it—tell him he was going soft on his first Saturday night offender in a long time.

Cash pulled the cuffs off his belt and quickly clasped one of them around her left wrist, then the other around her right.

He sighed. “Welcome to Oak Bluff, Ms. Belle. You’re under arrest.”

Chapter Two

Sheriff Hawkins read Olivia her rights, then nodded toward the SUV. “You lead the way, ma’am.”

Olivia groaned.

This was a first. Handcuffs. And not in a sexy way. Sure she was speeding, and maybe she’d left before grabbing the necessities like her wallet. And clothes to change into so she wouldn’t have to spend eternity in this monster of a dress. But wasn’t that the whole idea behind fleeing? You leave. Quickly. Without any thought other than self-preservation.

It only took her two steps to stumble on the hem of her dress, break the heel off her shoe, and twist her ankle.

“Damn it!” she cried, throwing her cuffed wrists into the air to catch her balance, but she was going down. There were no two ways about it. Except before she hit the pavement, a strong, muscular arm wrapped around her midsection, hauling her back up.

She was smack against Sheriff Grumpy Pants’s chest now, and hell if he wasn’t solid as the trunk of a redwood.

“You all right there, Cinderella?” His warm breath teased the skin on her neck.

“Pardon me?”

He bent down and picked up her broken shoe, dangling the crystal clear stiletto pump in front of her. “Ball gown. Glass slipper. I’d say you walked right out of a fairy tale if you hadn’t ruined a perfectly peaceful Saturday night.”

Olivia scoffed, then spun to face him, but when her full weight fell on her shoeless foot, pain shot through her like a lightning bolt—hot and fast. She yelped, and this time there was no one to catch her as she toppled backward and fell flat on her already-sore-from-driving-four-hours behind.

The sheriff’s eyes widened.

“You’re hurt,” he said matter-of-factly.

She would have liked to have crossed her arms in defiance, affording herself the tiniest bit of dignity, but—handcuffs. So she settled for a glare.

He said nothing, but simply scooped her up and carried her to the passenger side of the Tahoe.

He held her with one arm—dress and all—and opened the door with the other. Then he moved something out of the way and deposited her onto the leather seat.

“You mean you’re not tossing me in the caged-in area in the back?”

“Quiet a second, will you?” he barked, his deep voice tinged with an emotion she couldn’t put her finger on. Annoyance for sure, but there was something else.

He dropped to a squat, then pushed back the taffeta and tulle—entirely too much material of any sort for a daytime wedding. But the bride had insisted, and everyone knows the bride is the boss, especially when she’s your almost-fiancé’s sister.

Emphasis on the almost.

Coarse hands gingerly cradled her foot.

“Does this hurt?” he asked.

She fisted her fettered hands in the pile of dress on her thighs, then pressed her lips together as he moved her foot slowly from side to side.

“Mmm-hmm,” she squeaked.

“Swelling’s not too bad. Looks like just a mild sprain. I can get you some ice at the station.”

She huffed out a breath. “Maybe there wouldn’t be any sprain if you hadn’t arrested me.”

He took off his sunglasses and stared at her with eyes so green she forgot for a second that she was even wearing handcuffs.

“And if you hadn’t been driving without a license or insurance card at twenty-two miles over the speed limit in my town, I never would have arrested you.”

He stood, pulled the seat belt across her torso and clicked it into place, shoved as much of her dress in the door as he could, then slammed it shut.

Something wet lapped at Olivia’s shoulder, and she wasn’t sure if she should hold still or scream. You were supposed to play dead with a bear, right? Were there a lot of bears in wine country?

The sheriff climbed into the driver’s seat with a swift, fluid movement that told her he and this tank of an automobile were well acquainted.

“Is there a bear in your back seat?” she whispered.

“A what?”

There it was again. Something slobbery and smooth on her skin.

“A bear!” she whisper-shouted.

He froze, one hand white-knuckling the wheel. Then the other reached slowly toward the back seat, but Olivia was too scared to watch. He let out a heart-stopping roar.

She screamed as he yanked his hand back, cradling it to his chest as he threw his head against the back of the seat and—laughed.

She shifted toward the rear of the vehicle to find a German shepherd sitting behind her, tongue hanging out the side of its mouth and tail wagging.

“You’re terrible,” she said.

“And you’re gullible as hell. You must be a long way from home if you think Oak Bluff is bear country.” He scratched under the dog’s chin. “Olivia Belle, meet Dixie. The reason I don’t need a cage back there.”

Olivia swallowed. “But she’s sweet, right? That’s why she was slobbering all over me?”

Pets weren’t really her thing. For one, she lived in an upscale hotel, and it wasn’t one of those pet-friendly ones. Then there was the issue of permanency. Committing to a pet was—well—committing. And the fact she was here instead of in San Francisco saying yes to a guy she’d left on one knee probably said a thing or two about her staying power.

He put the key in the ignition and the massive engine roared to life.

“She’d rip a man’s arm off if I asked her to.” He paused for a couple of beats. “Woman’s, too.” He set his sunglasses in the center console. The sun was setting now, and she guessed he wouldn’t need them anymore. Then he shifted into gear and pulled off the shoulder of the road.

She swallowed and decided to sit very still. But then she saw her Bug sitting there as they began to move. “Wait!” she cried. “What about my car?”

He kept his eyes on the road so all she could see was his profile—the strong line of his stubbled jaw, a crooked nose that was somehow perfectly imperfect.

She, however, was just imperfect. At least when it came to relationships. She always found a reason to run. And today she’d run to the one place she thought she could find answers, the tiny town of Oak Bluff.

“I’ll send a couple deputies—licensed drivers—out to get it after I bring you in.”

She let out a relieved breath. At least he wasn’t towing it.

She raised her cuffed hands to the visor above her. “What’s this?” she asked, fingertips brushing the edge of an envelope. “Looks like a wedding invitation.” Seemed like everyone was planning weddings, getting married, or proposing. And she was just flat-out running.

He wrapped a hand around one of her wrists and lowered both hands to her lap. “None of your concern is what it is,” he said gruffly.


  • "A fabulous storyteller who will keep you turning pages and wishing for just one more chapter at the end."—Carolyn Brown, New York Times bestselling author, on Second Chance Cowboy
  • "Cross my heart, this sexy, sweet romance gives a cowboy-at-heart lawyer a second chance at first love and readers a fantastic ride."—New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ryan on Second Chance Cowboy
  • "Light and witty."—Library Journal
  • "This is a strong read with a heartwarming message and inspiring characters."—RT Book Reviews on Second Chance Cowboy
  • "This book made me so happy! I swear I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading."— on Worth the Wait
  • "There was some serious heat, some conflict, some miscommunication and a evening out to yield the ultimate happy ending a romance novel needs. Overall, the read flowed well and the characters are easy to like."— on Three Simple Words
  • "A winner for me from the very start."—Straight Shootin' Book Reviews on Six Month Rule
  • "A.J. Pine's writing is superb. I loved following the characters. Their struggles were real. The needs were strong. This is a romance that I recommend to all."—Romancing the Book on Six Month Rule
  • "Oh. Em. Gee. I started Six Month Rule and could not put it down. AJ Pine has put in everything that I love about romance into a 280 page novel."—Books by Migs
  • "Top Pick! 4 1/2 Stars! I loved this story."—Harlequin Junkie on I Do

On Sale
Aug 7, 2018
Page Count
144 pages
Forever Yours

A.J. Pine

About the Author

A librarian for teens by day and USA Today bestselling romance writer by night, A.J. Pine can't seem to escape the world of fiction, and she wouldn't have it any other way. When she finds that twenty-fifth hour in the day, she might indulge in a tiny bit of TV to nourish her undying love of vampires, superheroes, and a certain high-functioning sociopath detective. She hails from the far-off galaxy of the Chicago suburbs.

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