A Match Made in Texas


By Katie Lane

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Living with four over-protective brothers is enough to make a good girl go bad. But the day Brianne Cates hits the road for a taste of freedom, she gets more trouble than she bargained for when she’s arrested by a sexy sheriff in mirrored shades. Now doing a stint of community service, she’s not going to let a cowboy cop like Dusty Hicks mess with her newfound independence-even if he awakens every wicked fantasy she’s ever had.

In Bramble, Texas, Dusty is the law. That means no leniency for the gorgeous rebel whose highway antics almost got them both killed. The divorced lawman doesn’t need another rich, pampered princess, even if Brianne has the lushest body and sweetest smile in the whole darn state. But even as Brianne proves that she lives to walk on the wild side, Dusty begins to wonder if maybe he has what it takes to tame her….


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Table of Contents

A Preview of The Last Cowboy in Texas

A Preview of Going Cowboy Crazy


Copyright Page

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Chapter One


Alive and well, and annoying the heck out of Brianne Cates.

It wasn't his red silk scarf fluttering over the shoulder of his rhinestone western suit that annoyed her. Or the hand with its chunky gold and diamond rings draped over the side mirror. Or the sky-high black hair that defied the stiff west Texas wind. No, it was the fact that the man was going thirty miles an hour in a sixty-mile-an-hour zone, and he wasn't willing to let Brianne pass.

Most folks who knew Bri said she had the patience of a saint, no doubt because she'd survived a childhood with four arrogant and rowdy brothers. But the truth was that Bri didn't have patience as much as the ability to hide her impatience beneath a calm façade and innocent smile.

After spending the last thirty minutes playing a cat-and-mouse game with the big ol' cherry red Cadillac, Bri wasn't calm. And she sure wasn't smiling. Gritting her teeth, she pushed down on the accelerator for what seemed like the hundredth time and eased into the other lane. But just as she caught a glimpse of one long rectangular sideburn, the Cadillac shot forward, forcing her to let up on the gas and pull back in her lane or end up wallpapered against the grille of an oncoming semi.

She wanted to blast the horn and flip the bird to the King. But if she had learned anything in the last few weeks, it was that everybody and their brother carried cell phones and one defiant act could go viral within hours.

Which explained what Bri was doing on the two-lane highway in the middle of west Texas. This was her punishment for one little act of defiance. Or maybe not a little one as much as a huge one. And while she was being honest, it hadn't been her first act of defiance.

It was just the first act her family had found out about. They had been devastated when they'd discovered that their "sweet little Bri" wasn't as sweet as they thought. And if there was something that Bri couldn't endure, it was disappointing her family. Nor could she endure staying behind Elvis for one second longer. As soon as the oncoming lane was clear, she moved over and floored it.

If she had been in the massive SUV her brother Brant had insisted she drive for safety, she might've been able to pass the Caddie. But she wasn't. She had borrowed her Granny Lou's car in an attempt to ditch her ex-boyfriend, who had been stalking her for the past few months.

Both the boyfriend and the car had been bad choices.

The speedometer inched forward at a snail's pace, giving the Caddie plenty of time to pull away. But Bri refused to give up. With pedal to the metal, she continued to accelerate down the wrong side of the highway.

It took a while for her to draw abreast of the Cadillac. And Elvis seemed as surprised as Bri that a Smart Car could hit ninety. He shot her a shocked look before his lip cocked up in a smile-sneer. He said something, but with her windows rolled up and the radio on, she couldn't hear what it was. Probably "thank yew, thank yew very much for putting up with my crap for so long."

She sent the man one of her most innocent smiles… while her foot remained smashed down on the accelerator. She probably would've continued driving next to him all the way to her turnoff if she hadn't glanced up to see the car headed straight for her.

Bri slowed down with every intention of pulling back behind the Cadillac. Except Elvis wasn't quite done screwing with her. He slowed down as well, blocking her from getting back into the right lane and forcing her to play chicken with the oncoming car. And not just any car, but a black-and-white with a row of flashing lights on top. Fortunately, it veered off to the shoulder of the road before they had a head-on collision. Unfortunately, there wasn't much shoulder to the road.

In her side mirror, Bri watched in horror as the sheriff's car sideswiped a couple of fence posts before coming to a dust-spitting stop. It didn't stay stopped for long. In a spray of gravel and sagebrush, the patrol car whipped around and, with lights flashing and siren blaring, came hauling butt after them.

Or not them exactly.

Elvis quickly slowed and pulled over. Bri was the only one who kept going. And she wasn't sure why. Part of it was that she wasn't willing to cause her family any more embarrassment by getting a traffic ticket. The bigger part was the same thing that had gotten her in trouble in the first place. The screwed-up thing inside of her that seemed to feed on pure adrenaline and danger. And there was no doubt that being chased by the law was adrenaline pumping and dangerous. It didn't help that about then a Miranda Lambert song came on the radio, and Miranda could make any good girl go bad.

Bri's heart kicked into overdrive as the Smart Car inched back up to ninety. Of course, the roller skate–size vehicle was no match for the black-and-white cruiser—even if the cruiser had a crumpled hood and dragging front bumper. Within seconds, it pulled up behind her.

She glanced in her rearview mirror.

The man sitting behind the wheel looked like a typical Texas law officer. A tan Stetson was pulled low on a pair of mirrored aviator sunglasses. The scowl on his face reminded Bri of her brothers' whenever she brought home a new boyfriend. Maybe that was why she kept going. She'd had to deal with arrogant men all her life. She didn't have to deal with this man. At least, she didn't if she didn't stop. She might not be able to outrun him, but at forty miles to the gallon she could outlast him.

Unfortunately, he turned out to be the type of man who didn't care to follow. Whipping into the other lane, he pulled up next to her and motioned for her to pull over with one rather annoying jab of his finger. Most people driving a go-cart of a car that was already vibrating from the excessive speed would've accepted defeat and pulled over. But most people didn't have controlling, dominating brothers like Bri's. So instead of following his hand signal, she chose to ignore him.

Up ahead, a line of traffic had slowed for the flashing lights and siren, leaving the law officer no choice but to speed up and pull in front of her. It turned out to be a smart move. With the slow traffic on one side and a barbed wire fence on the other, he boxed Bri in, slowing down and forcing her to do the same. When they were finally stopped, he flung open the door and got out.

She expected to see a big-bellied country boy. Instead, a lean cowboy unfolded before her eyes. A lean cowboy with broad shoulders and a wide chest that tapered down to a waist with not one ounce of fat on it. He wore a taupe sheriff's shirt that desperately needed a hot iron and faded jeans that had been washed so many times they hugged his lean, muscular legs like preschoolers to their mamas. A black belt hung on slim hips. While most law enforcement officers had a wide array of gadgets attached to their belts, this man appeared to have only two: a radio and a gun.

He unhooked the safety on the holster of the gun as he strode toward her like a predator zeroing in on his kill. Some women might feel intimidated by such raw masculinity. To Bri, he was just another arrogant man she had to deal with—something she had become somewhat of an expert at. Latching on to the first idea that popped into her head, she threw open the door and jumped out.

"Oh, thank God you showed up!" She hurried toward him, prepared to do some major lying, when she tripped over a crack in the asphalt and ended up plastered against the man's chest. She now understood how a bug felt when it hit a windshield. The man was an unmoving oak tree of hard muscles. Instead of catching her, he just stood there in the middle of the highway with his boots spread wide and his hands at his side.

Even in heels, Bri had to tip her head wa-a-a-y back to meet her reflection in the twin mirrors of his sunglasses. She didn't exactly look like a scared woman. Her Granny Lou's straw gardening hat, also part of Bri's getaway disguise, sagged in loopty-loops around eyes that sparkled with excitement.

She lowered her gaze to the star on the pocket of his shirt and tried to work up a few tears. "It was the most terrifying experience of my life." She sniffed. "One second, I was going a mere fifty-six miles an hour, and the next, I was careening out of control." She smoothed out a wrinkle in his shirt. "It was horrible, I tell you. Simply horrible."

"It sounds like it." His deep voice rumbled from his chest, the drawl thick enough to slice. Then, before she could do more than blink, she found herself facedown on the back of his squad car with her legs spread and her hands behind her back. "You have the right to remain silent—"

"Wait a minute!" She tried to wiggle free. "Didn't you hear what I was trying to tell you? My car is defective. It must have the same thing wrong with it as those recalled cars had—it accelerated without warning. Which is why I was in the other lane. It was either that or crash right into the back of the car in front of me."

He ignored her. "You have the right to an attorney. If you can't afford an attorney, one will be supplied at no cost."

With her cheek pressed against the trunk of the squad car, Bri felt cold metal slip around her wrist. Most women would be terrified. And Bri was scared. Unfortunately, fear was usually followed with a burst of adrenaline and crazy thoughts. This time was no different.

Was she actually getting arrested? Would she have to pose for a mug shot? Get fingerprinted? He stepped closer, the front of his thighs brushing the backs of hers, and another kind of excitement coursed through her veins—this one settling more in her panties than her stomach. The unexpected feeling snapped her out of the adrenaline-drugged haze.

What was she thinking? This wasn't some thrill-seeking adventure. She was going to jail. And she couldn't go to jail. If the picture being spread around the Internet wouldn't tarnish her family's name, a stint in a west Texas jail certainly would. He grabbed her other wrist, and she quickly backpedaled.

"Okay! I was lying. There's nothing wrong with my car besides a really sluggish engine. I was in the other lane because Elvis wouldn't let me pass. If anyone is responsible for what happened, it's him."

Warm fingers paused at her pulse point. "Elvis?"

"Well, not Elvis, exactly. Just a man who looks like him. Didn't you see him? He was the lunatic in the red convertible Cadillac."

His fingers tightened. "I must've been so busy trying to avoid a head-on collision that I missed Elvis. Was he singing 'Love Me Tender'? That's one of my favorites. Or maybe the one about the hound dog. Now there's an oldie but goodie."

"I'm not kidding. This man was being a complete jerk. He would go thirty until I wanted to pass, and then he would pick up speed."

"Maybe he was just having car problems. A faulty accelerator." He started to cuff her other wrist but stopped suddenly. She didn't understand why until a stiff breeze blew over her, carrying with it the faint sound of music. The music grew louder. And since they had just been talking about the man, it only took Bri a second to recognize the song.

It wasn't "Love Me Tender." Or "Hound Dog."

It was much more annoying.

"… rock, everybody, let's rock. Everybody in the whole cell block was dancin' to the jailhouse rock…"

Just that quickly, Bri was released. She straightened in time to see the Cadillac pull around them with stereo blasting. She couldn't see Elvis's eyes behind the gold-rimmed sunglasses, but she didn't need to. His smirk and two-fingered salute said it all.

Every bad word her brothers had taught her pushed at the back of Bri's throat. But a lifetime of restraint had her using one of her nephew's favorite words instead.

"Poopyhead!" As soon as the word was out, she cringed. She turned to find the officer watching her. Clearing her throat, she tried to regain some kind of decorum. "Pardon me, but he really deserved that."

The mirrored lens remained trained on her for only a second before they returned to the highway. The Cadillac disappeared on the horizon, the bright October sun reflecting off the chrome bumper and license plate that Bri would never forget.

King 1.

"Well, I'll be damned."

The officer's words had her glancing over to see one corner of his mouth cocked up in a crooked smile. Relieved that he was no longer scowling, she relaxed.

"I know what you mean. If I hadn't seen it with my own two eyes, I never would've believed it." She held up her hand and jangled the handcuffs that were still attached to her wrist. "I think you owe me an apology."

The smile faded as he turned to her. "And what exactly would I be apologizing for? Your reckless driving? Your blatant disregard for the law? Or how about almost getting both of us killed?"

Since he had some very valid points, she nodded. "Okay, so I'm the one who should be apologizing. But as I explained earlier, I was trying to pass a lunatic who was speeding up and then slowing down just to tick me off. I had to go fast to get by him. But you're right, I should've pulled over and explained things instead of ignoring you." She held out her hand with the cuff. "Now can you take these—"

Bri was cut off by a hissing sound. They both turned to find steam pouring out from under the hood of the officer's car. There was a sputter, and then the engine died. She glanced back in time to see his jaw tighten.

"Of course, I'll pay for that," she said.

"You're damned right you will." He pointed a finger at her. "I'll need to see your driver's license and registration."

"You're not going to give me a ticket, are you? Not when it wasn't my fault."

"And just whose fault is it? You were the one on the wrong side of the highway, not Elvis." He unhooked the radio from his belt and pushed the button on the side. "You there, Cora Lee?"

"I know that it was my fault," Bri continued, "but surely we can get this worked out without a bunch of legal red tape."

His hat dipped as he gave her the once-over. "Really? And just what are we talking about?"

She cleared her throat, surprised at how just a look from the man could make her feel all warm and trembly. "You can give me your address, and I'll pay you in full for any damages to your car. You can just tell your boss that you had a little accident with a cow."

He studied her for a long, uncomfortable moment until a loud female voice caused Bri to jump.

"What's up, Sheriff?"


Every muscle in Bri's body tensed as he lifted the black receiver up to his mouth. "I need you to call Ralph and have him drive out to mile marker one oh nine. I need a tow." He hesitated. "And get the jail ready. I'm bringing in a prisoner."

While Bri was digesting the information that he was planning on taking her to jail, the woman continued.

"Will do. And could you do me a favor? Please get yourself hitched before I gain a good hundred pounds. Today Ronda Sue brought in homemade sticky buns. That makes the fifth baked goods this week that some desperate woman has brought in to bribe you to the altar. And just how do you expect me to stay on those paltry Weight Watcher meals with that kind of temptation around? Besides, if you got married you wouldn't have to look for another housekeeper now that Loretta up and quit due to your surly personality."

Bri watched his brow knot above the bridge of his sunglasses. "Who wouldn't be surly after what she did to my laundry?"

A burst of laughter came out of the receiver. "Just the thought of gruff Sheriff Dusty Hicks in pink undies tickles my funny bone. You got a license or plate number that you want me to run on that prisoner?"

The question seemed to make the sheriff even surlier. "I'll have to get back to you on that." He released the side button and hooked the radio back on to his belt before taking Bri's arm and escorting her to the Smart Car.

She stumbled along next to him, her hat flopping and her brain working overtime, trying to figure a way out of this mess. She couldn't go to jail. Not when Brant was already trying to cover up her last mistake. When they reached the still idling Smart Car, he released her.

"License and registration."

With no other choice, she leaned in and grabbed her purse. She dug around in the huge satchel, but before she found the smooth leather of her Prada wallet, her fingers brushed hard, cold aluminum.

As with all her bad decisions, Bri didn't know exactly how it happened. One second, she was standing next to the sheriff with her hand in her purse, and the next, she was spraying him in the face with the pepper spray her brother Billy had given her as a stocking stuffer. She only planned to give the sheriff a short squirt. Just enough to momentarily incapacitate him. But it took a full five-second spray to get his hands off her throat.

Once he released her and bent over coughing, she hopped into the minicar and floored it. She zipped around the sheriff's car, barely missing an oncoming tractor before she pulled back in the right lane. With her heart racing a marathon, she watched in the rearview mirror until the flashing lights disappeared from sight.

Her smile came out of nowhere.

Brianne Cates was on the lam.

Chapter Two

IT WAS A PATHETIC LITTLE TOWN. The main street couldn't have been more than a block long. The gas station had only two pumps. The grocery store was the size of a convenience store. And the thing they called a diner was a hideous collision of pink train caboose and ramshackle shed. Still, the diner appeared to be a crowd gatherer. And Reverend Josiah Jessup had never passed up a crowd.

He pulled his Cadillac into the dirt lot of the diner and parked in the handicap space right in front. Not wanting to have another close call with the law, he reached into the glove box and pulled out his bogus handicap permit and hooked it on the rearview mirror. He took a moment to check his hair, smoothing back one stray strand that had come loose when he'd been teaching that young woman a lesson in patience.

Josiah smiled. Only noon, and he had already used his power for good.

After tucking his silk scarf into the lapels of his jacket, he climbed out of the Cadillac and headed toward the door. For a weekday, the diner looked to be full. Through the glass, he could see that all the booths and tables were taken, and only a few bar stools at the counter were empty. Clearing his throat, he stepped inside. A bell jingled on the door, and conversation ceased as all eyes turned to him.

Having been the center of attention to millions of people, a few country bumpkins didn't faze him. He held out his arms and spoke in a commanding voice that was loud enough to be heard halfway to heaven.

"The Lord has truly blessed His humble servant on this fine autumn day. After a long and wary journey, He has directed me to this oasis of friendly faces and succulent aromas."

The folks of the diner looked at one another before staring back at him in confusion. Although it didn't take long for someone to speak up.

"Are you one of them Elvis impersonators from Sin City?" The woman sitting at the counter swiveled around on the stool, displaying a tower of teased hair and a wealth of cleavage. She pointed a sharp-looking orange fingernail at him. "My cousin went there a few years back and said it was just like seein' the King himself. Could you sing that song about the wise men? I just love that song. I ruin my mascara every time I hear it."

Josiah pulled his gaze from the plump temptation of her breasts and smiled. "I'm afraid that I'm not much of a singer, but I'd be happy to tell you the story of three wise men who followed a star."

The woman looked thoroughly disappointed.

"Well, I'll be." A middle-aged waitress moved out from behind the counter. "You're that Reverend Josiah Jessup who had that television show."

The word had annoyed Josiah much more than he let on. "A woman of knowledge, I see." He walked farther into the diner, stopping to shake hands with people as he went. "But I have left my television ministry behind to travel the country and meet my brethren face to face—and heart to heart."

The waitress's gaze pinned Josiah with a mean look. "Or swindle folks into givin' you their lifesavin's so you can build a big ol' mansion in Caribou."

Josiah wasn't surprised by the accusation. It was the reason he was here in this Podunk town. The media had had a field day with the story on his misuse of donations, and this was the price he had to pay if he wanted to return to his million-dollar television ministry: mingling with the common folk.

He pulled on his mask of repentant sinner. "You are absolutely correct, Miss…"

"Dean," she said with narrowed eyes. "Rachel Dean."

"Nice to meet you, Miss Dean. And I completely agree with you. I never should've built a house in Malibu for senior citizens without first consulting the kind people who generously gave."

Rachel Dean's eyes squinted even more until he could hardly see them. "You built that house for old folks?"

"There are two lovely, elderly ladies living there as we speak." Josiah tried not to grit his teeth at the thought of his demented grandmother and great aunt enjoying his spa and media room while he was stuck in Texas. Especially when the two old coots didn't seem to know the difference between his grand mansion and the tacky retirement home he'd jerked them out of when the scandal hit.

"Well, that shore doesn't sound like a misappropriation of funds to me." A big-bellied man with an impressive handlebar mustache got up from his bar stool and held out a hand. "Harley Sutter. I'm the mayor of this fine town."

Josiah smiled brightly. He had always believed in starting at the top and working his way down. He had learned early on that if you could knock down the kingpin, the others would follow.

He hurried over and shook the mayor's hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, sir. I must tell you that I was quite impressed with what I learned from your town's website. In this time of economic hardship, Bramble seems to be thriving. Which can only be the direct result of strong leadership."

Before the mayor could even absorb Josiah's praise, the hussy with the delicious cleavage spoke up. "Oh, Harley ain't responsible for the website or the jobs. Hope Lomax is the one who makes sure Bramble stays put. Her and them Cates brothers who run Dalton Oil. Harley just organizes the parades."

The mayor nodded. "I do love a parade."

Josiah stared at the imbecile for only a second before he regrouped. "And what would this country be without parades, I ask? There is nothing like good, wholesome family entertainment to bring folks together." He waited for the mumbles of agreement before he continued brown-nosing the mayor. "Besides, great leaders shouldn't be expected to deal with the little details of running a government. Their job is to see the entire picture and find the right man—or woman—for the job. And it looks as if you, Mayor Sutter, have done just that."

The mayor scratched his head. "Well, I guess that's one way to look at it."

"Of course it is." He thumped the mayor on the back. "Why, with your leadership skills, I don't doubt for a second that the political leaders of your party will be beating down your door come the next gubernatorial election."

The mayor's eyes brightened as he took the bait. "Are you tellin' me that I could be the next governor of Texas?"

"That's exactly what I'm telling you." Josiah eased back a little so as not to prematurely jerk the hook from the man's mouth. "Of course, you'll need to prepare for such an endeavor. Gubernatorial races are demanding and cutthroat." He gave the mayor a once-over. "You'll be spending a lot of time in front of a camera, so you might want to think about losing a few pounds. And you'll need to come up with a slogan. Something snappy that catches people's attention."

The old man at the end of the counter, who Josiah had thought was sleeping under his straw cowboy hat, snorted before he got up and shuffled to the door. "I've had about enough of these shenanigans."

Josiah waited for the door to close behind the old coot before he continued. "Let the naysayers spend the rest of their lives trying to dissipate people's dreams with the vile venom of their negativity." He looked around the diner at all the confused faces. "But I'm here to tell you that God has a grand plan for each and every one of you. And all it takes to open His abundant gift is a little faith." He looked over at the waitress. "Let's take you, for instance, Miss Dean. What is a beautiful, intelligent woman like you doing working as a waitress? Do you really want to spend the rest of your days in a dinky little diner serving food? Or do you want to open the grand gift that God has for you and enjoy it to the fullest?"

Her beady eyes brightened. "And just where do I find this gift?"

He leaned in closer and tapped her temple. "Right here. The gift is waiting right in here. All you have to do is dream it. Do you want to be a ballet dancer? A painter? Or discover the cure for cancer? Anything you want to do, you can do. It's all within your grasp." He pointed to the hussy with the fine breasts. "What is your dream, sister?"

Her eyes filled with tears. "To have me another weddin'."

After being married three times, the last to a she-devil who exposed his misspending, it was a struggle for Josiah to remain positive. "Weddings are the beautiful union of two halves into a whole. But sometimes we let our own desires choose a half that is completely wrong for us. I tell you, sister, it is time to release your fleshly desires and look to the heavens for your rightful mate." He glanced around at the crowd. "Can I get an amen!"

There was only a brief pause before the diner rang out with the type of affirmation that had always been music to Josiah's ears.


An hour later, Josiah was back in his Cadillac and cruising down Main Street. The diner sermon had been one of his best. He had used every trick he'd learned growing up with his revival preacher daddy and a few that he'd picked up during the years spent as a used car salesman. The idiots of Bramble, Texas, never knew what hit them and were now under his spell. Of course, he wasn't sure how he'd use them. But over the years, he'd learned to build bridges rather than burn them. The townsfolk would come in handy sooner or later.

Even if only to boost his television audience.

Once he had a television audience to boost. Which was exactly what he was doing in Bramble.


On Sale
Mar 25, 2014
Page Count
352 pages

Katie Lane

About the Author

Katie Lane is a firm believer that love conquers all and laughter is the best medicine. Which is why you’ll find plenty of humor and happily-ever-afters in her contemporary and western contemporary romance novels. A USA Today bestselling author, she has written numerous series, including Deep in the Heart of Texas, Hunk for the Holidays, Overnight Billionaires, Tender Heart Texas, and The Brides of Bliss Texas. Katie lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and when she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, eating chocolate (dark, please), and snuggling with her high school sweetheart and Cairn Terrior, Roo.

You can learn more at:
Twitter @KatieLaneBooks

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