Savage in a Stetson - They were friends. Now they’re business rivals. Is there room for being lovers too?
Jada Ellis is ready to make some big life changes. When she leaves her job as caregiver in the Crossroads, Georgia nursing home and buys the local BBQ joint on a whim, everyone thinks she’s lost her mind, including her. Just as she starts to feel she’s found the perfect happy trail, she sees another kind of happy trail, leading across the road to her very buff and smoking-hot ex who’s fresh off the rodeo circuit and back in town.
Dominick Cole’s grandpa advised him to stay in the small town, settle down and raise a family here. But he didn’t listen and ran off to chase a golden buckle as a big-time rodeo star. But when “Savage” Cole returns to start up a barbecue restaurant, he couldn’t find a better—or sexier—rival in Jada. The town isn’t big enough for both of them—but a bed might be.

 

Savage in a Stetson by Em Petrova Book Chapter One

 

Prologue

Jada did not mean to push the cowboy into the pond. It sort of happened.

But this wasn’t about her—it was her little sister’s big day. And true to her style, she told the universe it would not rain on her wedding, and she got her way.

The pond where her sister Joss would say her nuptials couldn’t look more like a fairytale, with twinkle lights glittering on the water’s surface as well as casting a glow on the happy couple. Even the peeper frogs added their chorus to the special evening.

Jada gripped the bridesmaid bouquet of wildflowers and drew in a deep breath of their scent. The Georgia breeze fluttered her custom-made dress around her bare legs. The evening really was perfect.

Jada only wished she felt happier. Sure, she was thrilled for her sister and her new husband-to-be Cort. But her own heart had just been brutally stomped under the heel of a cowboy boot.

She glared at the man wearing those very boots and who’d crushed any dreams of a happily-ever-after with him.

Dominick eyed her across the dock. Those dark eyes and the smoldering looks he shot her couldn’t make up for what he’d just told her minutes before the wedding began.

He was leaving Crossroads.

She thought when he got disqualified from the rodeo circuit for fighting and started working on the Bellamy Ranch that he was here to stay. But somehow, he had sweet-talked his way back into the rodeo, and he was going big-time. No more small Podunk venues—he’d be earning big-boy prize money.

Jada had been friends with Dominick for what? A year. Since he started coming to visit his grandpa at the nursing home where she worked. From the start, she liked how kind he was with his grandpa and how the older gentleman suffering from Alzheimer’s wore a smile on his face for days after Dominick visited.

Pretty soon he stopped by the nurse’s station to seek her out for a chat, first about his grandpa’s health and happiness, but then their conversations spread to more. His humor made her laugh—something she welcomed in her stressful work days caring for the elderly.

Until the last few months, she refused to admit to having a crush on Dom. The sexy cowboy had women falling all over him. And she was only a dull old nurse.

Then it happened—he asked her to dinner. They hit it off. He kissed her goodnight, and she still felt the lingering warmth of that kiss when she thought about it.

Just as she started to think they might have a chance, tonight he told her his plans to leave. He’d be gone most of the year. He’d call.

She slid her gaze from the tall, hunky drink of water across from her standing up as Cort’s groomsman. Why did they have to be friends? Be a lot easier if she never had to see Dominick again—and tonight the last thing she wanted to do was pretend to be chummy with the man. No way would she dance with him either. A girl had to protect her heart, after all.

Joss and Cort were pronounced man and wife. Then Cort grabbed her sister up, bent her over his arm and laid a huge kiss on her. Jada shook her bouquet in the air in celebration and let out a cheer, which was cut off by a pair of full, hard lips.

Dominick’s flavor hit her head, and she pushed away from him—hard. He toppled backward…tipped off the dock as if in slow motion… and hit the water with a splash.

Jada leaned over to see him treading water toward the shore. She wanted to toss her bouquet after him, and shove her high heel where the sun didn’t shine.

She swiped her hand over her lips to wipe away his taste. Damn the man for thinking he could kiss her. As if he had the right after breaking things off.

“Jada, what on earth?” Joss blinked at her in shock.

She waved a hand and squeezed her sister to her. “Congratulations, l’il sis.”

“Thank you. But what was that?”

“Don’t worry about it. Focus on your big happy day!” She pressed a kiss to Joss’s powdered cheek. The couple turned toward the end of the dock and the big group of guests waiting on the shore to greet Mr. and Mrs. Cort Bellamy.

Dominick also straggled out of the water like a hot, wet sea creature, and Jada pointedly refused to look his direction as he laughed off what had happened to the guests more than eager to rib him for it.

Jada didn’t ever want to leave Crossroads. She loved this town. Her roots dug deep. She wanted to marry and raise her children here, in the same small town where she’d grown up. She let herself be deluded to the thought that Dom wanted the same thing, especially when he took the job on the Bellamy Ranch, but that was just temporary.

Out of the corner of her eye, she glanced at him. It was hard to choke down the knowledge that they were over before they got much of a start. But if it wasn’t meant to be, who was she to argue with the universe?

He sent her a look that made her stomach tumble and her heart bob to the top of her throat. She looked away.

Damn her pitiful heart for falling in love with the man.