Junkyard Cowboy

the junkyard cowboy high resI’ve got a new book coming out on June 5, 2017 called Junkyard Cowboy. I love, love, loved writing it and often found myself laughing out loud. (Fortunately, hubby learned a long time ago not to question me when this happens.He accepted the fact that I’m crazy and talk to my characters a long time ago.)  But this book is special to me and I not only fell in love with my main characters, but found a soft spot in my heart for a secondary character. I’ve included an excerpt at the bottom of this post. And buckle up, because to paraphrase a famous movie line, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Because in Junkyard Cowboy, Jennifer Peterson and Clay Connors’ lives collide, and they both learn a few lessons like:

  • Sometimes the only thing better than a cowboy is a naked cowboy saving your life.
  • You may think you know what you want, but what you actually get might be what you really need.
  • If you live in a small town and get naked, don’t be surprised if the whole town knows about it.
  • Being a bodyguard isn’t a bad job if the body you’re guarding is blessed with curves and big blue eyes.
  • Good deeds don’t go unpunished. But doing the right thing lets you sleep at night.

Junkyard Cowboy Excerpt:

Jennifer Peterson sat alone fighting the desire to bite her nails. She needed three things and she needed them now—a stiff drink, the support of her two best friends, and a man. Not just any man. A podiatrist or a funeral director. Oh, an optometrist would work as well.

The bell over the door dinged.

Jennifer looked up toward the front of the restaurant, expecting it to be Bethany or Savanna. It wasn’t. A big guy walked in, stopped, and stretched his neck, searching the tables for someone. A spider-web tattoo peeked out of his collar as his head moved left to right.

He didn’t look like a podiatrist or optometrist. She didn’t hold out hope he was a funeral director, either. Not that it mattered. He was too tall. And bald. Her guy had to have hair.

Jennifer checked her phone for thehundredth time. It was almost three.

She only had two hours to whine and receive Savanna’s and Bethany’s blessings on her new plan. And yes, she needed their blessing. They’d long ago pledged to not only be friends, but to be each other’s support systems.

Which worked just fine for Jennifer since she’d already spent thousands of dollars attempting to fix herself.

The bell over the door rang again. It wasn’t them. By eight, she needed to be in Dolly, Texas for a much-needed job interview with David Brockman. The new B&B owner wanted to completely redecorate his property.

After practically being blacklisted in Pipersville by the almighty rich piece- of- shit Larson Mitchell, her career had gone into a slump. Who knew reporting a child abuser to Child Protective Services (CPS) was bad for the interior-design business?

Well, she’d known. Or feared it might. But she didn’t have a choice. It was . . . a child.

The financial slump wouldn’t be so bad if not for her recent relationship-status change. Now she had to make ends meet by herself. She hated those damn ends! No, what she really hated was the by-herself part.

She drummed her fingers on the table, eyeing the door. They’d be here any second. Well, everyone except Macy, the newcomer to the group, who was out of town and due back later tonight.

The text Jennifer had sent to her Got-Your-Back-Club: 911 Juan’s Place ASAP was a cry for help and a guarantee they’d show. Friends like hers—more supportive than a new pair of Spanks—helped each other. They’d been doing it for twenty years. Armed with love, wisdom, and alcohol, they’d gotten each other through divorces,the loss of parents and jobs, and even a murdered ex-husband by a Santa serial killer.

Leonardo, their much-lovedhalf-Hispanic, half-Italian waiter, spotted her and startedsashaying across the room.

On a tray, held dramatically on the very tips of his five fingers of his right hand, balanced an extra-large, problem-solving lime-infused frozen margarita. Was it too much to hope that it had her name on it?  Probably, since she hadn’t ordered one. Yet.

Much to her pleasure, Leonardo marched on and placed the drink in front of her.

“Whatever’s got your aura that murky brown color, this is going to solve it. And it’s on the house.”

She pulled the straw to her lips. “I love you.” She sucked, hard and fast.

Leonardo smiled. “That just tickles my fancy, and I’d like to take credit, but the drink was Juan’s idea. And while I don’t have eyes in the back of my head, I’m betting my silk boxers he’s still standing at the bar gazing into your blue eyes, dreaming of you two naked and doing the mattress mambo.”

Jennifer inhaled deeply and closed her eyes.

“You dreaming it, too?” Leonardo asked with a tease.

She opened her eyes. “No, brain freeze.” Still in defrost mode, she glanced back at the bar. Yup, Juan was there. Brown bedroom eyes aimed right at her. She waved and mouthed the words, Thank you.

When the group first started coming here, Juanhad the hots for Savanna. Now that Savanna was married and extra pregnant, he’d turned his attention to Jennifer.

She hadn’t even considered Juan an option because until last night she’d been on the fast track to marital-two-kids-white-picket-fence bliss with Charles. She reached for the margarita again.

And sucked.

That train had derailed.

No, it hadn’t just derailed. It’d had a head-on—or a genital-on—collision with another, younger, no-spanks-needed train.

Leonardo shifted closer. “I know you’re engaged. However, I accidently walked in on Juan changing clothes in his office. I told him right then and there that if he’d swap sides, I’d leave Pablo and marry him.”

“Don’t even say that! You wouldn’t leave Pablo. And if you did, I’d kick your ass. I like Pablo.” Brain now completely unfrosted, she asked, “What does Pablo do for a living?”

“Works for an optometrist.”

“Definitely a keeper!” It validated everything she’d learned last night.

Leonardo inched closer. “I know Pablo’s special, but what Juan’s hiding in his jeans is special, too.”

And that seals the deal. Juan was completely out of the running. Not that he had ever really been in the running. His mixed-drink talent hinted he’d done a stint as a bartender. Which was worse than a roofer. And he was too tall, too rich.

“Why couldn’t he have been a middle-class, short, and . . .”

“Say what?” Leonardo asked.

“Nothing,” Jennifer moaned as Leonardo was summoned to another table.

The bell over the door rang, and Bethany stormed in. No one stormed quite like Bethany. A skill she’d acquired after years of facing jurors a dozen at a time.

Bethany hadn’t gotten to the table when the bell dinged again. Savannah hot-footed it in, moving as fast as a nine-months-pregnant woman could hot-foot it. Her wonky movements reminded Jennifer of the catch phrase of an old toy commercial—Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.

Jennifer hated admitting it. She was envious of that wobble. She wanted that. Savanna was living Jennifer’s dream life. Albeit, Mark, Savanna’s homicide-detective husband, didn’t quite meet up to Jennifer’s new qualifications. But he had damn well better prove the statistics wrong.

Savanna sent her a quick wave and headed to the bathroom.

Bethany, her red hair swinging around her shoulders, stopped abruptly at the table. “What did he do this time? I swear to everything holy and my Christian Louboutin Bianca platform pumps, that I’m going to get that bastard.”

What? How did…?  “How do you know?”

Bethany stared at her as if Jennifer’s right ear had suddenly sprouted a penis. “If you threw away evidence this time, I’m going to–”

“Oh. No,” Jennifer said, “this isn’t about Mitchell, the child abuser.”

Right then Jennifer saw Savanna swing back around and hurry to the table. Jennifer peered up at Bethany and pressed her fingers to her lips.

Savanna wobbled to a stop. “What bastard? What evidence? And did you mean the red shoes? Answer fast because I’ve got a nine-pound baby drop-kicking my bladder.”

Savanna might not be able to walk or go five minutes without a bathroom, but obviously pregnancy hadn’t affected her hearing. She plopped down into a chair, rubbing her extended belly. “Spill it.”

“No bastard,” Jennifer said.

“No evidence?” Bethany added. “And yes, the red shoes.”

Savanna’s suspicious gaze shifted between Bethany and Jennifer.

A low, gruff growl seeped out of Savanna’s lips, and her blue eyes brightened to a dangerous pregnant hue.

There is no fooling Savanna. “Bethany is overreacting,” Jennifer said.

“I’m not overreacting.” Bethany dropped into a chair.

Savanna crossed her arms and rested them on top of her watermelon-sized baby bump. “What are you not overreacting about? Talk, or I’m gonna pee my pants right here, right now. And I swear, I’ll make it look like one of you did it.”

“It’s the Mitchell case,” Bethany said. “Now go pee.”

Savanna let go of a little gasp. The kind that came from her heart and was so emotion-loaded it hurt to hear it. “I almost forgot. That’s next week.”

Jennifer put her hand on Savanna’s shoulder. This was exactly why they kept the whole case hush-hush. A nine-months pregnant woman should never have to hear anything about child abuse. Well, no one should. But especially a pregnant woman who cried for a week after seeing a Hallmark commercial.

Savanna, brow creased with worry, looked at Bethany. “I thought you said the case was a slam dunk?”

“It is. But he’s got some dumb-ass, depraved four-hundred-dollar-an-hour lawyer from Dallas who needs a new car and decided to try to fight it.”

“How could anyone defend him?” Tears filled Savanna’s eyes, and she caressed her belly as if to protect the child from the evils of the world. “What about the x-rays that proved past abuse and what Jennifer witnessed?”

Bethany leaned in. “I don’t think he’s going to get away with it. But kids break bones. And . . . Jennifer didn’t actually witness it. She heard it.”

Jennifer’s spine tightened. Isn’t that bad enough? That little girl’s scream still haunted her. “He’s not going to win.” And God help her, but she prayed she was right.

Savanna looked at her. “I’m so sorry you have to do this, but you are that girl’s hero.”

Jennifer swallowed. She hadn’t intended to be a hero. Mitchell’s live-in girlfriend, Susie Burton, had let Jennifer into the house to measure for the window treatments.  Then Susie slipped out to pick up the swatches of material she’d left at a neighbor’s. A nanny was supposed to be caring for the little girl upstairs.

Jennifer heard when Mr. Mitchell had arrived home. She’d never met the man, so she’d stayed in the couple’s library, waiting for Susie to return and introduce them. Apparently, the man went straight into the office and had found Susie’s three-year-old little girl there.

As terrible as the scream was, Jennifer tried telling herself nothing bad had happened. But the next day when she saw the little girl wearing a cast, and a haunted look in her eyes, Jennifer knew that to ignore it made her just as bad as the monster who’d done it.

Savanna put her hand on her swollen belly. “When I hear stuff like this I worry about the kind of world I’m bringing my baby into.”

“Your baby isn’t ever going to be anywhere close to scum like Mitchell,” Bethany said. “She’ll be smothered in love by me, you, Mark and Aunt Jennifer and Macy and Jake.”

“She’s right,” Jennifer said.

Savanna gave her belly another pat.  “Wait.  What did you mean by evidence?”  That worry crease reappeared.

“That’s where overreacting comes in,” Jennifer said. “Two weeks ago, I went to the mall and when I came out someone’s receipt was stuck behind my wipers.  Someone had written on it: Do and Die.  I’m positive it was some kid playing pranks.  It didn’t have my name or say anything about testifying.  And I was in Atalla.  I think I’d have known if someone had followed all the way across town.

Savanna’s frown deepened.  “Did you turn it over to the police? They can check the handwriting. Mark just had something analyzed for another case.”

“Yeah they could.” Bethany cut Jennifer a told-you-so look. “She threw it away.”

“Why?” Savanna’s mouth dropped open in disappointment.

“It didn’t dawn on me until the next day that it could have been about the case. And considering I haven’t gotten another threat or anything, it seems even less likely.”

Savanna leaned back. “Unlikely, but still scary as hell. If that guy can hurt a three-year-old, he wouldn’t have any qualms–”

“I’m fine. Mark even said it sounded more like a coincidence. He has a black-and-white drive by my place two or three times a night. Nothing has happened.”

“Mark?” Savanna’s brows puckered. “My husband Mark?”

Now she’d really stuck her foot in it. “I made him promise not to tell you.”

“Doesn’t matter. He should’ve told me. You two both should’ve told me. We don’t keep secrets.”

“We do when you’re nine months pregnant.” Bethany used her jury-calming voice. “Don’t take this personally, but pregnancy has made you an emotional wreck.”

Savana didn’t look calm, so Bethany went in for a quick save. “I hear it’s normal. Once you pop that kid out your vajayjay, you’ll go back to being you.” Bethany put her hand on Savanna’s belly, but just as quickly pulled it away and eyeballed Jennifer. “Wait. If this isn’t about Mitchell, what’s this about?”

She hesitated then tossed it out real fast like ripping a Band-Aid off. “Charles broke up with me.”

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt. I’ll be posting buy links soon, so look for those right here next week.

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