One Last Kiss
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“Kat Martin is a fast gun when it comes to storytelling, and I love her books.”
—Linda Lael Miller, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Colorado rancher Sam Bridger will do anything for a friend, even if it means babysitting a rich city girl who knows more about high fashion than horses. Blond, beautiful Liberty Hale looks like a model—and acts like a spoiled brat—but Sam senses another side to the young woman who has lost so much of her family, and he can’t deny the heat just one look at her ignites.
Libby is determined to get through her time on the ranch—her inheritance depends on her putting in a solid month’s work. She hadn’t imagined her boss would be a sexy, straightforward cowboy—and she’s surprised to discover just how much she wants him. As life in the Colorado sunshine begins to burn away her grief, Libby and Sam’s attraction to each other starts to sizzle.
A three-day pack trip into the mountains will test them both—especially when one of the ranch’s guests takes a sinister interest in Libby. Suddenly their unexpected chance at love is overshadowed by the terrifying possibility that their very lives are at risk . . .
Excerpt 1 From "One Last Kiss"
ONE LAST KISS by Kat Martin
Sam Bridger stood outside the Vail Valley Jet Center, the executive terminal at the Eagle County Airport, watching a sleek white Citation taxi toward the gate.
The stairs were put in place and the door swung open. A sexy little blonde emerged from the plane, the only passenger aboard. Sam chaffed with annoyance as he watched her descend the metal stairs, the spoiled city girl he would be babysitting for the next four weeks.
Unlike today, guests usually arrived at the regular passenger terminal, not the fancy private jet terminal.
Unfortunately, this was Martin Hale’s niece and Sam considered Marty a friend. In accordance with the man’s dying request, Sam had agreed to employ his niece and though he would have done it as a favor to a friend, Marty insisted on giving the Bridger Ranch fifty thousand dollars in return, a sum Sam couldn’t afford to turn down.
Not after last year’s drought, the drop in beef prices, and the grass fire that had destroyed two of his best grazing pastures.
Sam watched the petite blonde with the beautiful face, and gorgeous long blond hair descend the last of the metal stairs and walk toward him across the tarmac. In a short skirt and matching jacket, she was stunning, with shapely legs, a tiny waist, and a full bosom, the kind of woman who could make a man hard just by looking at him.
Unexpected arousal tightened his jeans and his annoyance grew. Sam thought maybe he had made a bargain with the devil.
Libby looked up to see a tall man in jeans and worn cowboy boots, one of the ranch hands, she was sure. Good-looking, she had to admit, with a chest that stretched the snaps on the front of his denim shirt.
His hair was a shiny dark gold and long enough to curl over the back of his collar. He had a solid jaw and a cleft in his chin.
But–she reminded herself–he was a man. That was reason enough to block him from her thoughts.
She waved as he approached and he stopped right in front of her.
“That’s right. I assume you work at the ranch. If you’re here to pick me up, my luggage is over there.” She pointed a pink, freshly manicured nail toward a stack of leather-trimmed bags on a rolling cart, everything she might need for a month in near isolation in some wilderness outpost.
The man’s gaze followed hers to the cart and one dark gold eyebrow went up. “All of that’s yours?”
Libby frowned. “If you don’t think I brought enough, I can call a friend, have her UPS a few more things.”
“Oh, I think you brought enough.” He turned to the valet working behind the concierge counter. “We could use your help over here.”
“Yes, sir.” The young valet couldn’t seem to move fast enough. The ranch hand did have a commanding way about him. Uncle Marty had spoken with the same kind of authority. She knew it was more than just the millions he was worth, though that clearly added to the motivation.
A memory arose of the warmth in her uncle’s eyes whenever they were together and the crooked smile she had come to love. Her eyes misted. Libby blinked away any hint of tears. It was time to move forward and that was exactly what she intended to do.
Four weeks from now, her life could begin in earnest, as soon as she met the terms of Uncle Marty’s will. She followed the valet across the sidewalk to a big black Dodge Ram truck and watched as the tall blond ranch hand started tossing her luggage into the back of the truck.
“Be careful, that’s Louis Vuitton! It was a gift, custom designed with my initials.”
He clamped his hands on a pair of narrow hips and his eyes darkened. “You want to load it yourself?”
“Well, no, of course not, but–“
“Then stay out of my way.”
“How far is the ranch?” she asked, as he loaded the last bag into the pickup.
“It’s about an hour’s drive from here.”
“I guess if we’re going to be together for the next hour, I ought to at least know your name. I’m Libby Hale.”
“Oh, we’re going to be together longer than an hour.” When she struggled to climb into the truck, he gripped her waist and hoisted her up as if she weighed nothing and practically tossed her into the seat.
“We’ll be spending together for the next four weeks. My name is Sam Bridger.”
The door slammed loudly as the name echoed through her brain. Sam Bridger. The man who would determine her fate until she completed the provisions of her uncle’s will.
Oh, my God!
Excerpt 2 From "One Last Kiss"
ONE LAST KISS by Kat Martin
“I really miss him.”
“I’m sure you do. He was a good man. It was always a pleasure to have him here.”
“How well did you know him?” She flicked a glance at Sam as if the question were actually meant for him.
“Martin came here every summer,” Clara answered. “Fourteen years in a row.” Her eyes sparkled. “I think he liked my cooking.”
Libby smiled. “He did love to eat.”
“Marty loved spending time at the ranch,” Sam said. “I think that’s why he wanted you to come, to discover the peace he found when he was here.”
Her eyes narrowed. “You called him Marty?” She had the biggest, bluest eyes he’d ever seen, and the thickest black lashes. He wondered if they could possibly be real, then decided she was probably wearing a lot of mascara.
“We were friends,” he said simply.
Libby shook her head. “It’s hard to imagine. No one ever called Martin Hale Marty. Not even his friends.”
“No one but you—is that what you’re saying?”
Her chin inched up. “That’s right. No one but me.” She glanced away, and he thought he caught the sheen of tears. It was probably just the light in the kitchen.
“He never even mentioned this place,” Libby said. “He traveled a lot. Two weeks out of town was not unusual for him, but he never spoke about the Bridger Ranch.” She sighed. “It’s as if he were a different person when he was here.”
“I think he was different,” Sam said. “He told me once, these mountains were the only place he felt completely free.”
Libby walked over to the window and looked out at the distant peaks, a few still touched with snow even at this time of year. “It’s beautiful.”
Sam’s gaze followed hers. “Yeah, it is.”
Silence fell. It took a moment for him to realize his attention had strayed from the scenery to the woman staring at it.
Anxious to get out of the kitchen and get his thoughts back where they belonged, Sam returned to the subject.
“Part of your duties include helping Clara with breakfast and dinner. She’ll take care of the box lunches for the hands and any guests who want them while you clean the guest cabins. Once you’re finished, the rest of the afternoon is yours. Your evenings are free after supper is over and the dishes are cleaned up.”
One of her eyebrows arched, not golden like her hair, but darkened by a pencil. She was, after all, a makeup model. He wondered how much of her beauty was real and found himself wanting to find out.
“So that’s what…?” she asked. “About a twelve-hour workday? Maybe I should have my lawyer negotiate overtime pay.”
His lips twitched. Her uncle had had a sharp wit. Apparently his niece did, too. “What would normal overtime pay be for a makeup model?”
Her gaze sharpened. “How much did Marty tell you about me, anyway? Obviously you know a lot more of my background than I know of yours, which is nothing.”
He shrugged. “Fourteen summers is a long time, and he liked to talk about you.”
“Good or bad?”
He smiled. “Both.”
Libby flipped a golden curl over her shoulder. “Overtime pay at my level is around two hundred an hour.”
Whoa. Plus, Marty would have left her a barrel of money. “I don’t think that’s what your uncle had in mind.”
She sighed. “No. For whatever reason, I don’t suppose it is. Actually, being a model is a lot like being an actor. Sometimes you work, sometimes you don’t. And waiting around for something to turn up can really be boring.”
Her honesty surprised him. Then again, everything about her surprised him.
She flicked Clara a glance. “I guess if your aunt is willing to work that hard, I can too.”
Sam would have to see it to believe it. Still, there was a chance she had more grit than he’d first thought.
His gaze went to the rectangular shape in her front pocket. “One more thing. Your cell phone stays in your room. You’re free to use it on your own time when you’re upstairs, but you can’t bring it down here.”
Her hand when protectively to the phone. “You’re kidding, right? That’s your idea of a joke?”
Sam cast her a pitying glance. “Sorry, no joke. One of the reasons people come here is to escape the outside world. Families want their kids to appreciate the beauty around them. People like your uncle…they just want a chance to be free from outside pressures, at least for a while.”
Libby grumbled something he couldn’t hear. “Fine,” she said.
“All right, that’s it for now. In the morning, I’ll show you around. The first guests will be arriving sometime tomorrow. You can help me check them in. Part of your job is to make them feel welcome.”
She said nothing.
“Clara can fill you in on what she needs you to do in the kitchen. I’ll see you both at supper.” Turning, he walked out of the kitchen.
On his way to the barn, Sam spent a full five minutes trying to erase the memory of perfect breasts beneath a sleeveless white tank top and the sexy behind that was impossible to miss with the glitter of rhinestones on each cheek.
He gave a long-suffering sigh. The next month was going to seem like a lifetime.
Excerpt 3 From "One Last Kiss"
ONE LAST KISS by Kat Martin
After supper, Sam spent a couple of hours in his study. There was always work to do: QuickBooks entries to check, supply orders to prepare, cost analyses to examine. The work was endless. He was grateful for Clara’s help, along with the CPA in Coffee Springs who kept everything running smoothly.
Tonight his mind kept straying to Libby. She didn’t trust men, that was for sure. Obviously, she’d been hurt badly. He wondered who had done it and felt a surge of protectiveness he hadn’t expected.
The house was quiet as he walked down the hall to the kitchen for a glass of milk before heading up to bed. When something glinted on the deck off the dining room, he stepped outside and was surprised to find Libby sitting in a chair peering through a thick tube perched on a tripod.
“You’re up late,” he said, walking toward her. “Is that a telescope?”
Libby turned away from the scope. Although it was dark, he could tell she was smiling.
“Stargazing is my passion. I got interested in college, and it just stuck with me.” She stared up at the blanket of stars overhead. “Isn’t it amazing? The sky so black and clear, almost no light anywhere. The stars look like white diamonds on black velvet.” She pointed up. “That’s the Milky Way. You can just look up and see it. There’s nothing like this in the city or anywhere else I’ve ever been.”
Something shifted inside him. He was learning there was more to Libby Hale than he had first thought. “Except for the three years I spent in the army, I’ve lived in Coffee Springs all my life. You begin to take things for granted, I guess.”
“Like being able to see the stars whenever you want?”
“Want to take a closer look?”
“Sure.” But he regretted the impulse the minute he moved closer and inhaled the soft, sweet scent of her.
Libby shifted forward to adjust a few knobs and bring the picture into focus, brushing her breasts against his shoulder and putting her cheek close to his. If he turned his head, he could kiss those full pouty lips.
His body stirred to life, and Sam bit back a groan.
“So what do you think? Isn’t it something?”
He forced himself to concentrate. “Spectacular.” But he couldn’t help wondering if he was talking about the stars or the woman looking up at them.
He took a deep breath and eased away. “Thanks for sharing.”
“You think it’s safe to leave it set up out here?”
“We’re not in New York. If you’ve got something to cover it and keep out the moisture, it should be fine.”
“I’ve got everything I need.”
Sam nodded. “Well, good night then.”
He heard her moving around in the darkness behind him. “Good night, Sam.”
There was an intimacy in the way she said his name that made his groin tighten. It was impossible to deny he wanted her. Sam cursed Martin Hale again for putting him in this position.
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- ASIN : B097J3ZPZK
- Publisher : Zebra Books (August 31, 2021)
- Publication date : August 31, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 1958 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 107 pages
- Lending : Enabled
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