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One Texan's Enough

One Texan's Enough by Sarah Storme
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Amy Van Buren, a single parent, has moved from Boston to Destin, Texas, with her fifteen-year-old son. After a nightmare marriage and years of scraping by, she hopes to start a new life in the house her aunt left her. Justin Wheaton grew up in Destin. His marriage didn't go well, and when his wife died of cancer, he was left with four children and deep-seated guilt. Although he has dated a few women, his family and thriving construction company don't leave him time to get involved. At least, that's what he believes before he meets Amy and sparks fly. Now his biggest concerns are convincing Amy that he's the Texan for her, and keeping her son away from his teenage daughter.

Awe-Struck Publishing; April 2004
169 pages; ISBN 9781587495496
Read online, or download in secure PDF format
Title: One Texan's Enough
Author: Sarah Storme
Justin tried to keep his eyes on the road as he headed west on the highway. Amy had nearly knocked him over when he saw her. The dress she wore was the perfect color for her--something between the colors of her blond hair and light brown eyes--and it revealed a figure that fired all kinds of carnal thoughts. She'd pulled her hair back into an elegant bun. He had a great desire to touch the back of her neck and see if the fine strands of hair that danced in the air conditioning were as soft as they looked. He was definitely going to blow it if he didn't find something else to focus on. "You said our kids are just friends," he said. "Yes." "How do you know?" "Alex told me, and he never lies to me." "Never?" "Never." Justin tried not to make a face. Every teenage boy lied about something. "You're lucky," he said. "Really? What's your relationship like with your daughter?" Justin took a quiet breath. This line of conversation was going to depress him completely. "I've got an idea. Why don't we make a rule that we can't talk about kids tonight?" "And exes," she said. "Deal." He glanced over and caught her grinning. Like most people who didn't know, she assumed he was divorced. It didn't matter; that was another part of his life he had no desire to talk about. "I guess we're not staying in Destin this evening," she said. "No, as much as I love it, the town's as boring as dead grass. The good places are in Willow Lake." "Oh? Do they have a Burger King?" He shrugged. "Well, I didn't think you wanted anything that fancy." She laughed quietly and he felt better. Justin stretched his arm across the empty seat between them and rested his left hand on the steering wheel. "Tell me, Amy, where did you grow up?" "Boston," she said. "Oh, so you're a real big-city gal." "Yes, I guess I am. And you?" "Destin." "Really? You've never left?" "I didn't say that." "No," she said, "I guess you didn't." He was surprised when the conversation stopped. Most women he knew loved to talk about themselves. Maybe he hadn't given her enough of an opening. "What do your parents do?" She turned her head to look out the window. "My mother was a clerk in a department store, and my father was a cop." "Wow, a cop. You must have been proud of him." "I was," she said, her voice a little sad. "Is he still living?" "No." And then there was silence. "Let me guess," he said, "this is the first time you've been on a date with a goat roper." "Goat roper?" "A cowboy." "Oh. Yes, as a matter of fact, it is. Does it show?" "Well, you obviously don't know that it's bad form to sit all the way on the other side of the truck." "Bad form, huh?" "Sure. If a gal's enjoying the date, she sits close to her cowboy." She chuckled. "I'm not sure I'm enjoying it yet." He nodded and smiled at her. "Fair enough." "Why are the trees so small here?" she asked. Justin gazed out at the scrub oaks that lined the pasture fences. "They don't get much water in this part of the state, and the ground's mostly caliche." For the next fifteen miles, they talked about the countryside. He pointed out limestone and explained how it had been deposited when a shallow sea covered central Texas. Then she asked about the cattle, and the difference between the breeds. Her questions were intelligent and honest, and he had fun trying to answer them. Since the Blue Lamp's main parking lot overflowed, Justin thanked his lucky stars that he'd thought to make a reservation. He parked in the back lot. By the time he got to the passenger side of the truck, Amy was already out. He pushed her door closed and walked beside her to the restaurant. At the door, they both reached for the iron handle. When his hand brushed hers, she quickly withdrew and scowled at him, clearly annoyed. He smiled and removed his hat. "You know," he said quietly, as they made their way through the carpeted entry, "if you don't let me open doors for you, people around here will think I have no manners." She huffed. The maitre d' nodded formally. "Wheaton," Justin said. "Yes, sir." He motioned toward a young man who led them across the dining room and to a booth in the back corner. Justin couldn't have picked a better spot. After Amy sat, he slid around to the back of the table. "This certainly is cozy," she said. "Yes, it is." "Is this where you bring all your dates? Let me guess--there's a plaque with your name on it under the tablecloth." He smiled as he sipped from his water glass. Through her teasing, he could see she was impressed. The Blue Lamp was--by far--the best restaurant in the county. *** Amy savored the last bite of bread pudding. Justin sat beside her, his arm draped across the back of the booth, sipping coffee. In her wildest dreams, she wouldn't have guessed they were going to have such an exquisite meal. She was also shocked at what a splendid time she'd had so far. Justin was perfect company; he asked questions but didn't press if she didn't answer, and he threw in teasing comments when things started to get tense or too quiet. The man was definitely smooth. "What's it like growing up in a small town?" she asked. He smiled and shrugged with one shoulder. "It has its ups and downs. It didn't take much to be a star on the football and baseball teams. There wasn't a lot of competition." He drank the last sip of his coffee and placed the cup on the saucer. "Of course, everyone knows who you are when you grow up in a place like Destin. You can't get away with anything. My best buddy and I got busted when we tried to swipe a friend's truck. That ended our life of crime." Amy smiled as she leaned back to enjoy her coffee and study the man beside her. There was something different about him--something she couldn't define. When he started talking, he didn't sound like a redneck. But that wasn't it. It was his eyes. His glistening blue eyes held secrets. "Of course," he said, "there were only so many girls to go out with, and all the dates were the same. After a school dance or a movie, we'd go up to Lookout Point. The sheriff would come around with his flashlight and knock on the windows. I think that's how he got his jollies, the old pervert." Amy shook her head. "It sounds like a 1950s movie," she said. Justin's grin grew decidedly wicked at her comment. Amy gulped the last sip of coffee. "What did you do as a kid on a date?" he asked. "Not much. The boys were all terrified of my father." Justin laughed and nodded. "I can imagine. Sheriff Aster knew me and my buddies all by name. If he'd had a daughter, I'm sure none of us would have had the guts to ask her out, even if she'd been the prettiest girl in Destin. As it was, we had to leave town if we wanted to do anything at all sneaky." "You mean, like tonight?" When his gaze jumped to hers, Amy realized she'd hit on something. He even blushed a little. For whatever reason, he didn't want the town to know that he was taking her out. She reached over and touched his arm. "Don't worry," she said, "your secret's safe with me. I certainly wouldn't want anyone to know I had dinner with a cowboy." He grinned again. "Oh, I've planned a whole lot more than just dinner tonight. You're not out with some wimpy city boy." The way he looked at her made her mouth go dry. *** As they headed north into the darkness, Justin felt more relaxed than he had on the way to the Blue Lamp. He'd managed to make it through dinner without spilling anything on Amy. That was good. Now, would he be able to dance with her and not break her toes? All three bars at the county line were packed. He pulled into the parking lot of the Silver Saddle--the nicest of the three. Booming music reached them as soon as they stepped out of the truck. "I don't know if I can handle this," she said. Justin tilted his hat back and frowned at her. "This is for your own good. You can't live in Texas without knowing how to do the Texas two-step, and I'm willing to wager you don't." "You'd win that one," she mumbled. She glanced around. "I have to do this, huh?" He nodded, then turned and offered her his arm. After a moment's hesitation, she took it, her hand warm on his forearm. At the door, he nodded to the bouncer as they passed the man. Justin guided Amy through the maze of chairs and people with his hand on her back, and they sat at an empty table near the wall. The noise was such that he had to lean close to talk to her. That's when he realized how good she smelled--just a hint of warm roses. "What do you want to drink?" he asked. "What are you having?" "Beer." "All right." Justin motioned to the barmaid as she passed and she returned with a pitcher. He poured them each a glass and downed the first half of his, hoping it would boost his courage. It helped a little. As soon as she put her glass down, he asked, "Ready?" "For what?" "For a dance." She glanced out at the dance floor, filled with people applauding the last number, and then frowned at him. Justin took her hand, rose, and led her out into the mass of bodies. As the band started, he turned and pulled her forward. She was tense when he placed his hand on her shoulder. He leaned forward. "Hold onto my belt loop." She did, but hesitantly, and Justin started backwards. Her feet collided with his during the first few steps, but then she got the rhythm. "That's it," he said. "Just slide your feet, don't step." Amy was quick. She caught on and relaxed a bit. Justin pulled her closer and they circled the dance floor until the music stopped. "Another?" he asked. "Why not?" For two hours they danced, stopping only long enough to polish off a few beers. Amy was the perfect dance partner--willing to try different steps and quick to get the idea. And she felt great in his arms. He couldn't remember when he'd enjoyed dancing so much. The band began a ballad as they returned to the floor. Justin wrapped his arm around Amy's waist and pulled her close until their bodies touched. For a moment, she tensed again, but as they started a slow circle, she relaxed. Her hand moved up to his shoulder and then around to the back of it, and she rested her head against him. He pressed his cheek to her hair and closed his eyes. She was tall for a woman, at least five-eight. Or maybe it was the shoes she wore. Whatever it was, they fit together perfectly. He slid his hand down to her lower back and drew her closer. Her thigh rubbed against his as they stepped, and he bit back a groan. The entire dance floor disappeared. The two of them moved together as one, fitting into the bends of each other's body, gliding along to the slow beat. Amy didn't wear heavy perfume. Instead, her scent made him think of a garden after a summer rain. Her hair felt soft against his skin. He released her reluctantly at the end of the song. She stepped back and looked up at him, her eyes wide. "I, uh, think I've got the hang of it," she said. He smiled. "Yeah, I think you do, too." "Shouldn't we start back? I need to be home by twelve." Justin glanced at his watch. How could it be eleven already? "One more stop," he said, "and then the date will be complete." His ears rang in the quiet when they left the building. At the truck, Amy waited for him to open her door. When he did, she glanced up with one eyebrow raised before climbing in. Justin pushed the door closed and hurried around to the driver's side. As soon as he started from the parking lot, Amy slid over to the middle of the seat and fastened her seatbelt. Then she smiled at him. "I wouldn't want you to think I'm not having a good time." *** He didn't tell her where they were going, but as soon as they started up a winding dirt road just outside of Destin, Amy guessed that it was Lookout Point. When they stopped at a cliff, she understood the name. They climbed from the truck, stood near the edge, and gazed out over the sleepy Texas town that was her new home. There were no more than a dozen streetlights, and both traffic signals blinked yellow. House lights glowed with the warmth of a Hallmark card. Justin stood silently beside her, letting her take it in. She could feel that he was close and she was suddenly self-conscious. What should she do if he tried to kiss her? She was much too attracted to him. When they were dancing, she'd lost herself in his arms. Amy turned to walk along the cliff. "Watch out for rattlers." She froze. "What?" "Rattlers. Snakes. They like to curl up on the limestone and get the last of the day's heat." She squinted at the ground around her, trying to see in the minuscule light. Were the dark lines sticks or snakes? "You're kidding, right?" "No." "Oh, crap," she muttered, unwilling to risk another step. He left her where she stood and walked to the truck. For one terrifying moment, she thought he was abandoning her to the reptiles. She could barely make out his shape in the moonlight as he opened his door, pulled something out, and then closed it. "Justin," she said, unable to hide her apprehension. "Hang on," he answered. Something metal squeaked and clunked. Relief washed over her when she saw him walking toward her. "For a minute, I thought...yikes!" He swept her off her feet and carried her to the back of the truck. As soon as she was over the shock, Amy noticed how solid his arms were. And his chest. She gripped his shoulder. Justin placed her on the tailgate of the truck where he'd spread a blanket for her to sit on. She straightened her dress as the truck lowered when he sat beside her. Unsure of what to expect, Amy sat with her hands in her lap. "What do you think?" She glanced over and found him leaning back on stiff arms, staring forward. She followed the line of his gaze and barely stifled a gasp. The partial moon hung somewhere behind them. Ahead, the black sky set off the light of more stars than she'd ever seen in her life. Some sparkled blue and red, and the Milky Way stretched just above them between horizons. As she watched, two sparks streaked across the sky, one right after the other. "Shooting stars," he said. "You better make a wish." Amy leaned back to match Justin's pose. The cool evening breeze made her appreciate the warmth of his arm against her shoulder. "What should I wish for?" she asked. "Well, now, that's kind of personal." He smiled down at her for a moment, his face lit by the moonlight. He'd left his hat in the truck, and his hair blew across his forehead with boyish abandon. She nodded. "I guess so. But I thought sure you'd tell me I should wish for more Texans, now that I know just how incredible they are." "Oh, no, ma'am," he said, "one Texan's enough for any woman." She laughed quietly as she watched another meteorite dive for oblivion. They sat together in a comfortable silence for a long time, watching stars and listening to insects. It was such a different world from any she'd known before that she wondered if it was real. Being light-headed from the beer made it feel even more alien. Headlights shattered the world of darkness when a car rounded the bend and appeared in front of them. Amy squinted against the glare. The car started around in a circle and stopped, and she saw blue and red lights on top and a large, dark haired man in uniform inside. He leaned out to speak. "Wheaton. I thought I saw lights on the road. What are you doing up here?" "Just watching the stars, Chase." "Oh? Having flashbacks to high school?" Justin shook his head. "Not exactly." "Well," the cop said, "thought I should check. Teenagers aren't allowed up here after eleven anymore." The man grinned. "I guess you're old enough. See you around." "Yeah." The officer surveyed the rest of the plateau with his spotlight. Then, assured they were alone, he waved and drove away, leaving them in darkness again. "See what I mean?" Justin said. "The only difference is that Chase and I were on the football team together." The truck moved as he did. "We should start back." His voice sounded deep and soft in the darkness. She closed her eyes to let them readjust, then watched him hop to the ground. When he turned and reached for her hands, she expected him to help her to her feet. Instead, he held both of her hands in his, rubbing the backs of them with his thumbs. He stepped closer. Amy gulped when he leaned forward. His lips were warm on hers--warm and moist. He kissed her briefly, then straightened and gazed down at her. His eyes sparkled in the moonlight, but the grin he'd worn most of the night had disappeared. He brushed her cheek with his fingertips, then moved his hand to her jaw and raised her face to his as he leaned forward again. His mouth opened as it covered hers and his tongue ran across her lips, tasting, caressing. He stepped closer and tilted his head. Amy put her hands on his shoulders as she drew him in. Their tongues met, swirling, hot, hungry. Justin's arms enveloped her and he pulled her up to his hard body. Muscles flexed and his chest vibrated against hers with a groan. She tightened her arms around his neck, vaguely aware that her feet touched nothing but air. His hands gripped her sides as he locked her in his embrace and kissed her. She'd never experienced such a kiss--never. His hunger filled her senses, creating a charge that ran through her body and tingled in her belly. His scent surrounded her, prickling her skin, coaxing her. She didn't want it to end. But it did end--slowly, gently. He eased her down to her feet as he kissed her cheeks and lips. His arms withdrew, leaving scorched trails where his hands crossed her back and sides. Her hands resting on his chest, Amy opened her eyes. "Damn," he whispered. She nodded, struggling to fill her lungs with cool air and to steady her legs. Then he stepped back. "Well, little lady," he said, "I do believe you've got the hang of this, too." She smiled, turned, and stumbled around the truck, trying to hide her wobbling knees. Justin held her door open and then closed it behind her.
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