Book One, The Canadays of Montana Series
(Previously titled, A Fair To Remember)
Twelve years ago, equestrian Olympic hopeful Olivia Canaday and her best friend, Jake Lassen, made a pinky-swear promise to reunite at the Big Marietta Fair on her thirtieth birthday and marry each other if they were both still single. But that was before they grew up and went their separate ways.
Now, after a disastrous divorce and a career-changing accident, Olivia limps home, minus her mojo, her courage and her faith in love. She retreats to her parents’ ranch, determined to play it safe, but when ex-Army helicopter pilot Jake Lassen arrives to make good on their promise, he reignites passion and hope, two things Olivia had forgotten existed.
Olivia resolves to keep Jake at arm’s length, even though the memory of his kisses keeps her up at night. She knows better than to let her heart get involved, but Jake is planning for the future. Their future. Can Jake convince her to risk it all one more time and really prove he’s a cowboy to remember?
Jake sighed, then reached down to pull off a boot.
“What are you doing?” Olivia asked.
“Take off your clothes.”
Instinctively, she clamped her hands across her chest. “What?”
“C’mon. Not all your clothes. Just your dress. Your boots. Let’s go swimming.”
“We’ve done it a million times here.” Off came his other boot. “C’mon.”
Off came the black T-shirt over the holy-crikee ripped muscles of his torso. She inhaled at the sight of the new-to-her tats that covered one shoulder and forearm.
He followed her gaze and grinned. “Or are you scared of that, too?”
Oh, no. Not the tattoo. What was under the tattoo. She was definitely, definitely scared of the carnal thoughts his sleek, beautiful physique inspired.
The owl they’d been listening to flapped across the water with low, swooping beats of its huge wings, barely skimming the surface of the river.
“I-I’m still a little drunk and, obviously, I-I don’t have a bathing suit.”
“When did you get so prissy? Underwear always sufficed before. When naked wasn’t appropriate.” He grinned and loosened the button on the top of his jeans and she heard the toe-curling sound of his zipper sliding down.
“We only skinny dipped once when we were fourteen and it was pitch black.” She watched the smooth, thick muscles of his back bunch and move beneath his skin like quicksilver as he slid off his jeans. He was wearing boxer briefs which outlined his taut thighs and backside, a view that made her mouth go dry.
He gestured at the dark night with one hand. “C’mon. It’s hot. And since you’ve put the nix on discussing what’s got you so spooked, what’s a little swim between friends? We’ll never get this place to ourselves again.” Jake waded in a few steps then dove underwater.
Grown men and women cannot be friends. Her sister Kate had declared when Olivia had mentioned her onetime friendship with Jake as a perfect example of male-female friendship, Because, in the sage words of Billy Crystal’s Harry to Meg Ryan’s Sally, ‘the sex part always gets in the way.’
A warm rush of longing shuddered through her as Jake shimmered under the surface of the water. Kate was right.
The sex part was a problem.
He shot straight up out of the water and gasped, the water sparkling in his hair.
Definitely a problem.