Fire & Ice Book 1
by Charlene Namdhari
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Twenty-four-year-old virgin Samantha Harman longs to escape her boring life and overbearing father in South Africa. She gains temporary freedom when she visits a friend’s ranch in Arizona. Her father’s price for letting her go? Return to an arranged marriage. But an unexpected attraction to a sexy cowboy is hard to fight and soon she’s in bed with the devil.
Cody Bentley, a hardworking no-nonsense rancher, has been hurt before. To him, women are wanton troublemakers out for gold. Then his sister’s feisty friend comes for a visit and ensnares him in a white-hot passion that threatens to melt the icy wall around his heart.
Will Samantha dare to defy her father’s demands and convince Cody to take a chance on love?
Deborah cruised up to the house and parked outside the entrance. The ranch
buzzed with activity. Despite the dust, noise, and utter confusion, Samantha
stared enthralled as the ranch hands herded the cattle into the corrals, in perfect
harmony. Muscles rippled with weariness while their tails swished in tune with
the slight breeze. The horses were beautiful.
After her fifth birthday, her father allowed her to attend the local riding
school. While it wasn’t vast open fields like this ranch, the confines of the city
equestrian hadn’t stumped her passion to jump on a horse the first chance she
got. Crazy as it sounded, the idea of mounting one of these large horses and
riding off into the horizon grew steadily.
“There you are, girls.” Freda stepped out onto the porch and distracted
Samantha’s wild fantasies. “Reece injured his arm.”
“What?” Deborah shot out of the pickup, her brow puckered in concern.
“Calm down, dear girl.” Freda touched Deborah’s hand lightly. “He’s his
dandy self, cut his arm on a rock.”
“Where is he…?” Deborah asked and disappeared into the house.
It amused Samantha that, although her friend had three brothers, being twins,
made for a stronger bond between her and Reece.
“Is he okay?” Samantha jumped out and skirted the pickup.
“Come, dear, let’s go inside and see for yourself.” Freda extended an arm to
Samantha as they entered the house.
Samantha didn’t want to disturb Reece while he was busy with the doctor.
She headed upstairs for a quick shower after Freda announced supper needed
another thirty minutes or so. Donning a pair of black denims, a baby blue shirt,
and black boots, she pulled her hair into a loose ponytail. Given the heat, she
decided against makeup and descended to dinner, humming softly. Back home,
dinner was a formal affair where her father demanded etiquette, visitors or not.
Vibrant chatter emanated from the living room which ceased when she entered.
Reece, Jace, and another male looked up.
Deborah leaped to her feet and looped an arm in hers. “Reece, Jace, you
remember Samantha, my college roommate?”
Reece jumped up and shifted his hurt arm with an indifferent grin. “Howdy,
darlin’ sure is nice to see you again.”
“Hi yourself, long time.” Samantha kissed his cheek lightly.
Jace rose, nodded shyly, and followed with a bashful smile.
When Deborah guided her to the third male, an impulsive sensation of nerves
crept up Samantha’s spine.
“And this charming guy is Chance, our ranch supervisor.”
“Howdy, Samantha. Sure is a pleasure to meet you,” Chance drawled
accompanied by an attractive smile. He extended a hand, which Samantha
accepted, warming to his touch.
“Hello, Chance. Nice meeting you too.” Her gaze roamed his handsome, lean physique and vibrant hazel eyes with interest. Thank goodness you didn’t call him Cody. Her gaze swept the room as she searched for the missing-in-action brother. Part of her patiently waited to put a face to the brute. Soon, she forgot about Cody as Reece claimed her undivided attention. Several minutes into the discussion, Samantha stood with her back to the living room entrance. Deborah’s soft greeting caught her ear.
Slowly, Samantha turned and schooled her features into a polite mask, but shock momentarily widened her eyes…
The floor suddenly morphed into jelly, she forced every effort to stay upright. Silently she prayed for it to open up and swallow her whole, while trapped by the disconcertingly blue stare of the rider she almost ran over.
Samantha shut her eyes tight, willed away the sight, but when she opened them again, he was still there. For one totally indescribable minute, she experienced the vulnerability of a small animal about to be devoured by a marauding jungle beast.
Deborah nudged her forward. “Cody, I’d like you to meet Sam—”
Confusion momentarily clouded his eyes and then, “You.” She watched the rigid muscles in his jaw work overtime as he stiffened. “What the hell are you doing here, boy…” Cody broke off almost immediately. “Wait a darn minute…you’re no boy, you’re…dammit you’re a woman.” Annoyance clearly masked his severe features.
Samantha recovered her poise, tilted her chin at a proud angle, and refused to break his gaze.
“So, I guess you’ve met?” Deborah’s soft words broke the silence.
“Met? This woman almost ran me over yesterday,” Cody muttered dryly, without taking his eyes off Samantha.
The tension in the room could be cut with a knife. Everyone else ceased to exist. “An honest mistake, Mr. Bentley,” Samantha sputtered and matched his hostile glare. She took an instant dislike to the man. Her fine body hairs rose up in protective self-defense.
“That, Lady, was no mistake…just careless drivin’.”
His rudeness infuriated her right down to her toes. “Well, I don’t expect you to understand. You’re not much of a gentleman. Tell me, Mr. Bentley, do you always treat your guests with such emphatic rudeness?” she retorted in one breathless statement. He pinned her with a gaze so intense, her knees shook.
“Dammit, Cody, Samantha’s a guest.” Reece forestalled any reply by stepping between them.
Swiveling, Cody stomped out of the room, his boots clicked tersely against the tiles.
“Sorry ’bout that, darlin’.” Reece winked.
Samantha offered a light smile at his attempt at lightheartedness. Her body simmered with raw anger. Of all the nerve. She never met anyone as horrible as Cody. A brute of a man if she ever met one. Deborah’s earlier explanation suddenly made sense.
“Hey, girl, I’m sorry.” Deborah stepped forward and interrupted her mental distress.
Samantha uttered a dry laugh. “That went off well, wouldn’t you say?”
“The thing is, ’bout a month back, a ranch hand, while he exercised one of the mares, rode her out to the same crossing. A driver ignored the sign and ran the horse and rider over. The ranch hand broke an arm in the collision. The horse, however, broke one leg and injured another. Cody made the tough decision to have her put down. He loved that horse, and I guess the incident still bothers him a little.” Deborah gave her arm a gentle squeeze.
“Geez, thanks, now I feel much better.”
“Supper is ready,” Freda broke their chatter.
About the Author:
Born and raised in the coastal city of Durban, South Africa and now living in the City of Gold, Johannesburg, Charlene’s days are an energetic mixture of a full time job, a wife and Mom to two beautiful teenagers. She holds a Law Degree and is an avid events manager.
Believing writing is the wings to holistic escapism, she makes the time in her busy schedule giving life to her dreams of bringing together passion filled heroes and heroines in a happily ever after.
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