FREE Online Read: Say Yes, Cowboy by Maisey Yates
Ready to kick off your Sunday with a great read? We have one for you…for FREE! Check out Say Yes, Cowboy by Maisey Yates on Harlequin.com. Here is the first chapter below.
Will this high-society runaway bride find true love with a blue-collar cowboy?
It’s been four months since Natalie Bailey fled her country club wedding, stranding Copper Ridge’s golden boy at the altar. She’s still the town’s most hated woman, even though she knows she did the right thing. Life’s been painfully lonely ever since.
The last thing she needs is to see him again.
Mark Brown should never have gotten involved with ice princess Natalie. But from the moment they met, there was no stopping the wildfire of passion between them. Their affair burned down her sham of an engagement (which was good) but also his heart (that part, not so good). Now a chance meeting may revive those flames—if Natalie leaves her old life behind for a future with him…
She was the most hated woman in town.
Okay, maybe she was projecting. But she didn’t think so. Even when she’d won Miss Coastal Oregon 2004 she hadn’t been on the receiving end of this much shade.
Of course, abandoning the golden boy of Copper Ridge at the altar made her little more than a regrettable footnote in the history of what had become one of the town’s most epic love stories and has also made her the focus of anger from more than just teenage beauty queens.
Yeah. Everyone hated Natalie Bailey. She even hated herself a little bit.
But that was nothing new.
Right now, even Mark hated her. And that actually stung. Though she shouldn’t be thinking about Mark.
She never should have thought of him in the first place. Thought of him, looked at him, talked to him.
Mark Brown had been the cause of her downfall. And he had been about as unexpected as anything else.
If she had known he’d be dashing, addictive and the antithesis of any man she had ever dealt with before in her life, she never would have spoken to him that night she went to Ace’s. She should never have gone to Ace’s in the first place.
Another “should have.”
Should have. Would have. Could have.
Of course, all of this canceled wedding drama could have been avoided if Colton had been a reasonable human being and broken up with her when her behavior had become untenable.
She had been certain that when she insisted she move out of his bedroom and that they be celibate for the eight months before their wedding, he would call her a crazy woman and throw her out. But he hadn’t.
No, not Colton West. Who had been absolutely determined to do everything he was expected to do. No amount of bridezilla nonsense and withholding of her body had made him change course.
She sighed heavily and held on to her bag more tightly as she walked to Copper Ridge’s main street from the alley behind The Grind. It was a cold, drizzly February day, the fog hovering low over the steel-gray sea. The weather matched her mood.
So when the raindrops landed on her head and rolled down her forehead, she took it as acknowledgment from the universe that everything sucked.
She ducked into The Grind, the warmth from the little coffee shop seeping through her damp coat, making goose bumps rise on her skin. She got in line behind an older gentleman she didn’t know and wrapped her arms around herself, doing her best not to look around. She was not in the mood to see anyone.
She supposed that she should be over the whole wedding thing. It had happened four months ago, after all. And in that time the man she had left at the altar had married her bridesmaid. And that very same bridesmaid had won the mayoral election and deposed Natalie’s father, who had been mayor of Copper Ridge for more than twenty years.
Life had changed. The world had moved on. Well, except for the people who liked staring at her and whispering behind their hands as they told and retold the epic love story of Colton and Lydia West, who were decidedly better off without Natalie Bailey in their lives.
She couldn’t even argue with that.
But as she stood there doing her best to ignore anyone who might be looking at her, it was not Colton she thought of. And it was not the day of the wedding that wasn’t.
No, the day that sprang to mind had happened six months ago in Ace’s bar.
She had been feeling restless, edgy after a fitting for her bridal gown. The one that she didn’t want to wear, to the wedding she didn’t want to have. She had been a few months deep into her “get Colton to break it off” plan, and nothing seemed to be working.
So she had done something very uncharacteristic and decided to go to the bar by herself.
She knew she had looked out of place. With her blond hair swept up in a fancy bun and her makeup done just so—she’d wanted an idea of what the full look would be like on her wedding day.
But she had gone into the bar anyway. And that was when she had seen him.
Black cowboy hat, tight black T-shirt, battered jeans. He was talking to a group of guys, a glass of amber alcohol in his hand. And what a hand it was. Large and rough-looking. And then there were his arms. Muscular, covered in tattoos.
She had suddenly been in the middle of a strange fantasy.
She liked nice men. Suitable men. In truth—or rather, in theory—men exactly like the one she was engaged to.
Decent. Good. Clean-cut.
Colton was good-looking, no question. But their particular chemistry was…manageable. In fact, at the time when she had gone to the bar, she and Colton hadn’t actually had sex with each other in months, in spite of the fact that they were supposed to be getting married. In spite of the fact that they lived together. And yet it wasn’t even a struggle to stay celibate. Not for her, and clearly not for him, since he had never once pressured her for sex since she had told him she wanted to take a physical hiatus until the wedding.
Weird, because standing there, looking at that stranger, she had felt that if she didn’t have his hands on her body she might die.
She had turned away from him. Because it had been the smart thing to do. The only thing to do.
But then he had walked over to her. A beer in his hand, a cocky smile curving his mouth upward. And then he’d spoken to her. That voice.
“What are you doing here, baby?”
It took Natalie a full two seconds to realize that voice was no longer contained to a memory. She turned around, and her heart plummeted into her stomach.
Because there he was. In the coffee shop. Interrupting a memory she wished she didn’t have.
Mark Brown. Her very own stumbling block.
The bad boy who had caused the very definite downfall of this particular good girl.
And there was no mistaking the glitter in his eyes right now. So very different from what had been there when they first met.
She was the most hated woman in town. But nobody hated her more than he did.