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The Foreign Affairs sneak peeks continue. Today…Mari Carr and I give you Cowboy! And don’t forget the entire series is for sale in one box set…four books for the price of two!
Foreign Affairs, Book Two
Flying halfway ’round the world to meet his potential soul mate sounds like a fine idea to Dylan Sullivan—until he discovers said soul mate, Annie, has gone looking for him. In Australia. Now Dylan’s adrift, a bloke from the Outback alone in the bloody big city. Until he’s rescued by Monet, a gorgeous local artist…and Annie’s best friend.
A dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker, Monet has never met anyone like Dylan. Taking temporary care of the sizzling-hot cowboy is easy; he’s friendly, funny and interesting. Keeping her hands off him is decidedly not easy. That horny accent, that killer grin…and as a successful artist, Monet is very much a hands-on sort of girl.
Dylan and Monet hold back until they learn Annie is engaged in her own foreign affair in Oz. Then all bets—and clothes—are off. But it can only be a fling. An Aussie cowboy doesn’t belong in New York any more than a city girl belongs in the Outback.
Now if only their hearts would listen.
Dylan Sullivan gazed up at the Empire State Building towering a thousand feet above him and thought, Bugger.
He considered going with the tried and true, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto”, but seeing as he’d never been to the U.S. before now, let alone Kansas, and he didn’t have a little yappy dog prancing around his feet, he decided it was both clichéd and inappropriate.
Dylan’s chest squeezed tight. His dog, Mutt, was on the other side of the world, probably curled up asleep in the back of Dylan’s pickup on the cattle station he and his brother called home. Either that or causing havoc with the wild kangaroos that kept seeking out water around the main house. The fact Mutt wasn’t at his side, where the dog spent pretty much every minute of the day when Dylan was working, just drove home the point that Dylan was out of his comfort zone. Way out.
An Australian stockman had no business being in America. None at all. There wasn’t a cow, kangaroo or shed to be seen.
Reaching up, Dylan removed his hat—a thoroughly beat-up, well-worn Akubra—and dragged his fingers through his hair.
What the bloody hell had he been thinking, flying to America?
What had you been thinking? You’d been thinking about Annie. About finally meeting her face to face. About seeing if she smells as good as you think she does. About finding out if her lips are as soft as they look…
Yeah, that’s what he’d been thinking. Of course, when he’d touched down at JFK International Airport, Annie had been a no-show. Which left Dylan, well…screwed.
Turning away from the Empire State Building, he surveyed the mass of people swarming around him. It had seemed like a good idea at the time to leave the airport. Annie hadn’t arrived but that didn’t mean she’d stood him up. After a few months of talking on the Net, he figured her to be a pretty decent woman. Not the kind to leave a man in the lurch after agreeing to a cross-global meeting. Hell, she’d been all for the challenge of a city girl and a country boy facing off, and he’d told her what flight he was coming in on in his last email. But the moment he’d deplaned, things had started going wrong.
He didn’t believe in omens, not like Aunt Joyce back home who wouldn’t leave her house if she saw a row of ducks break formation, but when he’d gone to collect his luggage—one solitary duffel bag—and found it missing, he should have suspected things wouldn’t go as planned.
After two hours of waiting for Annie, of standing in a busy airport surrounded by people who all looked as if they were in a major rush, Dylan had decided to brave the unknown world beyond the glass doors and seek her out. He had her address. Perhaps there was something wrong? A problem preventing her getting to the airport?
A traffic jam had brought his cab to a halt, however, before he could make it to Annie’s apartment. Determined not to wait in the stuffy vehicle, he’d elected to walk the rest of the way.
He hadn’t expected a doorman who wouldn’t let him pass. Why would he? He’d spent his entire life on Farpoint Creek cattle station, a place half the size of Texas and roughly a thousand kilometers from Australia’s closest high-rise apartment complex.
The man, a round and somewhat squishy bloke decked out in a burgundy suit complete with gold buttons and matching cap, stood in Dylan’s path, staring up at him with unwavering determination. “I’m sorry, sir.” He shook his head, his American accent highlighting how disconnected Dylan felt from everything he knew. “But Ms. Prince is not in residence and I cannot let you pass.”
Dylan frowned, his exhausted brain telling him he’d missed something really important in the man’s statement. “Sorry? What did you say?”
The man straightened a little more. “Ms. Prince is not home.”
Dylan let out a ragged sigh. He removed his hat, raked his fingers through his hair and returned the damn thing to his head. Not home? Maybe she was at the airport waiting for him after all? Could they have just missed each other? “Do you know when she’ll be back?”
If possible, the doorman snapped his spine straighter. Dylan wondered for a jet-lagged second if the bloke thought he was going to throw a crocodile or something at him. “I can’t divulge that information, sir. Now, if you will please step away from the door?”
There was a threat in the words. Even in his tired state, Dylan could hear it. Or a promise. Walk away from the door before I call the authorities.
Dylan walked away from the door. It wasn’t in his nature to back down, but he’d come to New York to meet a woman he’d been flirting with on the Net, not to start an international conflict between Australia and the U.S.
Stepping to the side of the building’s double glass doors, he leaned his back against the cool marble wall. He’d wait it out. Wherever Annie was, she’d come back, find him there—the unmistakable Aussie stockman in a sea of suave New Yorkers—laugh at his obvious fish-out-of-waterness and then they’d go inside and see if they had the same chemistry in the flesh that they did online.
A lifetime on Farpoint Creek had, if nothing else, taught him patience.
Forty-five minutes later the doorman stormed over to him, squishy face set in a menacing glare. “Listen, buddy—”
Dylan stuck out his hand. “Dylan Sullivan.”
The doorman blinked. He jerked his glare—now a slightly confused glower—to Dylan’s extended hand then back up to Dylan’s face. “Err…Tommy. Tommy Taberknackle.”
Dylan gave him a smile and a nod. “G’day, Tommy.”
The doorman blinked again, his hand slipping into Dylan’s. “I…you shouldn’t be…that is, Ms. Prince isn’t…”
A naked, entwined couple moving behind Tommy caught Dylan’s attention.
He frowned, watching the utterly erotic sculpture of a man and a woman making out move along the footpath, wrapped in the slim arms of someone he couldn’t quite see. The sculpture stopped. The arms adjusted the art as a leather-clad knee came up to help balance it precariously before one of the slim arms waved about in the air.
A husky female voice called out, “Taxi!”—a fraction of a second before the sculpture tumbled sideways.
Dylan leapt forward. He snared the sculpture—bronze? Is it bronze?—just as it fell from the unseen husky-voiced woman’s arms.
She spun to face him, a relieved sigh escaping her full lips as Dylan held up the unscathed sculpture. “Don’t worry, love.” He gave her a lopsided grin. “I got it.”
Those full lips curled into a smile. “Thank you,” she said, her accent subtle and—to Dylan’s ears—very, very sexy. She reached out to take the sculpture back but he shook his head.
“It’s all right.” He repositioned the artwork in his arms—definitely bronze, judging by its weight and surface temperature—and smiled some more. “I’ll keep a hold of it until you get a taxi.”
“Thank you again.”
He nodded. “Welcome.” Damn, she was pretty. Even with black sunglasses hiding her eyes, he couldn’t help but notice. The kind of pretty that came from a finely structured face, thick black hair that fell about her shoulders in an unruly mass of waves and a turned-up nose just made for dropping a kiss on.
“Are you Australian?”
Dylan grinned. “The hat doesn’t give it away?”
She laughed, the sound warm and relaxed and thoroughly…stimulating. A twinge of pressure pulled at his groin, making things down there a tad uncomfortable. “The hat may have helped. But I have to admit, it was mainly the accent.”
Dylan did his best to ignore the completely unexpected physical reaction to her laugh. “Bugger. I was hoping I’d blend right in around here.”
The woman’s lips twitched. Dylan got the distinct impression her hidden gaze was taking him in from head to toe. “I think,” she leaned forward as though sharing a secret, “the chance of you blending in anywhere is fairly remote.”
Dylan’s cock jerked. He swallowed, his grip on her sculpture tightening. His sleep-deprived brain told him she’d just paid him a compliment. His red-blooded male hormones told him just as quickly what to do about that compliment. His common sense, however, told him he’d flown halfway around the world to meet with Annie Prince, and whoever the woman with the sexy voice, kissable lips, gorgeous mane of hair and altogether too concealing sunglasses was, she sure as hell wasn’t Annie.
He swallowed again, unable to think of a single bloody thing to say.
“So,” the woman continued. “What’s an Australian cowboy doing in New—”
Her question stopped dead. She stood motionless for a split second, her lips parted, then she pushed those dark sunglasses to the top of her head and stared at Dylan with eyes the color of a cloudless summer day. “You’re Australian.”
Dylan nodded. Hadn’t they already established that?
Her blue gaze roamed over him, from the tip of his hat to his boots and back up to his face. “You’re a cowboy.”
“Stockman,” he said. “We’re called stockmen back home. Or graziers. But yeah, I guess over here you’d call me a—”
“Cowboy,” the woman said, an almost breathless quality to her voice. “You’re an Australian cowboy, theAustralian cowboy. Although I have to say, Annie was right. There’s nothing boyish about you at all.”
“Annie? You know Annie Prince?”
“You’re her Aussie cowboy,” the woman continued, as if Dylan hadn’t said a thing, her gaze taking him in again, her eyebrows knitting in a slight frown. “And you’re here. You’re here and she’s…” Her stare returned to Dylan’s face, her teeth—white and even and perfect—catching her bottom lip.
Dylan’s heart beat faster. “She’s what?”
The woman let out a shaky laugh. “Oh shit. You’re here and Annie’s in Australia.”
The question burst from Dylan a bit louder than he’d intended. He adjusted his grip on the lovers in his arms, fixing the woman before him with a dumbstruck stare. He knew it was dumbstruck by the way his mouth hung open. If he were back home, he’d be catching flies by now. Of course, he wasn’t back home. He was bloody seventeen thousand kilometers away from home. He was on the other side of the bloody world to see a woman he’d met online and now he was being told that woman was back where he’d come from?
Fuck a duck, his brother was going to laugh his arse off when he found out.
“She’s in Australia,” the woman not seventeen thousand kilometers away told him, an expression—part worry, part mirth—playing with her features. “She flew out yesterday.”
“Why the bloody hell did she do that?”
Once again, Dylan’s voice was louder than he’d intended. Of course, nothing had gone as planned in the last twenty-four hours so why should his voice toe the line?
The woman before him laughed, that deep, throaty laugh that played merry hell with his senses. If he hadn’t been so gob-smacked by what she was telling him, he was pretty certain it’d play merry hell with them some more.
“She went to meet you.”
Monet Carmichael knew she shouldn’t be laughing. Nor smiling. The poor cowboy in front of her truly looked like the definition of confusion. But oh boy, what a beautiful definition it was. Okay, not so much that he was confused, but just the way he looked in general. His strong lips and chiseled bone structure, the perfect growth of honey-brown stubble on his jaw and chin, the hat.
Every inch of him screamed MAN. Virile, potent man.
Having grown up a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker, Monet was experiencing her first in-the-flesh cowboy—and what a cowboy.
Stockman, Monnie. He’s a stockman.
She caught her bottom lip with her teeth again, the junction of her thighs doing a funky little twisty thing she enjoyed very much.
Man was correct. A beautiful man. A goddamn gorgeous, sexy man. Complete with a goddamn gorgeous body his faded jeans and well-worn flannel shirt couldn’t hide at all.
If it wasn’t for the fact he’d flown from Australia to meet her best friend, Monet could quite happily stand there and undress him with her eyes. Render him naked and imagine all the things a woman could do to a male body like—
She caught the wildly inappropriate thought before it could form a wildly inappropriate image in her wildly visual mind.
“Let me get this straight,” the Australian cowboy said, his light green stare doing all sorts of wicked things to Monet’s resolve. Even his eyelashes were perfect. She could imagine drawing each one in charcoal. Imagine even better the way they would feel against her lips as she—
“Annie flew to meet me in Australia yesterday, despite the fact I flew to the U.S. to meet her?”
Monet nodded. “You sent her an IM with flight details. Well, some flight details. The day, the airline, the arrival time. Although you were wrong by an hour on that last one. Her flight didn’t touch down in Sydney until—”
“Wait, wait, wait.” The cowboy’s confused frown grew deeper, his Australian accent turning the word into a drawling song Monet found quite enjoyable to listen to. “I IM’ed her about a Qantas flight to New York. The one I was thinking of getting. And then the next day I emailed her the actual details of the flight I’d booked a seat on.”
Monet blinked. Annie hadn’t said anything about the email. In fact, Monet had been sitting right beside her best friend when she’d bought her airline ticket to Australia, a Qantas flight touching down in Sydney on the day her online Aussie cowboy…friend…had told her. Surely Annie would have known he was flying over here? How could they get their wires crossed so badly?
She opened her mouth—to say what to the man, she didn’t know. Damn, what was his name? Annie had said it enough times over the last few months, but Monet shut her mouth again when the doorman of their building suddenly appeared at the cowboy’s side.
“Everything okay, Ms. Carmichael?” Tommy’s gaze flicked back and forth between the Australian and Monet. “Mr. Sullivan’s not giving you—”
The cowboy’s name popped into Monet’s head, along with an image of a clean-shaven man without a hat smiling somewhat nervously into a camera.
Monet shook her head, unable to take her gaze from Dylan’s still troubled face. “Everything’s fine, Tommy,” she assured him, even as she compared the beautiful hat-wearing male before her, his stubble as sexy as his accent, his accent as mesmerizing as his eyes, to the clean-cut man in the photo on Annie’s laptop.
“Are you sure?”
She flicked Dylan a quick look, her pulse beating far too fast for her peace of mind. “I’m sure.”
“’Cause he was asking about Ms. Prince—”
“It’s okay.” She cut him off with a smile. “I know Dylan. We were just going to catch a cab to the gallery.”
“Oh.” Tommy nodded. “In that case…” He stepped one foot off the curb and let out a sharp whistle.
Before anyone could say a thing, a taxi pulled to a quick halt on the road beside them.
Monet gave the doorman another smile. “Thanks, Tommy.” She opened the back passenger door of the cab and extended an arm toward the grimy interior. “After you, Mr. Sullivan.”
The brim of his hat cast his eyes in shadow, and for a brief moment Monet thought he was going to refuse. And then he gave her a loose, lopsided grin that made her want to grin back. “I take it the lovers sit between us?”
She nodded. “The lovers do.”
“It’s probably better you climb in first then, love.”
Her pulse fluttered, and for the first time ever, Monet found herself totally flustered by a man. Love.Who would have thought she’d get excited over an almost antiquated term. She despised pet names—no babes or hons or sweethearts allowed, thank you very much. But the term “love” coming from Dylan’s lips…
Her reaction to it was unnerving. The whole situation was unnerving. Annie on the other side of the world. Dylan here in New York. Her unexpected response to the man.
She dove into the cab before Dylan Sullivan, her best friend’s would-be Aussie cowboy, could see the flush painting her cheeks pink.
Oh boy, this was…inconvenient.
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