Chapter 1 – Wolf Ranch: Wild

“You okay?” he called, concern lacing his voice.

I blinked the rain away, stared. Blinked again. Well, hell-o. Speaking of a real man.

The guy was huge, at least six-three or four. Solid muscle, as if he lifted little rental cars like mine for exercise, was barely concealed beneath a black t-shirt and cargo pants. He was instantly wet.

So was I, and not from the rain.

He stopped beside me, and even with me standing on the sign base, I stood only a foot above him. His hair was close-cropped and dark, although it was almost black now. He needed a shave, as if he’d lost his razor a few days ago. I bet he had a hairy chest.


I laughed, nearly losing my balance again. “I’m fine. I was just having a look.” I pointed toward the flooded road, but he didn’t take his eyes off me.

He reached up and caught my elbow to steady me. A deep V crinkled his forehead. He was probably a decade older than me and wow… h.o.t., HOT.

“That water’s deeper than you think,” he said. His voice was deep, gruff and full of command. My body shuddered, not from the chill from the rain but in response to his words. “There’s no way you’ll get across.”

Piercing dark eyes roved over me, stopping on my chest.

I looked down and realized my nipples were poking against my pale pink shirt which was now practically see-through. He didn’t need x-ray vision to know I wasn’t wearing a bra.

I turned my face to the rushing water. “I know. I just wanted to watch it for a minute.” I turned my foot, and it slid a little on the slick surface.

His grip tightened on me. “Little girl, you’re making me nervous. Hop down before I pull you down.”

Little girl? I stared at him. I was so much smaller and definitely younger, but still. Those same bossy words out of another guy’s mouth would have offended me. Somehow from him they sounded sexy. Virile. It probably had something to do with those bulging muscles in the arm holding me.

He reached for my waist, not waiting for me to comply. “Let’s go.” He lifted me easily to the ground, but kept his hands resting lightly on my waist. He looked around, as if searching for something, then back at me. His gaze roved over my face, dropped to my lips, then looked me square in the eyes.

“You’re standing out here just to look? You’re soaked through.”

“So are you,” I countered.

He tipped his head, like he wasn’t used to being challenged, and I thought I saw the glimmer of a smile before he hid it. He bent his head to mine and inhaled sharply, nostrils flaring. I swore I heard him growl. His eyes widened like he was just as surprised by the sound as I was. He swore, but it got caught on the wind.

“Um… you’re staring,” I said finally, when he didn’t look away. I didn’t even think he blinked.


Yeah? That was it?

Were we having a moment? Yes, I was definitely having a moment with a gorgeous manly-man stranger whose hands were still on me. I couldn’t wait to tell Audrey.

I licked my lips, and I watched as his eyes followed the movement. He took another deep breath and growled again. He wasn’t in a rush now to get me out of the rain. In fact…

“Um, you’re still holding me.”

His fingers tightened fractionally on my waist, the heat of his touch almost searing. He wasn’t letting go. “I don’t want you disappearing.”

I frowned. “Well, I’m not going that way,” I replied, with a tip of my head toward the rushing water. “Can you… um…” Whatever I was going to say fled when his thumbs began to slide back and forth over my wet shirt. It was as if he was touching my bare skin.

Heat flared. Need. A jolt of thrill. Of longing. Of… zing.

I broke the stare and looked him over. This close, he was huge. Broad, thickly muscled. I was in the middle of nowhere with a guy who could be the Incredible Hulk’s brother. I should be afraid he might turn green and rip me limb from limb, but I wasn’t. His intensity was insane. This close, I couldn’t miss how dark his eyes were, with little flecks of lighter brown in them. All that chemistry I’d been thinking I’d never find? Wow. It was all right here. In his gaze. His touch. His very being. It was as if the lightning in the sky was coming off of us, the electricity and connection that powerful. I was surprised we didn’t sizzle.

Yeah, I’d been reading too many of the romance novels Audrey had recommended. Maybe her whirlwind love affair with her rodeo cowboy had me yearning for my own adventures of the heart—or just the flesh. I’d just assumed I’d never feel… the heat from a guy. Crave a guy’s touch. What his mouth and fingers could do. His cock, God. How he might thrust his hips and take me hard. This guy? I doubted he did sweet.

I barely noticed the rain hitting my face. I only felt his hands. Saw his deep stare. Heard his rough breath. He was just as affected by me as I was by him. “Out of the whole world, I find you here.”

I frowned again. “What?” When he didn’t reply, I asked, “Are you going to let me go?”

Slowly, he shook his head.

“Um… okay, well, I don’t even know your name.”

“Colton Wolf.”

My mouth fell open.

This guy was Colton Wolf? Holy shit. There couldn’t be two guys with that name in the middle of nowhere Montana, on a road headed toward Cooper Valley and Wolf Ranch. Audrey had told me about Boyd’s brothers in one of our many gabfests. One lived on the ranch. Rob. The other was a Green Beret stationed on the east coast somewhere. Colton.

He wasn’t on the east coast now. I had the insta-hots for my soon-to-be brother-in-law’s brother. I exhaled, relieved. I wasn’t lusting after a total stranger because not only was it dangerous and creepy, but Audrey’d kill me. She was fine with me having a one-night stand, but I didn’t think she meant pick up a guy on the side of a deserted road and fuck him until I forgot my name. Regardless, I didn’t want to climb a random man like a dang tree, no matter how hot he was. No, I wanted to climb Colton Wolf. And there was a lot to climb.

I’d complained to God in the car just a little while ago. Maybe the raging creek was fate. Destiny. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to get to Wolf Ranch tonight. Maybe I was supposed to be in this guy’s arms.

It seemed my bad luck had changed. Yet we were still standing here in the rain, and he didn’t seem like he had any intention of moving.

I noticed he didn’t ask my name. I cleared my throat. “You’re right, we should get out of the rain.”

Another slice of lightning, then thunder rumbled. He didn’t even blink.


His gaze had dropped to the side of my neck, and he was looking at me as if I were a buffet and he hadn’t eaten in a week.

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Vanessa Vale