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Excerpt-palooza

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“Hugh, what are you doing here?” Holly’s voice startled him. He turned on the spinny desk chair to look at her.

He tapped a stack of files. “I’m just going through next week’s client files.” His voice sounded gritty with disuse. He’d been sitting here for the better part of two hours. He’d tried escaping to the bunkhouse, but Riggs had brought Sibyll in and they’d sat on his bed talking in low whispers until Hugh thought he’d lose his mind. When Riggs had leaned in to kiss her, Hugh had finally blown a gasket and fled.

Then he tried the barn. The rescued horse was on its feet, and Hugh had spent long minutes brushing him—until a feminine giggle he recognized all too well broke the silence of the barn.

After that Hugh had decided a quick trip to the grub house for coffee was what he needed. Except he didn’t even get to pour a cup before Riggs brought her in. He piled a plate with strawberries and led her to the cozy corner to feed her.

Damn him.

But really it was Hugh’s fault, wasn’t it?

Holly circled the desk and rested a hand on Hugh’s shoulder. She stared at his face, as if searching for something.

Uncomfortable, he asked, “Did you get your fantasy fulfilled?”

She removed her hand from his shoulder and blushed so hotly dew dotted her hairline. “Yes, it was…a night to remember.”

He couldn’t help but grin. “Good.”

She looked at him closely again. “What about you, Hugh?”

Sweeping a file aside and opening another, he tried to act as if his chest wasn’t on fire. “I’m going to finish this then go to bed.”

“Alone?”

The words in front of him blurred, along with the photo of the meek-looking female who would inevitably become a siren by the end of her week at the ranch. He scuffed a hand over his face. “You heard?”

“The whole ranch is talking about it, Hugh.”

He issued a ragged sigh. “They gossip more than women. You’d think with all this work, they’d be occupied. Guess I need to assign more ranch chores.”

Holly adopted an understanding smile. “Do you want to talk about why you did it?”

“No.”

“Okay then.” She pulled up a crate of supplies and sat on it. She always dressed in office attire while working, but since it was after hours, she wore jeans and a T-shirt that barely skimmed her waistband. When she moved, a sliver of tanned skin flashed.

He shook his head. “Is this a psychiatry office now?”

“You know it is. I counsel cowboys all the time. Why not you?”

He opened another file and stared at the photo unseeingly. If she thought he was going to pour out his soul, she was mistaken. All he wanted was to get through these files so he could fall into bed and sleep away this damned pain.

Visions of Riggs and Sibyll paraded through his mind. What was he doing to her right now?

“You broke all the rules, Hugh. First you stole her, then you abandoned her.”

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