Pick Me
overcome those emotions he’d evoked that blistery night six months ago. Even last night she’d assured herself that she could handle being near him. But now?
    There was something about seeing where someone lives. While she hadn’t been inside the house yet, the rolling pasture, the rugged landscape, the barn, the stable and horses suited Colt. He seemed more in his element here than he would in Dallas, which also made her once again question his true occupation. Honestly, she could care less if he was a rancher or a sports agent. She’d take him either way.
    Did she really just think that? God, she needed to get a grip on reality. Colt wasn’t hers for the taking.
    Oh yes he is, that inner bachelorette playing the game reminded her. You could have him and all the other perks Derek offered you.
    No, she inwardly argued, then gave herself a mental shake. She was standing on Colt’s driveway, staring at either guns or gravel, trying hard to fight the needs raging through her body and arguing with her own TV created bachelorette. Damn, she needed a distraction before she truly turned into the next Sybil.
    “So what do you want to do in the meantime?” she asked, then immediately regretted speaking. The voices in her head sounded better than her own. The way she’d asked the question came out huskier than she’d intended. She could only imagine the double meaning Colt might take from the innocent question.
    With her cheeks burning with embarrassment, she blurted, “I meant...I mean, I didn’t, I...” Releasing a deep breath before she rambled any further, she jumped when he caught her chin.
    Colt resisted rubbing his thumb along her lower lip. He knew she fought for the same control he did. Her dark eyes mirrored the same burning desire coursing through his body. The longing, the knowledge of what they’d shared...what they could share.
    While sex might have been on the forefront of his mind when he’d first met her, as he’d held her, talked to her, he’d realized she was different, special. She’d done what no other woman had—made him want more than just sex. She’d made him realize that maybe it was time to settle down with one woman. He hadn’t necessarily expected that one woman would be Valentina. She’d been a one-night stand.
    A one-night stand that had turned into an obsession, he reminded himself.
    After Denver, he’d enlisted the help of his brother Win, a Texas Ranger, to pull some strings and see if he could find her. His brother had obliged, thankfully without questioning him too much, because quite frankly, he didn’t think he had the right answers. Or maybe they were answers he hadn’t wanted to admit aloud. Regardless, Win did his best to help him, he even had his buddy, a renowned sketch artist with the Texas Rangers, let Colt describe every beautiful detail of Valentina’s face.
    The portrait had captured every nuance, every detail, and had several of Win’s counterparts drooling. But, it had all been in vain. What was he going to do, plaster her likeness on telephone poles across the Midwest? Her subtle accent had been his only lead, and that was a mighty big territory to cover. So, he’d kept the sketch hidden in his office drawer, and the memories of her locked in the dark recesses of his mind.
    Shrugging, and trying to act casual, he motioned to the Ranger loaded with enough weapons to take over a small city. “No sense on wasting all this. What do you say we get some target practice in before the cameras arrive?” he asked, hoping to set her at ease. Valentina wanted to continue to play the role of Pick Me’s Bachelorette, and while he still didn’t understand why, when they could quietly date without an audience, he respected her decision, even if he didn’t like it.
    She released a deep breath, and flashed him a smile. “I’d like that,” she said, her eyes twinkling with excitement.
    *
    Colt secured the target in place, then jogged back to where he’d left Valentina

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