Stranded with a cowboy

Devil's Bluffs #2

All this cowboy wanted was to escape the press. Now he’s stuck in a tropical storm with a woman determined to leave when the rain is gone… Don’t miss Stacey Kennedy’s next Devil’s Bluffs novel!

She’s given up on love…

But a hot affair with a hot cowboy is ideal.

Since being named Texas’s Sexiest Bachelor, millionaire rancher Beau Ward has been hounded by reporters. The sexy single dad escapes to his remote cabin to protect his privacy—until Nora Keller appears amid a tropical storm. She says it’s to plan her best friend’s wedding to his brother…but she really wants a no-strings fling before she relocates to Paris. With the storm raging, the pair discover passion unlike any they’ve ever known. Will walking away afterward prove harder than they’d imagined?

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"This story is an absolute thrill ride. The plot is packed with twists and turns, and the romance scenes are hotter than the flames of hell. But it's not just steamy fun – there are moments of raw emotion that will leave you clutching your heart."
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“I miss you, Dad.”

The strands of Beau’s heart snapped at the pain in his son’s expression through his tablet on FaceTime.

Beau had left Devil’s Bluffs four days ago, and every day that passed seemed longer than the last. “I miss you too, buddy.” As he’d done a million times before now, Beau searched for any sign of his late wife, Annie, in their son. But like always, he only saw a Ward. Brown slightly curly hair sat atop a round face, with sharp blue eyes and a smile that held all of his son’s mischievous spirit. Since day one, Austin had never looked anything like his mother.

Beau missed Annie. He missed being loved by a good woman, feeling her wrap her arms and legs around him, chasing the chill away in the night.

Sitting on the couch, with his tablet pulled up close to his face, Austin pouted. “When will you be home?”

“Sorry, bud, it’ll be a little longer,” Beau explained gently, his gut twisting with the uncertainty of his life.

Austin’s chin quivered. “Why?”

Beau tore his gaze off his son and stared out the window at the torrential downpour from the incoming tropical storm at the remote cabin, with the loft bedroom above the tiny living room and kitchen, that he built after he lost Annie. Once it was finished, he’d brought Austin there, and they’d stayed for a couple months, just the two of them, trying to find a new way forward. He’d found it in the end.

When he knew his voice wouldn’t break, he said to Austin, “A tropical storm is on the way. I couldn’t come home now even if I wanted to.” He didn’t explain everything about the reporters to Austin, only that a story had been written about him and there were people who wanted to know more about him.

“Our life is ours, right? We don’t need to share it with people we don’t know,” Beau had told Austin, and he seemed to understand the situation, enough that a six-year-old could. “How’s school going?” he asked, shifting the subject to ease Austin’s worries before bed.

“Boring,” said Austin, the tablet’s screen shaking with his fidgety movements. “Uncle Colter said the rain is gonna be bad.”

“Yup, it’ll come down hard.” Beau leaned his shoulder against the window, staring out into the dark, angry night. It had been a few years since a tropical storm of this size hit Devil’s Bluffs, but Beau was holding out hope the forecasted winds quieted, and the rainfall amounts lessened. “You’re safe at home with Uncle Colter and Auntie Adeline, and I’m safe here. Plus you get a couple days off school so that’s fun, right?”

“Yeah, I guess so,” Austin grumbled. His eyes shifted up away from the screen. “Gotta go now, Dad, it’s bath time.”

Such a mundane part of Austin’s routine, and yet Beau craved that normalcy. Out in the wilderness all there was him and his thoughts. “Sweet dreams, bud. Love you.”

“Love you too, Dad.”

The screen on Beau’s tablet shook before Colter’s face appeared. “Doing all right up there?” his brother asked.

Beau sighed, moving to the chair set next to the stone fireplace in the tiny living room of the cabin.

“You were right, this is hell,” he said.

Colter chuckled, though the amusement never reached his eyes. “I told you. Going viral is not all that it’s cracked up to be.”

“I wanted to meet a woman,” Beau admitted. A woman to experience life with and to help raise his son. A woman to help him forget how damn lonely he was. A good woman just like his brother found in Adeline. “They never dug into your story like this,” he told Colter.

“They want to capitalize off your grief,” Colter grumbled. “It’s disgusting.”

Beau grunted in agreement. “Are they still slinking their way around town?”

Adeline suddenly appeared over Colter’s shoulder, her hair disheveled, a telling sign Austin was keeping her on her toes. “I saw them in town earlier,” she explained, her nose scrunched in distaste. “The same three. They were talking to people around town, doing what they do.” Adeline should know. She was a reporter until she gave up reporting in New York City to move to Devil’s Bluffs and become editor of the local newspaper. “As far as I know, no one has sold you out.”

Beau restrained a curse. He’d hoped by now they’d realize the story was dead with his absence, but reports from his brother and mother indicated they were still relentlessly pursuing townsfolk. No one would divulge anything too personal; Beau believed that to his bones. Devil’s Bluffs was a tight-knit community, and the Wards, a prominent, wealthy family in the community, had a long history of helping the town, both financially and lending a hand whenever needed.

His eyes began to ache, and he rubbed at the tiredness. The last place he wanted to be was away from his family. They needed him now more than ever.

“How’s Mom doing?” he asked, dropping his hand.

“Mom is doing fine,” his mother called from somewhere in Colter’s living room.

Warmth flooded Beau’s chest at his mother’s sweet voice, which could make any day better. Colter angled the screen to show his mother sitting on the couch and knitting a baby blanket that she made for the animals at the shelter. Her shiny gray curls were as perfect as ever atop her head, but her clear blues were drenched in heartache from the loss of her beloved husband. Life was carrying on, but the pain was ever so vivid. For all of them. “Hey, Mom, it’s good to see you,” he said.

“Hi, honey,” Mom said, a sweet smile warming her features. “You need to stop worrying about all of us. We’re all fine. Stay there, let his die down, and then come home to us.”

“That’s the plan,” Beau agreed.

Mom acknowledged his hope with a quick nod.

“So, listen,” said Adeline, the screen returning to her over Colter’s shoulder. “We’ve got a bit of a situation that you should know about.”

Beau frowned. “What type of situation?” He wasn’t sure how much more he could handle.

“Nora is driving up to see you.”

Nora was the very  woman that Beau hadn’t been able to stop thinking about. “You told her where I was?”

he asked, trying to hide the irritation in his voice.

Adeline’s wince indicated he didn’t hide it enough.

“Of course not. I didn’t say a word to her,” she implored, “Nora is wicked smart. She’s the best researcher I know. If there is something or someone to find, she’ll find it.”

Beau shook his head in disagreement. “The only people who know about this cabin are family. How would she even find it?”

Adeline shrugged, smiling with obvious pride.

“Because Nora is an information ninja.”

If he wasn’t so annoyed, he might be impressed.

He rubbed his eyebrow, working at the throbbing that wouldn’t quit. “Why is she coming to see me?”

“She’s taking her role of maid of honor very seriously,” Adeline said, nibbling on her lip, as if she was holding back. “She says there are things you two need to discuss, but wouldn’t tell us what those things are. She wants us to be surprised.”

Beau grunted and rose, moving back to the window. Heavy rain poured from the unforgiving skies.

“She’s driving to talk about our wedding party duties with a tropical storm heading our way?”

“She lives in New York City, remember?” Adeline countered, her cheeks turning pink. “When she left, it didn’t look bad. It just looked like normal rain.”

“She didn’t listen to the forecast?” Beau asked.

“Or me,” Colter stated with a heavy sigh.

“Oh, hush.” Adeline flicked Colter’s ear, causing his brother to laugh, as she said, “Okay, we should have listened to you, but when are the forecasters ever right?”

Colter and Beau said in unison, “When there’s a tropical storm.”

Adeline huffed, placing her chin atop Colter’s head, staring at Beau with pleading eyes.

Beau smiled at his brother before he said to Adeline, “What do you need me to do?”

“When Nora called, she said she’d pulled over on the side of the road to wait out the storm. Can you go find her?”

Adeline’s puppy dog eyes had him pushing away from the window. “Yeah, I’ll find her.”

“Thank you, Beau,” Adeline said.

“Thanks for watching Austin,” he said. “I’ll reach out when I’ve got her.” They said their goodbyes and then Beau slid his cell into his pocket, aware of the adrenaline rushing through him at the thought of meeting Nora. It didn’t make sense. He didn’t even know her except for what he’d heard of her from Adeline, and from meeting her once over FaceTime, but that one meeting, and her take-no-shit attitude matched with brutal honesty, had snagged something inside of him that wouldn’t let go.

He’d pleasured himself with her on his mind. Repeatedly.

On his way out the door, he scooped up his keys off the kitchen counter and then ran outside, soaked solid by the time he made it behind the wheel of his truck. There was only one road in and one road out of the cabin, but the thin, dirt road eventually opened to a windy two-lane highway that weaved its way around Ward land.

For six generations, the Ward family had worked cattle and bred American Quarter Horses at their farm, The Devil’s Bluffs Ranch. The ranch consisted of five hundred and sixty thousand acres of gorgeous Texas countryside. Six lakes provided water to the Hereford and Angus cattle, and the American Quarter Horses they bred.

Beau had stepped happily into the role of heading up the horse division of the ranch. Most of the fillies and colts were sold after weaning. The horses that showed promise and talent, Beau personally trained before shipping them off to a professional reiner to show for bragging and breeding rights. While Colter had recently stepped away from running the cattle side for the business to return to flying helicopters, hiring a COO and staff to head up the business, Beau was proud of his part in the ranch. Even if he had to give up his dream of competing as a professional reiner himself, which judged the training and athletic ability of a ranch horse in a show arena, when Annie passed away, he regretted nothing. Austin needed a stable home. His only priority was to his son.

Driving slowly down the road, his windshield wipers barely able to clear the windshield, the rain hammering his truck. As the road shifted to the right, Beau squinted, spotting a car in the distance. The closer he got, the more he shook his head.

Next to the Honda Civic parked at the side of the road was Nora, changing a tire. Adeline hadn’t mentioned a flat tire, making Beau assume Nora hadn’t wanted her best friend to worry about her. He pulled up, facing the car with his headlights shining the light on her. “Changing a tire in the middle of a tropical storm,” he said to himself, snorting, throwing his truck into park. “Jesus.”

Merciless rain fell from the sky as he hopped out of his truck and jogged toward her. “Nora,” he yelled.

She glanced up, her hood covering her face. “Yeah?”

Her voice was just as he remembered, bright, with a slight edge of snark.

“It’s Beau.” He shielded his eyes from the barrage of rain. “Come on, get in my truck. I’ll take you back to my cabin. It’s not safe out here. We can get the tire changed once the storm is over.”

She tilted her head back a little farther, and yet he still couldn’t see those pretty hazel eyes and full, pouty lips he couldn’t get out of his head. “How do I know you’re Beau and not a serial killer?”

“You cannot be serious,” he yelled over the pelting rain.

“Just kidding.” Nora laughed, hoisting the tire and tossing it then the tools back in the trunk. She grabbed a bag before slamming the lid and heading for his truck.

Like a damn fool, he could only stare after her.

Who was this strange creature of a woman, who changed a tire in a tropical storm, who laughed even when soaking wet, who took off running to his truck with all the confidence in the world?

When thunder rumbled then lightening cracked across the sky, he was reminded of the danger and ran after her. A loud honk of her car indicated she’d locked her doors. Again, he shook his head, laughing. She was insane enough to get stuck in a tropical storm but worried about someone stealing her car.

Though the moment he got behind the wheel again, inhaled her fresh, lavender perfume, and she flipped her hood down, he stopped laughing.


Long, golden brown hair, currently soaking and dripping water, curtained her round face. Her hazel eyes were something special when he saw them through a screen. In real life, they were so sunny he swore she warmed him just by looking at him. Her features were delicate, nose thin, cheekbones only slightly defined. She was five foot nothing, and she was also wet.  Heat enveloped him so swiftly he bit back a groan, the all-consuming yearning to tangle his fingers in the strands of her hair battering him.

“So,” he said, getting his mind into proper places that didn’t involve those perfectly shaped lips, because what in the hell was wrong with him? He never lusted after any woman, not like this, not without reason. He didn’t even know this woman, but he’d been counting down the days until she flew to Devil’s Bluffs, so he could meet her in person. “You came all this way to talk about our duties in the wedding?”

“Mmm-hmm,” she said.

There seemed to be more that she wasn’t saying, but he didn’t push on that front. Not yet anyway. He reached for his seat belt and fastened it. His brother’s wedding was in two weeks from now. Everyone was hoping that the damage from the tropical storm wasn’t going to hinder the upcoming nuptials. Being Colter’s best man, Beau was determined to ensure nothing went wrong. “You do realize we could have talked on the phone.”

“It’s too hard to plan things over the phone,” she said on a rush, wiping at the water dripping down her face. Giving a big smile, she added, “Besides, this wedding is important. Everything must be perfect. Flawless. Nothing can go wrong.”

Shaking his head at her set jaw, he said, “Neither my brother nor Adeline is this intense about their wedding. Why are you?”

She wiggled out of her soaked sweater, leaving herself in a clinging T-shirt he had no business looking at. “Because I’m thinking about moving to Paris.” Like she hadn’t meant to say that aloud, she jerked her gaze to him, eyes wide with desperation.

“Please don’t tell Adeline. I’m going to tell her, just not until after she’s back from her honeymoon. I want all the focus right now to be on her, not me, and I haven’t received a job offer yet from Paris anyway. A half dozen interviews—” frustration laced her voice “—but no job offers.”

“Let me get this straight,” he said, utterly baffled.

“You hunted me down when I told you specifically I didn’t want to be found, but want me to keep this secret for you?”


The gall of her sent him back against his seat. “Why would I do that, Nora?”

“Because of the other reason I wanted to see you face-to-face.”

His brow lifted. “Which is?”

Her grin was pure sass. “I’m going to get your life back for you.”

“And just how will you do that?” he asked, doubtful.

The rain dinged off the truck as she reached into her purse, pulling out a folder. “You’ve got three reporters here in Devil’s Bluffs trying to get your story.

And it just so happens you now have one of the best researchers at your disposal.”

He cocked his head. “What exactly are you suggesting?”

“That we work together,” she explained. “You help make this wedding extra special, and I help you get these reporters out of town and make your story go away. All it takes is learning people’s darkest secrets, and we’ll send them running.”

He studied her, searching for any signs of deceit.

He found none, only the willingness to help him.

Which came as a breath of fresh air. Every woman he’d dated since returning to the scene had an agenda.

Some were outright dishonest. Others fake. And some simply had no idea who they were and hung on his every word. “Tell me this—how did you find out about my cabin?”

“You had wood delivered to this location when you were building it,” she said, placing the file back into her purse. “You weren’t really all that hard to find. I knew you’d go somewhere remote. It was just finding the location of where you were.” When she hit him with her sharp, clever eyes, she said, “Next time, pick a friend’s place. That would have been harder to find.”

He could only stare at her in amazement. Again.

“You know something, Nora,” he said, taking in the way her lush mouth made him want things he shouldn’t want with his soon to be sister-in-law’s best friend. “I’m starting to like you.”

“Great,” she said, smiling in return. “Does that mean I’m forgiven for finding you, then?”

“If you get these reporters off my back, then yes, you’re forgiven.” He shifted the truck into drive, easing off the brake, the headlights bathing the narrow road in light. “Which, in your case, is a good thing since you’re stuck with me for the next few days.”

She blinked. “How am I stuck with you?”

“Forecasters anticipate the storm will last a few days, and my cabin only has one bed.”

Her voice squeaked. “What about the couch?”

“It’s a cabin,” he said with a laugh, taking the bend in the road easy. “There is no couch.”

A long pause. “So, we’ll be…”

He grinned, leveling her with all the unexplainable heat simmering between them in this truck.

“Riding out this storm together.”




Most Eligible Cowboy
Stranded with a Cowboy