The Secret Child & The Cowboy CEO

By: Janice Maynard

One




A half-dozen years… One look from those fabulous eyes and she could still make him act like a foolish kid.

Trent felt his heart slug hard in his chest. Oxygen backed up in his lungs. Dear God, Bryn.

He dragged the remnants of his self-control together and cleared his throat, pretending to ignore the woman standing beside his father’s bed.

Her presence in the room made him sweat. The lust, loathing and sharp anger teeming in his gut made it impossible to act naturally, particularly since he wasn’t sure if the anger was self-directed or not.

His father, Mac, watched them both with avid curiosity, giving his son a canny, calculating look. “Aren’t you going to say something to Bryn?”

Trent tossed aside the damp towel he’d been using to dry his hair when he walked into the room. He folded his arms across his bare chest, then changed his mind and slid his hands into his back pockets. He turned toward the silent woman with what he hoped like hell was an impassive expression. “Hello, Bryn. Long time no see.”

The insolence in his tone caused a visible wince to mark her otherwise serene expression, but she recovered rapidly. Her eyes were as cool as a crisp Wyoming morning. “Trent.” She inclined her head stiffly in a semblance of courtesy.

For the first time in weeks, Trent saw anticipation on his father’s face. The old man was pale and weak, but his voice was strong. “Bryn’s here to keep me company for the next month. Surely she won’t aggravate me like all those other cows. I can’t stand strangers poking and prodding at me….” His voice trailed off, slurring the last few words.

Trent frowned in concern. “I thought you said you didn’t need a nurse anymore. And the doctor agreed.”

Mac grunted. “I don’t. Can’t a man invite an old friend without getting cross-examined? Last time I checked, this was my ranch.”

Trent smothered a small, reluctant grin. His father was a grouch on his best days, and recently, he’d turned into Attila the Hun. Three nurses had quit, and Mac had fired two more. Physically, the Sinclair patriarch might be on the mend, but he was still mentally fragile.

It was a comfort to Trent that, although exhaustion marked Mac’s face, he was as ornery as ever. The heart attack he’d suffered two months ago, when his youngest son was found dead of a heroin overdose, had nearly cost the family two lives.

Bryn Matthews spoke up. “I was happy to come when Mac contacted me. I’ve missed you all.”

Trent’s spine stiffened. Was that a taunt in her perfectly polite words?

He forced himself to look at her. When she was barely eighteen, her beauty had tugged at him like a raw ache. But he’d been on the fast track already, an ambitious twenty-three-year-old with no time for a young wife.

She had matured into a lovely woman. Her skin was the same sun-kissed ivory. Her delicate features were framed by a thick fall of shiny black hair. And her almost-violet eyes gazed at him warily. She didn’t appear unduly surprised to see him, but he was shocked right down to his bare toes. His heart was beating so hard, he was afraid she’d be able to see the evidence with her own eyes.

She was dressed more formally than he had ever seen her, in a dark pantsuit with a prim white blouse beneath. Her waist was narrow, her hips curvy. The no-nonsense cut of her jacket disguised her breasts, but his imagination filled in the details.

Bitterness choked him. Bryn was here to cause trouble. He knew it. And all he could think about was how badly he wanted her in his bed.

He ground his teeth together and lowered his voice. “Step into the hall with me.” He didn’t phrase it as a request.

Bryn preceded him from the room and turned to face him across the narrow space. They were so close he could see a pulse beating in the side of her throat. And he caught a whiff of her familiar, floral-scented perfume. Delicate…like she was. The top of her head barely came up to his chin.

He ignored the arousal jittering through his veins. “What in the hell are you doing here?”

Her eyes flared in shock. “You know why. Your father asked me to come.”

Trent growled low in his throat, wanting to pound a hole in the wall. “If he did, it was because you manipulated him into thinking it was his idea. My brother Jesse’s not even cold in his grave and yet here you are, ready to see what you can get.”

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