“Just come to the bonfire and see for yourself. Now that I’ve awakened you to the fact that Ian is crazy about you, you’ll notice it yourself. Trust me. A blind dog couldn’t miss the connection between the two of you.”

I hesitated before tossing my hands up in defeat. “Fine. I’ll go, but it’s only to prove to you how wrong you are about this Ian situation. He doesn’t see me that way.”

“Yeah, okay, wink-wink, nudge-nudge. You’ll see, Haze. But there’s one thing we need to do before the bonfire this weekend.”

“And what’s that?”

Leah’s giddiness intensified times a million as she tossed her arms into the air in celebration. “A makeover!”

The bonfire was still a few days away, but thanks to Leah, I found myself watching Ian’s every move around the ranch, and I’d come to one massive realization: Ian was hot. And sexy. And hotly sexy. I hadn’t a clue what had come over me over the past few days, but whenever I was around him, my lady boner went full force. My eyes danced across him as if he were the best cooked steak in the world and I wanted to devour every single inch of him.

It didn’t help that a few nights I’d wakened up from the dirtiest of dreams about him taking control of me. Every night when we’d sat down to work on lyrics, I’d had to force myself to not reach over and, oh, you know, accidentally swipe right on his penis.

If there was a dating app for Ian’s body parts, I’d swipe right until the cows came home.

Calm down, lady boner; he’s just your friend.

I kept telling myself those words, but it was growing more and more hard to believe them every night he crawled into bed with me and pressed his rock-hard abs against my body. Just watching him work around the ranch was making me hot. I wouldn’t have thought seeing a shirtless, sexy man brush a horse could be so exciting.

Sure, it didn’t sound as if it was an act of sex appeal, but my gosh, was it the sexiest thing I’d ever witnessed in my life.

“You want to ride?” Ian asked, glancing my way.

“Oh God, yes,” I muttered in a deep whisper as my eyes danced across his figure in a hypnotic way. I shook my head, shaking myself from the daze I was residing in, and tried to keep the heat of my skin at a tame level. “I mean, what?”

He smiled my way, seemingly unaware of my current state of desperate need to slide into his pants. “Do you want to ride the horse?” he asked, patting Dottie’s back. “I mean, it seems that the two of you are the best of friends, but I’ve never seen you out giving her a ride.”


The horse.

He wanted me to ride the horse.

Of course that was what he meant.

“I, er, I’ve never ridden a horse, and if I’m honest, that sounds pretty terrifying.”

He laughed. “It’s not as bad as you’d think. Come on; I’ll help you out. We can ride together.”

“You want to ride me?” I blurted out, then mentally slapped my forehead. “I mean, with me. You want to ride with me?”

“I’ll ride beside you and make sure Dottie treats you well.” He walked past me, brushing his arm against mine, and needless to say, I almost melted into a pile of mush. Every time that man came near me, my body reacted intensely. All I could do was pray that he never noticed.

He grabbed a saddle for me and then led Dottie out to the open field for a ride. He came back to the stables and picked Big Red to be his riding partner for the afternoon. As we walked outside toward Dottie, Ian helped me learn how to mount the beauty.

“Okay, so we have our stepping block set up for you to use to help you get on Dottie. Place your left hand on her mane, and then place your right hand on the other side. Place your left foot in the stirrup, and then swing your right leg over the saddle.”

Yes, yes, Ian. Talk horsey to me.

As he said all of this, he helped me by placing his hand against my lower back. Once I was seated on top of Dottie, I felt as if I’d just achieved the ultimate life goal—I’d climbed onto a horse while Ian had assisted me, and I’d lived to tell the story.

“Well, this isn’t so bad,” I said, sitting on top of Dottie without a clue what to do next. Ian headed over to Big Red and saddled up like the hot rock star cowboy that he was. Rock star cowboy seemed like an extreme oxymoron, but I was wholeheartedly into it.

“Okay, hold on to your straps and move slowly,” Ian said, pulling Big Red next to Dottie and me. He was close enough that if I needed his assistance, he’d be able to help me out. We started out very slowly, which was exactly what I needed, because the second Dottie began to move, my fears came rushing back to me.

“Are you sure this is safe?” I asked, feeling terrified by the whole situation.

“One hundred percent safe. Trust me, darling, you’re in good hands. Just talk to me to get out of your head. Keep your mind light and your movements light. You’re doing great.”

“Okay, okay. Talk, talk. What do we talk about?”

“Anything. Tell me whatever you want. How about your name? How did you get the name Hazel?”

I snickered a little, thinking about that. “Funny story. When I was born, I had big hazel eyes. Mama said she fell in love with them right away, but she hadn’t a clue that when a baby was born, her eye color could change over time. So she named me for my hazel eyes, even though down the line they’d become green.”