While he yanked up his boxers and jeans, I turned away, giving him a bit more privacy than I had a few moments before.

When he finished, he cleared his throat. I looked back at him, and he brushed his thumb against his nose. His lips were pressed together, unpleased. He definitely wasn’t giving me his blow job smile. “Who the hell are you?”

Obviously, his new sworn enemy.


“Hazel what?”

“Stone. Hazel Stone.”

The minute I said my full name, Ian’s brows knitted tightly together as a sneer fell against his lips.

“Your mother’s Jean Stone?”

I swallowed hard. Anyone who knew my mother normally wasn’t a big fan of hers, because they knew of her connection to Charlie—the big bad wolf of Eres. “Yes, that’s her.”

His hands made and released fists nonstop as the information settled into his head. “Does Big Paw know this?”

“Yes, he was made aware. I don’t see what this has to do with—”

“He knew of this”—he cut me off—“and said I’m supposed to train you?”

“That’s what he said.”

There were moments of silence as Ian’s fists tightened.

“One hour,” Ian growled, appearing much more irritated now than he was when I’d walked in on his blow job. Did my connection to Charlie really have that big of an effect on people?

Who was I kidding? Of course it did.

“What do you mean, one hour?” I asked, not wanting to push the clearly annoyed Ian any further.

“I give you one hour before you run out of this place crying like a baby. You don’t have what it takes to work here, to work under my watch.”

“No offense, but you don’t know what I have. I can handle working on the ranch.” Was that a true fact? Heck if I knew. I didn’t know anything about working on a ranch, but I did know determination, and I had that in spades. I didn’t have room for failure.

“Oh, darling,” he said, “you don’t know what you just signed up for. Welcome to hell.”

He brushed past me, sending chills down my spine. I wanted to punch him square in the jaw for calling me “darling.” If there was anything I hated more than nicknames for females, it was condescending nicknames. Baby. Sweetheart. Dollface. Darling. How about a hefty serving of fuck off? I wanted to call him out for the stupid, belittling nickname, but he didn’t give me a chance to snap back at him. He was already going on and on about the tasks we were going to cover over the next hour before I was apparently supposed to run away and quit like a sobbing child.

Pigpens. Horse stables. Chicken coops.

He kept going on and on about the shitty jobs I’d have to take on, which paired well with his shitty personality. I knew he wasn’t kidding about it being hell, and with the venom spewing from his mouth, I was 100 percent certain Ian Parker was the devil himself.



Hazel Stone was Jean Stone’s daughter, Charlie Riley’s stepdaughter, and a person I had no damn desire to get to know—let alone train. Anything and anyone who was attached to the likes of Charlie Riley was no one I wanted in my life. That included Hazel.

The collar of Hazel’s long-sleeve black shirt sat tightly pressed over her nostrils as we stood in the pigpens. I’d instructed her to start shoveling out one of the pens for cleaning, and she was struggling, just as I’d known she would be. She hadn’t had the pleasure of becoming nose blind to the filthy aromas of pig shit, and the T-shirt covering her nose was proof of that. She should’ve counted herself lucky for that. Old Man Eddie had been working in the pens for so many years that he didn’t understand why people gave him odd looks when he went into town smelling like manure. The poor schmuck couldn’t even smell himself anymore.

Every now and again, Hazel made gagging sounds as if she were about to upchuck her lunch.

What in the goddamn hell had Big Paw been thinking when he’d hired Hazel to work at the ranch? Old age must’ve been getting to his good-decision-making skills, because nothing about hiring that girl made any sense whatsoever.

She looked as if she’d walked out of a vampire coffin five minutes before she’d entered the ranch, with all the black eyeliner she had plastered on her face. The dark wardrobe wasn’t making her seem any less vampy. If darkness was a person, it would be Hazel Stone. Her clothes were baggy and oversize, and she didn’t know how to smile. I couldn’t fault her for the smiling thing. I didn’t have a big smiling face, either, but what bothered me the most was how she had interrupted my time with Erica—er—Rachel? Hell, whatever the name of the chick was who’d had her lips wrapped around my throbbing cock. Now, I was suffering from a case of blue balls like no other. It wasn’t as if I’d been planning on getting off from a blow job. That never really happened for me, but it was the foreplay before I would’ve laid the woman across my desk and fucked her until the cows came home—which happened around six in the afternoon.

Now, instead, I was walking around the ranch with Wednesday fucking Addams following me, telling her about what it took to be a ranch hand at Eres Ranch. News flash: She wasn’t what it took. She was so far off from what it took to be a ranch hand that I felt like a damn fool for wasting my afternoon showing her around.