Fantasy for Hire - Erika Wilde Page 0,1

the sight of a gorgeous hunk making his way through the Tuesday evening crowd. Every woman in the establishment was staring at him—for two very good reasons. One, his mere presence was captivating, and two, his unusual attire stood out conspicuously against all the power suits filling the trendy bar. He was the epitome of a cowboy, from the beige Stetson on his head, to the pearl-snap western shirt covering a wide chest, to the chaps and worn jeans that molded to trim hips and muscular thighs, all the way down to his scuffed leather boots. He looked as if he’d just stepped out of the Wild West, though he didn’t appear to be uncomfortable in the ultra-urban setting, surrounded by a crowd of Ivy League patrons.

He sidled up to a vacant spot in front of the bar and ordered a drink. While he waited for the bartender to return, he scanned the people in the lounge as if searching for someone. Annoyingly enough, the brim of his Stetson cast shadows over the upper portion of his face, but Teddy caught a glimpse of chiseled features, a well-defined mouth and dark brown hair that curled over his collar at the nape of his neck.

He turned his head her way. Even though she couldn’t see his eyes because of that damn hat, she got the distinct impression he was looking directly at her. The corner of his mouth kicked up ever so slightly in an I’ve-got-you-now kind of smile. Her skin warmed and tightened, and something deep within Teddy fluttered with awareness. It was a sensation unlike anything she’d ever experienced.

She forced her gaze from him and drew a stabilizing breath. “Wow is right,” she murmured in agreement, and was a little surprised that she’d spoken her thoughts out loud.

Laurel issued a reciprocating sound of appreciation and turned to look at Teddy. A sassy grin curved her lips. “What do you think, birthday girl? Would you like to take a ride with that cowboy?”

Laurel’s question made all kinds of images spring into Teddy’s mind. She thought of leather, the scent of hay, the jangling sounds of spurs and the fun she’d have if he’d let her ride…Suddenly, what he stood for had become more erotic than she cared to admit.

“He’s kind of out of place, don’t you think?” she said nonchalantly, trying to keep her friends, the bloodhounds that they were, at bay. “San Francisco isn’t known for its ranches. Maybe he’s lost.”

“Maybe he’s looking for a good time.” Kayla wiggled her eyebrows lasciviously. “I’m sure it gets awfully lonely out on the range.”

As casually as possible, Teddy slid her gaze back to the cowboy, hoping he’d moved on to peruse another woman, considering any one of the ladies in the lounge would have killed for a smidgen of his attention. But no, he was still staring at her, and as she watched, he tipped his Stetson, then reached beside him for the glass that the bartender had delivered. He saluted her, and took a long drink of the dark liquid that looked like whiskey.

Her own mouth went dry, and she reached for her Appletini. The cool, sweet-tangy mixture did little to extinguish the heat spreading through her.

“Didn’t you once say you wanted a cowboy of your own, Teddy?” Kayla asked.

Teddy was startled that Kayla remembered that crazy night nearly six months ago when they’d sat at this very table and spun fantasies about the men in the lounge—imagining who they could be beneath their Armani suits and executive image. At the time, Teddy had wanted a cowboy, because it bucked convention—or rather her parents’ stuffy standards.

“We were just fooling around, and I think I had one too many Appletinis.” Setting her drink back on the table, Teddy waved a hand in the air. “It was just a fantasy, Kayla.”

Laurel leaned toward Teddy, a meaningful glimmer in her eyes. “Well, honey, fantasy is about to become reality.”

Suspicion twisted through Teddy as her two friends exchanged a covert look. “What are you guys up to?”

“Hey, cowboy,” Kayla called out. “We’ve got a birthday girl over here who has a thing for cowboys. Do you think you could oblige her?”

Teddy’s jaw dropped, and her face heated in mortification. Before she could recover from her shock, her fantasy man moved away from the bar and strolled lazily toward them.

“I’ll certainly do my best,” he drawled in a deep, rich voice that carried across the room and snagged a good amount of attention. The women

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