WILD AT HEART
Healing Harts #4
Sometimes the place you’re trying to run from is exactly where your heart needs to be…
Bailey Hart has never felt like she measures up to her cousins at Heart Fire Ranch. It doesn’t help that her rocker attitude has made her a black sheep in her small town. So when her band gets their big break in Los Angeles, “Wild Hart” can’t run fast enough…If only there weren’t so many reasons to stay.
After a harrowing stint in the Oakland Police Department, sheriff’s deputy Chase McKee has returned home a hero, and yet he feels anything but. And when he finds out Bailey might be leaving for good, the feelings he’s always harbored for his best friend’s cousin just won’t stay hidden. He knows she wants to get the heck out of Dodge, but he’s hoping to show her where she really belongs—with him.
Will this Wild Hart turn her back on love, or will she realize her heart really belongs closer to home?
Raising a hand to knock on the door, he took a step back as Bailey opened it, an inebriated smile spreading across her face.
“Well, well, look who’s here,” she complained, sliding a hand up the door frame, trying to balance herself as she closed her eyes. “My personal bodyguard.”
He was surprised to find her still standing, let alone awake. He’d expected her to be passed out. “I’m just making sure you got home okay, Bailey. Why don’t you head to bed and sleep it off?”
“You’re so bossy.” She slurred her words and turned her back on him, leaving him to follow her inside.
Chase didn’t miss the way she stumbled, or how her hand trailed over the wall to help keep her upright. Bailey was smashed, something she rarely was, and it usually meant trouble. Gracie ran into the house before he could stop her, rushing to Bailey’s side as she leaned her back against the wall in the hallway. He shut the door behind him and turned back toward Bailey just in time to see her slide down the wall and sit, her legs stretched out in a V front of her.
“I’m so tired,” she complained, burying her forehead into her hands. Gracie nudged her elbow. “The whole room is spinning.”
“Can you walk?” He squatted down and looped her arm around his neck to help her stand.
“Of course I can.” She giggled and Chase realized she was on the downward slide of her buzz, caught midway between still having fun and an emotional breakdown. “Let’s get a drink,” she announced, pulling her arm from his shoulders and heading for the kitchen.
“Oh, I think you’ve had plenty.” Chase pulled her back toward him and she tripped over Gracie. He caught her as she fell against his chest.
“You can’t tell me what to do, too, you know.” She poked her finger against his shoulder, trying to right herself.
“Gracie, go lie down.” Thankfully, the dog immediately obeyed. He wished he could convince Bailey to listen as easily and looked down at the woman in his arms. “I’m not trying to boss you around, Bailey. You’re the most independent woman I’ve ever known,” he agreed. “I’ll make you a deal. If you head to bed, I’ll bring you a glass of water and some aspirin to ward off the monster hangover you’re going to have in the morning.”
She leaned against him, her palms splayed over his chest, and smiled up at him. “I’d rather you bring something else to my bed.”
Chase felt his heart lurch in his chest, almost as painfully as his arousal, which instantly sprang to readiness at the insinuation in her words. Winding her arms around his neck, she took another step closer as he halfheartedly tried to extricate himself. His fingers circled her wrists, pulling them down to her sides. “Bailey,” he warned.
“What is wrong with you, Chase?” She pouted. “I get that the first time you kissed me it was because of Julia.” She slid herself from his grasp, her fingers playing with the short hairs at the nape of his neck sending a shiver of need down his spine. He could smell the whiskey on her breath mixed with the sweet, intoxicating scent of her hair. Her lips moved closer to his mouth, mere inches away, close enough that he could feel the moist heat of her breath. “But yesterday, before everyone drove up . . . there was no excuse that time.”
His hands slid up her arms, holding her steady as she swayed into him again. “It was—”
“What? A mistake?” Her lips brushed over his as he spoke.
His hunger for this woman coiled tightly, ready to strike out and consume him. His loyalty to Justin was the only honorable thing left in his life. He’d made a promise and he intended to keep it. Giving in to his desire would only chase her away in the end. How could he face his best friend knowing it was his fault she’d left?
But this was Bailey, the woman who haunted his dreams, the woman he’d longed for from afar for years. The feel of her body pressed against his, the heat of her hands on him and the spicy scent of her breath as she whispered his name were too much for him to resist.
“You have no idea what you’re doing,” he growled, trying desperately to control the yearning threatening to drown them both. She probably wouldn’t remember any of this in the morning. He doubted she had any idea what kind of fire she was playing with. But, then again, that was how Bailey lived—always on the edge of danger.
She laughed quietly against his lips. “Oh, yes, I do.”
T.J. Kline’s Top 5 “Not So Wild” Wild Things
I have to admit that I’m not exactly a “wild child” by nature. In fact, I had to really think long and hard about how wild I’m not. However, that doesn’t mean I’m the kind of girl to play by the rules either. While Bailey is more of a free spirit, the kind I’d have loved to become, there is a little of me in Bailey Hart. So, with that said, I’ve compiled a list of five of the most “wild” things I’ve done.
- Concert Antics
As a rodeo queen, you’re required to wear your sash and crown almost everywhere you go. It can be a hassle, especially since you need to be “on” at every moment. However, there are some perks. Wearing a sequin shirt and silver crown can garner the right attention if you use it wisely. I made a last minute decision after a lucky break obtaining six Garth Brooks tickets, to wear my queen gear to the concert. We had nose-bleeder seats but, hey, it was Garth Brooks!
After finding our seats early, while hanging out and talking to my mom (yes, I took her,) a woman walked by and complimented my shirt. I began talking to her, gushing over how excited we were to be at the concert and telling her the crazy story of how we managed to get the tickets. Suddenly, she smiled broadly and laughed, asking if I’d like to move up to the second row.
Um, yes! She asked how many people were in our party and handed me six tickets. I couldn’t move our party out of the nose-bleeder seats down to the floor fast enough. Especially since we were close enough to Garth Brooks that we could touch him.
- Making friends with celebs
While a rodeo queen has an image to uphold, the outgoing rodeo queen gets to have all the fun. No one is watching her other than during the rodeo performance which leaves a lot of free time and some of that fun comes in the form of meeting celebrities and rodeo acts. At times, this also might mean flirting with cute cowboys and their entourages, perhaps being asked to show them around your town and, maybe, ending up back at their hotel room.
Now, I can honestly say that nothing happened, not even a kiss. But that’s because the goody-goody, responsible girl in me reared her head. But, I will admit, the flirting was always fun.
There was also the time I was able to introduce country singer, Chris LeDoux at his concert where I was able to hang out with him, his wife and kids backstage. Or when I spent a rodeo dance drinking with some of the members of the Smokin’ Armadillos that ended up with such a bad hangover that we could barely remain seated on our horses during the opening ceremonies of the rodeo performance the next day. Maybe this is why I tend to not get worked up when I meet celebrities…because most are really just down-to-earth, fun people to hang out with.
- Hooking up with ex-boyfriend’s best friend
So, apparently there’s a code between men. If one guy breaks up with a woman, gets married but is still friends with her, his best friend isn’t allowed to flirt with her. Guys should tell us this because when one of my ex-boyfriends, who I remained friends with, came home on leave he brought his very hot friend. He must not have known the rule (or didn’t particularly care) because he proceeded to flirt with me for the entire weekend. Unbeknownst to me, there was quite the argument on the drive home and said best friend was never invited back.
Oh, and for those wanting to know how it played out – he and my ex decided to dissolve the friendship on the trip back home and, while I talked by phone several times with him, it was a long-distance thing so it never panned out. I, however, never quite lost my appreciation for a man in uniform.
- Camping Trip
Some stories should never be repeated to parents and, while trying to remember some of the wild things I’d done growing up, I happened to ask my mother about this one, only to find out she had no idea about it. Oops!
The way I remembered it, as a legal adult still living at home, I mentioned to her that I was going camping with my long-time boyfriend and his younger brother. I then explained to her the exact route we were going to take up the California coast to Oregon, how to reach me (pager!) and when I would call to check in and let her know I was still alive. According to her, I merely said I was going camping for the weekend. She and my father assumed it was a local campground.
For me, the entire trip was a long list of firsts: first blackberries, first campout on the beach, first bonfire, first trip to Oregon, first bear trying to tear down a tent. Good times.
- Sex on the Beach
Okay, let me start off with saying this is not about the drink. So if you want a PG article, stop reading now.
Second, I will preface this with the fact that this was with my husband and, hey, have you seen him? He’s hot. I didn’t stand a chance. After many years of marriage, my dear husband and I went on a second honeymoon. During the trip, we decided to take a walk on the beach as the sun set. It was romantic, the beach was deserted…I’ll just leave you with a warning: Be careful in sand.
As you can see, I’m not exactly a “wild” woman. Most of my antics come in the form of harmless fun, practical jokes and adventures but, under the right circumstances, a little “Wild Hart” will emerge.
since the age of 14, She has thorough knowledge of the sport as well as the
culture involved. She has had several articles about rodeo published in the
past in small periodicals as well as a more recent how-to article for
RevWriter. She is also an avid reader and book reviewer for both Tyndale and
I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl