Briar Thompson had it all. The right clothes, the right friends, the right car. Being popular was all that mattered. Her parents were rich and treated like royalty throughout the community. She thought her senior year of high school was going perfectly, until the night her drink was spiked at a party by one of her so called friends.
That was the night she met Chase McCree.
Chase wanted to go back to Montana. To the ranch and the wild, wide blue sky that went on forever. He wanted nothing to do with flashy cars or spoiled rich kids. But he found himself head over boots for the quirky cheerleader who turned her back on her social status. She befriended him when no one else would.
Shunned and hurt by the people who were once her friends, Briar flees with Chase to his family ranch in Montana. There she discovers another world, and apart of herself she never knew.
The cowboy wasn’t like anyone she’d ever met. The cheerleader wasn’t like anyone he’d ever met. Apart their lives didn’t seem to make sense, but together, they were chasing forever.
A siren blared. Someone cursed as he sat impatiently at a red light. Another man laid on his horn. The person in front of him wasn’t moving fast enough.
I wished I were in Montana. Nothing but big skies and cool, clean air filtering down from the white-capped mountains.
But I was in Florida near a fancy hotel and golf club. I couldn’t imagine how anyone who lived here found it enjoyable. Heat was trapped between the buildings and radiated off the pavement. The green trees and grass were relegated to yards and medians. Everywhere I looked, tourists crowded the beaches, the stores.
I did have a little piece of Montana embodied in an old horse named Ash. Although I knew I could get into some serious shit, I decided to take him out for a nighttime ride through one of the parks in my neighborhood. The land behind my house wasn’t big enough for him to gallop in without going in circles, and if it made me dizzy, then it had to be driving him nuts.
“Hup.” I urged him to jump over a low shrub and headed for the soccer field, gathering speed. It was set far back from the road, not well lit. The chances of anyone seeing us were slim.
Ash was in heaven. He pumped his legs, whinnying and shaking his head. It was invigorating and freeing—the best idea and the most fun either of us had had in a couple of weeks.
We reached the far side of the field near a swing set and I brought Ash down to a nice trot, making sure he didn’t wear himself out.
“What do you say we take a break?” I pulled back on his reins next to a fountain wrapped in cement steps, and slid out of the saddle. It was a nice night—hotter than I’d anticipated, but I couldn’t see the stars because of all the city lights. I patted Ash, leading him around the fountain, knowing we’d have to get back to the house before my mom got home. She was in Tampa with her husband Todd, seeing some show or other.
I grasped the saddle to mount Ash, thinking I’d take him for a final run before heading back. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement that brought me to a halt.
Now, I’m no idiot, and just because I wasn’t used to city living didn’t mean I’d go out at night in a park without some protection. So I grabbed my grandfather’s whip off the saddle, uncoiling it straight out. If the person behind me was looking for an easy target, he was going to get a nasty surprise.
Curling my fingers around the handle, I glanced over my shoulder.
I was expecting to find a man looking to mug me, anything remotely threatening, not a little blonde cheerleader covered in glitter…and blood.
Not wanting to scare her, I looped the whip back on the saddle, and turned to find her sitting carefully on the steps of the fountain.
She hiccuped. “That’s a horse.”
“Yep,” I said, glancing around, wondering why she was alone.
“You can’t have a horse in a park.” Her voice went up an octave and back down on a slur.
“Are you drunk?” I couldn’t hide my shock. It didn’t surprise me that someone could get wasted and wander around a park. But a girl dressed in a skimpy cheerleading uniform, who looked like she’d be blown over by a good gust of wind? This was the last place she needed to be. What was wrong with these city people? Were they all insane?
Or maybe it was me. The slow-talking country poke, as my classmates so nicely call me. Being from two different worlds, the chances we’d see eye to eye right away were slim.
“I am perferlectly…perfictfly…” Her bottom lip pouted out and she gave up. “I’m fine.” She put her head between her knees. “Can you make those extra two feet go away?”
“My head hurts.”
“I’m sorry.” What else was I supposed to say? There was something familiar about her, though. Her cheerleading uniform sported the colors of my new high school.
I studied her a little more closely.
Yep, she was definitely one of the popular crowd. I’d seen her around a few times, but had never talked to her. I was on the bottom of the totem pole, and she might as well be royalty.
She started to giggle.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
“I don’t know…” And then she started to cry.
Shit. What the hell was I supposed to do now?
“Make it stop,” she sobbed, sitting up and wiping the tears away with her hand. Her nails were hot pink.
“Make what stop?”
“I don’t feel good. I’m laughing, next I’m crying. My face feels like a balloon. My knees hurt and my hands hurt…and did I tell you my head hurts, too?”
“Yeah, you did. Alcohol obviously doesn’t sit well with you.” She was a mess, and oddly cute. I crouched to get a closer look at the little train wreck. Her makeup was smeared, tracks of black running down her cheeks and mixing with silver glitter. I looked lower. Her hands lay palms-up in her lap. They were red and raw, with little bits of gravel embedded in them. Both of her knees were bloody, lines of red dried to her shins with even more gravel and dirt.
My chest felt tight. She might be one of those popular brats, but she didn’t deserve this. “How’d that happen?”
“I fell,” she said, blubbering and sniffling. “A man chased me, and I ran. But I tripped because I…sometimes I have four feet! A person can’t just sprout two extra feet, right? It really hurts to walk. I don’t know what hurts the most. And I don’t know what I’m doing, because I’m drunk! I don’t want to be drunk… Did I tell you my head hurts?”
“Yeah, for the third time. I’ve never heard of someone growing extra feet.” I stood up. She was going to be a pain until she sobered, but I wasn’t going to let anything else happen to her. “Did you hit your head?”
It took her a minute. She stared hard at my boots before looking back up to answer. “No.”
“Did you hit your head?”
“Once, last year at cheer practice.” She yawned. “I fell off the pyramid.”
“But you didn’t hit it tonight.”
She stared blankly, as if I was crazy. “Why would I do that? My head already hurts.”
Great, now that that was cleared up, I got back on track. “Let me take you home.”
“No!” She leapt up and swayed forward. I steadied her. As soon as she had her footing, she shoved me away. “Leave me alone. I’m not that kind of girl.”
“Fine.” I watched her march toward the soccer field, heading in the general direction of nowhere. If she walked far enough, she’d end up in the creek. Being wet was bound to upset her even more, until she drowned. Swimming—hell, wading—would be the final straw. She’d sink like a stone. And if I let that happen, I’d go down as the only bastard in history to let a drunken cheerleader drown in three feet of water at a family park.
I felt bad for her. Really, I did. I also hoped that she’d learned her lesson.
“Good-bye,” she shouted, walking the saddest excuse for a straight line I’d ever seen. Might as well have been walking backward. That would have been faster.
“Why me?” I couldn’t just let her wander off. No telling who was out in the park. One man had supposedly chased her, causing her to skin both knees and palms. So I mounted Ash and followed, keeping my distance.
She whipped around and pointed her finger at me. “Are you following me?”
“Nope,” I lied, trying not to laugh. She was an adorable mess. Chunks of her honey-blond hair were starting to fall out of their sparkly clips, curling about her face.
Her eyes widened. “Why?”
“Because you’re hurt and drunk. Do I need a better reason than that?”
“Yes, you do.” She stuck her nose in the air, haughtily, and I knew I’d met my match. She was as stubborn as a mule, a pain in the ass, and drunker than Uncle Jerry on New Year’s.
I rubbed the back of my neck. “I only want to make sure you’ll be safe. I’m not chasing you around all night because I think it’s a nice way to pass the time.”
“Oh.” Her bottom lip quivered and the tears came back in full force. Luckily for her I had enough patience to cope.
“What now?” Had I said something upsetting?
“I don’t feel good.” She doubled over and proceeded to empty the contents of her stomach onto the soccer field.
I rolled my eyes heavenward, hopped off Ash, and left him to wander. When I was within an arm’s length she backed up, turned, and staggered away.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” I said in a soothing tone, one that I used to calm a frenzied horse. It was the same thing. She was skittish, her mind and body locked in flight mode.
She was still crying, too. It was an amazing sight to behold. “I’m embarrassed.”
“Because you got sick?”
“Duh!” She scampered away, legs wobbling. “I’ve never done that in front of a guy before.”
“If you haven’t noticed, I don’t care. I’ve mucked out horse stalls and branded cattle.”
“Sure, cowboy.” She stumbled over her own feet.
“Whoa.” I grabbed her around the waist before she went down on her knees and irritated the scrapes.
“Let me go!” She struggled and I prayed a passerby wouldn’t see us and get the wrong idea.
“Sorry, you’re stuck with me. Now, calm down. Hey, don’t bite me! I’m not going to hurt you.” I pinned her arms, held her close until she slumped in defeat. Hell, at least she didn’t kick like a mule. She hiccuped, sighed, then pressed her face into my shoulder, soaking my shirt with tears, smearing me with silver glitter and Lord knew what else.
“Why won’t you let me take you home?” I asked, keeping my voice low, rubbing her arms. Soothe the savage beast, as my grandfather used to say. Not that she was savage or beastly. “I won’t make you ride the horse. I’ll get my truck.”
“It’s not the horse.” She went limp. “I don’t want my parents to see me like this. They’d be so disappointed.”
“Okay, somewhere else, then. Where can I take you?”
That left me two choices, one of which I’d already decided against. I couldn’t leave her in the park…but I could take her home with me. I glanced at Ash, waiting patiently, and hoped he was up to having a second, somewhat hysterical, rider.
I called him over and grabbed the reins, patting his side. With a little coaxing, because he hadn’t done tricks in a while, I got him to kneel. I threw my leg over and brought the girl down in front of me. She let out a squeal, and started laughing as soon as Ash was standing. Then she cried, changing emotions so quickly I couldn’t keep up.
“So what’s your name?” I asked, keeping one arm tight around her waist so she didn’t slide out of the saddle or try to jump down. Didn’t need to add any more injuries.
“Briar Thompson.” She ran her fingers through Ash’s mane. Calmer. She had a horse as a distraction. “Who are you?”
“I’m Chase McCree.”
“You’re a real cowboy?”
“Last time I checked.” That got a chuckle out of me, and she laughed, too. I couldn’t help but think she looked like a princess, despite her messy appearance.
“My head hurts.” She gasped, her giggles coming to a halt.
“You told me.” I smiled and urged Ash into the shadows when a car passed on the street nearby.
“I did?” She sounded confused, like she didn’t remember.
“Yup.” And she’d probably tell me again.
“How many feet do you have, Chase?”
“I have four.” She was upset again, voice trembling.
“No, Briar, you have two.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I counted.” I touched her right leg. “One.” I touched her left. “Two.”
“I hate pickles.”
And then she passed out.
“Me too.” I let out a breath, one I hadn’t realized I’d been holding. Earlier today I’d been thinking how incredibly boring it was here. Nothing like a drunken cheerleader to spice up the night. “Let’s go home,” I said to Ash, keeping Briar tucked close, and heading for my mother’s house.
PROMO Blitz - January 7th
8. Books Direct
11. The Pen Muse
J.C. Isabella is the author of Chasing McCree and The Unofficial Zack Warren Fan Club. Ever since she discovered romance novels in high school, she has been a self proclaimed fan. This led to penning her first YA . When she isn't thinking up new recipes for the cookbook she hopes to one day write, she is brainstorming a new novel and listening to country music. She lives in the tropics of Florida with her big fat Italian family and ornery feline companion.
Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-McCree-J-C-Isabella-ebook/dp/B007UASYB0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1387472331&sr=8-3&keywords=chasing+mccree
<IMG SRC=" http://i1249.photobucket.com/albums/hh501/myreadingaddiction/new-83_zpsc21bb264.jpg" width="400" height="103"></A>