She should have left by now.
Nikki Kent stared out the window at the just-rising sun and knew it was already far too late to simply vanish without a word. She’d owe explanations, justifications she really didn’t want to make. But more than that, no sense of urgency pushed her out the door; she felt no need to sneak out like a thief, no pounding fear of discovery. Her mind may have screamed at her to leave, to get the hell out now before it was too late.
Her heart knew better. She knew she needed to leave, but had never in her life felt so content in one place.
Though she’d left without a word so many times before, and from so many different places, here was different. Everything about her life now was different. And Nikki liked that. The ranch spread out before her; the vast terrain of open land that had originally beckoned her, still enticed her with its untamed beauty.
The sun back-lighted the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and though she could barely see the cattle or the quarter horse stables in the pre-dawn light, she knew precisely where they sat. She knew where every building, every fence post lay, and loved every inch of the land. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and envisioned the layout.
Despite the dangers of growing attached to one place, Nikki had found more at the Agua Clara Ranch than just a job. The ranch had needed a vet and Nikki, funds low and tired of moving around, had needed a new place to stay. She’d traveled the country and found work where she could, from the small family farms that dotted the northeast to the wine country in northern California. Nikki had a rhythm to her movements; stay one or two months, three at the absolute most then leave.
As soon as summer arrived she knew she should have left, but she’d never wanted to stay anywhere else as much as she wanted to stay here at Agua Clara. With him.
Hell, she shouldn’t have stayed at the ranch long enough to sleep with the owner, but Cooper Marquez was a hard man to say no to. Cooper attracted her as no one else ever had—his slow, sexy smile, his hard, lean body, those dark eyes that promised her the best sex of her life. Nikki found him impossible to resist. Impossible to ignore her body’s reaction to his stare, those unbelievably dark eyes as they watched her; or his touch, the lightest caress that sent shivers racing along her skin, heating her blood.