Nikki Kent thought she’d spend her entire life wandering. And hiding. She’d never wanted to put down roots or even get to know the people around her with any intimacy—intimacy was risky and she refused to put others in danger. Until she met Cooper Marquez.
Cooper hadn’t been looking for romance. His days were filled with a ranch that demanded every ounce of his attention. But from the moment Nikki set foot on his land, inquiring about a job as a veterinarian, he knew he wanted more than her help with his ranch.
Despite the sizzling attraction and the hot sex, from their first meeting something stood between them. A secret with origins in the mystical and one that had burrowed itself deep within Nikki. She needed to protect Cooper from her secret, but Cooper would risk everything to keep her safe.
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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.
She’d left without a word many times before, and from many different places. But this place 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 and every fence post lay, and loved every inch of the land.
Her love of this land paled compared to her love for the man sleeping in the bed behind her. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and glanced over her shoulder to where Cooper slept.
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, had needed a new job. 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 unexpectedly as she’d appeared.