Updated: Nov 25
This fun excerpt comes from the first book in the Vargas Ranch Series. River Sloane, a romance author, was stranded in Wickenburg, Arizona on her way to Vargas Guest Ranch & Resort. Dalton J. Vargas, IV picks her up on his way back to the ranch. Enjoy!
“Is this your first time in Arizona?” Dalton asked.
He snorted. “You came at the hottest time of year. June through most of September is scorching.”
“So I’m realizing.”
Silence again as she repositioned the vents to blast AC in her face. The force caused her silky blond hair back in gentle waves. He swallowed hard.
Dalton glanced over at her. She fidgeted with her fingernails, then picked at lint on her dress. Nervous, not excited. Odd. Most of their guests couldn’t contain their enthusiasm over staying at a working ranch.
“What brings you to our ranch?” he asked, even though he knew she had to complete research for her book.
“Oh, I’m here to save my job. I hope.”
The forlorn tone of her voice triggered his instinct to fix things for her.
No. He should not get involved with a woman. Especially a guest, no matter how pretty she looked.
The quiet returned after her odd answer. He nudged the accelerator until his vehicle moved a little above the speed limit, hoping to make it to the dirt road turnoff sooner. Awkward didn’t being to describe the mood in his truck.
A soft gasp escaped her mouth when the mountain came into view. His mountain. His home.
“What’s it called?” she asked.
Dalton cleared his throat as heat crept up his neck and settled over his face. It suddenly felt weird to say the name aloud.
River laughed uncontrollably until tears formed in the corners of her eyes. She swiped her fingers under them to remove the moisture from her cheeks.
“You named a mountain after yourself?”
The act seemed the opposite of the quiet cowboy’s demeanor. She slanted toward him as her laughter faded. She studied his ruggedly handsome, tanned face and angular jaw. He looked ten times manlier in person than in the picture. Those gold eyes—the ones she had stared at too long on the website picture—hid behind aviator sunglasses, which seemed out of place with the rest of his western attire. Maybe he was a closet Top Gun fan or something.
Red spread up his neck and onto his perfectly handsome cheeks. She found his embarrassment endearing.
“It’s named after my great-grandfather, Dalton J. Vargas, Sr.”
River arched a brow. So not this Dalton, but another one?
“My grandfather is Dalton J. Vargas, Jr., who we call Padre. My father? He’s the third. Goes by Tres.”
“No, tres. For the third. I’m Dalton J. Vargas the fourth.”
“Wow. That’s got to be confusing.”
River covered her smirk with her hand. This cowboy was full of quirks—ones she couldn’t wait to jot down and use in a story. Wait, did she just admit she might want to write about a cowboy? Naw. Must be the heat frying her brain.
“Not really. We call grandpa Padre. Papi is just Papi to us boys. Mami calls him Tres. So I’m the only Dalton.”
“Huh.” She barely followed it all.