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USA TODAY Bestseller
"When it was three against one, I was always going to be overwhelmed."
The Bridgewater way of two men marrying one woman is uncommon in the Montana territory. But three men marrying one woman? That is unheard of, especially for beautiful Olivia Weston. Her fate, it seems, will have her married to one man - a man she doesn't love. But when her betrothed treats her in a cruel manner, she rejects him and not long afterwards catches the eye of three handsome and virile ranchers.
Cross, Rhys and Simon are as different as three men can be. But they have one thing in common; they are determined to offer Olivia the protection of marriage and the promise of endless carnal pleasures.Olivia worries that her instant attraction and hasty agreement to marry three men stems from a defect in her character. What kind of woman not just loves three men, but makes the most intimate parts of herself available to their lustful attention? The chemistry between them is like lightning. Can she deny it? Or will Olivia submit to become the most sated Bridgewater wife in this ongoing ménage series?
USA Today bestselling author Vanessa Vale strikes gold again with a story bound to appeal to fans of her special brand of Western erotica. No- holds-barred sex, fast-paced plot, rugged men and the women who love them have seen the Bridgewater books topping Western erotica charts with each release. Don't miss the latest - and sexiest book - in this series.
The first time I saw her I thought her a vision. In the lantern light of the hall, her hair was as black as pitch, artfully pulled back into a bun at her nape, but with loose, soft curls that made my eyes follow the graceful curve of her neck. Her skin had a golden glow to it, as if lit from within. Her pale blue dress was modest, yet hinted at every one of her curves, and those curves were quite appealing. I was not the only one who noticed them, for men’s eyes turned her way as she danced, walked past or even smiled in their direction. It was her eyes though, that drew me in completely, for when she turned those pale blue eyes my way, I was lost.
She had the look that Rhys or Simon would call Black Irish: black hair and light blue eyes. I'd never met someone with the combination before and it was striking. In fact, I couldn't look away. The public dance in celebration of the country's independence was a well-attended affair, especially in a town the size of Helena. It wasn't often any of us from Bridgewater made it to this town; only ranch business brought us this far afield. Our ranch kept us well occupied and fairly self-sufficient. While Ian and Kane had made the last cattle contracts, it was our job—Simon, Rhys and I—to purchase a stud horse needed to improve already superior bloodline of Bridgewater’s horses. It was one of our goals to make the sturdiest, fastest and best horses in the Montana Territory.
To hell with the horses. I wanted—no, needed—to know who this woman was. I couldn't leave the dance without hearing her voice or feeling her waist beneath my hand as we danced. I wanted to know her scent.
"Ask her to dance," Rhys said, coming up beside me. We didn't look at each other, but at the lovely woman who was right now sipping lemonade and speaking with two other women. The others were of similar age, perhaps early twenties, but neither even sparked my interest. Had I turned around and been quizzed as to their appearances, I doubt I could have warranted a fair guess. It was she who held my regard.
We stood on the outer fringes of the dance floor, the music—two violins, an accordion and a piano—not so loud here as to make speaking with others difficult. Several sets of doors were open to the cooler evening air and I saw one of her wayward curls shift in the breeze. I spared a glance at Rhys. He was taller than I by an inch or two, but trimmer of build. His hair was as dark as the mysterious woman’s, yet his skin was much darker from time spent outdoors and natural inclination. He might look the part of a Montana man, but he was not born, nor bred, in the Territory, nor even the United States. He, as well as our other friend Simon, were both from the United Kingdom - Simon from Scotland and Rhys from England. In fact, the Englishman's name with the strange spelling had a simple pronunciation of Reese. Why it wasn't written as such was just another British anomaly I could never comprehend. One only had to hear the duo speak to know they were foreigners.
The woman smiled.
"You do not find her...."
I couldn't think of the right word.
"Unique?" Rhys asked. "I find her unique." That was true. She was unique that she had captured my attention, and it seemed his as well.
"Simon would think so as well if he were here instead of at his meeting," I considered. We were in Helena for the horse purchase, not a dance, but as it was decided that Rhys and I remain separate from the arrangement, we'd chosen to spend our idle evening at the town function.
"Meeting? It's a bloody game of Poker."
"Business arrangements are forged over liquor, women and cards."
"He may have the liquor and cards, but we have the woman," Rhys stated.
He was the quiet one of the three of us, a man of few words, but when he spoke those words were well chosen, and his statement was correct. Just looking upon this dark haired beauty had me readily agreeing.
Simon, the Scot, was more brute strength than emotion and handled brash deals with ease. It was a good thing he was not here, for he would have knocked down everyone in his path to get to her, regardless of her married state or inclination towards foreign men. This method would have worked had we not been at a town dance; this environment took finesse and he was not known for that.
"She has not been with a specific man most of the evening, so I do not believe her to be claimed," I commented, placing my hands in the pockets of my pants. No man held her attention for long. Her smile, which was now given freely to the women she was with, was offered sparingly to men, and then only in a polite fashion. While I wouldn't pick up a woman and toss her over my shoulder like a caveman claiming his woman, I had no intention of idly standing by and watching the one I wanted slip through my fingers like sand. The band ended a song to scattered applause and I took the opportunity that presented itself. I approached her with my gaze fixed and when she saw me coming, it was as if she were trapped in a spider's web, unable to look away or move. The ladies at either side of her were still talking, however, she'd lost their attention in exchange for mine.
When I stopped beside her, the other ladies ceased their chattering and all three tilted their heads back to look up at me, for I was almost a head taller than all of them. I nodded at them in greeting, but kept my gaze fixed upon her. "May I have this dance?"
The band began to play a new tune and couples moved out onto the floor. Not wanting to give her an opportunity to say no, I took her hand in mine and led her out to an open spot. Perhaps I was part caveman after all. Her skin was warm, her fingers gripping mine. Turning to face her, I stepped in and placed my free hand on her waist to begin our dance. It fit in the delicate curve there, my little finger wedged against the flared bone of her hip, my large fingers almost touching the bumps of her spine. I could feel the stiff stays of her corset and wished I could instead learn the feel of her soft flesh. "My name is Cross," I said as I began to lead her around the dance floor. The steps were not complex and needed little to no thought as to the movement, which was well and fine, for my attention was focused squarely on her.
Her eyes had been on her hand at my shoulder, but she flicked a glance up at me. "I am Olivia. Olivia Weston."
I offered her a smile and her eyes widened in surprise. Was I that forbidding?
"Are you from Helena, Olivia?" I asked, hoping to make general conversation and set her at ease. I cut a formidable figure; I was taller than most and had thirty pounds on many a man. Women certainly looked at me twice, but often not because they were smitten, but fearful. The tight grip of her hand was the only indication as to any type of concern coming from Olivia, which was good, as I did not wish her to fear me. In fact, I wished her to find our dance quite pleasing, for I was enjoying holding her petite frame as I let her sweet scent entice me.
She gave a short nod, a curl bouncing as she did so. "Yes, and I assume you are not, for I believe I would have remembered you."
Her voice was soft, yet had almost a husky quality to it that had my blood stirring.
"I am that memorable then? That is good to know and quite a compliment," I replied.
"No, I mean...it's just--" she stuttered, then seeing the teasing gleam in my eye, pursed her mouth closed, although a corner tugged up and I knew no harm was done.
"I definitely would have remembered you, Olivia, if I had seen you before. In fact, I would have been quite attentive and you would not have forgotten me."
Her cheeks turned a pretty shade of pink and she gazed upon the buttons of my shirt.
"To answer your question, no. I hail from my ranch, Bridgewater, which is to the east of here."
She stiffened in my arms and at first I thought it was the mention of Bridgewater, but then I took in that she was staring fixedly just beyond my left arm. She stepped in a touch closer and turned her forehead in toward my upper arm, as if using my body as some form of a shield.
"Something troubling you?" I asked, not looking in the direction that held her concern. While I maintained a calm demeanor and kept dancing, I was vigilant to any kind of bother or danger to Olivia.
She relaxed, forced a smile upon her face and replied, "No, everything is quite fine."
Something, no, probably someone, had bothered her, but she had no interest in sharing with me.
"We may have just met, but please consider me a protector, Olivia. I wish you no harm and I will see none come to you."
Surprise widened her pale eyes. "You say that as if you believe it."
"You don't think I can protect you?" Her words surprised me.
"Look at you." She indicated with a tilt of her chin. "You are...very large and could be quite an adversary."
I grinned again. "Yes, I am very large, and can put the size to good use." I doubted she understood my secondary meaning. "You have no male protector?"
"I live with my uncle, who is a dragon and protects me fiercely. I also do not lead an extravagant life and am in no need of much of a defender."
"Oh?" I replied neutrally.
"My uncle raised me and I have taken on his tendencies of educational pursuits, reading and remaining at home. I am fairly sheltered and not one for parties."
"You seem quite settled at this event," I countered.
She frowned briefly. "It is a holiday and besides, my uncle insisted."
"Then I will have to offer him my thanks."
"Why?" she asked, tilting her head slightly.
"I never would have met you otherwise and I am quite pleased." Again, her cheeks flushed prettily. "But you never answered my question regarding a male protector."
"As I said, my uncle is quite enough. I am not in need of additional protection."
From the way the men at the dance were watching her, I disagreed, but was not going to waste the dance arguing with her. I gave her hand a light squeeze so she looked to me. "Very well, but I am Cross from Bridgewater Ranch if you ever have need."
The song came to an end and while we stopped moving, I did not release her. "Promise me, Olivia."
People milled around us, chatting amiably while we stood still and I pinned her in place with my words.
"You are not in Helena and cannot offer any kind of shelter, regardless of the storm, however from the serious look upon your face, you will not release my hand until I agree."
I grinned at her savviness.
"Very well, I agree. I will call upon you if ever I have a time of need."
The definition of the word 'need' offered more than one connotation. While I would protect her from any type of harm, I also would gladly fill the role of any other kinds of needs she might have. From the look of her, from the type of rearing she had, she led a sheltered life and did not know of a woman's needs. The idea of any other man teaching them to her was off-putting at best.
Unfortunately, I had no choice but to release her. I was adverse to do so for she felt...right in my arms.