Today we have the blog tour of RECKLESS by Ciana Stone! Check it out and be sure to grab your copy today!
Author: Ciana Stone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Morgan Windwalker Alexander considered herself to be a most fortunate woman. She loves the ranch where she and her husband, Cord, live and raised their family. She loves her work as a large animal vet and is proud of what Cord has accomplished in his career in Mechatronics.
She couldn’t and wouldn’t ask for more. As far as she is concerned, at 42, she has it all.
Then Cord gets a call in the middle of the night and from that moment, things start to change. Her once perfect husband, a man who is methodical in all he does, displays a recklessness she finds troubling. Cracks start to appear in her perfect life, revealing lies and betrayals she didn’t want to believe were possible.
Can she keep the cracks from multiplying, keep all the pieces intact, or is she fighting a losing battle? Can she patch the wounds in her life or will this reckless path Cord is on shatter their one perfect life completely?
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About the Author:
I’m a country girl at heart and I’m quite keen on home-grown heroes, military men and cowboys. Happily-ever-after is something I believe in with my whole heart. Love may be a bumpy road and there are bound to be perils along the way but in the end, love should win. I try to take that attitude into my writing and believe that love, hope and laughter are some of the best medicine there is. Along with books. Lots of books.
I have a passion for sagas. I love to fall into a world, get to know characters and have them reappear in stories down the road. Because of that, I wrote my Cotton Creek Saga. So far, there are two series within the saga, Honky Tonk Angels and Heartbreakers & Heroes, with another, Heritage, on the way in 2019.
I love to hear from readers and want every since person who has read one of my book to know how much I thank them. To every reader who has spent his or her hard-earned reading dollars on a Ciana Stone book, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
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“That was fun, wasn’t it?” Morgan asked as Cord drove the car into the garage.
“I still can’t believe I let you drag me to a high school football game after the fifty-hour week I had.”
“Poor baby,” she reached over to give his leg a squeeze. “I’ll let you sleep in tomorrow.”
“If only. My schedule is slammed for the next three days. Friday can’t come soon enough.” Cord climbed out of the car and waited for her to walk around the back of it before hitting the switch to lower the garage door.
“But you know you had fun and we haven’t been to a game since Trevor graduated. And having a couple of beers with JD and Jolene afterward was fun. I haven’t had a chance to talk to her in nearly a month. Did you know she just got back from Brazil, doing a piece on a bull rider there?”
“No, I didn’t. I guess that’s what you guys were yakking about?” He opened the door leading into the laundry room and waited for her to enter. “Do you wish he’d taken one of the scholarships he was offered?”
“Do you?” She looked over her shoulder at him as she toed off a boot.
“Sometimes. He was one hell of a running back.” Cord sat on the shoe bench to remove his boots.
“And he’ll be a hell of whatever he decides to be next.” Morgan, now bootless, knelt and pulled off Cord’s remaining boot.
“Yeah, I know. I just think talking with JD about his boys and hearing how they’re getting pro offers— you know, it makes me wonder if the same could have happened for Trevor.”
“Who knows? The point is, Trevor’s more into roping and riding than tackling and running the football. And he’s got what it takes to make a run on the circuit if he decides that’s what he wants.”
“Do you think he will?”
“I don’t know. What I do know–” She stood and unzipped her jeans. “Is that I’m not at all sleepy so I may need some help getting relaxed.”
“Help, huh?” He stood and helped her slide her jeans down. “I might have an idea or two on that.”
“Yeah?” She stepped out of her jeans and left them where they lay on the floor as she took his hand. “Then come with me.”
Cord smiled and instead of taking her hand, scooped her up in his arms and carried her to the bedroom.
After a very enjoyable hour, she had just about reached that magic moment. She wrapped her legs around Cord’s lean, muscled back to deepen the joining of their bodies, broke free of a kiss to press her head back against the pillow and pressed up against him. The sensations intensified, promising an imminent fall into that well of pleasure where nothing else mattered.
“Do it, do it, do it.” Her voice was an incantation timed to the drum of her heels against his back.
The sudden ring of his phone on the nightstand had thoughts of pleasure vanishing. Concerns for her children made her heart race. No one called after midnight with good news.
“See who it is.”
Cord cursed and rolled over to snatch up the phone. “Hello?” He turned to look at her and mouthed, “McGuire.”
The relief she felt at the non-emergent nature of the call was short lived. Irritation jumped right in to fill the void. There was no good reason that McGuire should call in the middle of the night with a work-related matter. Whatever it was could damn well wait until morning.
Her irritation with McGuire was iced with a healthy dose of annoyance at Cord for taking the call, Morgan sat up, swung her feet over the side of the bed and shot Cord an irritated look before she stalked out of the room.
Cord understood, but he didn’t feel he had much choice. Tom McGuire headed the NNSA, the National Nuclear Security Administration, a subdivision of the Department of Energy. The NNSA was Cord’s biggest source of income, so when they called, he answered.
“We need you here – now.” There was more than a hint of panic in Tom’s voice. “We have a problem, and I can’t go into it over the phone. Pack a bag. I don’t know how long you’ll be here. I’ll have a plane waiting at the Cray County Executive airport, and my driver will be waiting to pick you up when you land.”
As Cord opened his mouth to ask what the problem was, Tom hung up. Despite the annoyance, he rose and went to the closet, pulled a carry-on bag from the top shelf and placed it on the bed. As he unzipped the bag and started selecting clothes to pack, he wondered about the call.
“What did McGuire want?”
He paused in the act of pushing clothes around on the rod in the closet to look at Morgan who’d returned and flopped down on the bed. “I don’t know. Where are my gray pants? You know the ones I mean – the ones I like. They’re not here.”
Morgan got up, walked into the closet and pulled the elusive slacks from the rod. Cord had his back to her as he dressed, and she watched in silence. When he bent over to step into his boxer briefs, the glow from the recessed lights played over the muscles of his back. Despite the number of years they’d been together, she still appreciated his strong, lean body.
Cord straightened and turned toward her with a tentative smile. She handed him the slacks and turned her attention to packing his suitcase.
“Thanks.” He took the slacks and stepped into them. “I wish I knew what made McGuire go ballistic.”
“What doesn’t make him go ballistic? You know he’s not comfortable with the technology, and since he doesn’t understand it, any fluctuation gives him a case of the trots.”
Cord chuckled. “You have a point.” He bent down to peer underneath the bed. “But it has to be serious for him to call me at almost one in the morning. Damn, where are my black shoes?”
“In your office. Right where you left them with the rest of your clothes this afternoon. I never thought about picking them up. I was – busy.”
Cord pulled a black t-shirt over his head and gave her a sexy grin as he shoved one arm in the shirt. “Yeah, busy driving me crazy.”
She smiled and finished putting the last article of clothing into the suitcase. “You want to grab your stuff from the bathroom, or should I?”
“Would you do that while I get my shoes and stuff I need from the office?”
Cord hurried to his office, found his shoes and put them on. He’d need his tablet, phone, chargers and what else? That should do it. He shoved everything into a small messenger bag and headed for the door.
Morgan met him in the kitchen. He put his messenger bag on the counter and pulled her close. She wrapped her arms around his neck. “I love you. Hurry home.”
“I love you.” He squeezed her tightly. “I’ll call when I get there. Go back to bed and get some sleep. No sense in both of us being zombies.”
Morgan wrestled with the sudden temptation to ask him not to go or to take her with him. She realized the importance of his work, but something about this trip made her feel unsettled. It made no sense, but the feeling was strong. If she thought there was any chance of succeeding, she’d try and talk him out of going, but she knew she’d fail.
If she asked, he’d probably take her with him, but that would be an added burden he didn’t need, so she dismissed the urge, tamped down on her anxiety and gave him a smile.
“I’ll be fine. I need to check on Little Shoes. This is her first, and she’s gonna pop any moment. Someone needs to be there with her.”
“I shouldn’t leave that on you. What else do you have going on today?”
“Three appointments this morning. Bob Davis wants me to check that breeding bull he just bought, and I have three horses to see. Then I need to check inventory and see what we need from the feed store, and the cattle in the south pasture need to be moved and –“
“I really shouldn’t leave all that on you.”
Morgan didn’t want him to feel guilty about having to leave, but if he chose not to go, she’d be relieved. “I’m sure we’ll manage. Since you’re gonna be gone, I may go see Joe and Myrtle.”
“Joe, of course.”
“You know what I mean. You’re a strange bird. How many women your age do you know who have a best friend that’s old enough to be their grandfather?”
“Aren’t we way past that? Joe and Myrtle are like family to me.”
“I know. I’m sorry. Okay, I’m outta here. I’ll call and let you know what’s going on and where I’m staying. Oh, crud. I forgot. I was supposed to have the car serviced tomorrow. Any chance you could get Slats to ride with you to the airport later to get it and take it in?”
“Oh sure, I have nothing on my schedule.” She realized the testy tone of her voice and back-pedaled. “Sorry. I’ll take care of it. Now go.”
Cord gave her a kiss, grabbed his things and headed out through the laundry room door that led to the garage. She watched from the door as he got into his car and backed out. He rolled down the window. “I love you.”
“I love you.” Morgan watched the car lights wind their way down the driveway and vanish under the umbrella of foliage. She was about to turn away from the door when her dog, Ghost, walked into the garage.
“Hey, big guy, you wanna come in while I get ready?”
The dog cocked his head to one side then padded through the garage and into the house. Morgan locked the door and went into the kitchen to start coffee then headed for the bedroom to dress with Ghost padding along silently behind her.
En Route to Washington, D.C.
Cord shifted into a more comfortable position and looked out of the plane window. The call from McGuire had left an anxious knot in the pit of his stomach. He hated not knowing what kind of problem was waiting for him. For half an hour he speculated and worried, and all that gained him was a nagging headache. He had to get his mind off it.
He smiled as Morgan’s face flashed in his mind and he turned to thoughts of her and how they’d met.
He’d just earned his bachelor’s degree and had two weeks before starting graduate school. He’d elected to start in the summer semester as he was eager to get on with his education and life. Cord started as an engineering major and ended up with a double major because he fell in love with software design.
Code was like magic, you could program machines to perform fantastic feats and to go to places humans couldn’t reach or couldn’t survive.
While on break, he drove a friend to a local stable where his friend’s girlfriend planned to be. Cord always felt sorry for the horses there, as they were rarely well tended. Having grown up on a ranch, he could recognize a sick or ailing horse with a glance.
His friend, Ralph, was a city boy and wouldn’t know a nag from a thoroughbred. All he knew was that his current girlfriend, Tara Johnson, was studying to be a vet and doing an internship with one of the local large-animal vets this summer. Today she was going to be at the stable and had asked him to meet her there. She’d made friends with one of the other students, another girl and told Ralph to bring a friend. When Tara finished work, they’d all head over to the rock quarry for some swimming and beer.
Cord was halfway on board but warned Ralph if Tara’s friend looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame all they would see of him was the dust in his wake.
He parked his vintage Corvette in the shade of an old oak. He and Ralph talked about women, school, and life for half an hour before Tara’s voice drew their attention. “There they are. Hey baby, you ready to roll?”
Ralph jumped out of the car and Cord was vaguely aware of Tara heading toward him. His attention was focused like a laser beam on the girl walking toward them.
She was smoking hot, even in dirty jeans that rode below her navel and a sweat-stained tank top that emphasized her firm breasts and well-defined arms. Her skin was bronzed with the tone of someone with Native ancestry, but her eyes were the color of a clear summer sky, the blue incongruous to the tone of her skin.
“Hi,” Cord greeted her as she stopped in front of the car. “I’m Cord Alexander.”
“Hi.” She offered him her hand. “Morgan Windwalker.”
“So, you’re an intern as well?”
“I am. My last, thank God.”
“You mean you’re done after this?”
“If I pass the state board, yes.”
“And you’ll be a vet?”
“Yes, specializing in large animals.”
“I’m not trying to be a smart ass or insulting, but aren’t you a little young to be graduating?”
She laughed. “I started young.”
“How young?” As hot as she was, Cord was starting to wonder if she was jailbait.
“I entered college at thirteen.”
“Are you serious?”
“So, you’ve been in college for the last eight years?”
“No, I earned my undergrad and my DVM in less time than normal.”
“Which makes you…?”
“Can’t just come out and ask, huh? I’m eighteen. How about you?”
“In college or working?”
“Both. I’m working at the University and starting the Master’s program this summer.”
“Nice, but you don’t look much like a geek.”
“Oh? What do I look like?”
“A hot cowboy.”
Cord laughed, delighted at the boost to his ego her words provided. “Well thanks, and you look kind of like a beautiful Indian princess – well except for the eyes.”
Morgan smiled. “So, you wanna play cowboys and Indians?”
“I’d love to, but I don’t have a horse.”
“Looks like you’ve got about four hundred of them.” She gestured toward the car.
“You wanna take a ride?”
“I most definitely do.” Morgan headed around Tara and Ralph who were sitting on the hood of the car watching. “Tara, you can take my truck.” She tossed her friend the keys. “I’ll stop by in the morning to get it.”
“Where’re y’all going?” Tara asked as she slid off the car.
“Wherever the road takes us.” Morgan cut Cord a smile before she got into the car.
He got in behind the wheel, feeling like one lucky man.
Now, more than two decades later, he still felt like the luckiest man alive. Not only did he have an amazing career, but an incredible wife, two great kids, and a beautiful ranch. Life had more than just smiled on him, it had downright grinned.
Not bad for a Texas cowboy who started with nothing.
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