There was a buzz of excitement when world-famous actor Angus McGregor made a month-long reservation at Anna Graves’ family business, the Sweetwater Guest Ranch in Wyoming. Her sister-in-law can barely contain herself.
But Anna’s heart was broken years before, and she’s not about to let the handsome red-haired Scottish actor turn her head. She’ll just go about her business, and soon enough, he’ll go back to his.
Angus McGregor is taking on the challenge of his career. He’s risking everything to produce, direct, and star in a western film that will either establish him as a major force in Hollywood, or reduce him to a laughing stock. But first, he needs to learn to ride a horse.
Anna intrigues him from the moment they meet, but he’s fresh off heels of his own romantic disaster. He’s determined to keep his head down and focus on putting together the best film he can. Too bad he can’t stop thinking about Anna…
Here’s a little (unedited) teaser from ANNA’S HEART.
As the last of the stragglers left the dining room, Anna left her mother and Simone to finish breakfast cleanup. A huge stockpot of hearty beef stew simmering on the stove would be ready for lunch in a few hours. Simone and Mrs. Graves would eventually make their way upstairs to join Lana in freshening up the handful of guestrooms located in the main lodge.
Anna would see to the cabins by herself, a job she’d insisted on as Simone and her baby bump had grown more and more unwieldy. Sweetwater Ranch wasn’t a hotel, really, so the day-to-day housekeeping was fairly light. While fresh sheets were available upon request, staff didn’t make beds or change the sheets on a daily basis.
On the other hand, between riding horses, working with cattle, and practicing outdoors skills, guests tended to get grubby as they participated in ranch activities, so daily fresh towels were a must. Anna also preferred to spot-clean the bathrooms and kitchens, straighten anything out of place, and remove the trash each day.
It was definitely easier when she split the duties with Simone, but over the past few months, Anna had worked out a routine that allowed her to finish her housekeeping duties in about an hour. And that left her plenty of time to make sure she was ready for her afternoon riding session before she headed back to the kitchen to help with lunch.
As usual, she started with Cabin 1 and worked her way back. The first five cabins, the newest of the bunch, were nearly always occupied for every session, summer and winter alike. When they had a larger-than-normal group of guests, the older cabins were used, beginning with number 6.
She herself occupied number 7, then numbers 8 and 9 were available to guests. Ross lived alone in Cabin 10. Andy and Simone had an apartment on the top floor of the main lodge, while Anna’s parents remained in the family quarters just off the lodge kitchen. It was where Anna and her brothers had grown up, and their father before them.
The newer cabins had been built when Anna was in high school. They were nicer than the older ones, but they were smaller. As she drove the golf cart from Cabin 5 to Cabin 6, she wondered what movie star Angus McGregor thought of his rustic accommodations. On the one hand, his cabin was larger than the others. But on the other hand, it was older. The amenities weren’t as new and the bathroom and kitchen hadn’t been updated.
Fresh towels folded over her arm, Anna snorted as she walked up the front steps of Cabin 6. Angus McGregor, cooking for himself in the little cabin kitchen!
Right! I’m still surprised he deigns to show up at mealtime, she thought to herself. Figured he’d call the front desk expecting room service.
Pausing at the door, she knocked lightly. “Housekeeping!”
She knew that at that time of the morning, he was in Andy’s riding group. It was why she did these chores right after breakfast. Everyone had someplace to be, and it was a rare instance when someone was actually in their cabin.
Still, it was better to be on the safe side. She knocked again, then unlocked the door and let herself in. A quick scan showed the open living room/kitchen combination to be neat and tidy, save for a bunch of index cards spread all over the kitchen table.
She craned her neck to look at them briefly as she made her way to the kitchen trash can. Quickly, she removed the bag and replaced it with a fresh one, placing the old bag beside the front door. Everything else in the kitchen looked in order so she carried the fresh towels down the short hallway to the bathroom. Still envisioning the famous actor trying to cook something on the older-model gas stove, she smirked as she opened the bathroom door.
Clouds of steam rolled over her as a very naked Angus McGregor, towel in hand, froze stock-still.
“Anna?” Eyes wide, he moved the towel down to his waist, but not before Anna got an eyeful of a most impressive cock.
“Holy shit!” she gasped, stumbling backward into the hallway wall.
As she turned and rushed down the hallway, she heard his bare feet padding along behind her.
“I’m so sorry,” she offered without bothering to turn around. “You’re supposed to be riding right now.”
“Aye, about that,” he answered, “I switched to a different session.”
“I knocked, I swear I did.” Clutching the towels, she still faced the door. “I didn’t mean to just barge in on you.”
“I’m just back from a run. I didn’t hear ye over the shower. Anna?” His tone was soft.
Slowly, she turned around, willing her eyes to stay away from the bulge beneath the towel around his waist. She allowed her gaze to skim up his rippled abs to his muscular chest and wide shoulders. Water still dripped from his hair and he swiped a hand across his face.
Oh, yeah, that’s definitely better than staring at his package.
“It’s okay, really. Just a miscommunication is all. No worries.”
Utterly humiliated, Anna nodded mutely and turned back toward the door.
“Anna? Can I have the fresh towels?”
She rolled her eyes and turned back, handing over the towels. “Oh, yeah, of course. I just…well, I usually exchange them for the old towels.”
“Do ye want this one?” His grin was wry.
“No! Holy shit, no keep that on,” she squeezed her eyes shut and waved her hand. “I’ll get it tomorrow.”
She opened the door and let herself out onto the cabin’s covered porch, then stopped.
“Wait a second! You switched to what different riding session?” Turning back around, she placed her hands on her hips.
Lips pursed as though he were suppressing another grin, he leaned his shoulder on the doorway. “I’ve never ridden a horse before. I requested tae be placed in the Beginners’ group.”
“But that’s my group.”
“So I was told. I didn’t think ye’d mind.”
Anna worked her mouth, unable to come up with the proper words.
Blue eyes sparkling, he watched as though to see what she’d come up with.
Finally, her articulation skills gained traction. “But it’s a kids’ group. They’re all kids.”
He nodded. “Aye, I was told that, too. And they’re beginners, just like me.” He tilted his head thoughtfully. “If ye don’t want me in the group, just say so.”
“No, it’s not that, it’s just…” Anna’s heart pounded and she felt her head spinning. She willed herself to be anywhere except where she was. “Fine. It’s just fine. If you don’t mind riding with the kids, I’m sure they won’t mind.”
She hurried down the steps and got into the golf cart. “Well, again, sorry for…” She trailed off, feeling sheepish. The amusement sparkling in his eyes didn’t help at all.
“I’ll see ye at lunch,” Angus said, chuckling.
“See you,” Anna nodded, pressing the accelerator and speeding off down the trail.ANNA’S HEART by Pandora Spocks