Tina Leonard, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

Fannin’s Flame

Read the Excerpt

Chapter One

“If music tames the savage beast, then your mother was a full orchestra accompanied by a choir of angels.”
—Maverick Jefferson to his sons one winter night when the loneliness became too much

“What I’m saying is feel the romance, Princess,” Fannin said. “Smell the breeze. Hear the sigh of the grass. Rejoice in the call of the wild. Entice that bull, Princess, please,” he pleaded with his cow to the delight of his three brothers.

“Could you turn it up, Romeo?” Archer asked. “I don’t think the people of Union Junction have heard you spout such poetry in all the years you’ve lived here.”

“Do you have to do it this way?” Calhoun complained. “Can’t you be normal and use a syringe to get a calf in her?”

“Hey!” Fannin said with a frown. “I know it’s not logical. But I want Princess to conceive the natural way.”

“Or no way at all,” Navarro said. “I see no interest on the part of her suitor.”

Indeed, the bull, Bloodthirsty Black, usually such a firebringer of hell and mortification upon hapless cowboys, appeared uninterested in his bride.

“Why don’t you tell Bloodthirsty how it’s done, Fannin?” Archer asked, gasping with smothered laughter. “After all, you are the expert with women.”

Fannin grimaced as his brothers slapped each other on the backs. “I sort of have a date Saturday night,” he said, not totally lying.

“A date!” They all leaned forward from their posts on the fence. “Who’s the lucky girl?”

Fannin turned away so they couldn’t see his face. “I’m taking Helga to the movies. She wants to see a movie in Dallas. And I think it’s time our housekeeper got off the ranch for a few hours. You dopes haven’t noticed, but Helga’s homesick for Germany. She’s lonely. So I’m taking her out.”

“Helga!” They roared with laughter.

Navarro grinned. “Yeah, I’d like to go out with a battle-ax. That’d be my choice of female companionship.”

“That’s not very nice,” Fannin said with a frown.

“She’s been working hard to take care of us. You know, you ought to think about taking her out yourselves. Helga doesn’t work at our ranch just to put up with your majestic egos.”

They stared at him.

“All I ever go out with is twins,” Fannin mimicked in a high voice. “Did you see that pair of twins on Rosie Mayflower?” That was exactly how his brothers would talk – and did talk – about women.

“Now, those are some twins,” Archer agreed.

“Navarro, does Rosie have any cousins with the same genetic traits? There has to be some family relations she could introduce us to.”

“Breasts aren’t everything,” Fannin pointed out.

“But they are something,” Navarro said, “and they count big-time in my book.”

“Anyway,” Archer said, “you’re not even talking to Princess right, Fannin. A woman doesn’t want to be begged or pleaded with for sex. She wants to be told how it’s going to be. She wants to be ravaged. Stormed and conquered. If she knows what the game is up-front, then she’s happy to play. No wonder you don’t have any real dates.”

“Well, it is true that the early caveman didn’t have any trouble getting a woman,” Fannin said. “He just dragged her off by the hair.”

“No point in getting rough,” Calhoun said. “All we’re suggesting is that your way is too subtle to get a woman’s attention. Notice we get the women, while you tend to get the sister with the good personality and the insurmountable chastity.”

“Because I don’t storm the gates,” Fannin finished.

“Afraid he’s right,” Navarro said. “Never let a woman have the upper hand, especially in the sack, or you’ll wind up with a Helga running your world. In other words, you’ll end up whipped when you should be putting your feet up after a long day, with a very attractive female ready to bring you a beer, serve you your supper in a comfy armchair and then put you to bed with a smile on her face.”

“That’s what I mean,” Fannin said sadly to Princess. “My brothers are all so artificial. They only think of one thing. Don’t worry about that stupid bull not wanting you,” he told his favorite cow. “He’s probably lost all his good genes throwing cowboys around.”

“Princess is not a pet,” Calhoun said sternly.

“She is to me. And I want a good calf out of her. I’m giving a calf to Mimi’s baby when it’s born, so her little girl will have money in the bank when she grows up.”

“And the calf can’t come from a syringe,” Navarro said, shaking his head.

“The best things take time,” Fannin said briskly.

“And the right moment. Magic.”

“And I say you’re going to be waiting a helluva long time, you and your Princess.” Archer slapped his hat against his leg and hopped off the rail. “I got work to do.”

His other brothers murmured something similar, leaving Fannin alone with Princess and her lackluster lover.

“Hey,” he said to the bull, “you’re supposed to be the hottest thing on hooves. What’s your problem? I had to haul you out here in a special trailer so you wouldn’t do damage to yourself. Half the county said I was crazed to even let you near Princess. They said, do it the right way, but I said no, natural was better. And look at you over there. You couldn’t care less. I believe you’re only good for the ring, you old show pony.”