Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy

Some cowboys are worth getting dirty for.

In her latest adventure, sassy Deputy Laney Briggs discovers the local high school football coach passed out under the stadium bleachers wearing nothing but a smile…and his wife’s lingerie.

Things really start to get wild when she runs into the smoking hot Federal Marshal, Colt Larsen, snooping around the Granger’s house. The Marshal is on the hunt for the coach’s wife, who is nowhere to be found. Quicker than a cold snap comes and goes in Texas, Laney finds herself up to her eyeballs in a case involving a ruthless motorcycle gang, a Mexican drug cartel, a kidnapping, and a shoot-out to rival the O.K. Corral.

In over their heads, Laney calls in the big guns—her very own Texas Ranger, Gunner Wilson, who’s ready to fulfill every last one of her desires. But as things heat up between them, the stakes get higher than ever, and Gunner’s help may not be enough for Laney to get out alive…

Whatcha Gonna

Do With A

Cowboy

A Deputy Laney Briggs novella

Jodi Linton

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2014 by Jodi Linton. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.

Entangled Publishing, LLC

2614 South Timberline Road

Suite 109

Fort Collins, CO 80525

Visit our website at
www.entangledpublishing.com
.

Ignite is an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC.

Edited by Terese Ramin and Cynthia Young

Cover design by Fiona Jayde

978-1-63375-043-2

Manufactured in the United States of America

First Edition August 2014

For the cowboy crazy gal inside of us all.

Aimee, this one is for you, since you’re an honorary Texan. Now go ahead and enjoy a cowboy or two, my friend.

Chapter One

Life in Pistol Rock, Texas, during fall football mania was busier than the ladies’ room at a Luke Bryan concert. My day had started out with Bud Shelton calling the sheriff station at the crack of dawn ranting and raving about some meth head hijacking all the deer corn from his feed store, and from there on it only got worse. After the deer corn emergency, I responded to a domestic dispute out at the trailer park during my lunch and helped direct traffic at an accident outside town on FM 167. Next up was the afternoon soda run because I lost to my partner, Elroy Sampson, at paper-rock-scissors. Finally, I broke up the pregame beer party the high schoolers like to throw in a mesquite grove just behind the football field. I’d done nothing all day but chase down one problem after another. Some days, being the only female deputy sheriff in a small town just sucked ass—and it was about to get worse.

All I wanted to do that October Friday night was sit at Rusty’s bar trying to knock the edge off my inconvenient libido. Instead, as I was getting ready to order a beer, my phone vibrated against my butt cheek, letting me know I had a text message. In retrospect I should’ve waited to read it, but I thought it might be my hunky boyfriend, Texas Ranger Gunner Wilson, sending me something that would make a more modest woman blush. Lately, I’d been really itching to grab, squeeze, and pinch my cowboy’s ass-hugging Wranglers. This long-distance relationship thing wasn’t really floating my boat. The events that had taken place this past summer still caused me to have trouble getting in a wink of sleep.

Nightmares…insecurities…lack of companionship—or whatever the hell you wanted to call them—had been keeping me up at night, channel surfing the home shopping networks or holding down a bar stool at Rusty’s. I didn’t need to run up my credit card bill any more, and I sure didn’t need any more sleepless nights. And sex with Gunner, well…that had always been a way for us to wash away our troubles. But right now, all I wanted was to be wrapped in my loving cowboy’s protective arms until sleep took hold of me. Even though our relationship was rocky on the best of days, he’d always cared…still did. So Gunner’s voice on the phone, or even just him texting me, that might have been enough to get me through the night.

What I got instead was my worthless partner—who, might I add, was competing against me in the Pistol Rock sheriff’s race—asking for my assistance. He was out of luck, ’cause I’d just slugged down half a beer. And I was off duty…although that didn’t mean I couldn’t go down to the field to witness whatever crazy spectacle he wanted me to see. I pulled a ten out of the back pocket of my jeans and slapped it on the bar, grabbed my straw cowboy hat off the stool next to me, and put it on, adjusting it just so.

“I’ve gotta run,” I hollered over the jukebox belting out Conway Twitty’s “Linda on my Mind.” I picked at a bit of my auburn hair, shoving it away from my bottom lip, and added, “This should take care of the beer and nachos.”

The cooler door slammed shut. A glass bottle smacked the bottom of a tin trash can, and boots scuffed across the peanut shell-littered plank wood floors. Then Rusty Weir, trusty bar owner and Pistol Rock’s version of a psychotherapist, leaned across the oak bar. “Leaving so soon, Laney?” he asked, unbuttoning a cuff on his flannel shirt. He rolled up the sleeve and proceeded to work on the other cuff. “I thought you’d be pulling an all-nighter since Gunner is away on a case.”

Yep, I always loved to hear reminders of my cold bed. Normally, I wouldn’t be bothered by the idea of my sexy Texas Ranger knee-deep in El Paso chasing down leads on Cash Sterling, the man who supposedly had connections or answers to the cold case pertaining to Gunner’s murdered parents. But lately, the showerhead and I had gotten a little too friendly. Idle hands, or should I say idle pussies, have a mind of their own. I missed being able to ride my cowboy, satisfy my cravings, and thwart my nightmares all in the same go.

Any day now I was expecting a phone call. At least, I kept my hopes up.

I blew out a sigh. “Elroy just sent me a text to get my ass over to the football stadium. It seems our revered and endeared head coach, Rip Granger, has gotten himself in some shit.”

Rusty hunched over the bar on his elbows, smiled, folded the ten in half, and tucked it into the front pocket of his shirt. “You must be thrilled,” he said in his hoarse, barroom-aged voice.

“Can you tell?”

“It’s written all over your face, kiddo.”

“I don’t know why some people can’t deal with their own problems,” I bitched.

By way of trying to deal with my own problems, six years ago, I’d capped Gunner in the ass with a round of rock salt, and unfortunately, that caused me to lose my kindergarten teaching job. But since I had an in with the old sheriff, who I’d known since I was a child—he’d taught me how to shoot a pistol when I was ten years old—I’d been able to snag the sweet gig of being a Pistol Rock deputy sheriff. Still not sure if that’s working out for me. It’s hard learning a new set of ropes. Maybe if our small town hadn’t been so cheap and had sent me to a deputy boot camp or something, I’d be faring way better.

“Oh, I hear ya. I hear ya,” Rusty answered. “You wouldn’t believe the shit folks tell me.”

“I’ve got problems out the ass, and coming here to talk the shit with you is how I deal with them.”

Rusty laughed and yanked the towel off his shoulder to wipe down the varnished wooden top. “It’s not like you’ve got anything better to do,” he joked.

“Well, I was planning on spending the night on your bar stool with Mr. Shiner.” I laughed, knuckle thumping the empty beer bottle in front of me.

“Now that would be the life, but I reckon it’ll have to wait for the time being.” Rusty slung that beer-soaked dishtowel over his burly shoulder before attending to another customer.

I pushed through the door and planted my boots out into the crisp fall air. Street lamps loomed over the bare-ass street. Not but a few hours ago, the entire town had been abuzz with football frenzy. School fliers from the football booster club advertising a BBQ fundraiser still littered the gutters. Such was life in a small Texas town during football season. Not even the vacant storefronts had been spared the shoe polish markings of the Rattlers’ mascot. Just the sight of it painted on the double-pane windows had my insides coiled up tighter than a rattlesnake. It brought back memories of late-night bonfires after Gunner made the winning touchdown, back when we were in high school. Of being cradled in his arms on his tailgate as we watched the stars appear in a fading sunset. Now, even though we’d decided to give this relationship another go-around, we were still living separate lives. Gunner was hell-bent on hunting down every damn lead connected to his parents’ murders. I got why he needed to do it, but lately the need to solve this twenty-year-old cold case had become an obsession with him. Me? Content to keep the streets of Pistol Rock clean.

There was a much needed vacation in our not-too-distant future.

I dug for my car keys as I strutted past the Pistol Rock Sheriff Station. After saying hello to the two dirty old men whittling sticks on the corner of Center Street and Polk, I made my way to my cruiser parked next to the Dumpster. Just thinking of spending an evening with my partner, Elroy Sampson, gave me that nervous feeling I always get when my mechanic calls to tell me how much it’s gonna cost to fix my car. I climbed behind the wheel, put the pedal to the metal, and gunned the Malibu out into the dead of night toward the stadium.

Minutes later I rolled into the Joe Ryan Memorial Stadium parking lot. Pistol Rock High perched upon a flat piece of land next to a field full of rusty oil field equipment. The school had been named after our town’s very own version of J.R. Ewing, a.k.a. Joe Ryan. As a young man, he had made a fortune back in the ’80s during the oil boom, and in good old country-boy fashion, he’d managed to blow through most of the money he’d pumped out of the ground by the time he was in his thirties.

After his unfortunate run-in with a bull that resulted in his death at the age of forty-two, his sister Beatrice donated the land and what money he had left for the construction of the school and stadium. The field full of wasted pipes, drill bits, and pump equipment next to the school grounds was a bit of an eyesore, but that land also sat on top of easily accessible ground water, which kind of put a salve on the eyesore aspect. Out here, not having a deep appreciation for ground water is about as sacrilegious as urinating in the baptismal.

I parked the cruiser by Elroy’s car right next to the stadium entrance and made my way inside and stood underneath the high bleachers, scanning around for Elroy. Normally, I’d have gone straight to the concession stand and found him there elbow deep in a paper tray of nachos, but that was out of the question at this hour. I didn’t see him anywhere underneath the stands, so I figured I’d check the field for him. Sure enough, impatiently pacing up a storm on the fifty-yard line like a coach challenging a bad call with a referee was Elroy Sampson. Some bug had apparently crawled up his ass.

I made my way toward the only green grass in Pistol Rock. “Elroy,” I called, startling him. “What’s got you so uptight? Did coming out here get in the way of you sitting on your ass and eating all night?”

He spun around. “Why are you always so bitchy?” He whipped off his ball cap and scratched a scalp that was smoother than a baby’s bottom. “I mean, couldn’t you just sometimes say, ‘How ya doing, Elroy?’ Or ‘How’s the weather treating ya?’”

I shifted from one boot to the other. “You really want me to ask you about the weather?”

He placed the cap back on his head. “Not particularly.”

“Well, then. Why all the fussing?” I asked, scoping out the cleat-marked turf for any signs of life.

Elroy rolled onto the toes of his white Reeboks and put his mouth to my ear, quickly zapping me out of the zone. I swung around and hit him in the arm. “What the hell? You’re in my personal space.”

“Laney, you smell like beer.”

“That’s ’cause I was drinking beer when you texted me,” I shot back. “You smell like shit, so what’s your excuse?”

He huffed and pulled on the bill of his ball cap. “You want to hear something funny?” His smile grew wider and his snorting grew louder. “You’re going to be so mad you didn’t find this first.”

He’d gotten a little too close, so I shoved him back a foot. “And why’s that?”

He snorted again, then gestured toward the bleachers. “Because passed out, drunk, and dolled up in women’s lingerie underneath row two is Rip Granger.”

I stared into Elroy’s dim eyes. “You’re shitting me, right?”

His smile spread, engulfing most of his doughy face. He hooked his thumbs in his waistband and swayed back. “Have you ever known me as a bullshitter?”

Surely he wasn’t serious about that question. I searched him up and down. His face was like an open book that nobody would want to read. I cut an eye back over at the bleachers. “Women’s lingerie?”

“Yeah.” He snickered. “And he sure looks pretty.”

For the first time since I had known Elroy, I was laughing with him.

“Why haven’t you woken him up?” I asked. “His wife is probably worried sick about him. Or at the least wondering where her bra and panties are.”

Elroy laughed so hard that he had to hike his trousers back up. “Well, I knew you’d want to see him, so I waited for you.”

“Bullshit,” I replied. “You just wanted to rub my nose in the fact that you found him and I didn’t.”

He shrugged his shoulders and fiddled with his cap again. “Maybe I wanted to gloat just a little bit. That’s not so wrong, is it?”

I elbowed him in the gut. “I’d have done the same,” I admitted, moving around him, “but have you even thought about
why
Coach Granger is passed out in the middle of the night on the high school football field wearing women’s undies? If the Rattlers had won tonight, I could understand him celebrating a little too much with Mrs. Granger, but the Rattlers got their asses handed to them. Don’t you know the school is gonna fire his ass once word gets around?”

“Not really. I just thought it was funny.”

The sound of his keys jingling alerted me to the fact that he was skedaddling after me, so I turned to face him. “I ain’t saying it isn’t funny, but doesn’t the whole thing seem a tad bit peculiar to you? Like there might be more to this than Coach Granger’s night going a little more sideways than intended.”

The dumb look returned to his face. “He’s known to like his bourbon,” he muttered.

“Elroy,” I fired back, giving him the
Stop being a dumbass
look.

“I guess it’s kinda weird.”

I threw up my hands. “Some days I wonder how you manage to breathe without having to think about it.”

I could tell from the red flushing over his face that I’d pissed him off, so I decided to distract him with a question that’d been eating at me. “How’d you find him, anyway?”

“It took me a while, and I looked everywhere, but I eventually found him there in the bleachers.”

“Let me rephrase. What made you go looking for Coach Granger in the first place?”

“Oh,” Elroy exclaimed, that dim little light clicking on in his head. “I was out driving around and decided to check the stadium to make sure none of the high school kids were out here tailgating past curfew. There wasn’t any party going on, but I saw Rip’s truck parked behind the stadium. He wasn’t in it, so I went looking around to see what he was up to, and that’s when I stumbled across him.”

“I see.”

We made our way over to the bleachers. Sure enough, lying face down in cigarette butts and used hot-dog trays, hand hugging a bottle of Jack, and sleazed up in the most scandalous fetish attire Pistol Rock had ever seen was Coach Granger.

Here’s the sad truth—
I
didn’t even own a G-string that disappeared that far up my butt crack.

Rip had been appropriately named, with his brickhouse shoulders, massive hairy thighs, and musky horse-mane ponytail. Unfortunately, the black garters, white lace knee-highs, and pink chiffon thong and bra hadn’t been given their due justice by whoever had strapped them on this human bulldozer.

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