Mason crested the hill overlooking the creek and reined in Rocky, his favored mount for riding the range. He’d heard the bawling calf a quarter mile away and figured he’d find it stuck in the mud. He hadn’t expected to find Bradi Kincaid. In fact if he’d known she’d already ridden to the rescue, he would have headed the other way.
But here she was not ten feet away, ass in the air, up to her knees in green slime and mud, her arms around the struggling calf’s neck, and she still managed to light a fire in his gut. And dammit, that was just all wrong.
They were best friends, for Christ’s sake. Practically raised from the cradle together. They’d fished and hunted side by side, ridden drag to bring up the tail end of cattle drives. And they’d gotten into more trouble than a switch could whip out of them. She was his best bud, one of the guys.
So why did his dick suddenly become a divining rod every time she was near?
She wasn’t unattractive. But Bradi was nothing like the women he preferred. She wasn’t sleek or polished or sophisticated. Her fingernails were cut close to keep the dirt out instead of long and meticulously painted to match her outfit. Her dirty blonde hair was either in a ponytail or a braid, and as far as he knew, had never been streaked, colored or cut to the latest fashion. And she might carry ChapStick in her front right pocket to ward off the blistering Texas sun, but that was the extent of her makeup.
Bradi was Bradi—natural, earthy and blessed with athletic grace that made ranch work look easy—and more often than not these days left him wondering what that lithe and flexible body would be like in bed.
“You gonna sit there all day, or are you gonna help me?”
Leaning forward to rest his forearm on the saddle horn and hopefully hide his growing erection, he tilted his head to one side and smirked at the picture she made. “I don’t know. You look like you’re doing just fine on your own.”
She blew wispy bangs out of her green eyes and gave him a withering glare over her shoulder. “Throw me a rope.”
“Where’s yours?” He looked around for her horse but the only other animal in sight was a cow waiting for Bradi to rescue her calf. “Wait, don’t tell me. You were riding Dahlia.”
That damn horse had a habit of leaving Bradi high and—his gaze wandered over her again—not so dry. Covered in muck, the front of her faded yellow T-shirt was wet and clung to her breasts. Breasts he’d known she possessed but never really noticed until two weeks ago. His gaze locked on the words peeling across the chest. Not that he cared what they said with her nipples prodding so diligently through her bra.
Mentally castrating himself, Mason sat up and reached for the coiled rope attached to his saddle. “When are you going to take that piece-of-shit horse to the glue factory?”
“Just shut up and throw me your rope.”
Ignoring her demand, Mason swung the lasso and sent it sailing over the calf’s head. He pulled the rope taut, wrapped it around the saddle horn, and directed his horse to back up. The bull calf cried louder as the mud slowly relinquished its hold. As soon as the calf’s legs found firm ground, he dug in, resisting the pull of the rope.
Bradi laughed and reached for the calf just as it wrenched to one side and kicked. Twisting, she dodged a hind leg, but her feet were still stuck in the mud and she went to her knees. Another kick and brown sludge splattered her chest and neck. “Shit.”
Mason chuckled. “Yep, I imagine so.”
Shooting him another scathing glare, she struggled to stand. “You’re an ass.” Able to finally extract one leg and then the other, she trudged out of the creek toward the calf. “Give me some slack.”