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The Wicked Rancher's Indecent Proposal
(Carnal Sins # 2)
When thirty-three-year-old Carly Wilson returns to Montana to bury her father, she takes over the running of her parents' ranch, little knowing that her father borrowed a significant sum of cash from the rancher next door. She is even more surprised to discover that the man who loaned her father the money is none other than Brett Sinclair, the very guy she had a crush on in high school.
At thirty-five, Brett has changed beyond all recognition, and is no longer the fun-loving individual he used to be. Cold, ruthless, and unemotional, he shows absolutely no sympathy when Carly explains that she can't possibly pay him back. With the loan secured on the farmstead, Brett demands sexual favors as payment in kind, or he will start legal proceedings to take the ranch from her.
Carly soon realizes there must be a reason for Brett's heartless behavior, but before she can help him, will she be forced to accept his indecent proposal?
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Without warning, she sunk to her knees, causing the dry Montana earth to billow from the ground in a huge cloud of dust. She then covered her face with her hands. "Oh, Dad, I love you, but how could you have been so dumb? You were a clever guy. You must have realized where this madness was leading."
"Jack knew sure enough, but his love for your ma blinded him, Carly. She meant everything to him."
He recognized and understood that very same emotion.
The unconditional love I feel for Simone still fills my heart. It will never diminish or die.
A huge sigh of resignation left her body as she stood. "Okay. Let me get this straight, Brett. I don't owe the bank anything now, right?"
"And the criminals masquerading as financial lending institutions won't be knocking at my door at three o'clock in the morning? Please tell me I've got that part right?"
"Right again, you're safe."
"Well...that's a relief, but the downside is...?" She held his gaze, fear showing in her soft brown irises as she expectantly waited for his answer.
"The downside is you owe me three hundred and twenty thousand bucks, honey."
Carly looked incredulous, and she spread her arms wide in disbelief. "Three hundred and twenty thousand bucks, just like that, huh?"
"Yeah, just like that. Nothing personal, you understand, it's business, pure and simple."
The feisty side of her personality made a return, and she placed her hands on her hips in confrontational style. "Well, Mr. Hot-shot-stockbroker-turned-rancher, I simply don't have that kind of money. It costs eight thousand dollars a month just to keep ma alive." Clearly frustrated by events, she angrily added, "There's nothing left in the pot. So if you want to see your money again, you'll just have to sue my sorry ass."
With that final petulant remark, he knew he had Carly exactly where he wanted her. "Sue your sorry ass, huh? I don't think that will be necessary."
"Believe me it will, if you want to see any of your money again. I'm sorry, Brett, but I just don't have it. No can do."
"Tell me something, Carly, do I look like a dumb son of a bitch to you? A guy who can't tie his own shoelaces, or walk and chew gum at the same time?"
She studied him intently for a good fifteen seconds, maybe longer. Their eyes connected by imaginary lasers, neither willing to blink first.
"Not exactly. No."
"And your pa didn't think I was such an innocent either, which is why this ranch becomes my property unless you pay back the loan. It's all legal and above board. I got the signed documents right here if you want to see them." He patted the breast pocket of his denim shirt to show he wasn't bluffing.
Her eyes narrowed on him. "You manipulative bastard. You planned this all along, didn't you? Taking advantage of a vulnerable old man in need of money to keep his sick wife alive."
Brett removed his hat and wearily wiped the sweat from his brow again. He hadn't expected gratitude for his trouble, but neither had he envisaged such undiluted hostility.
"Bastard, huh? A bastard for lending your old man money at a very low interest rate when no one else would? I don't see it that way, Carly. I don't see it that way at all. Your pa begged me to help him out. He's dead now, God rest his soul, so as the legal guardian of Bear Creek Ranch, you're now responsible for the debt. Like I say, it's nothing personal, simply business.
"First payment is due on the twenty-eighth of this month. The amount being ten thousand bucks."
Her mouth fell open, but for once she remained silent.
"Make sure you pay on time. I'll send you copies of all the documentation the lawyers wrote up just to prove I'm not shafting you. Just like I wasn't shafting your father."
As a departing gesture, Brett fleetingly touched the brim of his hat before mounting his beautiful jet-black stallion, Phantom. "That gives you just over three weeks to find the money for the first payment. Let's head for home, Phantom."
He spun the horse around before whistling for Biff to follow. The old dog lazily stretched then trotted obediently alongside. "I'll be seeing you, honey."
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