Home > Lara (Reynolds Ranch #1)

Lara (Reynolds Ranch #1)
Author: C.M. Steele


Going away to college was supposed to be a way to escape overbearing men trying to claim me. Still, I ran right into the king of security, thinking I could get past his guards.

I strolled into his party uninvited, thinking I had the upper hand. I was sorely mistaken—deliciously sore and craving more. Landon Black sees, takes, and retains. The thing is, I need his possessiveness.

I want to be his only obsession.

And I quickly learn that I am.

My wicked little sneak strolled into my world, and now I can’t ever let her go. I never expected to let anyone in, but the second I saw her, I knew Lara Reynolds would be Lara Black before she knew it. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one who has eyes on my girl, but they’ll learn quickly that I haven’t gotten to where I am by giving up on what I desire.

And Lara’s my greatest obsession.



Chapter One


“Hey, Lara. It’s been a while.” I twist my head around to see David, my father’s ranch hand, walking up to me as I brush my favorite horse. Doing my best to be polite, I smile while I continue to treat my Sugar Cube to her grooming. Riding has always been on my list of most enjoyable things to do on the ranch. Although at the moment it’s just lost it’s fun.

A couple more days, I mentally chant.

The ranch itself has never held a place in my heart; my family is what has always mattered to me. Frankly, I hate the dust, the quiet, the smell of life here on Reynolds Ranch. Other than Sugar Cube, who stole my heart when I was twelve, nothing else holds me here. It’s why I can’t wait to go to school in Chicago.

“Hi, David.” I dust off my hands on my jeans, stopping Sugar Cube’s grooming which gets me a gruff little puff and whine. I pet her and continue speaking to him. “Yes. It’s been a bit. I’ve been getting ready for school. How are you?”

In truth, I’ve been doing my best to avoid him since he asked me out a couple of times over the summer. Apparently, he hasn’t figured out that I’m not the girl for him.

“Good. Working hard and growing stronger every day so you’ll be interested in me instead of your brother’s buddies.” Damn. My temper rises instantly, and I want to punch him in the balls because he sure as hell has brass ones right now.

If my father overheard him, good employee or not, he’d be unemployed really fast. “I’m not interested in anyone. Believe it or not, I enjoy remaining single and without obligation or beholden to any man. It’s bad enough I have my father and brother bossing me around, so why would I want a man to control me?”

He moves closer to the stall, and I’m not about to get cornered even if he means nothing by it. “I wouldn’t control a beauty like you. You need to be worshiped and loved,” he coos as if he’s thinking this will win me over. The shift in his tone grosses me out.

“Thanks for the offer, but I’m happy all alone.” I give a half smile and set down the brush, giving Sugar Cube another pat before turning to leave.

“Are you sure?” he asks, trying to reach out for my hand, but I move quickly out of the way.

“I’m positive, David, but it was nice seeing you again.” I’m so tired of his efforts because I’ve made it perfectly clear that I have no intention of dating him.

The walk to the house seems to take an eternity as I think about him watching me. I can feel his eyes on me as I make my way back. I open the patio door and step through the back, taking off my mucky boots and slipping on some sandals to head upstairs to wash up.

After I’m all clean, I walk through the house looking for my mother, who is probably in the kitchen preparing dinner for the men. I’m sure they’ll be pleased, but I could never be that woman. I’m not a great cook, and I don’t want to do it every freaking day for ten plus men.

“There you are, Mom,” I say, strolling up to the counter, setting my hands on the surface and smiling at her.

“How was your ride?” she asks while moving around the kitchen like a busy bee.

“It was good until I ran into David.” I sigh, snatching up a carrot stick and taking a bite. These are fresh from our garden and I love them.

She spins on her heel, pressing her hands to her apron covered hips. “Oh goodness. Did he ask you out again?”

“Yes,” I mutter as I chew, distaste written on my face and not from the carrot.

The concern on her face makes me feel bad for even mentioning it, but I promised to do my best to be honest with her, especially when it came to boys. “Do you want me to tell your father about his behavior?” I’ve told her every single time he’s asked me out, but not how much it’s bothered me. I don’t want her to be overly concerned because I can handle myself.

“No. I’ll be leaving in a couple of days, and you’ll need someone to still work here.” The ranch always needs farmhands, and even though David has annoyed me, he hasn’t done anything to me. I just want to enjoy my last couple of days with my parents before heading to college.

“That is the truth. Good ranch hands are hard to come by, and David is gifted for his age. What is it that you don’t like about him?” It’s a fair question. He’s good looking, hardworking, and appears decent. Well, he did until today’s comments, but I’m not into being a farm girl. I don’t want to date someone I know there’s no future with.

“It’s not that I don’t like him. I just don’t want to date him and when the relationship doesn’t work out, he’ll have to be fired or he’ll quit because tensions will be high and everything will be completely uncomfortable.” He seems like the jealous type who would want to control my every move and anyone who knows me in the least knows that isn’t going to fly.

“That’s also valid.” She purses her lips, nodding her head.

“I want to have a love affair so profound that he sets my soul ablaze, just like you and Daddy. There’s no way I’ll settle for less. I’m too damn fiery to put up with anything else.”

“That’s wonderful. I can’t imagine falling in love with anyone else but your father, even after I gave him hell. I’m going to miss you, sweetheart. Your daddy and I are worried about you going all the way to Chicago for school.”

“You don’t mind that Tobias is playing for Chicago.” My accusation is loud and clear and repetitive. We’ve had this conversation more than once since I applied there—all to the same end.

“That’s not true. We mind, but it’s not the same thing. You know that. It’s just he’s a little older, and it’s his career. Besides, we’ll always worry that he’ll be injured or fall for a woman that will trap him with a baby and take him for all his money.” Unfortunately that’s pretty commonplace for athletes, but my brother’s not the kind of guy to fall for a woman’s schemes, or at least I hope he isn’t that full of himself.

“He’s doing great, but I’ll have him there to look after me, so please don’t freak out too much. So what’s for dinner tonight?” I change the subject because my stomach starts rumbling and these carrots aren’t doing the trick.

“We’re having homemade pot pies.” My mouth waters immediately.

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