Title: Nobody Else But You
Author: Claire Marti
Genre: Contemporary Romance
A smoking hot stuntman. A fiery horse breeder. And a 220-acre ranch too small for both of them.
She’s avoided Hollywood for years…
When an arrogant Hollywood stuntman struts into Samantha McNeill’s breeding barn, sparks fly. She doesn’t care how mouthwateringly gorgeous he is, not when he assumes Pacific Vista Ranch’s resident horse breeding manager must be a man. Not to mention his job threatens to pull her family back into the paparazzi filled world they escaped from over a decade ago.
Now it’s at her door––wearing faded jeans and a wicked grin.
Holt Ericsson can tell the beautiful redhead hates him on sight and the feeling is becoming mutual. But he will call in a favor and convince Sam’s legendary director father that Pacific Vista Ranch is the only suitable place left in California to film an epic Western. Holt’s invested all his savings in the movie and his entire career is riding on it. No way will he allow one irritating, sexy woman to stand in his way.
Sam intends to fight him at every turn…if only her heart didn’t race when they’re together. Holt does his best to steer clear of her…except all he wants to do is hold her close. The sizzling attraction between them is either going to burn up the sheets or burn down the ranch…
There was a guy in class? Curious, she swept her leg down and glanced around. Her mouth dropped open.
Him? Too Hot Hollywood in her ballet studio? Her fingers curled into fists and heat rose into her cheeks. “You. Did you follow me here?”
“Huh?” He gaped at her.
“Samantha. Silence. First position.” Cecile snapped with a frown.
She swallowed a scream of frustration and whirled back to face the mirrors and there he was, lurking directly behind her. Six feet of ripped bronze shoulders and sinewy biceps were highlighted in all black exercise pants and a tank. Damn it, she didn’t want to be impressed. Or affected. Or have her safe haven intruded upon. Again.
She gripped the barre with her left hand and squeezed. Good thing it was sturdy or she might just crush the wood to dust. She’d pretend it was his smirking face. He’d chased off her sister with his news. Well, it wasn’t his movie and he’d just delivered the message, but the proverb about shooting the messenger didn’t exist for nothing.
How was she going to immerse herself in the music and the movement with him breathing down her neck? Was this man going to single-handedly ruin her life?
Her body automatically obeyed the teacher’s commands, plié, tendu, degage. The fine hairs on the back of her neck stood at high alert, and her eyes kept darting to the powerful limbs moving in perfect synchronization behind her. Instead of measuring her own alignment in the mirror, her gaze was drawn to the perfect shadow behind her, every sweep of his arm performed with flawless precision. She shook her head to stop her surreptitious or not so surreptitious staring.
He represented everything she hated about people from Hollywood. Cocky, too good-looking—well, she wasn’t blind, was she? Damn Holt Ericsson. Focus on the ron de jambe, girl.
She angled her body and Holt intruded into her peripheral vision. As if she’d been able to ignore him from her current spot. Inhale and exhale. She absolutely was not distracted by his cat-like grace.
Much too close to her.
She peeked from under her lashes. Surprise registered when his leg sweep extended almost as far as hers. Impressive flexibility. Most men couldn’t come close to that level of suppleness, especially the athletic muscular ones. His golden head was turned away from her, so she gave him the side-eye for another millisecond. His long, sleekly muscled arm stretched overhead and a light film of perspiration gleamed on his skin.
Okay, he might be an arrogant L.A. boy, but he was flawless.
A pity he would most likely open his mouth again.
Abruptly, he turned his head and snared her gaze. Busted. When his sculpted lips quirked into a knowing smile, she cursed his ego. With a huff, she whipped her head to face the mirror.
Holt struggled to maintain steady breathing, but his usual self-control was failing him. Had Angela sent him to this ballet studio on purpose? What was she trying to pull?
The last seven minutes and sixteen seconds had been exquisite torture, standing directly behind Sam. In a modest black leotard, pink tights, and innocent pink ballet slippers, she no longer resembled the bony, persnickety hooligan from the ranch.
No, now she looked elegant.
In the bright lights of the studio, her abundant auburn hair shimmered like polished bronze. Her traditional dancer’s bun revealed the milky pale skin at the nape of her neck, usually obscured by her hat or heavy braid. He caught himself before he leaned forward and kissed it.
When she’d turned to the side, her profile transformed into one of the old-fashioned cameos his mother collected. A blue vein ran from her smooth forehead to the top of her high cheekbone, revealing a hint of vulnerability in what he’d believed was an impenetrable fortress.
He’d been wrong.
She was just as beautiful as her twin sister.
He glimpsed the calluses on one small palm, evidence of the work she performed each day. Not the manicured hands of a spoiled girl, but a serious woman. His entire body stiffened when he contemplated those palms sliding over his skin.
How long was this class again? He’d never survive.
Her sinuous, mesmerizing dancing revealed another layer to Ms. Samantha McNeill. Underneath the tough shell lived an artist, a true ballerina. He came to ballet to work on agility and control, but she became one with the music, like he did when he played his guitar. Accustomed to working with and observing performers, he recognized her connection to the dance, even from the warm-up exercises. Sam wasn’t just a horsewoman; she channeled the emotion of the dance from inside out.
She smelled like heaven and the beads of perspiration along her upper shoulders beckoned. How would she taste? Sweet, like she looked now or tart, how she acted the remaining ninety-nine percent of the time? The yearning to stroke her rosy porcelain skin surged through him––would the flush spread to the rest of her skin when she was aroused?
“Mr. Ericsson. Attention.” Cecile snapped.
He jolted. Busted. He glanced around to see what the rest of the class was doing and caught Sam’s smirk. Now that expression he recognized. Somehow her attitude now seemed endearing instead of annoying. Yes, he’d been too quick to judge her. He would apologize.
When class ended, Holt wiped the sweat from his forehead and the back of his neck. The punishing pace suited him and he understood why Sam came to this studio. He’d have to return while he was in town.
“So, if someone had told me a guy like you would go to ballet, well, I would have laughed. You’re full of surprises.” Sam angled her head toward him as she slung her damp towel over her gorgeous shoulders.
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Because you’ll instantly be transported into the exciting world of Pacific Vista Ranch and the McNeill family. This enemies to lovers romance combine the glamour of an old Hollywood family against the backdrop of a beautiful Southern California horse ranch.
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Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.
Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga.
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