A Modern Twist on a Fairy Tale
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Loosely based on the Grimm's fairy tale Maid Maleen
"Just let me love you..."
When Maleen King’s father catches her naked in the hay loft with her high school sweetheart, he sends the eighteen-year-old away to receive a college education and rise above the humble beginnings of an Idaho dairy farm. Now fourteen years later, Mal comes home to run the farm after the death of her father. The stress of a disastrous marriage and being a NYC stock broker made her long to return to a simple life.
Braydon Daniels, devastated when Mal’s father sent her thousands of miles away, has thought about her every day since. Now, over a decade later, he finds himself alone, divorced, and beaten down by the trauma of his broken marriage. When Mal comes back to town for her father’s funeral, he realizes the feelings he once had for her are just as strong. There’s one little snag, though. His ex-wife is the woman Mal has hated her whole life. And they have a child together.
Despite the struggle to recover from their past relationships, the undeniable attraction between them still exists. Can they rekindle the passion they once had?
Mal picked at her black pencil skirt, pulling the scratchy fabric away from her skin. She was anxious to get back to the house and change into an old, comfortable pair of jeans. She wished she still fit into the worn pairs she found in a box at the bottom of the closet in her childhood bedroom. But like Braydon, she had also matured. Which meant having curves that no longer fit into junior skinny jeans.
As she walked down the ramp from the funeral home, it surprised her to find a car other than hers still left in the parking lot. She figured she would be the last one leaving, especially after staying to make arrangements with the funeral director for her pop’s cremation.
She stumbled and caught herself by grabbing the metal rail running alongside the concrete incline.
He looked good.
Shit. Good was a gross understatement. That was like saying a sundae full of ooey, gooey hot fudge, wet walnuts, colorful sprinkles, a pile of real whipped cream, and a cherry on top tasted only good.
Her stomach growled. She wasn’t sure if it was due to the fact she found herself now hungry for a sundae, or the sight of Braydon Daniels leaning his ass against the side of a pickup truck, his arms and ankles crossed as he watched her approach.
She looked down at her blouse. Yep, her nipples hardened into two mountain peaks. She sighed. Way to be so obvious, Mal.
Though she could kill two birds with one stone: Eat the sticky sundae right off of his—what she could only imagine—firm stomach. She bet his six-pack had indentations where the melted ice cream and fudge would pool until she licked away all traces of the sweet goodness.
Mal faltered and had to take a deep breath before closing the gap between them.
“I figured that was your car.”
She wasn’t used to his deep voice yet. The voice of a man, not a teenager. He was parked only two spaces away from her bright red Audi R8 convertible. With the upgraded 5.2 L V10 and manual transmission, the pretty little sports car had set her back a cool $166,000. Five-hundred fifty horses weren’t cheap. Though a beauty and hell of a lot of fun to drive, out here in Bum-fuck, Idaho, the car was nothing but a joke.
Oh, it impressed her colleagues back home in New York, but here a manure spreader was more useful. Suddenly, she realized she mistakenly thought of New York City as “home.”
“How’d you guess?” she asked, trying not to be too apparent when her gaze skimmed every inch of him.
He laughed, shaking his head, and glanced down at the pavement for a moment. When he looked back up, he pinned her with his greenish-gold eyes.
She did her best not to squirm.
With all seriousness, he reminded her, “You said we could talk after.”
And with all honesty, she hadn’t meant right after the service. But sometime after.
She studied his facial features. Out in the natural light, he looked even better. Deeply tanned. Rugged. A little more weathered than he should be at thirty-two years old. But a life full of hard work would do that to you, she supposed.
She frowned at the dark, full beard he sported. Even though it wasn’t wild, she hated it on him. She brushed her fingers along his jaw, then tugged on the short, wiry hairs.
“Why?” she simply asked.
He reached for her hand but she let it drop to her side. He shrugged and tilted his head, studying her. “Because my ex hates it.”
“Ex?” Her eyebrows rose to her hairline. Mal wasn’t even aware he had married, much less divorced. She stepped back, putting a little distance between them.
He had married somebody else. Someone other than her.
At eighteen, she had wanted to become his wife, to be his forever. The thought that she could be replaced by someone else hurt. And it wasn’t just a little sting. No, this was a deep bone-aching hurt.
She shook herself mentally. She had no right to think like that. He hadn’t been the only one to marry someone else. She unconsciously looked at her left ring finger. Though it no longer showed evidence of her own failed marriage, she still hadn’t put it all behind her.
She wondered who he married.
“I’d ask you out for a cup of coffee, but I need to get back to work. Massey Campbell has a few sick sows I need to go check on.”
She hadn’t heard the word sow in a long time. Sow, boar, heifer. Terms she hadn’t used since she left all those years ago. Since her pop sent her far away. The closest thing she heard her co-workers and friends in the city say was bullshit. In fact, the word was used quite frequently.
Mal nodded, her eyes roaming over his body, unable to resist. Once again, she noticed how he’d filled out from being a lean teenager.
Bray cleared his throat.
Mal looked up as his amused expression. “What?”
“I asked if I could stop out at the farm tonight.”
Oh. Her cheeks flamed. She placed her cool hand against one.
“Uh… I guess so.”
He straightened up, took a step forward, uncrossed his arms, then slid his hand up her neck into her hair, cradling her head to pull her within a hair’s breadth of his lips. “It might be late, depending if I get any emergency calls.”
Mal couldn’t think with him this close. She desperately wanted to close the gap to kiss him. She wanted to feel his lips against hers. It had been a while since she’d had any intimacy and she missed it.
But even more, now that her Cow-Boy stood within an inch of her, she realized how much she missed him. How much she missed them.
The Cow-Boy and his Princess.
“Well?” he murmured.
“Well what?” she whispered back.
Bray closed the slight gap between them and he kissed her, taking control of her lips. His tongue parted them to explore the inside of her mouth. He tasted like a mixture of mint and coffee. He tilted his head to seal his lips tighter over hers and she groaned. Wrapping an arm around her back, he pulled her tightly against him. His hard arousal pressed against her belly.
The desire between them still existed as if she never left. As if fourteen years hadn’t passed, and they were back sneaking around in barn lofts. But that was silly. They were adults now. Both had married others. Proof they had both let go of their teenage crush.
He broke the kiss and leaned back, his breath slightly ragged as he stared at her in silence. He blinked once, twice, and then she wrapped her arms around his neck and tugged him close once again. She leaned her face against his chest, the rapid thumping of his heart pounding under her cheek.
Tears stung her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. She had done enough crying today over her pop. Being back in Bray’s arms was not a sad occasion, but a happy reunion.
Maybe it wouldn’t go any farther than this parking lot kiss. They had both changed in fourteen years. They didn’t even know each other anymore.
But she was willing to see him again, no matter what. “I’ll be there,” she said.
“I’ll call the house if I’m going to be too late.”
She nodded and turned toward her car.
“Princess,” he called out as he reached his pickup truck door.
She looked over her shoulder.
“I’m glad you’re home.”
So am I.
© Jeanne St. James