Kentucky Cowboy by Jan Scarbough

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Guest Blog

I have been given second chances during my life, and I’ve taken them. That’s why I write characters that also have second chances. I’ve also been a single mother raising two children. Many of my books have single mother heroines. Kentucky Cowboy is the first book in my Bluegrass Reunion series, eight romances set in Kentucky that sometimes include a famous Kentucky product. No, not bourbon, but horses!

 

Each book stands alone. However, they all have the underlining theme of reunion and the second chances. My latest book, Kentucky Blue Bloods, is in many ways my favourite simply because of the research I did about the Lexington thoroughbred industry. In fact, my research led me to meeting the 2001 Kentucky Derby winner, Monarchos.

kentuckycowboyExcerpt—Kentucky Cowboy: Bluegrass Reunion series

“Short Go” at a PBR Event in Dallas, Texas

“That’s one rank sonofabitch. Good draw you got, Romeo.”

Judd Romeo nodded. “Yep, he’s a mean ’un.” Perched on top of a six-foot deep metal chute, a leather bull rope clutched in his right hand, he acknowledged the flank man.

“Ain’t named Bad to the Bone for nuthin’,” the other man said.

Judd turned his attention to the 1900-pound Charolais-cross bull beneath him in the chute. It was good luck to draw last year’s bucking bull of the year. All he had to do was stick on this sucker for eight seconds and he’d have a win. No doubt about it.

Judd expelled a deep breath and rubbed his wet palms across his Wranglers. Pre-ride jitters. Nothing unusual. He’d gotten them before. He’d have them again. If he didn’t get ’em, he didn’t get that edge he needed to stay on one of these big, bad bulls.

Still, Judd’s gut twisted as he eyed stock contractor Tim Wilson’s bull. Other riders said this bull lived up to his name, and they talked about how Bad to the Bone threw up his head and smashed a guy’s face once. Yet the bull was allowed back into the chutes, and cowboys kept trying to ride him.

Now it was Judd’s turn. Adrenaline pumped through his veins. A thin line of sweat peppered his lip. He backhanded it off. Winning was the reason he had busted his butt on the circuit. He was a professional bull rider and a damn good one. This year he had a legitimate shot at the world title and the million dollar bonus.

Too bad his father didn’t care.

Why think about Jared Romeo now? His dad had never approved of him, let alone his desire to ride bulls for a living.

He had proven his old man wrong, hadn’t he?

Judd drew a breath. Damn, why was he was chewing on the past when he needed to focus?

He slowly put on his leather riding glove, directing his gaze toward the packed arena. How he loved this life. The noisy crowd. The blaring rock music and high-tech pyrotechnics. The earthy smells of dirt, sweat and manure. The camaraderie and danger. Eight seconds of heart-stopping thrills. Stunned silence when a competitor didn’t get up. Applause and cheers when the cowboy stood and staggered like a drunk out of the arena.

His father had never understood this excitement. The beauty of man tackling beast.

Mandy didn’t get it either. He had loved that girl in high school, but she had just seen the danger and walked away from him.

Judd looked away from the crowd. Riding bulls was all he wanted to do. All he knew how to do. It was in his blood.

He tried to swallow over the lump in his throat. His mother had appreciated his passion. She had understood.

The chute boss turned to him. “You’re up, Romeo.”

Judd’s head snapped up. “Right.”

His pulse kicked up a notch. Time to ride. This one’s for you, Mom.

Judd rubbed more rosin on his gloved riding hand and tugged his black Resistol down over his eyes. He plucked a mouthpiece out of the pocket of his protective vest and popped it into his mouth. Ready, he slipped from the railing and eased down on the bull’s flat back.

Bad to the Bone snorted and shifted in the chute. Judd slid his gloved hand into the leather handle of the bull rope, and another cowboy leaned over the railing to cinch the rope around the animal’s girth. Judd’s lips tightened.

“He usually goes out three or four big jumps,” the flank man warned, “and then spins like a sonofabitch.”

Judd jerked a nod of thanks, his total concentration now on the rope in his right hand. He sucked a deep breath and glanced at the other cowboy beside him.

“You gonna suicide it, Romeo?”

“Yeah.”

“Damn risky.”

Judd knew the risks of a suicide wrap. He also knew the rewards. Expertly he wrapped the rope around his gloved hand and the bull strap. Next he split the little finger from the others with a second wrap. For good measure, he pounded his curled, leather-covered fingers with his left fist.

Then with his grip secure, he scooted up over the right hand and tightened his legs against the bull. Blood rushed in his ears. He gulped another quick breath.

“Let’s roll!”

The gate flew open and the bull blew out of the chute jumping high into the air. The animal lunged thirty feet in two jumps and spun to the right, kicking high. Judd gripped the bull rope. Each jerk wrenched his riding arm and shoulder socket.

Riding directly in the center of the bull’s back, he dug the blunt rowels of his spurs into the animal’s hide. His free hand snapped at a ninety-degree angle over his head. His insides churned like a cement mixer.

Bad to the Bone changed tactics and spun faster to the left. Judd went with him. Forcing air through his lungs, he concentrated on staying in the center. He didn’t want to drop down into the middle of the spin. His inner clock ticked away six seconds.

Judd opened up and began spurring the bull. His timing was good. He was making points, but his calves no longer touched the animal’s sides. Any lurch or twist could dust his butt into the dirt.

Damn, this is good. No amount of money could buy this kind of high. He was winning. Riding the rankest damn bull on the circuit and beating the socks off the competition.

The eight-second buzzer signaled the end of the ride. He’d stuck it! The crowd roared its approval.

Like a fool, he kept riding. He loved it. The only thing better would be seeing his father’s face when he won the world title.

Preparing to dismount Judd yanked the tail of the rope to release his riding hand. The bull switched directions at that moment, bucking hard, and jerked him down and away from his grip. His hand caught up in the rope.

Judd fell, still attached to the powerful bull thrashing beneath him. Whipping from side to side like laundry in a stiff breeze, he tried to get his feet under him to lunge back on top of the creature so he could release the pressure on the rope. It was the only way to free his hand.

A bullfighter dashed to the opposite side of the bull, grabbing at the rope. “Judd, I’ll getcha!”

Gritting his teeth, Judd stretched his free hand toward his entangled fist. The bull was too fast, too erratic. Finally the spinning and bucking motion ripped his hand free.

Judd slammed face first into the dirt. The bull’s hoof skimmed over his head.

A second bullfighter intervened, shouting at the bull and tossing his hat in the opposite direction to provide a distraction. The bull swerved to charge the courageous bullfighter. Judd sucked in desperate gasps of breath and speed-crawled away from the flying hooves and sharp horns. When he scrambled to his feet, he lurched toward the rail.

The first bullfighter reached his side. “You okay?”

Searing pain shot down his right arm and up his neck. “My arm hurts like hell.”

Judd let his riding arm hang by his side. He raised his good, left hand and high-fived the bullfighter. “Thanks, Buzz. I owe you.”

“Just doing my job.” The bullfighter grinned. He reached down and snatched Judd’s hat out of the dirt.

Judd took it. An approving burst of applause and cheers shook the arena. He battled a surge of nausea, but still managed to acknowledge the fans with a wave of his hat. Then a doctor from the sports medicine team reached him.

“You got ninety,” the doc said, ushering him out of the arena. “Highest score of the night. Puts you in the lead.”

He had won. It had been the best ride of his life. Winning this event kept him in first place for the world championship title and the million dollar bonus.

Taking deep breaths, Judd reached the gate and turned back to the arena. The barrel man climbed into his padded barrel, his clown smile spreading wide across the white greasepaint that covered his face. The pickup man spurred his horse into position at the end of the arena.

“Let’s look at that shoulder, Judd.”

Judd winced. “Sure, doc.”

Sweat spiked his brow. Although it hurt like crazy, he knew he’d be okay. With a few weeks before the next set of competitions before the October finals in Las Vegas, he had time to heal.

Judd turned away from the noise and the lights. Hot pain throbbed in his shoulder, but it didn’t match the pain in his heart.

He would take care of his arm, and then he would go home to Kentucky. Back to say good-bye to his Mom and take care of her things. Mandy would be there. But his father wouldn’t be.

Maybe it was time to extinguish the torch he had carried

 

Blurb and buy links

Now on Kindle Unlimited—Subscribers read for free.

Professional bull rider Judd Romeo is a contender for the world title. He defies death for a living. But now he must deal with the death of his mother by settling her estate. Returning home to Kentucky, the PBR cowboy runs smack dab into the arms of his high school sweetheart, a woman he’s never forgotten.

Veterinarian Mandy Sullivan learned early on that risk-takers are trouble. Having custody of her sister’s child, she works hard to be both mother and father to the abandoned girl. When trouble shows up next door, Mandy discovers she can’t avoid her former beau. Will she take a second chance and risk her heart this time?

Books in the Bluegrass Reunion Series:

  • Kentucky Cowboy—She dumped him in high school, because he was a risk-taker.
  • Kentucky Woman—She loved him when she was a teenager, but they never connected.
  • Kentucky Flame—She had his baby, but he left not knowing the truth.
  • Kentucky Groom—She can’t afford to fall in love with a lowly groom.
  • Kentucky Bride—She rejected him once, but he’s willing to try again.
  • Kentucky Heat—She doesn’t need to take on another project, but he won’t take no for an answer. (Sequel to Kentucky Bride.)
  • Kentucky Rain—She has responsibilities to her daughter and herself, not to the handsome guy next door. (Sequel to Kentucky Cowboy.)
  • Kentucky Blue Bloods—She wants to save the family horse farm, but he has other ideas.

Author bio and links

A member of Novelist, Inc., Jan Scarbrough has published with Kensington, Five Star, ImaJinn Books, Resplendence Publishing and Turquoise Morning Press. She writes paranormal Gothic romances and heartwarming contemporary romances with a touch of spice. Her favorite topics are families and second chances and if the plot allows, she adds another passion—horses. Living in the horse country of Kentucky makes it easy for Jan to add small town, Southern charm to her books, and the excitement of a horse race or a big-time, competitive horse show.

 

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