Home > Bounty (Colorado Mountain #7)

Bounty (Colorado Mountain #7)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Prologue

The Only Man Here

Justice

“I’m not sure I wanna be saved, just sayin’.”

I looked at my friend Bianca. She had that glint in her eyes as she whispered this to me and Lacey before being led to the dancefloor by a biker.

This was not surprising. After three days at a local dude ranch, she was ready for a switch-up from cowboy to biker.

And the tall, angular biker who seemed determined to dance to “867-5309/Jenny” with Bianca was worth the not-so-coded message that we were on our own for the rest of the night and she’d fend for herself to get back to the ranch. This meaning she’d be doing it on the back of a bike likely sometime tomorrow morning.

I stopped watching Bianca head to the crowded dancefloor and looked to Lacey, our other friend, who had two bikers on her hook—both standing close, fencing her in at her stool at our table, taking turns buying her drinks, this having been going on for over an hour.

She wasn’t blotto, as most people would be after they’d imbibed as much as Lace had. She could hold her liquor, my Lacey. We all could. That’s what happened to dedicated party girls whose lives included nothing but bouncing from one righteous experience to the next, sucking all we could get out of it before we moved on.

Lace gave me a wink that indicated her approval of Bianca’s dance partner then turned back to her bikers.

I looked into the crowded bar, did a scan, saw one or two guys had eyes on me, but my glance slid through them.

Nothing had changed since the last scan.

This meaning nothing there.

Nothing at the dude ranch either, except I dug the horses. We’d ridden the trails. Learned how to lasso. Sat by a campfire. Had our massages and facials at the spa. Did the river rafting trip.

The cowboys were fine as they were intended to be considering how many single women were there for vacations and bachelorette getaways.

But, as I sat in that biker bar, watching the drinking, talking, dancing, biker-style flirting, general good-time-being-had-by-all, it came to me I was over it.

Not the dude ranch.

Not the biker scene.

I was just over it.

All of it.

And I was over it because I’d been on this course since I was born, in one way or another.

Sure, I’d never been to a dude ranch but I’d been to plenty of cowboy bars, and biker bars, and clubs in New York, LA, Chicago. Festivals in Nashville and Austin. On the back of some dude’s bike riding through Death Valley. In a private jet, flying to Boston just to have fresh lobster for dinner. Wandering around St. Ives on a ghost tour at midnight. Up in a treehouse in Oregon to meditate with a guru. Sitting at the side of a runway during fashion shows in Paris. On a yacht in the Mediterranean, on a speedboat in Tahoe, on a houseboat on Lake Powell, snorkeling emerald waters in northern Venezuela, partying on a beach in Thailand. Backstage at so many concerts, there was no way to count.

It was impossible in this life to run out of things to do.

But sitting in that bar in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming, twenty-seven-years-old, it was hitting me that the buzz of life wasn’t vibrating as forcefully as it used to. In fact, it was beginning to seem a chore to pack up, head out, settle in (this being dropping my suitcases in whatever hotel room, cabin, boat, ship, treehouse, wherever we were staying) and rushing out to face the next adventure.

Truth be told, in the life I’d been born to, it was a testament to the love of my mother and father that it had taken this long. That I hadn’t started to feel jaded at around five. What people wanted from me, what they could use me for, how they could latch on, sink their teeth in, suck me dry.

This was why there was only Lace and Bianca for me. The others we’d scraped off.

We knew.

We were all hatched from different eggs but from the same species of chick. We got the life. It had been ingrained in us.

Legacies.

In the parental department, Bianca didn’t have it as good as Lacey and me did.

But no matter what, who came, who went, around the globe and back again (and again, and again) we had each other.

And sitting in that bar, I was coming to understand in all I’d done and seen (and don’t get me wrong, it all meant something to me, it just seemed to be meaning less and less), I only had two parents who hated each other tragically slightly more than they loved each other, but they loved me, and a brother who could be an ass more often than not…

And Lace and Bianca.

And sitting in that bar, I was coming to understand I wanted more.

I just had no idea what it was because if I wanted it, I could have anything.

Not to mention, the feeling was uncomfortable.

This was because I had it all.

Not like, if someone was outside looking in, they wouldn’t get what it was like to live my life and that it could be a downer.

It wasn’t a downer.

I actually had it all. And if I didn’t have it, I had the means to get it.

Having the feelings I was having, sitting at that bar, it made me feel ungrateful.

Because in coming to understand I wanted more, I was coming to understand that I actually wanted less.

I also, right then, needed to get out of there. Not cut Lacey and Bianca’s fun short by heading back to the ranch (which meant one or the other would come back with me). Not leaving them drinking and carousing without a wingman who could keep her eye on things.

Just a breath of fresh air, out of that heat, the crush, the loud music.

Just…out.

“Lace!” I shouted across the table and, being Lacey, even with two bikers on her hook, she turned to me immediately.

“Yo!” she shouted back.

“Need a breath of fresh air,” I yelled. “You good?”

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