Today I am so pleased to welcome Z.A. Maxfield to Joyfully Jay. ZAM has come to talk to us about her latest release, My Cowboy Homecoming. She has also brought along an exclusive excerpt and a great giveaway! Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
The last cowboy in my Cowboy Countdown is from… Drumroll Please…
Cowboys in Spaaaaaaaace: Firefly!
Nate Fillion stars as Captain Malcom “Mal” Reynolds of the Serenity, a Firefly-class spaceship. The series had a great plot, intriguing characters and a dedicated (to this day) fan base.
It had trouble finding an audience and was cancelled, but fan support was such that a film, Serenity, followed.
The effortless mix of familiar western archetypes into science fiction territory proves their durability. It makes sense because after all, space is the final frontier.
Nate Fillion might spend the rest of his life playing Castle but he made a magnificent cowboy. Here’s a classic negotiation scene with a whole new er…spin…
Lucho had me move Pio in the direction he told me he wanted Pio to move, for the better part of a long, hot hour, until the animal was winded and more than a little unhappy with both of us. At that point, the feeling was mutual.
I wondered whether Lucho was training me or Pio or both of us and if he’d ever stop barking out orders: go, go, stop him, get him, that’s right, go, go. Watch him. Turn him. Make up his mind for him. Don’t give him a choice there, stand up to him, use your head. He’s a kid. Think with your heart.
At last, Pio seemed so tired that even if I crowded him he didn’t erupt or charge in anger. He pretty much just kept moving.
Lucho told me that was right where we wanted him.
“That’s probably enough for today. Here.” Lucho tossed me an apple. “Now see if he’ll take the apple from you. Get a little closer. Hold it out in the flat of your hands. That’s right.”
I did what Lucho told me to do because he’d trained me right along with Pio. I suppose if I really thought about things just then, I’d have balked a lot like Pio was balking.
Pio jerked his head up when I approached, eyeing me warily. His ears laid back.
“Bite a piece off the apple and offer it again. If he won’t take it, drop it at his feet.”
We were both tired, Pio and me. I figured I had about a fifty-fifty chance of walking away with all my fingers, but that was better than some chances I’d taken.
I bit the apple and crunched on it. It was tart and sweet. Juicy. I held the rest out and whispered, “C’mon. I’m not going to hurt you.”
Lucho stayed silent while Pio debated the wisdom of approaching me.
After a bit, he took a couple of steps forward, then turned and bolted the way he came. I wasn’t prepared for his sudden burst of speed, so I flinched.
I wasn’t real proud of that, especially when Lucho laughed. To be ornery, I leaned up against the rails and took another bite of the apple for my trouble.
I stayed where I was, offered the apple again, and eventually curiosity got the better of Pio. He stepped close again. I stayed absolutely still, holding the apple out, hands flat, palms up. Pio came toward me two steps. Two more. Another. Finally, he stretched his neck and took the apple from me, and I don’t know . . .
I felt some kind of rush all through my gut, like I’d done something amazing or won some big prize. Like after the rotten day I’d had the day before—when nothing went right—I was due for some good luck and there it was.
Goddamn, it felt good. I was giddy with happiness.
Pio trotted away with his prize, and I pushed off the fence and let myself out of the enclosure.
Lucho stood, gripping the fence, grinning at me with such pleasure and surprise and even pride, maybe, that I stopped a foot away. “What?”
He leaned his hip against the rail and kept his weight off his foot. “Why’d the fuck d’you have to be Calvin Tripplehorn’s kid?”
“Goddamn, Lucho.” I smacked the fence with my fist—which hurt, thank you very much. “There’s nothing I can do about that. Ask me to do something else. Ask me to face down your family’s anger or be nice to your kid brother or get into a pen with a horse that wants to kill me, and I’m there, man. I can’t change who my dad is.”
He blinked at me in surprise.
“Ask me for anything else.”
For a second we were all worked up and it was awkward; he couldn’t step forward so he reached out and fisted a handful of my T-shirt and pulled me toward him, but I was off balance—taken more by surprise than passion at that point—and I tripped, nearly stepping on his good foot, so when our mouths finally met he was laughing and mine was open with shock, but what started out as a mess ended up to be wholly and completely perfect.
Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.
Because once we got the business of noses and teeth out of the way—once he decided to cup my jaw between his hands and tilt my head so he could sweep all the hidden places in my mouth with his tongue—I was pressed up against him, pushing up against the fence, and I couldn’t even remember what we’d been arguing about because kissing Lucho was the only thing that mattered in the world.
He kissed like sin. Moved his hands across my chest and beneath my arms and finally, around my back to pull me flush against him. Blood throbbed in my temples, my chest, and my dick. Roared throughout my body.
He tasted like apples. It wasn’t lost on me that I was getting the same treat we’d given the horse.
“Mm.” He moaned into my mouth. “Goddamn.”
He nipped my lip, my jaw. I tilted.
“You did good, army. You’ve got a knack.”
I pressed my face into his neck. “Right.”
“No, really. That was great. He’s starting to trust you. You’re making progress. We’ll bring a lead tomorrow and see if you can get him to trust you enough to put it on him.”
“All right.” I pushed him gently back into his wheelchair. “Whatever you say, boss.”
As I pushed Lucho back to the bunkhouse I was glad he couldn’t see me basking in the warmth of his approval.
I got his wheels cleaned and dragged him up the steps in an agony of indecision. Should I try to kiss him again? Would he welcome it or call me out for taking advantage? Had that kiss been a momentary lapse on his part? Excitement over the progress we’d made with Pio that went too far?
I decided to wait for him to make another move.
He glanced around. “Doesn’t look like anyone is here.”
“They’re probably all still out on the trail.” I took my hat off and fanned myself with it. Horses were hard work.
His gaze lifted to mine, and for the first time, I saw a measure of uncertainty in his eyes. “Do you want to come in for lunch?”
“I—” My heart contracted. “I’m not real hungry.”
“You want to come in for . . . anything else?”
“W-what?” My cheeks caught fire. “I—sure.”
“Thought so,” he said, smugly.
All the longing I’d been keeping a lid on blew and caught me right in the gut. Just . . . Kaboom.
I put my hat back on, lowering the brim to hide my heated face. “Sure. I—”
“C’mon, army.” He laughed softly. “That hat ain’t hiding nothing from me ’cause I’m not looking at your face.
A sense of duty brings a soldier home…but a passionate cowboy makes him want to stay.
After his brother’s tragic death, Tripp has to leave the army and return to New Mexico to take care of his mother while his father is in prison for arson. Seeking work at the J-Bar Ranch, Tripp is immediately drawn to injured cowboy Lucho Reyes, whose foot was accidentally crushed by a rescue horse. But will the sins of the father interfere with the desires of the son? Tripp’s father may be responsible for the death of Lucho’s grandfather. Now Tripp must balance caring for his mother, repairing his father’s damages, and trying to win the heart of a man who has every reason to hate him and his family…
Z. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.
If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”
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