About the Book
Professional bull rider Justin Forza might have to trade his cowboy boots for flip flops to win the woman he loves.
Forzas aren’t quitters. That’s the motto professional bull rider Justin Forza’s dad has drilled into his head since the first time he climbed into the bucking chute. After a serious injury, doctor’s orders are to stay out of the arena. But if Justin can win one more championship, he’ll be able to continue the family legacy, set himself up for life, and finally confess his love to his best friend Emmeline.
Emmeline Porter lives by one rule: never date a bull rider. She’s seen the damage a bad ride can cause. As a last resort to stop Justin from returning to the rodeo circuit, she convinces him to take a trip to Paradise Island, a tropical haven off the coast of Texas. She hopes cutting Justin off from the pressure his dad is laying on him will give her best friend the clarity he needs to walk away for good.
The close quarters and island adventures put their friendship to the test, and it’s not long before real feelings surface and threaten to sweep them both away.
“Forzas aren’t quitters.”
Justin Forza took in a deep breath through his nose and met his dad’s hard glare with a softer version of his own. “I know, Dad. You’ve drilled that into me my entire life. I’m not saying I want to quit. I just need a little more time for my shoulder to heal.”
Grabbing hold of his right shoulder with his left hand, Justin rolled it forward. Pain radiated through the socket, but he didn’t flinch.
His dad picked up a saddle from the tack room, and Justin followed him to the last stall in the barn. They didn’t have time for this conversation. Not again, and especially not now. He was supposed to be on his way to pick up his best friend, Em. If they didn’t hit the road soon, they’d never get to Dallas in time for the concert tonight.
“I’ve got to go get Emmeline. Can we table this for now?” Justin sighed, not looking forward to the inevitable continuation of the same conversation. Whether his dad picked it up again tomorrow or the next day, it was bound to happen. Monty Forza had never been accused of letting a sleeping dog lie, not even when it appeared to be as dead as the arguments the two of them had been flinging back and forth for weeks.
“The two of you going to that concert in Dallas tonight?” Monty’s mood lightened at the mention of Emmeline’s name. She had that effect on people. Em had a way of bringing out the best in folks, even someone as hardheaded and coldhearted as his father.
“Yes, sir. Knox is playing, and Decker invited us to watch from his dad’s suite.” Justin had been friends with Knox and Decker since the three of them could ride a horse. Seeing as how they’d learned how to ride before they could even walk, Justin couldn’t remember a time in his life without them.
“I can’t believe a good woman like Emmeline’s still available.” Monty’s eyes narrowed. “Won’t be long before some good-looking, smart-talking cowboy scoops her up.”
Justin gritted his teeth. He and Emmeline were friends. Had been since second grade when she’d shown up at school with two long braids and a smile as wide and open as the Great Plains of Texas. She’d fit right in with the tight trio of him, Knox, and Decker. Over the years, the four of them had done just about everything together.
Then Emmeline started changing, and Justin couldn’t help but take notice. Her lanky limbs gave way to curves that wouldn’t quit. The hair she used to pull up and out of the way fell in soft waves around her shoulders. Green eyes, the color of the fields surrounding his family’s ranch in the springtime, took on a new shine.
He wouldn’t admit it to anyone, especially Emmeline Porter, but he’d fallen hard for her their junior year at Blewit High and had been pining for her ever since. Knox and Decker had figured it out, but his secret had been safe from Emmeline for the past twelve years.
“You need anything else before I head out?” Justin fingered the key to his heavy-duty F-350-the one luxury he’d allowed himself to indulge in with the winnings he’d earned over the years as a pro bull rider. The rest had gone into savings, waiting for a time when he could retire from the circuit and invest in a place of his own.
“Nah. Y’all have a good time tonight. We’ll pick this conversation up again tomorrow. Just remember, the longer you wait to get back in the game, the harder it’s going to be, son.” Monty tossed the saddle over the back of his favorite ranch horse.
“I know.” Justin let out a long exhale. He didn’t want to sit out from the bull-riding circuit any longer than necessary. Securing the world championship was the only thing standing in the way of what he really wanted out of life . . . Emmeline.
This year should have been his. He’d started off the year in the top ten and, after winning a few events in February and March, had earned enough points to put him in the top five. Once he secured the title and the cash prize that went with it, he’d planned on announcing his retirement on the spot and finally telling Emmeline how he felt.
But things never seemed to go as planned. Instead of being the one to catch, he’d been bucked off a ranker bull on the last night of a three-day event in Nashville with half a second to go. He’d healed from his surgery and a severe concussion, but his shoulder still wasn’t quite where he needed it to be.
His dad was right, though. If he didn’t commit to an upcoming event, he’d lose out on the entire year and have to start over again in January. That would mean waiting at least another eighteen months to come clean with Emmeline. He had no idea if she felt the same, but he knew one thing . . . it wasn’t worth the breath he’d waste telling her how he felt about her if he still planned on riding bulls.
She’d made one thing perfectly clear over the years . . . she’d never date a rodeo cowboy.
Praise for Dylann Crush’s books
“Get a crush on Crush!”
—New York Times bestselling author Lori Wilde
“This is for certain, I say ‘Ido’ to reading Dylann Crush! What a rollicking fun ride as Bodie and Lacey team up to save their town and pretend their way to their own real happily ever after.”
“Crush sparkles in this small-town, friends-to-lovers contemporary, the first in her Tying the Knot in Texas series.”
“This first in Crush’s Tying the Knot in Texas series has southern charm, sizzling chemistry, and an adorable rescue dog.”
About the Author
Dylann Crush is the USA Today bestselling author of the Tying the Knot in Texas series, as well as All-American Cowboy and Cowboy Christmas Jubilee. A romantic at heart, she loves her heroines spunky and her heroes super sexy. When she is not dreaming up steamy story lines, she can be found sipping a margarita and searching for the best Tex-Mex food in Minnesota. Although she grew up in Texas, she currently lives in a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul with her unflappable husband, three energetic kids, a clumsy Great Dane, a rescue mutt, and a very chill cat. She loves to connect with readers, other authors, and fans of tequila.