Stay With Me by Heather Slade Exclusive Excerpt

Heather Slade

Stay with Me

Cowboys of Crested Butte Book Four

Release Date January 08, 2018

Professional saddle bronc rider Jace Rice has a habit of falling in love with women who turn around and fall in love with someone else.

It had happened three times, and as much as he vowed to never let it happen again, it does. Although this time, the woman is in love with a guy Jace can’t possibly compete with—a dead man.

Comforting sad-eyed widow, Bree Fox, leaves Jace Rice with plenty of gaping wounds himself, and a pent up desire to get to know more about her, other than how much she loved her late husband. But he knows Bree is not ready for that, so he waits…and waits. When she never contacts him again, he takes that as a sign, but that sign doesn’t stop him from thinking about her, from wondering what could be if he just confronted her with how he felt.

The problem was confronting her would be almost impossible, since her sister was married to his brother, who hated him, and they all lived together in Crested Butte, where he wasn’t welcome. Going there would be like walking into a hornet’s nest where he would likely be stung.

Jace had been stung before, though, so many times he should be immune. And he wasn’t a coward–otherwise he wouldn’t be the fierce competitor he was in the rodeo arena. He knew he had what it took to go to Crested Butte and pound things out with his twin brother, if necessary. It wasn’t like it was the first time they’d come to blows. What he didn’t know was whether it would be worth it in the end.

Could Bree Fox ever feel about him the way she felt about her former husband? Or would she forever be just another woman Jace was rejected by when the dust settled?

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Bree rolled down the window and looked out over the lake. It was beautiful and she said so. It was hard to tell which was real—the mountains and trees, or their reflection in the lake. Both were so clear.

“I grew up on this lake,” Red told her as he opened her door and helped her out. He pointed toward the north bank. “See that cabin? I spent every summer there for most of my life.”

“It’s idyllic,” she said wistfully. “Almost surreal in its perfection. Who owns it now?”

“I do.”

“Oh. Is this where you live? Convenient that it’s right across the road from the ranch.”

He didn’t answer, but it didn’t matter. Bree didn’t feel like talking any more than it seemed he did. The breeze from the lake was colder than it had been on the stream, and when she shivered, Red went back to the truck to get her jacket, just like Jace would’ve.

Bree closed her eyes, and let her thoughts drift back to him. She knew she shouldn’t be thinking about Jace. She should be thinking about Zack. Why did she have to remind herself of that over and over again?

When she opened her eyes, she saw movement across the lake. Off in the distance and through the trees, Bree could see a man on horseback. From where she stood with Red, she could swear it was Jace. She blinked her eyes, and looked again.

Jace saw the passenger door open and a woman climb out of the truck that had parked near the lake’s shore. She wore a baseball cap, and she was a sprite of a thing, just like Bree. Her t-shirt hugged her small body the same way too. Rather than taking the turn to go back to the ranch, he turned the horse in her direction.

The woman walked slowly toward him, so Jace stopped and climbed off the horse. He lifted his hat, removed his sunglasses, and wiped the sweat from his brow. By then she was much closer to him.

“Jace?” he heard her say.

Was this real or was he dreaming? It wouldn’t be unusual, he dreamed about her all the time. He’d know soon enough, because in a matter of seconds, she’d be close enough to touch.


“Jace, what are you doing here?”

He had no idea what to say. He couldn’t remember why he was there. Why had he come to Idaho in the first place?

Bree was a couple of feet away from him when he came out of his stupor. “A bull.”


“Uh, I’m here about a bull.”

He dropped the horse’s reins and reached out to her. He was so afraid she would hesitate, or back away, but she didn’t. She walked the rest of the distance between them, and let herself fall into his arms. He could feel every inch of her as she pressed herself into him.

“I missed you,” he thought he heard her say.

“I missed you, too,” he answered.

“I can’t believe you’re here.” She pulled away and looked up at him. “Tell me again why you are.”

“I’m supposed to see a man named Red about a bull. He’s been off fishing with a woman…”

Bree waited for him to finish his sentence and when he didn’t, she pointed in the direction of the truck. “Red’s right over there,” she told him. When she turned back, Jace’s look of confusion turned into a smile.

His ash blond hair was longer, closer to the way his brother, Tucker, kept it. He looked as fit as the last time she saw him, maybe more so. She knew he’d been competing as a saddle bronc rider, and working the ranch in Montana. His skin looked weathered, with a few more wrinkles surrounding his deep green eyes.

“Bree,” he whispered. “You’ve been on my mind, girl, and now, here you are in Idaho. It’s almost too crazy to be a coincidence.”

“Let’s go ask Red about this bull.”

Jace put his hand on her shoulder as they walked toward the truck. Just moments ago she was thinking she’d give anything to have him here, and now, he was. She slowed her pace, and when she did, Jace put his arm around her and pulled her close to him.

About the Author:

My books are filled with things that bring me joy: music, wine, skiing, families, artists, and cowboys. Not always in that order. I’m an Amazon best-selling author, and a PAN member of Romance Writers of America. I speak, teach, blog, am an executive sommelier, and all-around entrepreneur. I grew up an east coast girl, and then spent half my life on the west coast. Now my husband, our two boys, and I happily call Colorado home.

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