Under the Cowboy's Control

By: Lynda Chance

After Selena thoroughly inspected the kitchen, all the appliances, and the stock of food, she went to the computer to look at recipes. She found a cookbook, but of course, it was in English. One thing at a time. She would tackle that later. For now, she was going to show that hateful man that she could cook.

At ten o'clock, she was leaning over the oven, taking a batch of brownies out when she heard the door slam. A slim, attractive man about her age stood there, holding his bleeding hand and staring at her. She vaguely recognized him from the first day when she was in the bunkhouse.

Busted. There was no way he wouldn't identify her as a woman. Her hair streamed down her back, and she was wearing the tighter of her two shirts. It molded her breasts. She tentatively smiled at him.

"Holy shit." Clinton was smart, and he assessed the situation immediately. "You clean up pretty good there, Manuel."

Selena laughed. "Si. Gracias." She placed the brownies on top of the oven to cool, and decided to try out the English Travis insisted she learn. "My n-name is Selena." She took a wet dishcloth and walked over to him. "You bleed? Come."

Clinton followed her over to the sink, the wet cloth under his hand. She turned on the cold tap, and he put his hand underneath the stream. She stood back while he washed the cut. "It is bad, no?"

"Nah. It's a puncture wound, that's all. It's deep, but not jagged. I don't need stitches or anything." He took his hand from the sink and began to apply pressure with the wet cloth.

"This is good." She began to cut the brownies into squares, while he studied her and continued to apply pressure to the wound.

She lifted two brownies out of the pan and wrapped them in a napkin to give to him when he left. It was her experience that all men liked brownies and appreciated something nice when they were hurt.

Curiosity and interest sparked, he turned to face her. "Is the boss keeping you hidden for a reason?"

She didn't understand the question. "S-sorry?" She stumbled over the word. She heard a door click behind her.

Clinton continued. "Do you belong to him? Did he stake his claim already?"

Selena realized what he was asking and immediately blushed. "N-no."

"Yes." A voice barked from behind her.

Selena jumped at the sound of Travis's voice and confusion wrinkled her brow as she turned toward him.

He prowled up to them. "What the hell are you doing in here, Clinton? I don't pay you to hang out in my house all day." His words were low, but menacing.

"Hurt my hand, Boss." He lifted the cloth and showed him the blood. "But I'm gonna live, thanks for askin'."

Travis grunted and focused his attention on Selena.

Selena sensed the antagonism between the two men and didn't entirely understand it. She tried to diffuse it by holding the brownies toward Clinton. "H-here."

Clinton smiled at her and accepted her offering. "Thanks, Selena."

She smiled back at the young man. " De nada." Selena felt Travis bristle beside her. "Um, you are wel--welcome."

Clinton didn't take his eyes off her as he bit into the warm brownie. His eyes glazed over and he pretended to swoon. "Oh my God. That is so good." He ignored Travis and dramatically put his hand over his heart. "Will you marry me, Selena?"

She stood there, confused for a moment, until she figured out he was teasing her.

She laughed softly and pointed to the door. "Go."

Travis crossed his arms over his chest and glared at Clinton. "Yes, go."

Clinton gave her one last smile and left the house.

Selena did her best to ignore Travis and continued to cut the brownies. His large, dark presence was intimidating.

Finally, he spoke. "How long was he in here?"

Selena turned to get a plate for the brownies and tried to answer him. "Little bit."

"A little while? He was in here for a little while?" He was angry and he pushed the words out one at a time.

Selena lowered her voice and mimicked him. "He was in here for a little while."

"You're getting brave all of a sudden, Angel. Do you think that's very wise?" Travis felt the lust, rage, and jealousy swamp him. The lust and the rage he understood.

The jealousy just pissed him off. He had never been jealous in his whole goddamned life.

No, Selena didn't think it was very wise and didn't know what had come over her.

She ought to be thankful to this man for helping her, but his arrogance and superiority made her angry. She tried to hold her ground, but failed and she took one step away from him.

It was enough to set off the predator in him. He took one step toward her.

Her eyes flared.

Travis felt the muscles in his stomach involuntarily tighten. He was close to losing control. "Don't run from me, Selena." His voice was a deep growl, and it sent tremors of unease through Selena. "I guarantee that I will catch you, and you won't like the results. Just stay here like a big girl and we will finish this conversation."

His words made her panic even more. Her breathing fractured, and she desperately wanted to turn and run. But now she couldn't even do that.

He watched her valiantly trying to hold her ground, while her chest heaved with her effort.