Talon was the brother I’d never met.
When Marjorie and I were in college, her older brothers, Jonah and Ryan, often visited. They were tall, muscular ranchers from Colorado, complete with cowboy boots and Stetsons. All the Steel siblings, Marj included, had dark hair that was nearly black. I admit I swooned a little when I first saw her brothers. Who wouldn’t want to meet a couple of ruggedly handsome cowboys who were also billionaires from their ranch and wine business? They were too old for me, of course, and neither gave me a second look. And that was okay, because I was in love with Colin.
Still, my heart always beat just a little bit faster every time Jonah and Ryan Steel came around. Marj laughed at me. They were her brothers, after all, and she had spent most of her youth the target of their merciless teasing. But even she admitted they were nice to look at. Of course they were. Marj looked just like a female version of the two of them. The Steels had definitely been gifted in the area of physical beauty.
I felt like the ugly stepsister around Marj. Though I’d always liked my thick brown hair, it seemed juvenile next to Marj’s nearly ebony tresses. My eyes were more gray than blue, without the depth of Marj’s dark-brown ones that seemed to look straight into a person’s soul. Like her brothers, Marj was tall, a few inches taller than I, and I was no slouch at five-feet-seven-and-a half. Even her body was perfect. She was long and lean like her brothers, while I was busty to the point that I had given up button-down shirts.
I smiled. Marj used to envy my boobs—even after I’d educated her on the evils of boob sweat and never being able to find a sports bra that fit. I would’ve gladly traded my boobs for her perfect-sized body.
The plane landed with a jolt.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated as we taxi to our gate. Thank you for flying with us today, and we welcome you to Grand Junction, Colorado.”
I reached in my purse for my cell phone and clicked it on. A text from Marj.
Welcome! Can’t wait to see you. Unfortunately something came up, and I won’t be able to pick you up. Talon will be there. I’ve shown him your picture, and he’ll be waiting at baggage claim.
I let out a sigh.
The brother I’d never met.
Talon had been deployed in Iraq during the years Marj and I were in college together. That was why he had never come to visit. He was the middle brother, between Jonah, the oldest, and Ryan, the youngest. Marjorie was the baby of the family.
Marj never talked much about Talon. He was a mystery to me, though if he was as good-looking as his brothers, I wouldn’t have any trouble looking at him for the hour ride from the airport to the Steel ranch.
The plane finally halted, and people began to rise, pulling their luggage out of the overhead compartments. I was trapped in a window seat, and the elderly couple sitting with me didn’t seem in any hurry to get moving.
So I waited.
And I sighed again.
My life had certainly taken a detour. Colin and I were supposed to be on our honeymoon right now, but him leaving me at the altar had changed those plans. Oddly, I wasn’t as upset as I should’ve been. In truth, I’d known for some time that Colin and I had grown apart. I just hadn’t wanted to admit it myself. When I finally realized that the agony coursing through me was actually laced with relief, I needed a change. Marj, who had been in Denver for my wedding as my maid of honor, convinced me to come to the western slope of Colorado and live at her ranch. I could find a job as an attorney in the small town of Snow Creek, and if not there, I could commute to Grand Junction.
So what the hell? I had left Denver, the only home I’d ever known, and here I was, having just landed in Grand Junction.
The elderly couple finally moved, though at tortoise speed, and I stood and stretched my legs. I grabbed my carry-on out of the overhead bin and walked off the plane and into my new life.
I followed the signs to baggage claim and strode toward carousel number five.
I knew him before he even turned around.
So tall. Taller than either of his brothers, with that signature Steel black hair curling over his collar. The white shirt stretched over broad shoulders and then tapered down to a trim waistline and a gorgeous ass in dark jeans.
Well, what had I expected? For him to be waving a sign that said Jade Roberts on it? Why hadn’t I gone to the bathroom to check myself out? I no doubt looked like I had been run over by a truck.
I walked up behind him and cleared my throat.
He turned, and two nearly black eyes scorched into me. His skin was nicely tanned and his nose almost perfectly formed except for a barely noticeable crook. He must have broken it once. His strong jawline was covered in black stubble—about a day’s worth, maybe more. His lips were full and dark pink. And that corded neck… What might that bronze skin feel like against my fingertips? The first two buttons of his stark-white shirt were open, and a few black chest hairs peeked out. My nipples poked against my bra, and my skin tightened, as if I’d been shrink-wrapped.
“You Jade?” he said in a husky voice.
I nodded, unable to speak. Talon Steel was a god come to life. My heart hammered. How could I be so attracted to a man when, in a parallel world, I was supposed to be married to another right now? Colin and I might not have been in love anymore, but we still had feelings for each other. But being left at the altar… It screwed with a girl’s head.
“Just point out your bag to me, and I’ll grab it for you.”
I nodded again and walked to the carousel. No worries. My bag was always the last one off. I was usually left standing with only one or two other people, convinced my bag was on its way to Timbuktu. Right now, I relished the wait. I could stand here and enjoy the hypnotizing effect of the revolving bags as I got myself together.
No way. My bag inched down a little ramp and onto the carousel. So much for my time-out. I grabbed the purple suitcase and lugged it off the carousel when a warm hand brushed against mine.
“I said I’d get it for you.” Talon seized the bag from me. “Come on. I’m parked on this level.”
I followed him. What else could I do? Clearly, he wasn’t much of a conversationalist, and truth be told, neither was I. I hated small talk, but I’d be trapped with him in a car for an hour. Without talking, that hour would be damned long.