Marly’s Choice

Men of August Book 1

She’s loved him since she was a girl and now, as a woman, Marly Macall aches for Cade, and she’s determined to seduce the big tough rancher. She’s heard about his desires, and no matter the cost, she’s willing to pay the price to hold his heart.

Cade August has always known of Marly’s affection for him. He loves her, but the brutal truth of his and his brother’s pasts can do nothing but destroy her.

But the past isn’t finished with the Men of August or with Marly. And when the dark specter of those secrets and the brutality of vengeance raise their ugly heads, Cade learns there’s no escaping— not just his dark desires, but the secrets he would have kept hidden from her forever.

Read an Excerpt »

Dawn was barely streaking across the horizon when Marly ventured from her room and headed for the kitchen. Cade would most likely be up and gone already, but she knew he always made a fresh pot of coffee before leaving the house for Sam and Brock. It was a cup of the strong, heady brew she was after.

Still dressed in the big shirt and thick heavy socks she had stolen from Cade the day before, she padded drowsily into the room. The socks dwarfed her small feet, but kept them warm and snug. The shirt fell almost to her knees, the soft tan cotton covering her well, and making her feel closer to Cade somehow. She rarely slept in anything other than his shirts.

“I was wondering what happened to that shirt. Did you know it was one of my favorites, Marly?” Cade’s amused voice had her stopping short, her gaze going to the corner of the room where Cade sat at the round kitchen table.
He was hunched over a steaming cup of coffee, the crumbs of his breakfast on a plate before him as he watched her. His eyes were light, amused; his lips tilted in a sort of half smile that made her heart beat hard and fast.

“Figured you would have already been out working.” She hunched her shoulders beneath the cotton, hoping he would forget about the shirt.

“I got a late start.” His gray eyes were dark as they went slowly over her body. “My socks too huh? How many pairs did you steal this time?” The edge of exasperation in his voice was softened with affection. It was routine, a game. She stole his shirts and socks and he pretended to care how many she made away with.

“Just one.” She shrugged. “It’s not like you’ll miss them.” Marly hid her smile as she turned her back on him, her senses tempted by the smell of hot, steaming coffee. Her body tempted by the sight of the sexy, drowsy man.

He was silent as she poured a mug of coffee, then took a sip of the hot liquid. Her eyes closed as the caffeine hit her tongue, anticipating the rush it would bring her later.

“You should still be in bed,” he told her softly as she stood at the counter, her hands wrapped around her cup.

“I usually get up early,” she told him sleepily, smothering her yawn. “I didn’t sleep well last night.”

She fought the blush she could feel just under her skin. She hadn’t slept because each time she closed her eyes visions of Cade and his arousing mouth danced before her eyes. His lips were full, with a rough, hard edge. His gray eyes were always direct, the thick, black lashes framing them giving him a carnal, sexy appearance.

“Yeah, I was restless too.” He lowered his head, sipping at his coffee.

She had heard him in his room. She had watched the door, praying he would come to her. Marly took in a deep, hard breath. He looked sexy and dangerous, if a bit on the drowsy side. She wished the sleepiness had been caused from something other than pacing the floors all night.

“Missing Grandpa Joe?” She took her coffee to the table, sitting down in the chair beside him as she watched him.

Cade grunted. “Hardly. That old bastard held on a lot longer than he should have.”

Marly winced. She hadn’t particularly liked Joe herself, but she hadn’t known Cade was so bitter towards him as well. The ring of hatred in his voice was bitter, consuming.

“He wasn’t a happy man.” She hunched her shoulders, trying to find a way to comfort him.

Cade’s expression shuttered, but Marly glimpsed an edge of pain and fury in his eyes in that last second that made her breath stutter in her throat. How had she not known, in all these years, the anger he felt toward Joe?

“Don’t make excuses for him. He was a bastard and we all knew it. But he was my Father, I had to put up with him.” In Cade’s voice was years of regret and hopelessness. And pain.

Cade shouldn’t hurt like that. Alone, the emotion carefully hidden beneath the surface, like a dark, angry beast roaring in pain, with no one to hear. That thought had tears pricking at her eyes, at her heart. He had always taken away the pain in her life. She wanted to remove his as well.

Marly looked up at him, seeing a vein of sadness running through his eyes. A sadness he could no longer hide. She moved from her chair before she thought of it, and before Cade could stop her, was cuddling into his lap.

She felt him accept her with a surprised start, his arms going around her, clenching around her as he pulled her close. He buried his face in her hair, rubbing his cheek over the top of her head slowly. Her arms were wrapped around his neck, her head on his shoulder, and Marly wanted to cry because it felt so warm, so good to be in his arms.

“I’ve missed you, Cade,” she whispered softly, her lips touching the underside of his jaw. “I’ve missed you so much.”

She felt his hands clench on her. One at her waist, the other at her thigh. The heat of them was like an erotic brand on her skin.

“I’ve missed you too, baby,” he said, his voice rough. “More than you know.”

The material of the shirt had ridden up her thighs, leaving an indecent amount of skin bare. His hand rested there, just below the hemline of the shirt, his thumb rubbing over her skin softly. It was like fire against her flesh, the heat of the caress driving her crazy.


“You’re going to have to stop stealing my shirts, Marly,” his voice was husky, amused as his fingers rubbed the cotton at her waist. “This was one of my favorites.”

She fought to control her breathing, the blood thundering through her veins.

“Maybe I’ll let you borrow it sometime.” She smiled against his chest, tortured by the feel of his big hard body against her, and loving it.

She felt his smile against the top of her head and bent her head back to look up at him. God, he was so handsome, so dark and rough it made her heart beat out of control. His eyes met hers, the color darkening and swirling in a way that made her mouth dry, her knees weaken.

“You’re so pretty.” His hand lifted from her thigh, those long fingers cupping her cheek as they caressed her skin.
Marly swallowed tightly, then licked her lips nervously as her body weakened against him. He watched her in a way he never had before, his gaze fierce, searing into her very soul as he stared at her. Tenderness reflected in his eyes, but she could also see the hot core of desire. It had to be need. Desire.

“Cade—” She couldn’t bear the need, the longing. She was dying to feel his lips against hers.

His lashes lowered, his gaze centering on her lips. Tension, thick and hot swirled around them, drawing her in, leaving her nearly gasping in his arms. He would have kissed her. She knew he would have. But at that moment Brock and Sam grumbled into the kitchen.

“Dammit, too early for this shit.” Sam made a beeline for the coffee maker, as Brock bumped along to the stove where Cade had left a plate of bacon and biscuits. Neither man appeared awake, or aware. Though they were dressed and trying to fake it at least.

She sighed, her gaze dropping from the still, dark intensity of Cade’s as she glanced over at the brothers.

“Hey Cade. Marly.” Sam nearly fell into his chair, his bleary eyes barely registering life as he glanced at them.
Marly felt Cade sigh roughly. Then he was patting her thigh before his hands grasped her waist to help her from his lap.

“Get it together, you two,” he growled as he came to his feet and finished his coffee with a grimace. “I’ll be in the barn waiting on you.”

Without another word he moved away from the table and left the kitchen.

“Dammit, we have a chauffeur driven limousine, more money than any of us can spend, and he still works us like ranch hands.” Sam shook his head, showing his feelings of injustice over that fact. “No cook, and we do our own laundry. That man was a born slave driver.”

Marly smiled, shaking her head at his morose look.

“Cheer up, Sam. At least he doesn’t make you clean the stalls anymore,” she told him as she rose to her feet as well. “See you guys later. I’m going to try for a few more hours of sleep.”

Not that she thought she would get it. Her body still tingled, heat and longing zipping harshly through her veins. But she needed to get away from Sam and Brock. She needed to think about what she had seen in Cade’s eyes, the swirls of emotions, the darkening of desire. It had to be desire.

Cade leaned wearily against the side of an empty stall seconds after entering the barn. A deep, weary sigh exhaled from his chest, and his eyes closed in misery. His body pulsed, hard and tormenting, his flesh throbbing for ease. Son of a bitch, he thought, another second with her in his arms and he would have done the unthinkable, the unconscionable. His hand flexed at his side, the feel of her smooth thigh imprinted there forever. Her skin had been warm, supple, textured like the softest silk.

He leaned his head against the wall, shaking it in resignation. There was no denying it any longer. He lusted after Marly, and he had for years, just as Joe had accused him. The dreams were bad enough. The stolen moment in her bedroom last night, criminal. But this, this was more than he could bear. Only a few minutes with her in his arms and he had been ready to throw her across the breakfast table and have her, rather than the cooling bacon and biscuits waiting on the stove.

He dragged his hat from his head, thrusting his fingers through his hair in growing frustration. He couldn’t take her. He knew that. The things he wanted to do to Marly would terrify her. Hell, they terrified him.

He wasn’t an easy man. His sexuality was hard driven, and sometimes rougher than even he liked. He was intensely dominant, in all ways, especially sexually. He never hurt his partners, but he knew the acts he wanted to perform with Marly would leave her shaking in fear. The ways he wanted her would shock her. And she had done the one thing guaranteed to destroy his will. She had waxed the flesh between her thighs. She tempted him with fresh, damp silk and the sweet heat of her body.

It was smooth and silky, coated with the desire growing from whatever dream tempted her. Who was her dream lover? His teeth clenched in jealousy. Who was the man who had left her slick and hot, her inner body preparing for her penetration?

Fury was like a bitter acid eating at his stomach now. His erection was like a snarling beast beneath his jeans, demanding release, demanding Marly. Not just any woman, Marly. Sweet and hot, her innocent eyes dark and adoring as she gazed up at him. He wanted them dark and needy, her moist lips opened for his, or wrapped around his hard flesh.

He wanted to hear her cries echoing around him as he pushed into her, thrusting into the hot little portal that haunted his dreams. He wanted to fuck her until she screamed, begging for more. He wanted what he knew he couldn’t have from her. His sexual demands would terrify her, and he knew it. He wanted to scream with the loss of his own decency, taken from him, stripped from his soul long before she had come to his home.

A groan was wrenched from his chest at the thought of taking her. Perspiration dotted his brow, and his erection was a torturous demon pulsing between his thighs.

“I need to get laid,” he muttered, knowing he wouldn’t, knowing there would be no true satisfaction in another woman’s body.

“Cade, you in here?” Brock called out as he entered the barn.

Shaking his head, Cade forced the need back, praying the hardness between his thighs would lessen, at least enough to finish his work for the morning.

“Back here.” Cade picked up his saddle from the bench at the back of the stall and headed back into the main part of the barn. “Get saddled. Fences need repaired.”

He ignored Brock’s grimace.

“Fences,” his brother muttered. “Hell, I was hoping for an easy day.”

So was he, Cade thought, but it didn’t look like one was forthcoming. He wanted to get finished before lunch. He had to be finished, because he didn’t know if he could wait until evening to see Marly again.

“You finally decide to open the back pasture?” Brock surprised him with his question as they saddled the horses.

“Not yet.” Cade patted his horse fondly after tightening the cinch. “Why?”

“Curious. Thought I saw someone up on the rise this morning. Must have been one of the hands wandering around.” Brock shrugged. “I was hoping to get some of the mommas out there before they calve.”

“That’s my intention.” Cade nodded. “I haven’t sent any of the boys out yet, but they may have just been checking it early. Did you see who it was?”

“Naw, just saw the horse.” Brock led his horse into the ranch yard, glancing back at Cade as they left the barn. “I’ll find out who it was later. Make certain they checked that old den that wolf was using last winter. I don’t want to lose any more calves to that wily ol’ bitch.”

Cade nodded, glancing up at the small hill that rose behind the ranch house. With its slope, it covered the better part of the back pasture, and on the far side, wolves were prone to use the natural cavern there for a den. They tried to keep it cleared of the animals, yet they always managed to find a way in.

“Let me know what they find.” Cade nodded, then turned his horse and set it into a quick canter along the fence line. Several miles away the barbed wire and wood fence needed work.

Cade enjoyed keeping the white painted planked fence in place near to the ranch house. Marly had loved it when she was just a child, proclaiming that it made it look more like a home. That made it worth all the aggravation in the world.

Thinking of Marly again only made his dick throb. He shook his head, trying to push the sight of her in her bed, out of his mind. The feel of her, slick and hot, the taste of her sweet and tangy. He gritted his teeth. Dammit, it was going to be a long day.