Bound to the Bachelor (Montana Born Bachelor Auction #1) by Sarah Mayberry

Chapter One

Go in there, ask the question, deal with his answer. Easy peasy.

Lily Taylor nodded, fully in agreement with the voice in her head. And yet, she still didn’t move a muscle. Her hands remained clenched around the steering wheel of her rusty Honda hatchback, her ass parked firmly in the driver’s seat.

Chicken. Yellowbelly. Coward.

She was all of those things, but only when it came to Beau Bennett. Damn his eyes.

The front door of the squat, bunker-like building in front of her opened and a tall, broad-shouldered man stepped out, his hair and face obscured by the baseball cap he was wearing. If it was Beau, heading out somewhere on a work-related matter, she’d have to come back another time.

What a shame.

Her relief died a quick death as the man headed for the line of black SUVs, emblazoned with the Copper Mountain Security logo, on the far side of the lot. His step was long and determined, with none of the cocky confidence of Beau’s gait.

It wasn’t him. Dammit.

She’d recognize Beau’s walk anywhere – the way he carried his shoulders, his right dipping slightly lower than his left with each step, the roll of his hips. A cowboy’s walk. Although, as far as she knew, Beau had never been a cowboy.

Her gaze returned to the front door.

Think of Josh. This is all for him.

She pictured his smiling face, her heart aching with the force of the protective love she felt for her godson. He might be only ten, but Josh was the most courageous, inspiring person she knew, and she was determined to do her bit to make his life a little bit easier.

Okay. Let’s do this.

Shoving the car door open, she got out, squared her shoulders, and started walking. As she approached the front entrance of Cooper Mountain Security, she reminded herself that, despite the voice in her head, she wasn’t afraid of Beau. He didn’t scare her. He simply made her… uncomfortable. And, of course, defensive, because she knew he didn’t like her, didn’t approve of her friendship with his sister, Andie.

None of that mattered right now, though. Josh was the important thing. Only Josh.

The glass door was cold beneath her fingers as she pushed her way into the building. She glanced around briefly to get her bearings, taking in the three modern chairs and the small side table in the waiting area, then the reception counter, which was unmanned. Lily looked for a bell to ring or some other way of letting the staff know she was waiting. Unfortunately, there didn’t appear to be any way to signal her presence.

She eyed the unmarked door behind the reception desk. Normally, she’d never just help herself to the staff-only areas of a business, but she was a woman on a mission. Taking a deep breath, she strode forward and tried the handle. It turned beneath her hand.

Here goes nothing…

She pushed the door open and found herself on the threshold of a large, open space that had been divided into three distinct areas – glass-walled office cubicles to her left, an open kitchen with a long table, lined with more than a dozen chairs in the middle, and a training area, complete with boxing gear, floor mats, ropes, and other work-out paraphernalia to her right.

The training area was the only space that was occupied. Two men were hard at it on one of the floor mats, one of them wielding a long pad to protect himself, while the other went at him with a series of kicks and punches. Both were wearing nothing but running shoes and loose workout shorts, their powerful, well-muscled bodies rippling as they moved around the mat.

Lily stood frozen for a few seconds, her gaze locked on Beau Bennett’s broad shoulders as he rained blows on his sparring partner, every fiber of his being focused on the task at hand. The thwack of solid muscle slamming into padded vinyl echoed loudly in the space. Even though the guy with the pads braced himself for every blow, he still staggered backward with each kick or punch, testament to Beau’s relentless power.

Lily glanced over her shoulder. Beau was deep in his training session or whatever it was. She would come back another time.

She was on the verge of retreating when Beau caught sight of her, his head whipping around.

“Oh, hey. I didn’t see you there. I’ll be with you in a sec,” he called.

She could tell by his friendly, welcoming tone that he didn’t recognize her, all rugged up in her winter coat, fluffy beanie, and scarf. She couldn’t wait to see his smile drop like a rock when he realized it was her.

“There’s no rush,” she called back. “I just wanted to have a quick word.”

His eyes narrowed for a split second and she knew he’d recognized her voice. Right on cue, his mouth straightened into a flat line.