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Jack is focusing on building an equine therapy school for children with special needs and works hard along side his normal horse training and breeding program. He and Riley have settled into a softer, quieter, kind of family life, but that doesn’t stop them using the barn with the door to the fullest!
But the lull comes before the storm.
Riley and his new assistant travel to Laredo, and across the border into Neuvo Laredo as part of an exploratory team and things very quickly go to hell. Riley is caught in some serious Cartel problems and suddenly everything Jack holds dear is threatened.
Add in Vaughn and Darren’s story, revisiting Robbie, Eli, Liam and Marcus, alongside Sean and Eden and the wedding that never was, and this story promises you everything you want from a Texas series book.
Rainbow Books Reviews – 5/5 – “….What an exciting installment in the Campbell-Hayes saga! It is every bit as entertaining, suspenseful, and hot as previous books, and I enjoyed reading it immensely. If you like the Campbell-Hayes family and want to find out what’s going on in their lives, if you enjoy the combination of a soap opera and an action/adventure, and if you’re looking for a read that has family, new love, lots of heat and love between loving husbands, and the beautiful setting of a ranch in the heart of Texas, don’t miss this book.”
Guilty Indulgence Site Reviews – 5/5 – “….I will never get tired of reading about these two men and the life that they are building. From the moment that I opened Heart of Texas I knew that this would be a series that I would go back to again and again. Each addition brings more and I can just not get enough.
Start from the beginning of this epic saga and just keep coming back for the passion, family and love….”
Sexy Erotic Exciting Reviews – 5/5 – “….Sentimental, introspective, intrigue and love~ everything I expected from R.J. Scott’s newest edition to her Texas series, Texas Fall. No one writes a loving, well-rounded realistic family like Ms. Scott, and Texas Fall did not disappoint….
…. The epilogue had me choked and teary-eyed~ Ms. Scott, what you do to me! Texas Fall delivered beautiful dialogue, meaningful characters and a love of self and family.
Joyfully Jay – 5/5 – “….Being the sixth book in the series, Scott has maintained a solid setting for the Texas stories, especially the Double D from beginning to present day. That, and our knowledge of the secondary characters and the locales where the story takes place, is so deeply ingrained in us, the readers, that every time we open a book, it is like coming home.
As I alluded to above, there is so much that happens in Texas Fall, with ups and downs throughout the story that kept me glued to my iPad from beginning to end. Although Riley’s kidnapping is traumatic for all, the trial was stressful for Liam, and the new therapy riding program is keeping Jack on his toes, these things end up being just bumps, albeit some pretty big bumps, in the road for the family. I am hopeful that with all of the new, fresh additions, we will see more of the gang at the Double D. A must read series, for sure….”
The Blogger Girls – “….What makes this series so special is that, despite the over the top drama (at times), the relationship between Riley and Jack is so, so amazing. They love each other so much, and they are not afraid to show it. In some series, the couples’ love is tested, and that can be hard when we go through so much strife to get them together just to have them pulled apart again and again. In this series, Jack and Riley are strong and stay strong and loving throughout and fight together against outside issues.
R.J. Scott writes some amazingly hot sex scenes, tender love scenes, as well as high and exciting drama. The Texas series is on fire with all this, and I can’t wait for more!…”
Crystal’s Many Reviews – 5/5 – “….Texas Fall is one of my top picks for the Texas series. After the suspense and action surrounding Liam in the previous installment, I wasn’t sure how Ms. Scott was going to top it. Yet she did with a storyline that would feel contrived for many characters, yet is completely within the realm of possibility for Riley considering his wealth and profession. Additionally we got to see Liam stand up for himself and find the family and home he has been looking for. These plotlines combine to make for another installment in the series that has been added to my reread list….”
Jack was happy. He had a soft beer buzz going, and he was with his horses. The only thing that could make things better was if Riley was with him, but he wasn’t going to pull Riley out of the party just to keep Jack company. On the other hand, he wasn’t moving inside any time soon. He had enough finger food to last him a few days wrapped in a napkin, and he didn’t need to go back in unless there was some kind of natural disaster. Parties and Jack Campbell-Hayes did not mix; even New Year’s was something he avoided. Not that he was introverted, it was just the whole entire family was here—every single one of them—and they all wanted to talk to him about one thing or another. When Max had decided it was too chaotic and disappeared with Carol into his sensory room, Jack had wanted to go as well.
“You can’t hide the whole night,” Riley said from behind him. Jack turned to face his husband, leaning back against the stable door and waiting for the lecture. Riley was happy as a pig in shit right in the middle of it all: juggling babies, catering, socializing, and hell, everything that Jack was avoiding right about now. “People asked where you were,” Riley added.
Riley sure looked good tonight, his blond hair just this side of bed-head spiky, his long legs in black pants, the dark green shirt so perfect against his warm skin tones, and his hazel eyes sparkling with enthusiasm for life. Sexy. Very sexy, all toned and slim and hard and hot. Jack cleared the thoughts of kissing the life out of Riley from his head. He’d need all his faculties to deal with Riley when he knew damn well Riley wanted him to go back inside and host the party.
Anyway, he was suspicious that anyone really worried where he’d gone. “Who asked?”
Riley stepped right up into his space, close enough so that Jack could inhale the scent of his man. The combination of familiar citrus was underscored by deeper notes of mulled spices from the kitchen and some punch concoction Eden had made.
“Actually, no one asked,” Riley admitted. “Josh mentioned that he was impressed you’d lasted an hour.”
Jack huffed a laugh. He was surprised his brother hadn’t come out and hidden right next to him. Seemed that enjoying socializing skipped the male Campbell line entirely.
“So,” Jack began slowly. “What are you doing out here?”
Riley placed his hands on Jack’s hips, then slid his fingers through belt loops to tug Jack away from the door and flush up to him.
“I was asking myself,” he explained, “just where would my husband be when it’s only ten at night and he was looking for peace. I tried everywhere.” He pressed a gentle kiss to Jack’s lips, then smiled down at him, that few inches in height he had just enough to force Jack to lean his head back a little. “Actually that’s a lie. I looked in the twins’ room, checked in on Max, then came here.”
“Is Max okay?”
“Carol is keeping an eye on him. He doesn’t get why all these people are here and it’s all a bit much for him, but he’s okay.”
“And the twins? Did Connor still look restless?”
“Connor was fast asleep.”
“And what about Lexie—”
“Lexie was sleeping too, so I came out here and I found you.”
Jack twisted his fingers together behind Riley’s head and brushed his erection against Riley’s. It didn’t seem like they were in each other’s company more than ten seconds and Jack was already turned on. Thank God Riley appeared to have the same problem.
“What we gonna do?” Jack asked. He had plenty of ideas, the best of which involved rope and the barn and a whole lot of lube.
Riley slanted his head and kissed Jack thoroughly, never taking his hands from Jack’s belt and never moving. When they separated for air, Riley was smirking. Jack knew exactly what his husband was going to say. He wanted him back inside in that hell called the New Year’s Eve party.
“No,” Jack protested immediately.
“Two hours, Jack, just two hours. Go in, be all kinds of sociable, and as soon as the clock strikes twelve, you can come back out.”
Riley silenced Jack with a finger pressed to his lips. He leaned close and whispered, “Two hours is all, Jack, you can manage that, and if you’re a good boy…” Jack couldn’t hold back the laugh at that point as Riley waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
“What do you plan on doing as my reward?”
Riley leaned in for one last kiss, then turned smartly on his heel.
“For you to find out,” he threw over his shoulder. “You have five.”
Jack turned back to pet Solo Cal, who butted him and whuffed on his hand.
“God save me from being sociable,” Robbie muttered as he joined Jack at the stable as soon as Riley disappeared. “If I have to dance once more…” His tone threatened payback, and Jack imagined Eli was still hogging the small dance area that everyone had made in the marquee off the kitchen, little more than a few tables pushed to one side. Eli and Riley, along with Marcus, Eden, and Hayley, had been dancing like they were on uppers.
“You bring beer?” Jack asked.
Robbie handed over a cold one and gestured to the three more under his arm. “Thought I’d drag these ones out.”
“I’ve already had Riley out here telling me I should be inside. I give it five before Eli does the same to you.”
Robbie muttered something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like a string of curse words along with Eli’s name. He held out his hand to Solo Cal and received the same chuff of attention that Jack had. Jack’s horses loved Robbie, the quiet man with the strange mix of Aussie and American in his accent. The day Jack’d taken him on had been a good one and now that Robbie had Eli, his staying was permanent. In fact, he had a stake in the D’s horse training and breeding program. Jack couldn’t wish for a better right-hand man.
As Jack could have predicted, another cowboy soon appeared at their side.
“Jesus Christ,” Liam cursed and joined them in the stable. Without words, Robbie gave him a beer, and Liam downed half of the bottle in long swallows. Only then did he talk. “Tell me again where Marcus gets all his damn energy?”
Jack shrugged. “Same place as Riley and Eli, it seems.”
“Cowboys shouldn’t be indoors,” Liam pointed out. “Ain’t natural.”
“It’s not natural,” Robbie corrected.
“That’s what I said,” Liam agreed.
Jack glanced over at the latest addition to the D. Liam was still looking a bit on the thin side, and he had perpetual worry written into his expression. Didn’t matter that he had a boyfriend and that he and Marcus were close. He hadn’t truly found his peace yet and still held the anxiety from the attack in the barn heavy on his shoulders.
It didn’t help that the mail between Christmas and New Year’s had held a letter with a court appearance date. Twenty-sixth of January was the day Liam would be facing his attacker. Didn’t matter that Yuri Fensin had admitted his part in the attack, this was wider than that. Liam had passed enough evidence to have Hank Castille in the dock as well for the abuse Liam had suffered at the man’s hand when he was younger. A lot hinged on Liam’s testimony and that of a couple other witnesses, all boys as young as Liam or younger.
So yeah, the weight of it was on Liam, and he looked tired. He was still working long days, putting in his hours, making a home with Marcus in the apartment over the barn. Of the three of them standing there, he was the one who didn’t need to be in a place where people danced and expected a body to be smiling all the time. He needed something else.
“Liam,” Marcus said from the door. Jack sighed inwardly. His quiet place was getting busier than the party. “You okay?”
Liam turned to face Marcus, and Jack couldn’t help but see the shine of emotion in Liam’s eyes or the serious expression on Marcus’s face.
“Thinking Liam and you should have your own New Year’s,” Robbie suggested.
Marcus nodded and held out a hand that Liam took. “Is that okay, Jack?”
Jack frowned. What did it have to do with him? Never mind Marcus was looking for his permission and Liam really needed the support. “Get off before Riley catches you,” he joked. Liam and Marcus left quickly. Now there was only the two of them left—and Jack’s five minutes were up.
“Keep my fence warm,” he muttered. After knocking shoulders with Robbie, he went indoors and into the chaos that was a family celebration. He’d done worse. Once he’d spent fourteen hours with a pregnant mare in distress. He could do this.
* * * * *
Riley wasn’t exactly watching for Jack. Not really. It just happened that whenever Jack walked into a room, Riley was aware of exactly when it happened. Somehow he always looked over at the moment Jack was looking for him. Time stopped for a second, One Direction faded into the background, as did Hayley’s laughter with her cousins and Eli and Eden twirling in some mad parody of a tango; everything faded.
Every single damn time Riley looked at Jack, his heart hitched and emotion choked him.
Mine. I love him and he’s mine, and he’s the other half of me, and everything. Yeah, it didn’t make much sense, this overwhelming surge of ownership, of affection and need, but it was all it took for Riley to cross over and steal a heated kiss right there in front of the entire family. When he pulled back, Jack was smirking that infuriating laconic cowboy smile and his blue eyes shone with emotion. Dressed from head to toe in black, pants, matching shirt shot through with silver, and that Texas belt buckle, he was edible and all Riley’s.
“You missed me?” Jack teased.
“No,” Riley said. “Just warming up for midnight. Let’s get beer.”
A party tent off the side of the kitchen extended the house for this get-together with God knows how many family and friends milling around. Riley knew his mom and dad were in there somewhere, clapping along to Hayley’s dancing, which in itself was a miracle. Sandra Hayes was the last person Riley ever imagined would clap along to anything. But where her granddaughter was concerned, all the Southern genteel charm was put to bed and instead out came the mad-eyed grandma who loved her grandchildren. She’d never have the natural warmth that Donna exuded, but she was trying hard and she had a special connection to Hayley that Riley loved to watch.
The two men picked up beer, or rather, Jack did; Riley still had a cold fear about what would happen if they both got drunk. Although Jack didn’t ordinarily get drunk and neither did Riley, he wanted one of them to be entirely sober in case the twins needed them, or Max or Hayley. He opened a can of Sprite, and the icy-cold bubbles felt good on his tongue. He finished it off as he joined in with a heated debate about whether Brad was hotter than Angelina. Jack wandered off again, but this time it was just to stand with his brother and sister-in-law and their kids.
Logan was growing up, and he was looking an awful lot like his Uncle Jack. With the requisite floppy hair over one eye, he was a good-looking kid, and Riley couldn’t fail to notice Hayley looking over at Logan every so often. She still had that crush on her cousin, but Logan was three years older and headed for college in a year or so. Riley didn’t like to admit it, but he hoped to hell Hayley got over it. Not because he didn’t like Logan, Logan was a good kid, but Riley just wasn’t ready for Hayley to be dating anyone, let alone her kind-of-cousin.
“You look awfully serious, big brother.” Eden smiled up at him, and he pulled her into his side. Sean wasn’t there that night, but Eden didn’t seem too fazed by that. The couple had moved to a better place slowly but surely, and although Riley still had a few small reservations over Sean, he could see his sister was happy. For that Sean got a million brownie points.
“Just counting my blessings,” Riley answered. She cuddled in close and wrapped her arms around his waist, and Riley didn’t want to let her go. He had to eventually, especially when she wriggled, which was the only way she could get out of one of her brother’s bear hugs. She looked well, happy, her little black dress and strappy heels both covered in soft glitter. Riley glanced down at himself and the smattering of glitter he now had on his shirt.
“Your fault,” she said, and with a grin, she left.
He didn’t have time to think about how he was going to remove the glitter when Hayley ran to him and clung to him, asking him to go with her. He opened his mouth to ask what was wrong, but he could see the emotion in his daughter’s eyes. She was close to crying, and as soon as he followed her into the good room, those tears began to fall. Riley sat on the sofa and pulled her into his arms. She was such an itty-bitty thing, and she needed a hug. She held him so tight and she was sobbing, her slim form shaking in his hold. Riley’s heart split in two.
“What happened, sweetie?” he asked when her crying had settled to a few hitched breaths.
“It’s Logan,” she began.
Riley’s chest tightened. Hayley’s big crush was obvious to everyone. Had Logan done something? Had he hurt Hayley? He was a good kid, but that didn’t mean Riley wouldn’t flatten him if he’d upset her. Jack would just have to understand; after all, this was their daughter and daughter trumped nephew. The daddy side of him wanted to call Logan out, the sensible adult side of him was trying to be patient.
“He’s… he’s… g-got a girlfriend.” Hayley managed to get the words out before sobbing into Riley’s shirt, and Riley held her as his little girl’s heart broke into a million pieces. He stroked her long blonde hair and back. He felt powerless, but he knew this was only the first of so much that Hayley would be experiencing, and it wasn’t like a skinned knee or strep, he was helpless here.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart,” he said gently as he stroked her back, marveling at the softness of her hair and her scent and the very wonder of holding his teenage daughter in his arms. She still loved them at the moment; she hadn’t reached that point where a father’s love would be replaced by the angst of teenage years or the love of another male.
“I’m so stupid,” she said. “He’s at a school with girls, and I’m stuck at mine.”
Hayley being at a school with just girls was a bone of contention between Hayley and her dads. She loved it there, she was safe, she had friends, and Riley had gone to an all-boys school for a short while and it hadn’t done him any harm. But she wanted a boyfriend, and she’d set her sights on Logan.
“He’s older than you,” Riley began quietly. He wasn’t entirely sure how that was going to go. She’d either snap at it by saying Logan wasn’t too old, or she’d understand where he was coming from.
“I know,” she said so softly that Riley could barely hear her. “But when I’m older, when I’m bigger and sexy and have boobs, then he’ll be sorry.”
Riley nearly choked on a combination of a laugh and groan. He almost felt sorry for Logan. Hayley reminded him of Eden in so many ways, so utterly convinced of her journey through life, so focused. But even though he tried to be the hands-on dad, listening to what his daughter said, he still couldn’t get his head around talking about Hayley and her boobs.
“Hey, guys,” Jack said. He’d clearly been sent in for more beer if the empties in the box he was holding was anything to go by. The spare beer was piled in crates in the corner, most of it left over from Robbie and Eli’s housewarming debacle. He set the box down and came to sit next to Riley. Hayley shuffled a little so she could place a hand on Jack’s arm. “What’s up?” he asked carefully.
“Logan has a girlfriend,” she said. At least now she had stopped crying.
“Aww, baby, I’m sorry,” Jack said. He knew she had a crush on his nephew, but Riley guessed his husband didn’t imagine it went as deep as this. Neither of them were experts on girls, not really. They just listened to their hearts and tried for the best. She sniffed one last time, then pushed herself up and away from Riley. She cried very prettily, another thing she got from Lexie and Eden, clearly. Her brown eyes were wide and her lashes wet and spiky, and she didn’t have any of that red-faced blotchiness Riley suffered with whenever he got emotional.
With enough drama to fulfill all of next week’s quota, she suddenly inhaled sharply and flailed off of Riley’s lap clutching at her face.
“I need to find Eden to fix my makeup. Love you, Dad. Love you, Pappa.”
Then the whirlwind that was Hayley left the room. Riley looked at Jack, and Jack returned the look.
“Hayley is wearing makeup?” Jack asked.
“Just some lip gloss and blusher,” Riley answered, “just for tonight. She asked me if it was okay. I tried to make it look like I was cool with it.”
Jack grinned. “I love that you did that.”
Riley couldn’t help sounding defensive. “Eden asked me if it was okay. It can’t hurt, right?”
Jack leaned into Riley and chuckled. “You are so easy.”
Riley smacked him, then pressed a kiss to the same place. “Up and at ’em, cowboy. We have socializing to do.”
“I’m not moving.” Jack settled back on the sofa, and Riley straddled him.
He leaned in and whispered, “You, me, barn, my mouth on you, my cock in you, lube. Now get your ass up.”
“Jack, where’s the be— Jesus, guys… get a room.” Josh stood at the door, arms over his chest. “We have a beer emergency out there.”
Jack ignored his brother and stared into Riley’s eyes. “I’m holding you to that, Riley.”
Riley smirked, then rolled up and off Jack. Whistling, he sauntered past Josh, deliberately patting Josh on the chest. Josh dramatically rubbed at the place Riley touched him.
“Eww, gay cooties. Jack, get your man off me.”
Riley left the brothers laughing. Trouble was, whispering all that in Jack’s ear had him imagining doing those things right the fuck now.
He’d basically screwed himself over.
Way to go, Riley. Idiot.