Way back in the spring of '07, Amber Quill announced the pax themes for the first half of 2008. I had never done a pax, but I got caught up in the excitement about being new with AQ and convinced Pepper we should do some. After some noises about how insane I was - mostly because of the number I wanted to do - she agreed. The very first one we got a plot bunny for was the Lassoed pax, and lo and behold, Fortune's Honor was born.
The story poured out of us. I was angsting about Clay and Paige while I was at RT last year, driving my roommate crazy when I would race back to the room in order to get online and write with Pepper. We loved them so much that we spent several days after the story was done talking about their futures and planning additional stories with other characters we'd introduced. You really wouldn't believe how elaborate we were getting. Or maybe you would, lol. People who know us probably wouldn't be surprised, and if you read this blog very regularly, it's probably easy to tell how often we fall head over heels in love with our characters. Clay and Paige are definitely evidence of that.
Wanna know what their story is about?
And for a taste you can't find anywhere else on the web...
Clay Putnam has always been the responsible one in his family. He runs the family ranch, Good Fortune, by himself and takes care of his ailing mother. He is happy to make sacrifices so his brothers can follow their own dreams, especially his younger brother, Ty, a bull-rider on the professional rodeo circuit. But he leads a very lonely life, and he longs to meet a woman who could love his home, and his family, as much as he does.
Paige Murphy fell for Ty’s boyish charm and exuberance, and she agrees to spend her summer vacation at the Good Fortune Ranch while Ty follows the rodeo all over the western states. She is happy to be engaged to Ty. Until she meets his older brother. Clay is mature, thoughtful, and very attractive. She thinks he might be interested in her as well, but they resist their mutual desire out of love and respect for Ty.
Passion and a surprising tragedy drives Paige into Clay’s arms, but honor, not infatuation, dictates who they are.
The field gave way to low hills, and he led her up and over one of the crests to a small indentation, a dimple in the hills. There was a tree at the bottom of the gentle slope, and water from the spring runoff pooled there, creating a small clear pond. He kept a block of salt there for an artificial salt lick, and some dawns he could ride out and watch all manners of creatures scurrying for a morning drink or swim.
When they came to a stop, Paige slid out of the saddle, groaning when her feet hit the ground. "I am so not in shape for this," she said, rubbing a hand over her ass. "It's a good thing I've got a couple weeks to build my stamina before Ty comes. He's going to tip over laughing at me if I can't keep up."
Clay's gaze was drawn to her ass, and he found himself wishing she'd wear jeans every day. They were very kind to her. The skirts she seemed to favor hid rather than accented her attributes, which Clay realized, was probably for the best. Otherwise, he knew he'd be gawking at her constantly.
"You're welcome to go riding any time you like. And if he tips over laughing at you, he'll have to answer to me."
Oblivious to his eyes on her, Paige wandered up the small rise to stare out over the land. "I'm going to get lost if you're not with me. But I'm beginning to realize there are a lot worse places to be lost than here."
Clay joined her. "You're not going to get lost. Just remember the house was built on the southern edge of the property line. If you ever get confused, ride south. I don't know if you can see it, but there's an old fence falling down..." He pointed to the far distance, and she leaned in, trying to follow the line of his finger. The back of her shoulder was against his chest, and a few stray strands of hair tickled his chin. "Keep it on your right."
Without leaning away, she tilted her head to the side in order to look back at him. "Could you go out with me the first time or two? Just until I get my bearings."
His first thought was to kiss her. His second thought was to push her away, put as much space between the two of them as possible, maybe even tell her she couldn't stay at the ranch and send her packing. He didn't have the time for leisurely rides through the ranch. They were going to start preparing for the drive to summer pastures this week, and for the first time in fifteen years, he wouldn't be accompanying the herd. He couldn't leave Mama behind on her own.
"Yeah, we can take a few morning rides," he finally said, standing as if frozen.
A slow, appreciative smile warmed her eyes. "Thanks," she murmured. She wasn't moving, either, and he was slowly becoming aware of the heat seeping from her body. "What time do you get up? I'm guessing early."
"Five. But I don't expect you to get up that early. I usually eat breakfast at seven. Maybe you can meet me in the stables around seven-thirty?"
"Seven-thirty," she repeated, her smile growing more brilliant. "It's a date."
"A date," Clay echoed softly.
An entirely innocent term. He had a standing date with the veterinarian, and Mama's doctor, and the blacksmith. But his fingers itched to touch her shoulder, the curve of her hip, the nape of her neck, and he knew his eagerness to spend time with her was not innocent. Even the reminder that Paige was his baby-brother's fiancée was not enough to quell the desire to be close to her, to know her like he knew the land.