Suddenly, he knew what his dad had meant. There was more, but Austin wouldn’t ever find it with Paige Nelson. She was spawn from the spawn of the Carsons’ enemy.
“Why don’t you go back inside and make a cup of tea or take a long, hot bubble bath? I’ll take care of these coyotes.”
“Y-you can’t.” She blanched, inching back and quickly wiping the tears staining her face. “I can’t tell Grandpa you’re the one who killed them. He’d have a stroke.”
“Then don’t tell him,” Austin whispered. “It’ll be our little secret, all right?”
“You promise not to tell anyone? You know how gossip travels around here.”
“I won’t if you don’t.”
“All right. Go on inside and relax. When I’m done taking care of these coyotes, I’ll leave the shotgun by the back door.”
“Thank you, Austin,” she replied in a grateful whisper. “I won’t forget this.”
Neither will I.
“You need to, darlin’. You need to forget you ever saw me.”
Warmth glowed in her hazel eyes as she lifted to her toes, pressed a soft kiss to his cheek, then turned and raced inside the house.
Her innocent kiss stole the air from his lungs. Body shaking, he sucked in a ragged breath, then began mentally ticking off all the reasons he had to stay far away from Paige Nelson.
But as he bent to retrieve the gun and unspent shells from the ground, that familiar ache—one that had nothing to do with the death of his mom but everything to do with the beautiful, tempting, and forbidden young woman—flared in his chest.