It pained her to confess her lack of experience, but the ache for him to be the first to put his mouth on her there, on her everywhere, annihilated all pride.
“Oh, little girl,” he moaned. “I can’t wait to hear you scream my name.”
“Now? Please? I-I ache everywhere.”
“Fuck,” he growled, eyes narrowing. “Not here. My house. My room. My bed.”
Paige would have giggled at Austin’s caveman demeanor if her hormones weren’t screaming for her to get inside his house, up to his room, and launch herself onto his bed.
As if reading her mind, Austin slid her top back in place, then claimed her mouth with a raw, urgent kiss. She opened for him, tangling her tongue around his with a needy moan.
“Whoever is in here, show yourself,” a man bellowed in an angry voice that echoed through the barn.
She and Austin tensed in tandem before he lifted from her mouth with a muttered curse. As he quickly rolled off her and stood, taking every drop of delicious heat with him, Paige nearly whimpered.
“No sense hiding. I know you’re here. Come out now, or I’ll blow your head off.” The man emphasized his demand by cocking a gun.
“Who is that?” Paige whispered.
“My brother Houston,” he replied in a low, angry voice. “Stay here. I’ll be right back.”
Scrubbing a hand through his hair, Austin yanked his shirt from his jeans to camouflage his erection, then darted out the doorway.
Paige sat up and inched to the corner of the cot before wrapping her arms around her legs, hoping Houston didn’t charge into the room.
“Put your gun away. It’s me,” Austin barked.
“What the hell are you doing here?”
“Checking on Rumor. What are you doing here?”
“I got up to take a leak and saw the light on. I thought someone was breaking in. Why’s your shirt undone and your face so red? Is that… Are you sweating? Aww, hell, dude.” Houston chuckled. “I get it now. You do realize you have a house with a bed, right?”
“What are you talking—”
“Who you got in the tack room with ya?”
“Nobody,” Austin lied.
“Please. I’m not a fucking moron. Who you getting busy with back—”
“I told you. No one,” Austin growled.
Paige squeezed her eyes shut and hung her head. They were busted. She knew it. Austin knew it. And Houston definitely knew it.
“It’s Paige, isn’t it?”
Houston’s voice was so low she’d barely heard him, but she’d heard him say her name, loud and clear. Why, out of all the women in Haven, had he mentioned her first? Had Austin confided in him? No. He wouldn’t risk his family knowing he was speaking—and a whole lot more—with the enemy. A chill slid through her as she wondered if someone from the bar was spreading rumors about their dirty dance last night.
“You really have it bad for her, don’t you?” Houston asked.
Paige was dying to know, but Austin’s reply was nothing but a low, masculine murmur she couldn’t decipher. Left in the dark, she strained to hear their continued hushed conversation but couldn’t make out anything. On the other hand, it didn’t matter. Paige knew her time tonight with Austin, and probably any others like it, had come to a screeching halt.
Dammit. She’d never find out what mind-melting pleasures he could give with his magical tongue.
Instead of fixating on that depressing reality, she sent up a silent prayer that Houston didn’t spread his suspicions all over town. Prayed her grandpa wouldn’t find out about her and Austin’s secret rendezvous. And prayed that if he did, he’d, what…understand?
Never gonna happen. Hell, it would be safer if Austin did push me away.
The thought made Paige’s stomach twist and her heart burn.
Easing off the cot, she tried to ignore the incessant throb still assaulting her body as she readjusted her top and smoothed down her hair.
“Don’t go yet,” Austin murmured from the doorway.
“But your brother. It’s not safe for—”
“Houston’s not going to say anything. He gave me his word.”
“So he knows I’m here?”
“Look, I apologize for letting things get so out of hand,” he began, dragging a stool from the corner and easing onto it. “Please, sit back down so we can…talk.”
Biting back her disappointment, Paige lowered to the edge of the mattress and folded her hands on her lap.
“Did Hale call Raymond today?”
“Yes. There was a message on the answering machine when we got back from the hardware store.” Images of Austin pressing her up against the wall and kissing her senseless flashed in Paige’s mind, but she shoved them aside and continued. “I-I deleted it while Grandpa was unloading supplies from his truck. I don’t know if I did the right thing or not. I just…I didn’t want to upset him.”
“No, you definitely did the right thing. If possible, I need you to intercept all his calls. But most of all, I need you to find a way to get Raymond to put all the bad blood aside, just for a little while, and simply talk to me.”
“I tried yesterday morning after the whole shotgun incident, but he wouldn’t listen. He told me not to worry my pretty little head about it and”—she dropped her voice—“and to stay away from you.”
A grim smile tugged the corners of his mouth. “Which would probably be for the best until I get this shit with Hale sorted out.”
Be for the best? Is he saying he doesn’t want to see me anymore?
A knife pierced her heart. Tears stung her eyes, but instead of crying like a fool, she blinked them back as Austin continued.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury anymore. I asked Colton to persuade Raymond to work with us, but he and Jade are getting married next week,” he drawled as if Colton—or maybe marriage in general—was insane.
Though Paige hadn’t met Jade yet, Gina had nothing but nice things to say about the woman. Austin’s less than enthusiastic comment about Colton and Jade’s wedding only served to drive home—once more—how little Paige actually knew about him.
“So, until your grandpa decides to talk to me…which I’m certainly not holding my breath about, I have to work with you…secretly, like this.”
Don’t curb your enthusiasm on my account, cowboy.