“I’m sorry. Did you want to dance with Johnny?”
“No. I don’t want anything to do with him. But we can’t do this again. Not after—”
“I don’t give a fuck anymore, little girl. I want you in my arms,” he softly growled, pulling her sinful body flush against his before wrapping her up nice and tight.
“Me, too,” she moaned on a breathy sigh as she slid her hands around his neck.
Austin closed his eyes for a long minute, savoring the sway of her hips, her warm breath leaching through his shirt and her erotic vanilla musk filling his senses.
Too soon, the song was coming to an end, but Austin wasn’t ready to let her go. He wanted to hold Paige in his arms like this until she’d soaked through his skin, all the way to his bones.
When the jukebox fell silent, they stopped dancing, but Paige didn’t move. Didn’t lift her hands from his back or her head from his chest. Clearly, she didn’t want to let go of him either. Fate wholeheartedly agreed and another slow song—one of Austin’s favorites—filled the air.
Swaying over the hardwoods, he bent and softly sang in Paige’s ear: “Then I wake up with you on my chest.” Oh, how he wished he could. “You got a way of making me forget. Girl, with you the answer’s always yes, every time you call.”
Paige lifted her head and smiled up at him, then started signing in a voice so sweet it gave him goose bumps. Blocking out everyone around them—including Bubba, shaking his head with a frown, and Johnny, watching with an angry scowl—Austin took Paige’s hand and twirled her around, drinking in her carefree laughter.
As he settled her back in his arms, their stares locked, and together they sang in tandem: “Guess I love chasing after you.”
“I do love chasing after you, little girl. Any chance you’re gonna let me catch you?”
A shiver rippled through her as arousal flared in her dark eyes. “Yes.”
“Tonight. After I ditch Johnny, I’ll sneak out and meet you…wherever you want me to.”
Paige softly gasped when his cock lurched, nudging her heated cleft. In his mind, Austin was already peeling off her gauzy dress and kissing every inch of her silky flesh.
“How are you planning on ditching your date?”
“He’s not my date,” Paige assured. “Grandpa volunteered me to show Johnny around town, which I did. And he also volunteered me to bring him to the bar with me tonight so he could meet some of the young people in Haven. But my babysitting duties have officially ended tonight. If Johnny needs anything in town, he now knows where to find it.”
“What he wants isn’t in town. It’s on your grandpa’s ranch.”
“He wants you.”
“I’m beginning to think you’re right. But that’s too bad. I don’t want him.”
“Being with Johnny is like being with Cody. They’re both nice enough, but there’s no…spark.”
“How do you know what that spark feels like?”
She blinked up at him bewilderedly.
As the song ended, Austin nuzzled her ear. “If it’s the same spark I feel when I’m with you…we’ll likely burn down my house. Don’t worry. It’s insured. Meet me on the back porch. I’ll be waiting for you, little girl.”
Austin began escorting Paige back to the bar as Johnny intercepted them.
“Ready to dance with me now?”
Austin couldn’t miss the tiny little lash of jealousy in Johnny’s tone.
“Slow down, tiger,” Austin said, forcing a laugh. “Give her a minute to grab a glass of water. From what I hear, Nelson already gave you the job of ranch hand.”
“I’m his foreman now,” the twit said, puffing out his chest like he was all important and shit.
Austin masked his amusement and tried to look impressed. “Wow. That was fast. Congratulations. You went from ranch hand to foreman, in what, a week?”
“Three days,” Johnny preened. “Raymond promoted me because I’m skilled.”
In bluster and bullshit. Yep, the whole world can see that. But your observation skills need a whole lot of work.
The entire time he and Johnny had been poking at each other, Paige had been rubbing her forehead, wearing a pained expression. He wanted to say something but decided to see how long it would take for the pompous prick to notice her act.
“I hadn’t heard Raymond had hired more workers.” Because Austin knew he hadn’t or Bubba would have told him. He was simply rattling Johnny’s cage. “How many in your crew now?”
The man’s smile didn’t falter, but a flicker of fury sure leapt in his eyes. “Raymond is planning on hiring more help soon. Isn’t that right, Paige?”
Finally, the gloating prick turned her way and blanched in concern. “Are you all right, beautiful? What’s wrong?”
Paige kept rubbing her forehead as she waved him away with her other hand. “I told you not to call me that. And no. I’m not okay. I’m getting a migraine.”
“Now? B-but…Damn. We just got here. We’ve barely even danced.”
“What can I do to help you, Paige?” Austin asked, schooling the selfish prick on the virtues of chivalry.
“Nothing. I just need to go home, take my meds, and climb into bed.”
“Do you want me to drive you?”
“I’ll drive her,” Johnny barked, then quickly banked his irritation. Lowering his voice, he smoothed a hand over Paige’s back. “We came here together. It only makes sense for me to drive you home.”
“He’s right. But thanks for the offer.” She smiled up at Austin.
“Are you going to be all right?”
“Yeah. I just need a day or two of darkness and quiet. Don’t worry about me. I hope you enjoy the rest of your night.”
Oh, I plan on doing a whole lot more than enjoy it, little girl.
While Johnny led the little actress out the door, Austin returned to the bar and eased onto his stool. He’d just finished his beer when Gina stopped in front of him.
“No. I think I’m gonna head home and turn in for the night.”