Pulling open another panel, I found where he kept his reserve of jeans, dark and pressed like the serious investment banker cousins of the dusty faded old things he used to wear. Damn, but he made both look good. I didn’t know which I preferred, the ones so old and soft they all but melted into the form of his hard body. With one button open they looked about ready to fall off of him, and boy did you hope they would. The dark ones, though, coupled with a dress shirt like I’d seen him in the past couple of days, those worked, too. Rough against my bare ass as he’d held me against him, pulling my head back as I’d writhed up against his hardness. I liked how he dressed it up but still kept the jeans. I wondered if he did that during his frequent out-of-state travel. You could take the man out of Montana, but you couldn’t take the Montana out of the man.
Over in the corner, I noticed a white wicker laundry hamper. It only had a few things in it. I guessed he had a regular laundry service. For a second, that struck me as somewhat sad. He never had anyone who cared about him take care of his things, treat a stain and tsk over him having been so careless, fold his t-shirts and place them in a drawer for him so they’d be there when he needed them for his early start the next morning. Sure, sometimes I felt overwhelmed with the amount of housework each day required, but there was something about laundry. I almost enjoyed the process, taking in the old and making it fresh and new. Now that my dad was gone, I missed the funniest things, like pairing and balling up his socks.
I felt a pinprick of hot tears in my throat. What was I doing here? This was a huge mistake. I had to be crazy making myself entirely vulnerable to the one man who could squash me like a bug. I had to be completely insane.
A smart woman would walk away. It had taken me so long to recover from Declan the first time around. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like a second time. If you played with fire once and got burned, well, you had the world’s sympathy. If you stuck your hand right back into the flames again, you had only yourself to blame. But the flames felt so good.
Hand on my belly, I took a deep, steadying breath. This was OK. Things were going to be OK. What I needed most right now was sleep, enveloping, renewing sleep. I knew from experience, nothing coaxed along sadness and panic like exhaustion. After some good rest, I always awakened with a sense of promise.
And tomorrow I would be heading to New York City. I’d flown over Dallas, but the biggest city I’d ever walked around was Boise, population not quite reaching a quarter of a million. That still seemed like a lot to me, with a 20-story skyscraper and plenty of hustle and bustle. But how many millions of people lived in New York City? I’d soon find out.
Pulling a black t-shirt and a pair of boxers out of his laundry hamper, I decided they were the best things I could find. I certainly wasn’t going to sleep in one of his suits. Yes, it was weird raiding his laundry basket, but as I hung up my towel and slipped into his clothes I had to admit, they had their benefits. They smelled like him.
Sliding into the soft sheets, pulling up the comforter, I let his scent envelop me. I sighed deeply. Nested on an assortment of down pillows, I fell fast asleep.
Lathering myself in the shower, I took my time. Usually I was a dunk-and-dash kind of guy, not the type to linger and luxuriate. But tonight was different. Tonight I’d had Kara Brooks down in my cabin and I’d made her come, full and sweet, on my fingers.
I couldn’t believe how wet she’d been, the feel of her slick heat on my hand. I didn’t muffle her cry with a kiss. I wanted to drink in every second of it, memorize every movement of her face, every cry and scream. I’d never seen anything better, my innocent angel, hot and horny and wanting me, coming all over my fingers. She was what I wanted more than anything else.
I’d been the first man to do that to her. I couldn’t believe it. Even though my gut twisted up and my hands balled into fists whenever I tortured myself with thoughts of Kara with Bruce, I’d wondered how far they’d gone. But apparently she’d declined the invitation I was sure he’d extended many times to round those bases. She’d said no to him. Yes to me. And now Bruce was an ex. I liked the sound of that.
I couldn’t wait to touch her again. Tonight in a few hours she’d meet me in the barn. She got me so hard so fast. But I’d take it slow with her, give her all the time in the world. I’d treat her right, show her how good it could be together, how I could be a real man for her. Even though sliding deep into her would feel so good.
I brought my hand down to my thick cock, palming it. I knew it would only take a few strokes. I’d been hard for so long, straining and ready. But I’d held back, tethering myself, keeping myself in check. I’d stroked her, watching as she closed her eyes, parted her lips and kneaded her fingers into the couch pillows. I’d held back even though her silken heat on my fingers, the shudders of her orgasm, had practically gotten me there myself.
Now, in the steam, I stroked my hard length. Eyes closed, I remembered how she felt. I wanted to hear those needy pants again, hear her moan my name. I wanted to suck on those breasts, cup them and lick and bite her right where she was most sensitive. I wanted between her thighs again, stroking her slippery folds, bringing my mouth down to her to taste, lapping and licking up her sweet juices. Working my thick cock, my balls tightening with come, I thought about how someday, someday soon, I would sink so deep into her hot, tight pussy. With a groan, I came, heavy and full.
I panted as my heartbeat slowed, my breathing regulated. I’d wait for her. She deserved it. I’d grit my teeth and use all my restraint, go slow and make it good for her.
After her orgasm, sitting on the couch with her draped over me, her cheek against my bare chest, it had hit me, hard. That was what it was supposed to feel like with a girl. With your woman. It was supposed to click together, everything snap into focus. You didn’t have to try. It just worked. I didn’t do snuggling and cuddling, but I could have stayed there like that with Kara all night.
She’d been the one to get up and go. I loved that about her too, though, she took good care of her dad. She had a big heart. I just hoped it was big enough to take a chance on me. Because I was going to ask her to.
I wanted her to come with me. I didn’t want to leave her behind. As manager of buildings and grounds I’d have my own place at this next ranch and she could stay there with me. I didn’t have it all planned out—hell, even this morning I hadn’t been thinking about asking her to come with me—but suddenly I knew we’d figure it out. Together. Because now I knew I had to have her.
And somehow I felt like she would say yes. Smiling like an idiot, I turned off the water and stepped out of the shower. I felt light and buoyant, like soda bubbles fizzed right up through me. I guessed this was what people called happy. I felt like a king. I could do anything. This girl, this amazing, kind, gorgeous girl, wanted me. I had no idea why. She clearly had bad taste in men. But I’d take it. I’d accept her mistake with open arms.
I toweled off next to my bed. I was smiling and humming. Until I stopped. Someone was in my cabin. Over by the couch, a thin curl of smoke rose up in the darkness. Harlan. Our eyes met.
I didn’t jump or flinch, I never did. But it rattled me to my core. He must have seen Kara leaving my cabin. Maybe he’d missed her for dinner and been watching. He probably saw her leaving my place with her dress rumpled and her hair in a tangle. Steeling myself, I put down the towel and pulled on my jeans.
“Couldn’t keep it in your pants, huh?” Harlan’s voice bit into the shadows. His words hit me like a punch but I didn’t move. I just stood there, cursing myself. This was what happened when you let your guard down. You’d think by now I would have known. Some dumbasses just can’t learn.
“You come to my ranch,” he continued, coiled up tight like a snake. “I take a chance. I hire you, give you this place to sleep in. Give you free reign. I trust you. And you fuck my daughter.”
“I didn’t—” I began to form a protest, defend
myself, defend Kara.
“Shut your mouth, boy.” Harlan kept sitting there, cool in the dark, smoke curling up over his head. I’d seen enough angry men to know, quiet rage was the most violent kind. A man yelling with a broken bottle in an alleyway? You could distract him easy and gain the upper hand. A man sitting in the dark, his eyes fixed on you while he told you real slow and thought-out how you were a low, worthless dog? You needed to watch that shit, intent, so you could learn the next move before things exploded.
“You’re here humming like you’re on a goddamned game show.” He spat on the wooden floor planks. “What do you think, my little girl’s your new slut?” I crossed my arms against my chest. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of answering that question.
“Oh, now, don’t tell me?” His voice got a hard curl to it, his lips twisted in a sneer. “You’re sweet on her? That’s rich. And wait.” He smacked his hand down on his jeans like he was about to tell a good one. “Don’t tell me you think she likes you?”
I stood there meeting his stare. I had my pants on but I’d never felt more naked. He scrutinized me like I was a cockroach in his kitchen.
“That’s it, isn’t it? You think my Kara likes you. Let me tell you, you’re a new flavor all right. But have you heard of the flavor of the month? She’s not going to end up with a dog like you.”
“You don’t know what she wants.” I hated my words the second they left my mouth. I sounded like an angry kid fighting in a schoolyard. Swift, fierce rage pumped through my veins. But his words took root inside of me.
He let out that dry chuckle. “You think she’d want you? She’s just slumming it. You’re not good enough for her. Not by a long shot.”