Cowboy take me away, p.14
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       Cowboy Take Me Away, p.14

         Part #16 of Rough Riders series by Lorelei James

  “Not like this, we didn’t.” He slid his lips back and forth over hers. “Last night was hard and fast and hot as fuckin’ fire, but this? This is me makin’ love to you, sugar.”

  And it felt like love; very overwhelming. The rough friction of his chest hair on her nipples, the weight of his body. The hot and sweet kisses that were perfectly matched to his steady surge and retreat rhythm.

  She kissed his neck, loving the salty taste of his skin and the musk that smelled too good to come from a bottle.

  His strokes became faster and he broke the kiss to stare into her eyes. “I can’t hold back. Are you close?”

  Carolyn wasn’t sure; it all felt so good that she just nodded.

  His thrusts came hard and fast. Then he threw his head back and groaned.

  She watched him shamelessly; his eyes squeezed shut, his mouth slack.

  He was even more powerful and stunning lost in passion.

  Then he opened those amazing blue eyes—eyes still clouded with pleasure—and teased her with the languorous kisses of a satisfied man.

  “What’s the smirk for?” he asked.

  “Are you happy now that we did this in a proper bed?”

  “Very happy. I could get used to doin’ that,” Carson murmured against her throat. “A lot.”

  A dreamy smile creased her face as she trailed her fingers down his spine. “Me too. Though last night in the rain was fun.”

  “Mmm.” Carson pushed up and watched her eyes as he pulled out slowly. “Sore?”

  “A little.”

  “Maybe I’ll have to kiss it and make it better later.”

  Her belly flipped. “Okay.”

  Carson grinned. “Liked that, didja?”

  Even though she was naked just talking about that made her blush and she wanted to turn her head away to hide how much she’d loved that. Or if—when—he’d want her to do the same thing to him. Her gaze slid to his groin. He was still sort of hard. Which made her curious as to what it looked like when it wasn’t hard.

  His fingers slipped under her chin, forcing her attention on him. “Got a mighty interesting look on that beautiful face. Whatcha thinkin’ about?”

  She squirmed beneath his scrutiny.

  “Tell me.”

  “Do you want me to do that to you?” she blurted out.

  Carson’s eyes widened and then turned fiery hot. “You tryin’ to kill me, woman?”

  “N-no, but I thought—”

  “Yes, I can’t wait to see these lips around my cock. But I ain’t gonna push you. So how about you let me know when you’re ready to try it.”


  “Get dressed before I crawl back in there with you.”

  Carolyn couldn’t take her eyes off Carson as he put his clothes back on. It was just as intimate getting dressed together as it’d been getting undressed together.

  As soon as they were fully clothed, Carson pulled her into his arms and just held her. No ravenous kisses, no roaming hands. His need for such simple contact with her sent her spiraling to the point of no return.

  She knew then that she loved him. After less than a week.

  It didn’t feel wrong. Or impulsive. It felt like she’d found where she belonged.

  He kissed her forehead. “I probably better go.”

  “I thought I was fixing you lunch?” Clasping his hand, she led him to the kitchen. “How about a sandwich? Ham salad on rye bread with pickles?”

  “Sounds good. Way better than the bologna or peanut butter and jelly I usually have.”

  “There are days when that’s all I want.” Carolyn took everything out of the fridge and started assembling three sandwiches.

  “Can I ask you something? Is it hard goin from livin’ in a dorm and havin’ all your meals prepared for you, to comin’ back here and makin’ three meals a day for your whole family?”

  She shrugged. “It’s what I’m used to. And without sounding flip, isn’t that what all girls are expected to do? Learn to cook by our mother’s side so we can take care of our own families? I’ll bet your mom cooked for you.”

  “There was always food on the table when we were hungry and I didn’t think much about it beyond that.”

  “That’s how most men are.”

  “Do you like cookin’?”

  Carolyn met his gaze. “I love it. There’s something very satisfying about making an entirely new dish or hearing how much a meal is enjoyed.” Feeling silly, she looked back down at her sandwich.

  Carson’s callused hand caressed hers. “Hey. You seem embarrassed by that. Why?”

  “Some of my friends at school, they want to be nurses and teachers. A couple girls are going to beauty school to become hairdressers. My roommate, Mary Catherine, is attending college to become a lawyer. The wild girl in our class, Mary Claire, is moving to the east coast to become a stewardess. And then there’s me.”

  “What about you?”

  “I don’t have those kinds of aspirations.”

  A pause. “And they all think you oughta be like them?”

  She nodded and sliced a pickle in half. “I don’t know what I’ll be doing at the end of the summer. Everyone said it’d be a waste if I live at home and do all the household stuff for my family. My friend Cathy has asked me to move to Chicago. I could live with her and get a job as a seamstress or in a sewing factory.”

  “Do you want to live in the big city?”

  “I don’t know. My Aunt Hulda has offered me a fulltime job this fall. She pays me pretty well and I’ve learned so much from her.”

  “Wait. She pays you to work for her?”

  Carolyn looked up at him with a scowl. “Of course she pays me. She didn’t expect me to work for free.” Even when her aunt footed the bill for Carolyn’s Catholic education, she believed in “funding Carolyn’s future”, which would give her options.

  “Sorry if you took offense to that.” Carson blocked her against the counter. “The reason you don’t complain about cookin’ and cleanin’, and havin’ a garden is because you really like doin’ that, don’t you?”

  “Yes. Everyone says it makes me naïve because if I don’t expand my horizons, how will I know if I really like it or not? But I do like it.”

  “Don’t listen to them people. They don’t matter. They ain’t livin’ your life; you are.” He caressed her face with the back of his hand and his eyes were so soft, but his face was so fierce with intent that she felt herself melting into him. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you are mature beyond your years. You’ve had no choice but to grow up fast and be responsible. There should be pride in that. There should be pride in all the things you do for your family—because you like doin’ them. Anyone who tries to shame you for that ain’t worth your time.”

  “Thank you.”

  “My pleasure.” Carson peered over her shoulder. “That sandwich almost looks too pretty to eat.”

  She gently shunted him aside. “I’ll get the plates.”

  They didn’t talk much while they were eating.

  After they finished, Carson said, “Best lunch I’ve ever had.” He grinned. “The appetizer was tasty too.”

  She blushed.

  “As much as I hate to eat and run, I gotta git.” He snagged her hand. “Walk me out to the truck and make me all sorts of promises about when I can see you next, because if you don’t, I’m afraid I ain’t gonna leave.”

  Outside Carson leaned against the driver’s side of his truck and pulled her close so she rested against him completely. Then he scrambled her brain with a kiss so steamy she felt him getting hard against her belly.

  That’s when he broke the kiss and rubbed his damp lips across her temple. “Thank you for today but when can I see you tomorrow?”

  Ridiculously pleased, she said, “I could come to your place tomorrow night and cook you supper?”

  “A hot woman and a hot meal? Gonna be another great day.” He pecked her on the mouth and moved her aside. “I’ll hafta draw y
ou a map. My place is a little hard to find.”

  Carolyn waited as he dug around for a piece of paper and a pencil. He pressed the paper against the window and sketched out a very detailed map and handed it over.

  “Easiest way to get there. I wrote my phone number on the bottom if you get lost, not that it’ll help ya since you’ll have to drive into Sundance to find a pay phone.”

  “I’ll find you.”


  She stayed in the driveway until he pulled onto the road, watching him go. After his truck was out of sight, she returned inside and wandered to the sun porch. She crawled onto her bed and sighed. The sheets smelled like him. She may never wash them again.

  Chapter Eight


  Exhausted, Carson sat on the tailgate, drinking beer number two and smoking his third cigarette when Cal pulled up.

  His twin hopped out of his truck and ambled over. “That bad, huh?”

  “Yep.” Cal knew Carson only smoked when something weighed on him. Strange as it sounded, smoking always cleared his head.

  And the shit going round and round in his brain wasn’t making a bit of fucking sense.

  His brother grabbed a bottle of Coors out of the paper sack, and sat opposite him on the old stump. “What’s up? You’ve been awful damn secretive this week.” He twisted the cap off the bottle and drank. “Speaking of…I covered for you with Dad today.”

  “What’d you tell him?”

  “You were trackin’ down parts.”

  Some piece of machinery was always busted so Carson wasn’t surprised their dad hadn’t asked specifics. “Thanks.”

  “I reckon what goes around, comes around.”

  “Yeah, yeah, I’ll remember that.” He took another drag and held it in his lungs before blowing it out.

  “You gonna tell me what’s goin’ on with you?”


  “Why not?”

  “’Cause you’ll laugh your ass off, then I’ll hafta to beat on you and I don’t feel like mixin’ it up today.”

  Cal shook his head. “There’s a first.”

  “Fuck off.”

  He laughed. “And you’re touchy about it too. Gotta be a woman involved.”

  Carson ground out his smoke before helping himself to another beer.

  “Come on. Gimme something. Quit actin’ like a girl with the ‘should I or shouldn’t I?’ bullshit and start talkin’. You tell me everything because you know you can tell me anything.”

  No lie there. Maybe it was some twin bond crap, or the fact they’d lived together and worked together, but he and Cal never kept secrets from each other.

  But Carson couldn’t force the words out.

  When he heard the sarcastic voice cooing about those sweet and sentimental words being so tightly wrapped around his heart, he said screw that and blurted, “I’m in love with her, okay? Can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t fuckin’ think without my thoughts turnin’ to her.”


  He sent his brother a fiery look. “You know fuckin’ who.”

  “Jesus, Carse, you can’t be. It’s the whole forbidden fruit shit that’s convinced you it’s love and not lust.” He pointed with his beer bottle. “Take her to bed. That’ll get her outta your system.”

  “Already did that and it’s just made it worse. Or better. Fuck if I know.”

  “What’s that mean?”

  “Bein’ with her…it’s different. I feel different. It’s like nothin’ that happened to me or anything I did before I met her even matters anymore.”

  “Holy shit.”


  They drank in silence.

  After a bit, Cal said, “So what’re you gonna do?”

  “Drink until I pass out.”

  “Great plan. If you pass out, I ain’t carryin’ you inside.”

  “Then what good are you?”

  Cal laughed. “No one else would put up with your shit, so you’re stuck with me until I pass you off as someone else’s problem.”

  “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

  “You really wanna know?”

  “I asked, didn’t I?” When Cal started picking at the label on his beer bottle instead of answering, Carson snapped, “Well?”

  “That right there is what I mean. You are a hard man like Dad in so many ways. Always focused on getting the work done, makin’ sure it’s done right and movin’ onto the next thing. But you’ve got a reckless streak a damn mile wide. It’s your way of thumbing your nose at your responsibilities. During the week you’re Carson McKay, heir apparent to the McKay ranch, driven to succeed. But on weekends, you’re that wild McKay, always lookin’ for a good fight or a fast fuck, and fuck anyone who stands in your way of havin’ a good time.”

  Yeah. Not a whole lot he could say to that because it was dead on.

  “How many times you been asked when you’ll settle down and stop the fightin’ and the drinkin’?”

  “Asked by Dad? Or asked by the people I hang around with on the weekends?”


  “My drinkin’ buddies are worried I’ll settle down so they don’t say nothin’. Every once in a while Dad will mention it ain’t my job to answer every challenge with my fists, drink up all the alcohol in Crook County and sample every pussy in Wyoming.”

  Cal choked on his beer. “Jesus. Dad said that to you?”

  “On more than one occasion.”

  “That shocks the hell out of me.”

  “Why? Dad ripped it up plenty in his day. He didn’t marry Ma until he was thirty-one.”

  “You ain’t gonna last until you’re thirty-one, the way you’re talkin’.” Cal got a gleam in his eye. “What happens after you admit your undying love for Carolyn West and beg her to make an honest man outta you?”

  Carson grinned. “First thing I do is kick your ass out. Then when my beloved and I can force ourselves to leave our bed, we’ll hit the dancehall and the bars. Just ’cause we’re married don’t mean we gotta act like them old couples who stay at home and stare at the damn walls for fun.”

  Cal cocked his head. “So you do plan on getting hitched to her?”

  “If she’ll have me.” As soon as Carson admitted that out loud, he believed it. He’d make it happen.

  “Gimme another goddamned beer.”

  He handed it over. “Can you make yourself scarce tomorrow night? Carolyn’s comin’ over.”

  “Guess that means you ain’t interested in hittin’ Gentleman Jack’s?”


  “Maybe I’ll pop Charlie’s strip club cherry since I got a feelin’ your strip club days are done.”

  “Good plan.”

  And that was that. End of discussion. Another thing he appreciated about Cal. He never wanted to talk things to fucking death, but he was always there whenever Carson needed to talk.

  The following night Carolyn showed up on time, looking as tempting as strawberry ice cream in a pale pink dress, her hair swirled on top of her head.

  He swept her into his arms, kissing her hungrily as he carried her into the trailer. So much for acting cool.

  She sighed and placed a lingering kiss on his throat.

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