Tied up, tied down, p.21
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       Tied Up, Tied Down, p.21
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         Part #4 of Rough Riders series by Lorelei James
Page 21

 

  The announcer’s voice boomed. “First up. Buck McKay. Not a McKay name I’m familiar with. ”

  Carter laughed. “The SOB really did it. Said he was gonna do something drastic to set himself apart. ”

  “Set himself apart from who?” Macie demanded.

  “From Colt, but mostly from Kade. Kane—aka Buck—is determined to get his new nickname to stick. Aunt Kimi is appalled. ”

  “Is Kade his hazer?” Gemma asked.

  “Yep. Poor Kade got roped into all sorts of events,” Carter said.

  Sky leaned over and asked Chassie, “What in the world is a hazer?”

  “The rider who keeps the steer in a straight line for the bulldogger is called a hazer. ”

  The chute opened, a steer bolted into the arena and two horses raced after it.

  Skylar didn’t see Buck launch himself onto the steer and flip it over. She was too busy staring at Kade—all grace and control—atop the sleek and powerful horse. It was the first time she’d seen him duded up in full cowboy regalia. She was used to him coming home from work, dirty and tired, but she’d never seen him look like this.

  Was chasing down cattle on horseback part of his daily routine? A guilty feeling twisted her gut when she realized she knew nothing about his life as a rancher. Talk about self-centered. He’d taken a big interest in her business, why hadn’t she returned the favor?

  “You’re looking flushed. ” Gemma scooted over and thumped the bench. “Sit. ”

  “Thanks. ” Skylar rubbed circles on Eliza’s back as she dozed in the front pack. The normally soothing motion did nothing to soothe Skylar because she was wound tight as a spool of thread.

  After a minute or so, Gemma said, “First time you’ve seen Kade in the arena?”

  “First time I’ve seen him on a horse. Seeing how he moves and rides…I had no idea. ”

  Gemma patted her leg. “We’ve all experienced that bowled over feeling. ”

  “Even you?”

  “Even me. ”

  “That’s good to know, because I feel like the world’s biggest idiot for being ignorant to this part of Kade’s life. He doesn’t talk about it and I’m ashamed to say, dealing with Eliza and running my business I haven’t even asked him. ”

  “Aw, honey, don’t beat yourself up. Most men are like that—especially cowboys.

  You’ve gotta pry information out of them. ”

  Skylar nodded. It didn’t help that Kade had to pry things out of her too.

  Kade made a sharp turn on the horse, bumping up in the saddle, and she caught a glimpse of his tight ass, his long muscular legs hugging the horseflesh as he stretched taller in the stirrups. Add in the contestant number flapping on his broad back, the cowboy hat shading his handsome face, making him look mysterious and dominant, and Skylar let out a purely feminine sigh.

  “I recognize that sound. There’s something enormously appealing about a man who knows his way around ropes and reins and rides with confidence. But I think the attraction boils down to seeing a man control all that raw power of an animal, and the horse trusts him not to abuse it. Takes guts and finesse. Not an easy combination, but damn potent when it works. ”

  “Damn potent,” Sky muttered.

  The steer wrestling ended and the team roping started.

  “We have a great line up, folks. Only one go-round, which means only one chance for these cowboys to put a little jingle in their pockets today. On deck is a coupla brothers, ranchers from Weston County. Quinn and Bennett McKay. ”

  More McKays?

  The rope barrier fell, the calf ran out and two men on horseback thundered past. The ropes spun and snapped and hit their marks, head and heels. The crowd waited for the judge and the time. Eight point four seconds flashed on the scoreboard.

  Carter said, “Not bad. ”

  “Gonna have to do way better than that to beat our guys. ” Chassie and Gemma high-fived each other.

  “Chass, you lookin’ to up our bet? Fine. I’ll take it. ”

  Macie slapped her hand on Carter’s butt to keep him from reaching for his wallet.

  “Wrong, moneybags. I’m not covering your bets when you lose. ”

  “Darlin’, I can’t help it you’re the breadwinner in our household. ”

  The next competitors were announced. The header missed with his loop and the team received no time. The team after them broke the barrier and didn’t score either.

  “Next up another set of McKays, Colton and Kade, local ranchers from right here around Sundance. ” The audience whooped and Skylar held her breath.

  Again the calf raced out and dirt flew as Kade ripped past, left hand on the horse reins, his rope twirling above his head, his focus absolute. Colt brought up the rear, posture identical to Kade’s. They weren’t pretty, but they looked fast. The ropes were released at different times but each loop managed to snag the intended target. The calf bawled as it was jerked to the ground.

  The judge trotted into the arena and nodded.

  “Folks, we have new leaders. Official time is seven point eight seconds. ”

  Carter turned around and grinned at Skylar. “Slap me some skin, sistah. ”

  Skylar couldn’t believe her giddiness that Kade and Colt had done so well.

  Luck had it that Trevor and Cash were the last to go.

  “The crowd is in for a treat today. Our next team is comprised of two former professional rodeo cowboys. Trevor Glanzer and Cash Big Crow. Both these fine men have made it numerous times, not only to the Dodge Circuit Finals, but to the NFR. Let’s hear a big Sundance welcome. ”

  Gemma, Macie and Chassie let out enthusiastic yells and wolf whistles.

  Same drill as before. The calf shot out, the cowboys tore past, Trevor in the header position, Cash as the heeler. Even as a novice Skylar could tell the difference between the pros and amateurs. The two men were flawless. Perfectly synchronized. The calf stayed down through the judge’s inspection.

  “Time recorded at four point two. Folks, give a hand to your team roping champions, Trevor Glanzer and Cash Big Crow. ”

  They waved to the crowd and exited the arena.

  As one, Macie, Chassie and Gemma held their palms out to Carter. “Pay up. ”

  Skylar pulled a twenty out of the diaper bag and grumbled good-naturedly right along with Carter.

  Eliza woke. “That’s my cue. Thanks for letting me hang out with you guys. It was fun. ”

  “Bring more money next time,” Chassie teased.

  Sky exited the stands with a grin on her face and moved the stroller to a shaded picnic area. She changed Eliza, hoping the bottle was warm enough not to upset her stomach.

  A shadow fell over the stroller canopy. “Need a hand with that beautiful baby, little lady?”

  Kade.

  She straightened up and crashed right into him.

  “Whoa. ” He curled his big hands around her biceps to keep her from stumbling.

  “Careful. ”

  At that moment Skylar knew being careful with Kade McKay was no longer an option. She wanted a man who could soothe her with a simple smile. Inflame her with just one look. A man with guts enough to make the demand of complete sexual control over her, and with finesse enough to carry it off. A man who thought she was sexy. A man so freakin’ hot that she was a fool for taking so long to come to her sexual senses.

  She placed her palms on his chest. The cotton shirt was stiff and damp, the flesh beneath firm and warm. Lust surged through her.

  “Sky? What’s wrong?”

  She met his concerned blue gaze and it steeled her resolve. “You gave me until Saturday to make my decision about things changing between us in regard to our— my—

  previous intimacy issues. ”

  “About that—”

  Sky briefly put her fingers over his lips. “My answer is yes. ”

  Stunned silence
.

  “You’re serious?”

  “Never been more serious in my life, mister. ”

  Then he said, “Prove it. ”

  “Let’s go home and I will. ”

  “Huh-uh. Now. ”

  “Now?”

  “Yeah. Right now. ” He kissed her fingertips and closed the gap between their bodies.

  “No backin’ out, Sky. Once you’re mine, you’re mine, exactly the way I want you, any time, any place. I’ll make allowances for us takin’ care of Eliza, but that’s it. So, you’re sure you understand all I’m demandin’ of you?”

  No. “Yes. ”

  “Baby, that is good. So good. ” He teased his soft lips over hers. “Now, say no. ”

  “No. ”

  “Remember it, because that’s the last time you get to say no to me. ” Kade smashed his mouth to hers. She clung to him just to remain upright in the wake of his possession.

  Someone yelled, “Get a room. ”

  Kade murmured against her mouth, “That’s a damn fine idea. ”

  Eliza chose that instant to remind them of her empty belly.

  “Where’s Grama? She’s been wantin’ time with her granddaughter, here’s her chance. ” Kade whipped out his cell phone, his hot eyes locked on Skylar’s. “Ma. You busy? You wanna watch Eliza for an hour so Sky and I can wander around? We’re at a picnic area by the east entrance. ” He closed the phone. “She’s on her way. ”

  “Is there much to see around here?”

  “Sweetheart, the only thing you’re gonna see is my cock. Up close and personal. ”

  Skylar didn’t say a word. She couldn’t, actually.

  “Here’s how it’s gonna play out. Soon as Eliza is settled, we’re takin’ a walk.

  Straight to Colt’s horse trailer. It has a sleepin’ compartment with a real nice bed and a door that locks. ”

  “I’ve never been in a horse trailer that has a bed. ”

  “Oh, we ain’t gonna be usin’ the bed. ”

  “We’re not?”

  “No. Because you are gonna be on your knees. ”
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