Branded as trouble, p.22
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       Branded as Trouble, p.22

         Part #6 of Rough Riders series by Lorelei James
 
Page 22

 

  “I know. ”

  “Talk to me. ”

  “I’m scared, Sky. I don’t want to fuck this up. And I’m afraid I already have. ”

  “So fix it. ”

  “How?”

  “Channel that anger into a more productive activity. ”

  “Like what?”

  Skylar slipped on her coat. “Do I really have to spell it out for you? Go out to his place, accept his apology, apologize yourself, and fuck his brains out until Monday morning. ”

  “Which would be a brilliant idea, except Colt and I aren’t having sex. ”

  “Excuse me?”

  Crap. “We’re dating, not sleeping together. ”

  Sky started laughing.

  “It’s not funny. ”

  Her sister had to grip the counter she laughed so hard.

  “I fail to see the humor in this. ”

  “You’ve managed to hold Colt off for almost two weeks?”

  “Huh-uh. He’s held me off. ”

  “Oh. That’s even better. ” Skylar wiped her eyes. “I figured you guys would last about two days with the no sex rule. ”

  India sniffed. “We aren’t animals. We can control our baser instincts. ” Maybe. Kinda. Sorta. Not really. Okay, it was a fucking miracle they weren’t balling each other’s brains out at every opportunity. They definitely weren’t lacking in the passion and chemistry department.

  Skylar looked thoughtful. “Do you want to make the leap from friends to lovers?”

  “Like you wouldn’t believe. We’re good at the friendship part.

  Actually, we’re great at it. Colt is my best friend. He’s been my best friend since six months after I met him. I trust him like no one else, I really like him, I can tell him anything and we have fun together.

  He makes me laugh. He gets me. He doesn’t judge me. We have so much history…if we fuck this up, we lose so much more than I can even fathom. It’s sort of paralyzing me, to tell you the truth. ”

  “So don’t fuck it up. You’ve got the friendship part down solid.

  Now it’s time to concentrate on the lover’s part. And in my experience the sex part is way easier. ”

  “You think so?”

  “I know so. ” Skylar grabbed India’s hands and pulled her to her feet. “Make the jump by jumping him. Do it now before you chicken out. ”

  India gave Skylar a quick hug. “Thanks, Sis. ”

  “I owed you one for giving me a kick in the ass about Kade a few years ago. ” As India reached the back door, Skylar yelled, “But for God’s sake, don’t forget condoms. ”

  ***

  The universe fucking hated him.

  At least it seemed as if the universe was conspiring to keep him from indulging in the most amazing sex in the history of the universe with the sexiest woman on the planet.

  It was Saturday night. Two weeks had passed since he and India started dating. Technically, tonight could be the night.

  So why wasn’t his lover here in his arms, basking in the afterglow of smoking hot sex?

  Because she was mad as a wet cat.

  All due to a misunderstanding.

  All due to you being a total dickhead.

  Okay. Maybe he had acted like a dick, threatening to take her keys if he ever heard she’d ridden her motorcycle like a bat out of hell again.

  Granted, he probably shouldn’t have brought it up while she’d been at work. But that was the root of Colt’s other problem: India had been working on Blake West. Namely, Blake’s chest.

  So maybe he’d gone a little psycho when he’d seen his shirtless cousin stretched out in the tattoo shop, with India bent over his naked torso, laughing. Maybe he shouldn’t have dragged her away and laid a tonsil-scratching kiss on her. Maybe he shouldn’t have demanded they end their two-week abstinence right then and there, with Blake in the other room.

  Big mistake steering her in the backroom, where she had easy access to tools. Heavy tools. She’d thrown a wrench at his head, for Christsake.

  Then she’d thrown him out of her tattoo studio.

  He’d done everything right. Romanced her. He’d taken her out for dinner—sure, Dewey’s wasn’t on par with The Four Seasons.

  He whisked her to a show—sure, the movie theater in Wheatland wasn’t a Broadway play. He’d taken her bowling. And to a rodeo.

  He’d toed the line of just kissing her.

  Mostly. The hot incident in the truck notwithstanding.

  His showing off at the basketball game hadn’t turned out so well, yet…it’d given him a glimpse of India’s caring side. A side she showed to her sister, Kade, her nieces, and to Domini, but rarely to him.

  Wrong. She showed it to you after she shot you in the ass with the nail gun.

  Well, she should have.

  What about all those times over the last few years when she arrived on your doorstep with chicken noodle soup, tissues and Vicks VapoRub? Or with movies? Or with “a little something” for your house? Or when she’s dropped everything to help you, even when you didn’t ask? Or how she just always knows when you need her around?

  India showed him her thoughtfulness every time they were together. The fact she showed him her bitchy, violent side, made him feel…special, because she trusted him enough not to hide it.

  Enough stewing. Enough supposing. Buck up and act like a man. In other words…grovel.

  He dug out his cell phone and called her.

  She answered on the first ring. “I was just about to—”

  “Let me say my piece first and then you’ll get your chance. ”

  Silence.

  And then Colt couldn’t think of a damn thing to say. Dammit.

  He used to be considered charming. What’d happened to his silver tongue? Or had he been delusional and the booze was responsible for his sweet-talking ability?

  “Colt? I’m waiting. ”

  “Sorry I acted like a jerk. ”

  “Go on. ”

  “You deserve better from me. ”

  “Keep going. ”

  “I was an asshole, especially in front of Blake. ”

  “Yes, you were. ”

  “I saw your hands on him and I…”

  “What?”

  “All I could think about was I wanted your hands on me like that. I wanted to make it crystal fuckin’ clear to him that you’d never ever put your hands on him like that in private. Never.

  Because that privilege was all mine. ”

  “I tattoo people for a living, Colt. I’m going to have my hands on a lot of men. On some interesting places on men. ”

  “I don’t think it would’ve bothered me if it’d been anyone besides him. ”

  India sighed. “Well, your message to your cousin couldn’t have been clearer. I half expected you to whip out your dick and pee on me as you snarled at him and marked your territory. ”

  “Jesus. ” Colt winced. “I’m sorry. Really sorry, India. You have to believe me. ”

  “I know you are. And as long as we’re apologizing, I’m sorry I threw the wrench at you. ”

  “I’m glad Eliza didn’t get her rock throwing abilities from you, as I would’ve had another head injury to deal with. ”

  “How is your head?”

  “Evidently I’m a lot more hard-headed than I realized. ”

  “And yet, you sound so surprised by that statement, McKay. ”

  A slight pause. “How’s your ass?”

  “You expectin’ me to say I’m a dumbass?”

  “Or a smartass. Or you behaved like a jackass…take your pick. ”

  He smiled. “I’ve missed you like crazy the last forty-nine hours. ”

  “You’ve kept track of how long it’s been since you’ve seen me?”

  I always do. “Uh. Yeah. Does that make me a pathetic loser?”

  “No, it’s very sweet, in a
stalkerish sort of way. ”

  “Indy—”

  “So you really missed me?”

  Colt rested his hot forehead against the cool glass of the sliding glass door. “Like you wouldn’t believe. ”

  “You have a funny way of showing it. ”

  “You mean fighting with you in public? Or groping you in public?”

  “Both, I guess. ”

  “I’m hopin’ you preferred one way over the other. ”

  “I did. ”

  “You gonna tell me which one?”

  “Nope. ” She let loose a husky laugh. “But I might be convinced to show you. ”

  “I wish you were here. ”

  The doorbell rang.

  “Hang on, someone’s at the door. ” By the time he reached the foyer, he prayed his suspicion was right.

  India stood on his steps. “I was on my way over to check on you before you called. ”

  “Why?”

  “I thought I might’ve scared you away for good. I wanted to make sure you were all right. ”

  “All right as in…you wanted to check if I’d swung by the package liquor store?”

  “No. I’m not here as your sponsor. ” She frowned. “Especially since I’m no longer your sponsor. ”

  “Then why are you here?”

  India locked her eyes to his. “Because I missed you. ”

  “And?” The moment of truth. Of intent. His heart raced. His body went on full alert.

  “And you do realize our two weeks of strictly dating are up, right?”

  Colt decided doing a victory lap would be a little over the top.

  “Yes. ”

  “Can I come in?”

  He set his phone on the library table. “As long as you understand the instant you cross that threshold, India Ellison, I’m gonna be all over you. ”

  Giving him a cocky grin, she stepped into the foyer.

  He had India in his arms before her other foot met the tile. His mouth was on hers as he carried her into the living room.

  Between frantic kisses, he whispered, “I need—”
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