Hang tough, p.25
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       Hang Tough, p.25

         Part #8 of Blacktop Cowboys series by Lorelei James
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  He waited, forcing himself not to freak out, but in his experience, shit like this never went well for him.

  She sighed. “I’ve always been a geeky orchestra girl with her nose buried in a book. Hot guys never noticed me. I’m not saying that to get sympathy or anything. It’s just something you should know.”

  “Why? I don’t see that it matters now because I’ve more than noticed you.”

  “You’ve got mad bedroom skills, plus confidence and charm. I don’t know if I can keep up. So I want you to be honest with me if I . . . disappoint you.”

  He counted to ten. “Seems like you wanna do this now, so we’ll do it now and be done with it for good.”

  “Done with what?”

  “Old baggage. Old exes.”

  “I also said you had mad bedroom skills, but you didn’t pick up on that,” she retorted.

  Tobin grabbed a handful of her hair and tilted her head back. “You did see how hard I came, right? You heard me. You watched me. So you’ve got some mad bedroom skills yourself, baby.”

  She smirked. “Fine. Dish on the exes and then I’ll feel superior about the women who were too stupid to keep you.”

  He smiled and kissed the top of her head. “I was a virgin until I started college. The first girl I slept with became my girlfriend. We dated maybe six months. She wanted more of the date-type relationship, going to movies or out to eat or events at the college. When we were alone she just liked to cuddle. Her saying that to me—a horny eighteen-year-old guy—was way fuckin’ worse than bein’ friend-zoned. At least in that zone there’s no body-to-body contact. Her snuggling into me, rubbing on me sometimes all night? I hated that she assumed I’d be okay with junior-high-type physical contact.”

  “So did you get wild on Sorority Row after that?”

  “Never as much as my buddies thought I should. I liked the idea of being with one person. My next semi-serious relationship was in grad school. At first we had a lot of sex, but then . . . Then we didn’t do anything but study and she’d bitch about her parents. The longer we were together the less sex was part of our relationship. Then all she ever needed from me was a rubber ear.” He cringed. “I pulled the ultimate dick move and told her if she bought a rubber cock then she wouldn’t need me at all.”

  Jade snickered. “And that was the last time you saw her.”

  “Yep. I moved home after getting my master’s. While I was waiting for my life to begin and for the job offers to start pouring in, I started seeing a woman a few years older than me. She taught third grade in Saratoga. We clicked and started making plans—life plans. But she didn’t want to leave Wyoming so she encouraged me to only apply for jobs within driving distance. So I turned down a great job in Omaha.”

  “She asked you to turn it down?”

  “I tried to do the mature relationship thing and discuss it with her first, but she said if I wanted to be with her then I should be willing to make sacrifices. I ended up working at the Split Rock part time and serving as a hunting guide the rest of the time. I don’t know why I trusted her or believed that we were building something permanent. She owned a house but she wouldn’t let me move in with her. Instead I had to live at home which fucking sucked. We didn’t ever hang out with her friends or her colleagues. She didn’t want to meet my buddies. She kept me a dirty little secret. Within two days of the school year ending, she broke it off with me. Evidently I was a placeholder until her real boyfriend was released from jail. She took off on the back of his bike.” He released a nervous laugh. “I’ve never told anyone that story.”

  “Really? Why not?”

  “Because I was her fuck toy and it makes me sound like an idiot.”

  “Were you in love with her and broken-hearted when she left you?” Jade asked softly.

  “No. That’s the thing. I was pissed at myself for having shitty judgment. After that? I decided hookups were best even when I always wanted something more meaningful.”

  Jade remained quiet a beat too long.

  “What are you thinking about?”

  “You being a fuck toy. I hate that for you.”

  Tobin tipped her head back. “But?”

  “I don’t want you to treat me the opposite. I’m petite . . . and you’re big all over. Bigger than I imagined. But you don’t treat me like I’m fragile. You haven’t so far. However . . .” She drilled her finger into his pectoral. “I don’t want any set schedules. You, Mr. Math Genetics dude, looking at the clock, thinking, ‘It’s been eight hours. Maybe I should wait another two before we go at it again.’”

  He blushed. He saw himself doing that very thing.

  “Here’s a scenario. I’m finishing the dishes and you’re . . . having a frosty beverage in the living room. It’s been four hours. Then you think of something or maybe you’re watching porn on your phone and you get hard and you want to fuck. Do you, one: yell ‘Babe, it’s go time’ over your shoulder, or do you, two: come up behind me in the kitchen and whisper, ‘Are you sore?’”

  “None of the above.” Tobin rolled on top of her. “First off, if I ever yell ‘Babe, it’s go time’ and I’m expecting to get laid? Punch me in the nuts. Seriously.”

  She laughed. “Deal.”

  “Secondly, you aren’t gonna be doin’ dishes while I’m sitting on the couch drinking a fucking beer. You wash and I’ll dry or whatever. Then maybe when we’re almost done with the dishes, I hook the towel around your neck and pull your body against mine. Maybe I tease you until you’re ready to blow. Maybe I finger you until you’re wet and making those sexy little gasps. Maybe I grab the lube out of the junk drawer because I’ve started stashing it all over the damn house, just in case”—he grinned—“and I strip you down to skin, right there. After I hoist you onto the counter and I’m kissing you everywhere, my mouth lands like here”—he dragged his finger along her collarbone—“or here”—he pressed his thumb into the pulse point at the base of her throat—“or all the way along here”—he started at her earlobe and followed the curve of her neck across her shoulder.

  Jade’s breathing turned choppy.

  “As I’m doin’ all that tasting and licking of your skin on the top, I’ve shoved my pants down, squirted lube on my cock and have your hot cunt aligned perfectly so I can slam into you with one snap of my hips. I fuck you however your mouth and body tells me you need it. Fast. Slow. Deep. Shallow. After you come screaming my name and I get off pounding into your tight pussy . . . I don’t think either of us will remember if I asked you if you were sore.”

  “There’s a sink full of dishes down there right now.”

  Tobin laughed and kissed her. “I’ll file away ‘fucking on the kitchen counter’ as a future possibility.”

  “I like the lube-all-over-the-house idea. Since it’s just us and we can be spontaneous.”

  “I’ll start carrying it in my front pocket.”

  “Good. And let’s skip the condoms. I have the implant so we’re covered for pregnancy. I haven’t had sex with a real live penis since my senior year in college so no VD.”

  “Same.” He brushed his mouth across hers. “No condoms from here on out. And since I gave you my assorted sexual backstory . . . give it up, tiger.”

  “It’s so typical and boring. High school boyfriend punched my V-card midway through the summer before college. So we had sex like . . . maybe six times. It always seemed rushed.”

  Tobin made a mental note to slow things down next time.

  “He chose Stanford; I stayed in New York and went to Columbia. We broke it off before he left. No bitterness or drama. I dated here and there. A lot of group dates. Some one-on-ones. I didn’t have sex again until my sophomore year. We were together about a few months. We didn’t have sex all that often. The dorms are small and privacy was a joke. It felt skeevy taking a date to my parents’ house so we could screw. I had a few hookups after that. My dry spell began after I graduated and continued until I met you.” She nipped his chin. “So it’s been stellar so far.
Hot motel sex. Walk of shame in the grocery store. Amazing oral and a trip to pound town before noon. A refreshing nap and some cuddling.” She shrieked when he poked her in the ribs. “And I’m still sprawled naked in the early afternoon, with the hottest, sexiest, sweetest guy I’ve ever been with.”

  “You and me are gonna have some fun these next three weeks.”

  Jade studied him but she didn’t say anything. He noticed she did that a lot. Carefully measured her words before she spoke. Was that a trait of her shyness? Or because she was so methodical from her musical training?

  Then she smiled and scraped her fingers in his facial scruff. “I like this.”

  “I can stand it about one day and then it’s gone. It gets too itchy. Especially when I’m outside and the sun is beating down on me and I’m sweating. Then dirt gets trapped in the damp hair and I’m ready to tear my face off.”

  “You were right. I liked how it felt on the insides of my thighs.”

  No artifice. Just . . . Jade.

  “I am hungry. Let’s go make lunch.”

  He set his hand on her shoulder after she scooted to the edge of the bed. “Hold on. Before you said you wanted to talk about two things. What was the other one?”

  “We can talk about it downstairs. No biggie.” She stood and stretched.

  “You look good naked all stretched out like that, tiger.” One glimpse of her ass and that glorious fall of hair and he’d already started to get hard again.

  Jade whipped her head around, sending her hair flying. She peered over her shoulder, gifting him with a coquettish look. “You can do me like this . . . my palms flat on the wall above me, my feet spread, my hips”—she performed a stripper-like pelvis roll—“however you want to position them with those big rough hands.”

  Holy fuck. Playful tiger.

  Hot tiger.

  His dick definitely approved.

  Then she tossed her head and spoke to his groin. “Food first, big guy. Then we’ll play.”

  Yeah. His dick definitely approved.

  After the sandwiches were made and the fruit sliced—Tobin was ridiculously happy that Jade remembered to pour him a glass of milk—they sat at the smaller table in the kitchen.

  “All right, cowboy. What would you do with your three weeks if I wasn’t here?”

  Tobin swallowed his mouthful of roast beef goodness. “I’d masturbate a lot. Watch some TV. Go fishing.” He took a swig of milk. “What about you?”

  “I’d practice.”

  “For what? A concert or something?”

  She shrugged. “Practicing is just a habit I’ve had my entire life. Some people do yoga or journal or sketch. I practice. I have more sheet music than most school systems, which is embarrassing to admit.” She set her sandwich down. “I’d try and figure out what I want to do for a job. I haven’t been employed in my field of study at all since graduation.” She looked at him as if it pained her to admit that.

  “Welcome to the club, darlin’. I’ve been ridin’ the range as a hired hand for the past six years. And before I went full time at the Split Rock, for almost a year I worked part time as a baggage handler and errand boy. Not much need for a master’s in reproductive biology when I’m opening gates and spreading hay.”

  “Well that shot down my little whine-fest. Here I thought I was special.”

  He laughed. “I’d love to make us both feel better by saying a lot of grads never utilize their degrees, but I happen to be surrounded by folks that are doin’ just that. Janie, the Split Rock GM, went to school for hospitality and business management. Tierney, Renner’s wife, has like four advanced degrees in finance, business and economics. She runs all the finances for the Split Rock and the cattle company. Plus, she has her own financial consulting business, which to be honest? I don’t even know what that means except she knows how to make money and other people pay her to show them how. Then there’s Fletch, the local veterinarian. He performs surgeries and all that medical stuff he went to school for.”

  “So why didn’t you end up at a research lab someplace?”

  “Good question. Jobs were really tough then. Not that it’s that much easier now. I’d spent time in Brazil during grad school and developed the mind-set that I just wanted to be home. In Wyoming.” He rubbed the back of his neck and laughed. “I don’t know where I thought I’d get a job. Not a ton of research facilities out on the prairie. So I didn’t look real hard for work beyond the state border. Which means, I’m pretty much a dumb-ass.”

  Jade covered her hand with his. “Don’t say that. My parents encouraged me to get my master’s and I couldn’t fathom why I’d want an advanced degree in a subject that wasn’t employable with a basic degree. I still love history. Still love that time period. So I can play music from the Renaissance era and tell you all about the history, the politics and the literature from then. It is excellent cocktail party talk.” She smirked. “If I was the type who actually spoke to people at cocktail parties, instead of hiding in the corner wondering if my shoes look okay with my dress.”

  He laughed. She was so refreshingly honest. But not mean. And not pitiful. “We might’ve met at a cocktail party like that. I’m not petite enough to hide in corners, so I have the opposite problem. Everything seems scaled down when you’re used to wide-open spaces. Then I’m bumping into shit with my big boots and knocking things over. And it was ten times worse in Brazil because I don’t speak Portuguese.”

  For the next hour they talked about bad job interviews and prima donna professors. Of how practicality can crush passion. Of triumphs and disappointments. He told her about the applications he’d filled out and his worry that with the rapid advancements in the field that even just six years out of school, his education might be outdated.

  After they put away the lunch fixings, Jade washed the dishes and he dried. Miz G had a dishwasher, but he preferred standing next to Jade, sneaking in little pats on the ass or a quick kiss.

  She was equally affectionate. Standing close enough to make sure their bodies touched and some part of her hand or arm connected with some part of his even when she handed him a soapy plate.

  With her, the getting-to-know-you stuff flowed more naturally than he’d ever dreamed. But Jade became introspective as she wiped down the counters and table.

  When Tobin returned from taking out the garbage, she was leaning against the doorjamb of the back door, gazing across the yard. He curled his body around hers, resting his chin on the top of her head. “Whatcha thinking about?”

  “Canning. If GG really expects me to do it, do I buy a book? As much as I’d like to ask her friends for help . . .”

  “I’m not much help either. When it cools off let’s head out to the veggie patch and make lists of what there’s too much of.” He brushed his lips across her temple. “Because I know how much you love your lists, darlin’.”

  She laughed.

  “Something else on your mind?”

  “Yesterday when Riss and I were in the ranch supply store, I met Dodie. And she said Lou-Lou the prep cook had given notice, so Riss just blurted out that I had experience as a prep cook. Dodie told me to fill out an application.”

  Tobin turned her to face him. “Is that something you’re interested in?”

  “I actually liked working as a prep cook. I’m used to getting up early. It’s a part-time position . . .”

  “Jade. Sweetheart. You should definitely apply.”

  She studied his eyes. “You wouldn’t mind if we worked in the same place? I mean, it’s not the same job. Obviously I won’t be out chasing cows. But we’d be in the same area. That wouldn’t feel like I was trying to insert myself into every part of your life?”

  “Let’s see . . . how do I phrase this?” He moved in closer to her. “My life would be a million times better if you were in every single part of it, every minute, of every day.”

  “Really?”

  “Scout’s honor.” He smooched her lips. “Apply for the job if you want to. Don
t apply if you’re worried that working there will stress you out.”

  She fiddled with the collar on his shirt. “Then I’m going to apply.”

  Tobin tempered his initial response to whoop and holler and spin her around. But this was such a good sign that she was taking steps to stay here for a while.

  Isn’t it ironic that four of the six job applications you’ve sent . . . are for positions out of state?

  He wouldn’t think about that now. “Do you want me to bring you an application since I’m there every day anyway?”

  “Sure. And maybe put in a good word for me?”

  “Jade. Janie and Renner would be thrilled to have a former New York City cook working in their kitchen.” He tucked her hair behind her ear. “Tell me you’re excited about spending these next three weeks together.”

  “I am.”

  “I’ve got big plans for us.” He pinched her ass and she squeaked. “Not all of them will revolve around you bein’ naked.”

  “Now I’m dying to hear what you’re planning.”

  “Next weekend I’m takin’ you fishing.”

  “Why?”

  Tobin laughed. “Because I like to fish. Maybe you will too. Lots of couples end up with common interests.”

  “Great. We’ll go fishing together. Then at some point over the weekend, we’ll make popcorn and watch my favorite movie.”

  “Please tell me it’s Die Hard.”

  She wrinkled her nose. “No, it’s an opera.”

  “Like . . . ?” Fuck. He couldn’t name a single opera.

  “It’s La bohème, a Puccini opera. The Italian edition is subtitled.”

  Great. “We could go dancing too.”

  “I’m not a very good dancer,” Jade said. “But I’m not bad at tennis.”

  “I hate tennis. What about horseback ridin’?”

 
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