Tied up, tied down, p.3
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       Tied Up, Tied Down, p.3

         Part #4 of Rough Riders series by Lorelei James
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Page 3

  Her lips curled in a cat-like smile. “Too bad you weren’t this honest the other night. I know just the place. Let’s go. ”

  Ten minutes later, Kade lowered the menu. “I hate to break it to you, Skylar, but this ain’t a vegetarian restaurant. ”

  “I know. It’s the most expensive restaurant in town. And since you said any place, I figured you owed me the very best. ”

  “Bit of a hard ass, ain’t ya?”

  She shrugged. “What’re you having?”

  “Eggplant parmesan. ”

  “Really?”

  “Yeah. Why?”

  “I figured you’d order the porterhouse. ”

  “I don’t eat beef twenty-four/seven. I eat lots of other things. ” He’d sure like to nibble on her. Scrape his teeth down to the base of her neck where her throat curved into her shoulder. Flick his tongue across the pulse point beating beneath her jaw. Sniff back up to see if she dabbed perfume behind her sweet little ears or if it was just the natural scent of her skin that smelled so heavenly.

  “You’re gawking at me, McKay. ”

  Kade glanced up at her eyes. “Sorry. ”

  Skylar folded her menu. “We aren’t going to do this again, are we? Sexual innuendos and you ogling my boobs?”

  “I wasn’t oglin’ your boobs. I was oglin’ your neck. ”

  She blinked.

  “What I meant to say, is you have a sexy—I mean, a nice neck, Skylar. Wasn’t my intention to make you uncomfortable. ”

  After the waitress took their order, Kade fiddled with his silverware, wondering how many more times he’d stick his boot in his mouth over the course of the meal.

  “So they let you off the ranch today?”

  He frowned. “Whaddya mean?”

  “The other night, you made it sound like you never get to town, you’re always stuck out in the middle of nowhere by yourself. ”

  Kane would play the I’m-such-a-lonely-cowboy-on-the-range angle, figuring she’d be inclined to take a tumble with him if she thought he wasn’t a horndog whooping it up all the time—which is exactly what Kane was.

  “There’s enough guys workin’ I can take off now and again. ”

  “It’s a family operation, right?”

  “Sort of. There are four separate spreads. Ours, my Uncle Carson’s, my Uncle Casper’s and my Uncle Charlie’s. My cousins help my uncles, they’ve all bought land of their own, but we do ranch together. So the original homestead is twenty-five times the size it was when my great-great-grandfather settled in Wyoming territory and it’s spread out in three counties. ”

  “So, did you always want to ranch? Or was it another one of those family legacies where you didn’t have a choice?”

  How did he explain to someone who didn’t possess the same mindset that there was no choice? And it didn’t bother him most days his path in life had been set the day he was born? “It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. The only thing, actually. ”

  “How many acres do you guys have?”

  Kade shifted and reached for his water glass.

  “Did I say something wrong?”

  When he didn’t elaborate, she angled across the table. “I’m new here, remember?

  Cut me some slack if I’ve broken a code of the West or something. ”

  “Truth is, you don’t ask a rancher the size of his spread. Or how many head of cattle he runs. Kinda like askin’ someone how much money they make. ”

  “In other words, crass. ”

  “Yep. ”

  “Sorry. Tell me more about your family. ”

  Did she suspect he wasn’t Kane? “Why?”

  “Big families fascinate me, since mine is so small. ”

  “What I’ve told you don’t even take into account my ma’s side. The Wests have been ranchin’ in Wyoming almost as long as the McKays. Sort of a Hatfield and McCoy rivalry goin’ on there. But there’s just me and my brother in our immediate family. ”

  Skylar stirred sugar substitute in her iced tea. “Older or younger brother?”

  “Younger. ” By about four minutes. “What about you?” After he asked, he kicked himself. She’d probably told Kane. And wow, hadn’t he been babbling like a spring creek? Did she really care about every damn member of his family and their sordid history? His cheeks grew hot.

  “I have one younger sister. India. She defines rebellious since she works in a tattoo parlor. ” Skylar grinned. “She’s awesome. Now that I’m settled and out of LA, she’s relocating here from Denver. ”

  “Not a lot of tattoo artists round these parts. ”

  “Hopefully that means her business will thrive. My mother grew up here and moved to the coast. Grandma died two years ago and left the small acreage to me and my sister. ”

  “She didn’t leave the homeplace to your mother?”

  Skylar shook her head. “Mom died seven years ago. Dad four years before that. ”

  “I’m sorry. ”

  “Thanks. After Gran passed on I needed a change from the rat race. The state of Wyoming offered me a financial incentive to expand my hobby into a business, so I did.

  It’s taken over a year to get it up and running. ”

  Kade picked at his salad. “Will you think I’m a total jerk if I tell you I don’t remember what business you’re in?”

  “That’s because you didn’t ask me. ”

  His head shot up. “That makes me even more of a prick. ”

  That sweet, bellish laughter sounded again. “I’d lay off the pharmaceuticals in the future before a date. ”

  “Deal. What is it that you do?”

  “I created a line of all-natural beauty products made right here on my grandma’s place. ”

  “Sky Blue?”

  Her mouth dropped open. “You’ve heard of it?”

  “Sort of. That’s why I’m in Moorcroft. My ma sent me to DeWitt’s to pick up a bottle of lotion. They don’t carry it in Sundance. ”

  Skylar’s mossy green eyes lit up. Kade found himself staring at her again, absolutely taken by her earthy beauty.

  “I’m trying to rectify that by opening a store in Sundance. So, which lotion?”

  “Ah. Smells kinda like lemony dirt. ”

  She shuddered. “Spoken by a man who probably washes with Lava soap. ”

  “Don’t knock Lava, darlin’. It gets the dirt off. And I’m plenty dirty at the end of the workday. ”

  The food arrived. Instead of blathering on, Kade let the silence linger until they finished eating. Then the flirty waitress swung by with a tray of decadent desserts. “The chocolate cake looks good. ” He prompted, “Skylar?”

  “None for me, thanks. ”

  Kade frowned. He’d swear she’d been eyeballing that same piece of cake. “You don’t like sweets?”

  “I love sweets. I’m trying to watch what I eat so I don’t have more of a weight problem. ”

  Being polite flew right out the window. “What weight problem? You’re perfect, all curvy and sexy and feminine like a woman oughta be. You’re gorgeous and if I wasn’t tryin’ so damn hard to be a gentleman I’d…” Nice going, now she’ll really think you’re reverting to Kane-like behavior. Kade sighed. “Never mind. ”

  Skylar angled closer, her eyes burned with interest. “No. Tell me, gentleman McKay.

  What would you do?”

  “I’d feed you the cake just to see your lips wrap around the fork. Then I’d watch your beautiful throat muscles work as you swallowed the sticky sweetness, fantasizin’ about smearin’ chocolate frosting down your neck so I could lick it off. Slowly. And when I finished feedin’ you, I’d press my mouth to yours for a thorough taste of you and the cake. ”

  She didn’t draw back or recoil.

  “Shocked, darlin’?”

  “I’m more than a little turned on, if you want to know the real truth. ”

  “Lucky for you I’m willin’ to share.
He enjoyed the first few bites, then shoved the plate in the middle of the table. “I wanna see you eat up. ”

  “Is that an order?” Skylar dug the tines of the fork into the mound of vanilla ice cream. “If I don’t eat a bite will you force feed me?”

  “Do you want me to force feed you?”

  “What if I said yes?”

  “I’d be on your side of the table faster than you could blink. ”

  Skylar said, “Yes,” loud and clear.

  Kade zoomed around and stretched his left arm along the back of her side of the booth, pressing his thigh to hers.

  “You weren’t kidding. ”

  “Nope. I never turn down the opportunity to share a taste of the sweet stuff in life. ”

  He swirled the fork through the thick chocolate frosting and held it to her mouth. “Open for me. ”

  Her full lips parted slightly.

  He slipped the fork inside. “Suck the sweetness off the tip. Just like that. Then I wanna see that pretty throat movin’ as you swallow every bit of sticky goodness. ”

  Kade broke eye contact only to watch her swallow. He groaned. “Again. Don’t know why I’m torturin’ myself, but I can’t help it. Lord, you have the sexiest neck I’ve ever seen. ”

  “First time a date has waxed poetic about the area above my nipples,” she said huskily.

  “Sweetheart, you’ve been datin’ the wrong man. ” She didn’t know how true that was.

  “I get that now. ”

  Kade scooped on another forkful and teased it across the seam of her mouth. “Lick it a little. ”

  Her tongue darted out.

  “You want the whole thing, not just a dainty taste. ”

  “It’s too big. ”

  “You can take it. Open wide. You know you want to take it all. ”