Cowboy take me away, p.33
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       Cowboy Take Me Away, p.33

         Part #16 of Rough Riders series by Lorelei James

  Tater started to charge but a big guy stepped between them, placing a meaty hand on both of their chests.

  “Take it the fuck outside or I call the sheriff. Dig?”

  After snagging his beer, Tater started walking backward. He grinned at Carolyn. “Fun while it lasted.” He vanished into the crowd.

  Immediately Carson wrapped his fingers around her upper arms and hauled her to the tips of her boots. “What the fuck are you doin’ here?”

  “Having a night out.”

  “Like hell you are. Get home where you belong.”


  “Tryin’ my patience, woman.”

  “Your patience?” Carolyn jerked out of his hold. “Spare me. I’m the queen of patience when it comes to you. So where’d your friend go?”


  “The woman I saw you with earlier. I didn’t quite make it to the back booth to see if she was sucking you off or if you preferred to fuck her.”

  Carson’s eyes widened.

  “Surprised to hear me say that word?” She stepped in close enough to poke him in the chest. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. Fuck her and fuck you if you’ve been fucking her. How’s that? Did I get the fucking point across you fucking cheating asshole?”

  “I’d never…” His face had turned mottled red and he looked ready to commit murder.

  The bouncer returned and inserted himself between them. “Ma’am? Are you okay?”

  “No, I am not okay. Not even close to okay.”

  “What can I do?”

  “If you could get me some napkins so I can dry myself off that’d be appreciated.”

  “Sure thing. Be right back.”

  Carolyn reclaimed her place at the bar, giving Carson her back, thankful there weren’t mirrors so he could see her face.

  He didn’t make a move toward her. Nor did he speak. But she sensed him seething.

  Good. Let’s see how you fucking like being ignored, you dumb fucker.

  Another guy moved into the open space on her left. “Ma’am. You all right?”

  Lord, save her from gentleman cowboys. “I’m fine. Just spilled on myself.”

  “That happens to me too when I drink tequila.”

  She released a brittle laugh. “Wish I could blame it on booze.”

  “Can I buy you a drink?”

  Then Carson stepped up and loomed over the man. “I’ll shove a bottle straight up your ass if you don’t get the fuck away from my wife.”

  “Sorry, man. I thought—”

  “You thought wrong. Beat it.”

  After the guy left, Carson moved in close enough she could smell the whiskey and cigarettes on his breath. “Goddammit, Carolyn, what are you doin’ here?”

  Somehow she’d masked the hurt and let her anger show. “You spend so much time here lately I wanted to experience the appeal of it for myself.”

  “Where are my sons?”

  “In the car. Locked in the trunk. With guns and the candy I used to lure them in.” She got nose to nose with him. “Don’t you ever, ever, ever question that I’d put their safety, happiness and wellbeing above everything else in my life.”

  Shame flashed in his eyes. “I’m sorry.”

  “Yes, you are. You’ve been a sorry excuse for a husband and a father and I’m done putting up with it.”

  “What are you sayin’?”

  “You know exactly what I’m saying.”

  “Carson? Is everything all right?” a female voice inquired.

  He shook his head at whoever was behind her.

  Carolyn turned, her stomach plummeting when she realized the dark haired woman she’d seen Carson with was Edie. The same woman she’d caught him with seven years ago. The same woman who’d taken every opportunity to make Carolyn miserable whenever they ran into each other.

  Edie’s gaze winged between them. Then she offered Carolyn a smirk. “I didn’t know you were here.”

  “Obviously I am, so now you can buzz off.”

  “There’s no need to be rude. Carson and I were just…talking.”

  “I don’t care.”

  Edie’s eyes went comically wide. “You don’t believe me?”

  “I believe I asked you to leave.”

  “I didn’t mean to cause problems.” Edie sent Carson a pleading look. “It’s not what you think. I needed someone to talk to and a shoulder to cry on. And since Carson has such big shoulders…he obliged me.”

  Carson made an irritated sound.

  As Carolyn studied Edie’s smug face, the situation became clear. She suspected Edie had heard Carson had been hanging out at the Silver Spur a lot lately. And Edie knew perfectly well that the gossip mill would churn with news that she—the recent divorcée—was spending time alone in the back room with Carson McKay.

  How long had it taken for the news to reach Carolyn?

  One. Day.

  So Carolyn knew Carson hadn’t been stepping out on her—at least not with Edie. Given the size of this town? If he had been cheating on her, she would’ve heard about it long before now.

  “I’ll oblige you too by reminding you that Carson is my husband. He’s a good man. But that’s the thing, he’s my man. Mine. He’s not your friend, he’s not your confidante, so back off.”

  She eyed Carolyn’s wet blouse. “Apparently you’ve had too much to drink. No matter what you’ve heard—”

  “Oh, I heard all right. The gossip about you two being cozied up last night already got back to me.”

  Carson swore behind her.

  “I’m here to put a stop to it.”

  “Honey, I don’t have any control over gossip. If folks around here are saying your man is looking to scratch an itch that he ain’t getting scratched at home? You can’t blame me if he’s sniffing around because I got me some nice claws.”

  That did it.

  Carolyn took a swing at her and was the little witch ever surprised when the punch landed right on her smart, lying mouth.

  Edie stumbled and Carolyn struck again.

  This time she socked Edie in the gut with everything she had. When Edie doubled over, Carolyn pounced on her, knocking her to the floor.

  Carolyn went down with her, on top of her, continuing to strike her with body shots even when Edie curled into a ball to escape the blows.

  Hands landed on her back and Carolyn twisted away, determined to keep swinging until her fist connected with solid mass.

  While the anger still churned inside her, Carolyn grabbed a handful of Edie’s hair and tried to jerk her head up. “Look at me,” she demanded.

  Edie shook her head.

  Carolyn bent closer to Edie’s ear. “Look at me or I will start yanking out chunks of your hair in bloody clumps.”

  That got her attention. Edie moved just enough that Carolyn could see her scared eyes and her bloodied face.

  “The reason you weren’t successful in seducing my husband is because he’d sooner fuck a diseased sheep than you. Stay away from me and mine or I will finish this and fuck you up until you’re unrecognizable. Do you understand?”

  She nodded.

  “Say it out loud so I and everyone else can hear you.”


  Breathing hard, Carolyn slowly stood. Pushing the hair back from her face, she noticed a circle surrounding them. But the inner circle was all women, who seemed to be stopping the men from breaking up the fight. She recognized several of the women, and they were nodding at her with approval.

  Holy. Cow.

  “Back up and get outta the way,” the bouncer barked and crouched next to Edie.

  The bartender stomped over. “That’s it. So much for me thinking you’d class up the joint—you started a damn bar fight! Get out. Don’t ever come back because you are banned for life.”

  Her jaw dropped. “What do you mean banned for life?”

  “Just what I said. I ever see your face in here again I’m calling the sheriff.”

  Infuriated, Carolyn
threw up her hands. “I’m banned?”


  “Is she banned?” She pointed to Edie, still curled up on the floor.


  “Why not?”

  “Because she’s bleeding; you’re not.”

  Carolyn opened her mouth to argue or maybe lunge at the guy who’d decided—unfairly—to toss her out, when Carson’s strong arm created a band across her chest.

  “If my wife is banned, then you’ll never see me in here again, understand?”

  The bartender went bug-eyed. “She’s your wife?”

  “Damn straight she is.”

  “Sorry, man, we’ll miss ya, but I can’t let this slide.”

  She jabbed her elbow into Carson’s gut with enough force he loosened his hold on her. “Fine. I’m gone.” Holding her chin up, she marched to the front door and the crowd parted for her.

  The shame she expected to feel? Strangely absent.

  Maybe for the first time she understood why her husband liked to fight. It was cleansing.

  She’d almost made it to the parking lot when hands landed on her hips and pushed her into the shadow of the building, then spun her around.

  Carson wrapped his hand around the back of her neck, holding her in place. The fierceness in his eyes…wow. Been a long time since he’d looked at her that way.

  “That was the most magnificent thing I’ve ever seen. Except for the two times you brought our sons into the world.”

  “I’m mad at you, Carson McKay. So don’t you dare try and charm your way out of this mess.”

  “I’m not. I’m tellin’ it like I saw it, sugar. You were spectacular. Spectacular. Callin’ me on my shit. Not backin’ down from me or anyone else. Reminding me of why I fell in love with you.”

  “Maybe you ought to remind me why I fell in love with you,” she challenged. “Because a man who claims to love his wife doesn’t avoid coming home.”

  “I know.”

  “What is going on with you?”

  “Besides the obvious that I’ve been drinkin’ too much?” He pressed his forehead to hers. “I’ve been a lousy husband and a shitty father.” He inhaled. Exhaled. “Fuck. It’s like stabbing myself in the heart even sayin’ that to you because you are such a damn good wife and mother. You are the most important thing in my world. And if I lose you…”

  Carolyn watched his chin wobble as he fought to retain control. Her gut clenched and her heart hurt to see this strong man start to crumble. But she let him struggle.

  “Truth is, my life is over if I’m dumb enough to lose you. So I ain’t gonna let that happen. Ever. I fucked up but I’ll do whatever it takes to fix this. Whatever it takes.” He stared into her eyes. “Say you’ll give me another chance.”

  “Then you need to come clean. During all the time you’ve spent away from home and at the bar, did you step out on me?” Her breath remained trapped in her lungs as she waited his answer.

  “No. Fuck no. I’d never do that to you. Or to us.”

  “So Edie…?”

  “I swear I had no idea what she was doin’. Last night she and two of her friends sat at the booth in the back room while they were playing pool. When her friends left she was sitting next to me and she didn’t move. By then I was pretty deep in the bottle. Doubt I spoke more than a dozen words to her. So what she said about cryin’ on my shoulder was complete bullshit.”

  “That doesn’t explain tonight.”

  His eyes brimmed with anguish. “She told me she was worried her ex would show up and asked if she could sit with me for a bit. That happened when Charlie was drinkin’ with me. Then he took off with her friend.”

  “And Charlie didn’t think anything of leaving his drunken brother alone with a recent divorcée?”

  “Charlie knows I worship you. He knows even if Edie had been nekkid I wouldn’t have touched her.”

  Men were so stupid sometimes. “You know that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t have tried to touch you.”

  He blinked as if that hadn’t occurred to him. “I see that now and I’m really sorry I didn’t see it before.”

  “Do you have any idea know how horrible it is to get a phone call from a friend who’s seen you out with another woman?” Her tone turned bitter. “Then I get here and find out it’s Edie? That made it worse. You know the crap she’s said to me over the years. So is this one of those times you tell me you don’t give a damn what anyone around here says or thinks about you?”

  “No.” He brought his eyes in line with hers. “No. I give a damn because this hurt you. I hurt you. I have to live with that. I have to prove that it’ll never happen again.”

  “There’s an easy way to prove it.”


  “As of right now your going to the bar days are over, Carson McKay. Not just the Silver Spur but every other bar in the vicinity and the entire state of Wyoming.”

  He said, “Done,” without a moment’s hesitation.

  “You want to drink? You’ll drink at home. You want to go out? You’ll go out with me. Those are my stipulations for us moving on from this.”

  “That won’t be a problem. I want to be the man you deserve.” Carson framed her face in his callused hands. “I love you, Carolyn. You are it for me. You have been since the moment I met you. There ain’t a woman alive that can give me what you do.”

  “What’s that?”

  “Passion that has marked my heart and soul as yours, and yours alone.”

  This brusque man wasn’t big on professing his feelings beyond telling her he loved her. So when he said things off the cuff and from a place of truth? She cherished every word.

  Then his mouth was on hers. His hunger, his driving need didn’t surprise her; it inflamed her.

  She shoved her hands into his hair, knocking his hat to the ground. Carson didn’t pause in the ferocious kisses; if anything, he kissed her harder. Pushing her backward until her spine connected with the building.

  “There’s another way you can prove it,” she panted against his throat. “Fuck me. Right here, right now.”

  “But, Caro, if anyone comes out here—”

  She grabbed his chin in her hand, forcing him to meet her gaze. “They’ll see you fucking me—your wife, not some two-bit bar whore. And I don’t give a damn who knows that you wanted me—your wife, so desperately that you fucked me right outside the front door.”

  “Good God, do you have any idea how fucking much I love you?”

  “Show me.”

  After he thoroughly ravished her with intense kisses that left her breathless, his mouth skated down her neck. His razor-stubbled cheeks scraped her skin, which he soothed with sucking kisses. “Fuck, woman. Never get enough of you,” he panted. “I’ll be an old man of a hundred and five and I’ll still want this—need this—from you.”

  She moaned when he zeroed in on the section of her neck that nearly sent her into orgasm. “More.”

  He sucked harder, letting his teeth and tongue come into play while his fingers found the first button on her blouse. He yanked and the snaps gave way, exposing her torso to her belly button. Then he placed his hand over her heart and she went weak-kneed. She spiraled even deeper under his spell when his fingers slipped beneath her bra and started plucking her nipple.

  Against the upper swell of her breast, he growled, “Will I find my pussy wet if you put my hand between your legs?”

  She loved that he called her pussy his. “Yes.”

  “Do it.”

  The shock of his demand fed the inferno raging between them. She
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