Branded as trouble, p.36
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       Branded as Trouble, p.36

         Part #6 of Rough Riders series by Lorelei James
 
Page 36

  “You don’t sound too happy about that prospect. ” India faced him, or where she thought he might be lurking. “In fact, several times, like at the basketball game, you’ve questioned whether I should be with Colt because he ends up injured around me. ”

  “Sorry for snapping, I was on edge about Domini’s situation that night. ” Pause. “Besides, why would you give a shit what I say or what I think?”

  “I don’t. But if you think Colt doesn’t listen to you or care about what you say or what you think, you’re an idiot, Deputy McKay. ”

  She could tell that statement caught him off guard. “I wouldn’t torpedo the first decent relationship Colt’s ever had, India. Far from it. ”

  “That’s good to know. ”

  “Although, you drive that motorcycle too damn fast. ”

  India flashed him a cheeky smile. “You’ll have to catch me first to prove that, copper. ”

  Cam laughed.

  “So you’re keeping your torpedo launcher away from me…because you think I’m gonna keep Colt on the straight and narrow?”

  “No. It’s Colt’s responsibility to stay on the straight and narrow, not yours. Despite the fact you two wage war over the dumbest shit, and fight just so you can make up, you’re good for him. You’re a good person, Indy. A lot of the people in his past haven’t been, including some people in his family. He deserves a woman who understands him. Who sees his past and doesn’t judge him for it. Who sees him as the man he is now, not who he used to be. ”

  “Amen. Maybe you oughta share that insight with your family. ”

  “Believe me, I’ve tried. ”

  The porch door banged and Colt stepped out. “Hey. What’re you doin’ out here without a coat on?”

  “Just thinking. ” She wouldn’t out Cam. If he wanted to pipe up, that was his business. “It got a little stuffy in there. ”

  “I understand that. You okay?”

  No. I could use a big, stiff drink. “Of course. ”

  “Good. Come on, supper’s ready. ”

  Of course.

  She’d never admit a fallacy. Instead, she’d just slap on a happy face even if she was bleeding on the inside.

  India was like that in A. A. too. Willing to deal with other people’s issues, while skirting her own. Did she ever feel…overwhelmed? Did she ever have that urge to drink until she passed out?

  Probably not. Of all the people Colt knew, India seemed to have the addiction thing whipped. She had total control of her demons and some days he wished he was as confident in his sobriety as she was.

  No one noticed India’s quiet demeanor at the supper table. She smiled. Laughed in all the right places but that restrained laughter never reached her eyes.

  The only time a portion of the mask slipped was when she watched his nephews. A wistful look would soften her features. The same look she got watching her nieces. But if Colt let on he’d noticed? He knew her back would snap straight. Directly followed by a determined lifting of that elfin chin.

  It drove him insane she had to act so freakin’ tough all the time when he knew she wasn’t.

  When the kids began to get restless and whiny, Colt took it as a sign for them to leave.

  After five minutes of silence cruising down the gravel road, he said, “Sorry you had a sucky time. ”

  “I didn’t have a sucky time. Why’d you think that?”

  “Because you were awful quiet. ”

  “It’s sort of hard to get a word in edgewise with your family, so you can hardly blame me. ”

  “Blame you? For what?” Colt slammed on the brakes and threw it into park in the middle of the gravel road. “For Christsake, India, will you at least be honest with me?”

  “Hey! Do you mind giving warning next time so I can brace myself for whiplash?”

  “Funny, I was just thinkin’ the neckline on that shirt makes it look like you’re already wearing a neck brace. ”

  “Since when do you critique my clothing?”

  “Since when did you start dressing like my mother?”

  Her mouth dropped open. “Omigod. You are such an ass. ”

  “Why does that make me an ass?”

  “Because it’s none of your goddamn business what I wear. ”

  “Yeah? So tell me. Why did you wear a long-sleeved shirt?”

  She gave him a stony stare. “Because it’s October, Einstein. ”

  “Fine. ” He let his gaze focus on her nose, then her eyebrow, her ears and finally her breasts. “But where are your hoops? And studs? Why’d you take all of your piercings out?”

  “I don’t wear them all the time. ”

  “Yes, you do. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Were you tryin’ to look more acceptable to my family?”

  India’s defiant posture said it all.

  “Why do you give a damn what my family thinks about your tattoos, piercings and funky clothes, India? I don’t. I didn’t take you there so you could change who you are to please them. ”

  “Why did you take me there?”

  Because you’re mine. Because I wanted everyone to see that I’m worthy of love from an amazing woman like you. “To please myself. ”

  “To please yourself? Jesus. You are such an asshat, jerkwad…fuckface!” India jumped out of the cab and slammed the door with enough force the whole truck vibrated.

  She’d gone beyond calling him a dickhead in a helluva hurry.

  And now she was hurrying away from him.

  “Goddammit, India! Get back in here. ”

  He didn’t hear her response but he did see her flip him off in the glow of the headlights as she walked down the middle of the road.

  Colt climbed out and chased after her. “Hey, I’m not done talkin’ to you. ”

  “Tough shit, I am done talking to you. ”

  She kept walking.

  He kept fuming. “Just get back in the truck, India, this is ridiculous. ”

  India whirled around. “You know what’s ridiculous? That I actually tried. I actually put forth an effort to be—how’d you put it?—more acceptable to your family. And to what end? It isn’t me that they aren’t seeing clearly, Colt, it’s you. ”

  “What the hell are you talkin’ about?”

  “I could’ve shown up, painted fucking purple, with yellow feathers in my hair, wearing a slave choker and chain and it wouldn’t have made a difference. I’m not the one who needs to make the effort because I know who you are. They don’t. It pisses me off. ” She flounced off again.

  She was upset. For him? Because his family didn’t understand him like she did?

  “Indy, wait—”

  “No. I’m too mad to deal with you right now. ”

  “You can’t walk home. ”

  “Watch me. ”

  Each twitch of her sexy little ass was like fuel on the fire. He wanted her. Now.

  So Colt started after her. He caught her in about fifteen steps and picked her up, throwing her over his shoulder.

  She kicked and screeched but he held onto the back of her legs as he spun around and headed back to the pickup.

  “Let me down!”

  “Nope. ”

  “If you don’t, I-I’ll bite you in the ass, McKay, I’m not kidding!”

  “I’ll bite you back. And you already know how much I like your ass. ”

  She screamed with frustration, pummeling her fists into his butt.

  By the time they’d reached the truck, she’d quit flailing. She had a tight grip on his belt loops. “Are you gonna run if I put you down?”

  “No. ”

  Colt slid his hands up to brace her back as he lowered her feet to the ground. “Sugar, look at me. ”

  She was breathing raggedly, more out of anger than exertion.

  Her head fell back.

  Their eyes met. And Colt was lost.

  “Sweet Jesus, India, when you look
at me like that…”

  “Like what?”

  Like you love me. Like I’m a man worthy of you.

  But he suspected she didn’t know everything he’d ever wanted was visible in her eyes. So he backtracked—chickened out really—and focused on the one thing she would admit to: overpowering lust.

  “Like you want to fight me and then fuck me. ”

  India didn’t deny it.

  “Are we done with the fightin’ portion? Cause I’d sure like to fuck you. Right here, right now. Against the dirty truck as you’re shootin’ me dirty looks. ”

  Her response? She launched herself at him. Her mouth slammed into his in a kiss so raw it felt as if she’d knocked the wind out of him.

  Colt pushed her against the pickup. His hands raced everywhere as he tried to find a single section of her skin. Dammit, of all the times to be buttoned-up. He hooked his fingers at the hem of her shirt, between the lapels, and jerked until buttons flew and her warm flesh greeted his eager hands.

  India didn’t protest, in fact, ruining her shirt only made her kiss him harder. Her hands dove into his hair. Not for a leisurely, tender stroking, but she pulled his hair into tight fists as her lower body ground against his fly.

  Goddamn he wanted to suck on her skin. Mark her. Bite her, but the ferocity of the kiss made it impossible for him to release her lips even momentarily. He growled in her mouth, bumping his cock into her belly. His hands scraped up her back, maneuvering around to cup her breasts. When his thumbs rasped over her nipples, he didn’t feel the rings.

  When he broke his mouth free and he ate a path down her throat, she arched, baring all to him. One tug and her bra cups opened. Rather than look, he let his mouth do the walking, straight to her left nipple.

  Yes. A ring. A smaller one than what she’d been wearing, but she hadn’t taken it out in a fit of propriety. He sucked and lapped and bit and worshiped that tiny bit of metal until she moaned. He suckled her breast deep enough the ring tickled the back of his tongue. Another moan escaped as he switched to the other side and did it again and again and again.
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