Cowboy take me away, p.36
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       Cowboy Take Me Away, p.36

         Part #16 of Rough Riders series by Lorelei James
 

  “Okay.”

  They met at the start of the sidewalk and paused, reaching for each other’s hands at the same time. Side by side they walked up the wooden steps to the covered porch. He studied details with a keener eye now that he owned the place. The front door needed fixed; it definitely needed a coat of paint. As did all the wood trim around the windows. Probably Carolyn would like a screen door at the front of the house to catch the evening breeze, so that’d be first on his agenda.

  But the very first thing…

  Carson turned her toward him. He kissed her very softly and murmured, “Ready?” against her lips.

  “Very ready.”

  “Good. Hang on.” Then he swept her into his arms and carried her inside.

  He knew she appreciated his romantic gesture when she nuzzled his throat and sighed. After setting her on her feet, he took her beautiful face in his hands and said, “Welcome home, Mrs. McKay.”

  Her tears fell as she fit her mouth to his and she gifted him with a kiss filled with sweet gratitude.

  It’d struck him hard then, as it did every so often, that ranching was his livelihood, but this woman was his life, his heart, his home. Loving her had shaped him into the man he’d become.

  Carolyn broke free of his hold with a soft laugh. “Sorry. This is all just too much.”

  “It’s everything you deserve.” He kissed her again. “Ready to check out your house?”

  She smiled. “Kitchen first.”

  “Of course.” He enjoyed watching her prowl the enormous space. Opening cupboards and running her hands over the counters with an expression akin to awe.

  Finally she looked at him. “It’s so big.”

  “That’s what all men love to hear.”

  She swatted his biceps. “I can’t believe your dad left us all the dishes and pots and pans.”

  “He won’t need ’em. This is the one room he didn’t clean out after Ma died.”

  “We won’t need to buy anything besides food to stock this kitchen.” She looked at him curiously. “What else did Jed leave behind?”

  “Pretty much everything with the exception of his favorite chair and TV,” Carson admitted. “And to be honest, he’s relieved we’re movin’ in. He said he was tired of rattling around in this big old house like a lone BB in a shell.”

  “He apologized to me that the house needs so much cleaning. But I don’t mind. I’ll know every nook and cranny by the time I’m done.”

  “Come on.” He kissed her forehead. “Let’s see what you’ve got to work with.”

  Carson listened with amusement as Carolyn rattled off the changes she wanted to make. The living room furniture would do for now, but she envisioned something far less formal for a house with three boys. She loved the dining room and swore they’d eat every meal in here and not at the small table in the kitchen. She commented on stripping wallpaper and adding new paint. Every room needed new rugs as well as different curtains. She immediately declared the parlor off the kitchen as her space, muttering to herself about placement of her sewing machine and needing more shelves in the closet.

  They finally ascended the stairs, which opened up to the middle of the hallway.

  Carolyn stopped.

  “What?”

  She pointed at the closed doors. “Do we let the boys choose their own rooms?”

  He scratched his chin. “I dunno. Do you think they each need their own room? We’ve got the space now, but Cord and Colby have always shared. Maybe they’ll just want to put the bunk beds in one room until they’re used to the place and then they can pick.”

  “Good idea. The one good thing about the trailer was Colton was self-contained with his brothers in a small bedroom.”

  “Only when he wasn’t tryin’ to convince his big brothers to release him from his cage.” Their third son had started walking and talking early. Cord and Colby dragged him everywhere with them so the kid seemed a lot older than two and a half.

  “Don’t remind me.”

  Carson placed his hand on Carolyn’s belly. “We’ll need that crib for this baby pretty soon anyway.”

  “Not for four months.”

  He kissed her temple. “Like I said, soon.”

  “Since there are two staircases, maybe we should install locks on the outsides of the boy’s doors.” When Carson raised his eyebrow, she said, “I’m kidding. But I have all these worries I didn’t have before.”

  “It’ll be fine. Me’n my brothers survived growin’ up in this house, our boys will too.”

  “I know. It’s just…” She smiled. “Don’t mind me. Hormone overload.”

  “Let’s check out our bedroom.” He rubbed his lips across the top of her ear. “I’ve got a surprise for you.”

  The door to the master bedroom was ajar. He moved in behind her, placing his hands over her eyes. “No peeking until I say.”

  “Carson McKay, if you—”

  “I can put a hand over your mouth too, so zip it.”

  She huffed out an exasperated noise.

  He steered her into the room and kicked the door shut behind them. Then he dropped his hands. “Now you can look.”

  Carolyn gasped and walked toward the brand new king-sized bed. He’d sprung for a new headboard and he watched as her fingers trailed across the curved center, flanked on both sides by tall rounded posts in a rich mahogany. Then she ran her hand across the sheets and looked at him. “You did all this?”

  “I picked the mattress and the headboard, but Kimi helped with the sheets. We figured you’d want to buy or make a new coverlet for it, so I’m leavin’ that part to you. I also didn’t buy new furniture ’cause I wasn’t sure what style you’d want.”

  “The sheets are perfect.” She smiled. “This bed is huge.”

  “And sturdy.” He grinned. “I made sure the headboard wasn’t too close to the wall like in the trailer.”

  “In a house this size it’s not like the boys will hear the headboard banging anyway.”

  Then that sexy, heavy-lidded look darkened her eyes and his dick instantly went hard. “What?”

  “Let’s break the mattress in.”

  “Now?”

  “Right now. Before we get too busy unloading boxes and we’re too tired later.”

  “Damn, woman, I love how you think.” His lips teased hers as he undressed her. His hands mapped every naked curve, the heavy weight of her breasts, the swell of her abdomen, and the curve of her ass, hips and thighs. Then he explored her with his mouth. Sucking her nipples as he kneaded the flesh surrounding them. Since she’d nursed three babies she’d lost sensitivity in them, which was why he used his teeth.

  Her soft gasp indicated she liked that a lot.

  Carson kissed his way down that beautiful bump in her belly. He rubbed his razor-stubbled cheeks and jaw across the firm flesh, amazed as always that a new life had taken seed inside her. “You’re so damn sexy when you’re carryin’ my child.”

  “I’m sure it increases my appeal that I’m also very horny when I’m pregnant.”

  He chuckled against her belly button. “There is that too.” His hands circled her hips. “Sit and spread your legs for me. I want my mouth on you.” He dropped to his knees and inserted himself between her thighs. She had to lean back on her elbows so her belly didn’t block his access to that slice of heaven.

  Her entire body twitched at the first long stroke of his tongue.

  “Goddamn do I love the way you taste. Sweet and hot. Sticky. But when you’re pregnant, it’s a darker flavor.” He suckled her pussy lips and dipped his tongue into her opening, lapping up all that sweet, rich juice. Pulling that soft, fragrant flesh open wider with his fingers, he licked and sucked every inch of her swollen sex. Nibbling on her clit. Licking her slit up and down in a light tease and then plunging his tongue in as deep as it’d go.

  She came hard, those pussy muscles spasming around his tongue while he rubbed her clit with the tip of his nose. That set off another orgasm and he slid h
is mouth up her hot and slick skin, fastening his mouth around her clit, lashing that pulsing nub with his tongue.

  As Carolyn came down from back to back orgasms, he nuzzled the bottom of her belly and the tops of her thighs. He had to reach down and unbuckle his belt and unzip his Wranglers since the denim was strangling his cock.

  She pushed upright, a dazed smile on her face. “How is it you seem to get better at that every time?”

  “Lots of practice on you, sugar.”

  She laughed. “Get nekkid, cowboy, and let’s mess up this new bed.”

  “Yee-haw.”

  After he shed his clothes, he bounced in the middle of the mattress. “Hey, it is springy.”

  Carolyn crawled across his body. “You didn’t test it first?”

  Greedily, he cupped those luscious swinging breasts in his hands. “Nope. I just bought the top of the line model. And I don’t mind tellin’ you, I hope we wear this bed out fast.”

  Her fingers circled his cock and she swirled the tip around her pussy, getting it wet with her juices before she filled herself with his hardness.

  They groaned in unison.

  She leaned as far forward as her belly allowed and locked her gaze to his. “Thank you for buying us a new bed, Carson. But I’d be happy sleeping on a sack of straw as long as it was with you.”

  “That pretty much describes our old bed.” He pushed a long strand of hair over her shoulder. “Lots of good memories in that bed. And in that house.”

  “You gonna miss it?”

  “Some.”

  “Me too.” She smiled that secret smile and started to move on him. “But I am looking forward to all the different places we can make memories in this house.”

  “Good. ’Cause I was thinkin’ the next memory I’d like to have is bending you over the counter in our bathroom and fuckin’ you in front of the mirror.” He slapped her ass. “So get movin’ and ride me hard, sugar; time’s a’wastin’.”

  A loud caw startled him out of the memory.

  Carson shook himself, grabbed the pile of mail and headed inside.

  They’d made a lot of changes to this house over the years. Kids had come and gone; now grandkids wreaked havoc whenever they came over. Carolyn loved the chaos. Since the moment they’d moved in, she’d said a house this size should be filled with kids. He’d done his best to make that dream come true for her, for both of them.

  Now it was quiet most days. Never more so than in that moment he walked into Carolyn’s kitchen and noticed the baking goods she’d laid out the morning of her accident. Cocoa, sugar, flour, chocolate chips, a bag of wrapped caramels, and the dark pan she swore was the reason her brownies were always so good.

  His gaze landed on the dishes in the sink. It’d drive the woman nuts if she knew they’d been sitting there stinking for three days. His steps faltered when he saw her coffee cup, half full, pink lipstick stain on the edge, sitting in the same spot in the kitchen where she read the paper and planned her day.

  Why seeing that lone coffee cup hit him like a mule kick in the gut, he had no idea. Why he placed his lips over that lipstick mark, hoping for a taste of her when he downed her three-day old coffee, made no sense either, but he found himself doing it anyway.

  The coffee was the bitterest he’d ever tasted.

  Old fool. Acting like she’s already gone. Instead of lamenting the fact she ain’t here, why don’t you do something useful and clean up her space so she don’t have a conniption fit when she does come home?

  Carson rolled up his sleeves, needing to touch the things she’d last touched, and got to work.

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Hospital, Day 3—early evening

  After he’d taken a hot shower in his own bathroom, donned fresh clothes and packed for himself and Carolyn, Carson returned to the hospital.

  Still, he felt guilty for his three-hour absence and the fifteen minutes he’d missed spending with his wife.

  Had she noticed?

  Don’t be ridiculous.

  But he vowed the next time he left the hospital to go home he’d be taking Carolyn with him.

  Day dragged into early evening. Each visit to Carolyn’s room brought up another memory. The last two hours he’d talked about Cam, how his normal birth weight didn’t indicate the kid would be such a bruiser. Even at age two he’d been freakishly strong but surprisingly gentle. Especially with Carter.

  There were only a little over two years between the last two boys. Five kids kept both of them busy. But their older sons, being typical boys, could care less about a new baby. Yet Cam had been fascinated by Carter and showed zero sibling jealousy. He loved his baby brother. Loved him so much he wanted to take Carter everywhere.

  Carson would never forget the day he’d come inside and found Cord watching Petticoat Junction with Colby and Colt and not keeping an eye on his two youngest brothers while Carolyn took a shower. He’d scaled the stairs to see Cam giving four-month-old Carter a ride; he’d wrapped Carter up like a burrito and raced up and down the hallway, dragging the baby behind him.

  His wife might’ve fainted on the spot if she’d seen it, even when Carter was perfectly fine, cooing happily. So Carson hadn’t told her about that incident. Or the time when Cam and Colt were playing jungle in the playroom. They’d rigged several sheets between the curtain rods and two light fixtures on the ceiling to create a hammock for Carter. A hammock on a pulley system that lifted two-year-old Carter almost to the ceiling, near the exposed light bulbs and next to the open window.

  That might’ve been the day he’d found his first gray hair. Even looking back now, he wasn’t sure how his sons had managed to do that.

  Right as he’d started to drift into the memory of Colby shooting out four windows from inside the house, he heard a loud voice bouncing off the walls down by the nurse’s stand.

  “Seriously? I’ve fixed lots of those over the years. Usually a flower is easiest because the lettering you want covered up can be incorporated into a vine or a stem.” A pause. “Absolutely. Here’s my card. Call me and we’ll set up a consult.”

  Carson remained in his chair, knowing if he stood up he’d probably collide with his daughter-in-law India. How she sat for hours inking tattoos baffled him because when she wasn’t working, she hustled around as if she was afraid she’d get arrested for loitering if she stopped moving.

  Just then she barreled into the waiting room. A tank-top showed off both sleeves of her tattoos. Her short hair was subdued—subdued for her. Not streaked with vibrant blue, neon green or shocking orange, but the shiny burgundy color of wine.

  She marched right up to him, her round-toed combat boots bumping into his cowboy boots. “Give me a hug, grumpy old man. I’m sure we both need one.”

  He flat-out adored Colt’s wife. Outspoken and in your face, India’s take me as I am or get the fuck away from me attitude charmed him, mostly because they were cut from the same cloth. In Carson’s opinion, India Ellison was the greatest thing that had ever happened to his son.

  “Nice hair,” he said after she released him from a tight hug.

  “Wouldn’t want to get boring in my old age as a mother of three. Although my hair should be bright red and I should have horns growing out of my scalp since I’ve given birth to hellions.” Her piercing eyes sought his. “Carson, can I just say this situation fucking sucks all around?”

  “Yeah, darlin’, you can.”

  “Any change?”

  He shook his head.

  “I don’t have to ask how you’re holding up because I can see it in your eyes, old man. Have you been sleeping at all?”

  “Some. In the middle of the night they let me piggyback the time I spend with her, so I get ten minutes and I sleep for two hours instead of one.”

  “Big of them.” Scowling, she gestured to the empty bottles of Dr. Pepper scattered around. “Dude. Pick that shit up. If I would’ve wanted to talk to you in a mess, I would’ve invited you over to our place.”

&n
bsp; Such a little ball-buster.

  “I’m grabbing us each a soda. I need some damn caffeine.”

  Carson tossed the trash and settled in the corner seat.

  India returned with two bottles of Dr. Pepper, and four candy bars. She tossed the Butterfinger, the Snickers and the Salted Nut Roll in his lap, keeping the Twix for herself. “How about we call that my version of baking cookies since you know I’m a sucky cook.”

  He smiled. “Works for me.”

  They didn’t speak until they’d polished off a candy bar each.

  She flopped back in her chair and jammed a hand through her hair. “So
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