Branded as Trouble, Page 5Lorelei James
“At my age, player behavior in a bar is considered a rite of passage. ” He waggled his eyebrows.
“How old are you?”
“Twenty-six. How old are you?” He shook his finger at her.
“And don’t pull that ‘never ask a woman her age’ crap. ”
“I’m thirty…something. ”
“And yet, you don’t look a day over twenty. ”
“Did you attend the same cowboy charm school as your cousin Colt? Or is it inbred?”
“Cowboy charm is part of our DNA, darlin’. None of us can help it. ” Blake’s smile faded. “Speaking of Colt…can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” she lied.
“Why haven’t you two dated? I mean, you are together all the time. ”
All the time was stretching it…wasn’t it? “We’re just friends. ”
“Might sound like I’m pandering to you, bein’s we’re on a date and all, but that’s probably a good thing you’re staying just friends. ”
That got her back up. “Why?”
“Stubborn people like you two would kill each other. ” He smiled. “Colt’s a good guy. He’s a great friend, actually, but I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that. ”
No, she already knew. India smiled and changed the subject.
“So how do you want to do this? I’ve got all the stuff in my bedroom. ”
“Good, let’s get to it. ”
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Then, “Fuck!”
A feminine giggle.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Colt closed his eyes and tried to block out the images of India and Blake. Naked. On the other side of the wall. Naked. Right behind his head. Naked. Rolling around together on the bed. Naked.
India and Blake going at it like animals. Naked.
Fuck. Think of something else. Think of water rippling in your favorite fishing hole.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Thinking quiet, serene thoughts didn’t work. Maybe he should imagine chaos.
Think of bawling calves and the frantic momma cows answering moos during branding.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Nope. That didn’t do the trick either.
Think of how India’s sweat-slicked skin would feel sliding beneath yours, her heels digging into your ass as you ride her hard enough to break the damn headboard, not just rattle it.
Yeah. That was helping. Not.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
He didn’t know how much more of this he could take. He should’ve left when he had the chance, now it was too late. It’d been too late when he’d heard the apartment door slam. When he’d heard the bass tones of Blake’s voice mixed with India’s laughter. When he’d heard the seductive notes from the CD player. When he’d caught a whiff of the candle burning in the living room. When he’d heard India’s bedroom door slam.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.
The headboard banging had gotten progressively louder for the last twenty minutes. Twenty very long, very loud minutes.
It appeared his little cousin was quite the stud.
Yeah? Then how come you don’t hear India shrieking with orgasmic pleasure? She would be if you were in her bed.
For Christsake. He’d gone from perverted to pathetic. And the sad thing was, he wasn’t only thinking about tonight. He was thinking about all the nights, over the last few years he’d been pining over a woman who’d never see him as anything but a drunk on the lifelong road to recovery. Or worse, her good friend.
Enough was enough.
Wincing, Colt rolled to his feet and snagged his iPod from the dresser. He cranked it to high and lowered onto the bed, placing his feet by the headboard. Nine Inch Nails drowned out everything and he was able to sleep.
Early the next morning, Colt stumbled out of his room. Despite his intent to crawl in his truck and head home, a shower was a necessity.
As he crossed the living area, he noticed India’s bedroom door was ajar. He peered through the crack and saw India sprawled in the middle of the bed. Alone. Alone and apparently buck-assed nekkid.
Red satin sheets were twisted around her long legs and long arms, covering her torso, but hinting at the curves beneath.
Colt didn’t gawk at her body to see if she was, in fact, pierced everywhere she’d hinted at being pierced. A man could only stand so much temptation. He backtracked to the bathroom.
The hot water lasted all of five minutes. And did the woman own every blasted lotion and potion known to mankind? He counted fourteen different health and beauty product bottles—after he’d knocked them all into the tub. Twice.
Still, he felt a million times better after an ice shower. His injury itched, so he took that as a sign of recovery.
He needed his caffeine fix and didn’t want to stop at the Conoco and chance running into a member of his family. He plugged in India’s fancy coffeemaker and dumped a capful of coffee beans into the grinder. While that machine whirred, he washed the glass coffee pot and the plastic filter basket. It took four cupboards before he found where India had moved the box of paper coffee filters. He filled the water reservoir, reassembled the various parts and hit start.
Colt picked up the trash in his prison room while he waited for the coffee to brew. When he returned to the kitchen, India stormed out of her bedroom.
Pity she’d put on a robe.
“The one day I get to sleep in and you’re up at the butt crack of dawn making enough noise to wake the dead?”
“Oh, I see. It’s different when you’re disturbed out of your beauty sleep. Sucks, huh?”
“Besides, all I did was make coffee. ”
“Then explain what you were doing in the shower? ’Cause it sure as hell sounded like you were throwing rocks. ”
“If I didn’t know better, I’d think your poor head was hurtin’ and it was a hangover talkin’. ” Colt clucked his tongue. “Maybe you oughta get to bed earlier if you’re so cranky in the mornin’. ”
“How do you know what time I went to bed?”
“I dunno, maybe it was the slamming door at midnight that tipped me off. Or maybe it was your headboard banging against my wall until the wee hours. I got tired of it around one a. m. and listened to my iPod. ”
“But Blake finished—”
“Huh-uh. I don’t wanna know about Blake’s big finish because I had enough of the pre-game. ” Colt sidestepped her.
“You think I slept with him. ”
He shrugged, determined not to let it show how much her horizontal mattress mambo with his cousin bothered him.
“Hey. ” Her hand circled his wrist and India yanked him around to face her.
Colt looked into her angry eyes. “What?”
“You are a judgmental jerk, Colt McKay. ”
“Me? I didn’t pass judgment. I just pointed out the obvious. ”
“Hell, I didn’t even mention the candles and soft music and the laughter that preceded all the bedroom noises. ”
“Magnanimous of you. ”
“I thought so. ”
“Hah! You thought wrong. ” India’s finger drilled him in the chest. “And it pisses me off that you think so…lowly of me. ”
“What else am I supposed to think?”
“That there’s a logical explanation. ”
He laughed. “For havin’ a man in your bedroom? After midnight? With the bed slamming against the wall? Sugar, sex isn’t the logical answer, it’s the only answer. ”
“Not all men have sex on the brain twenty-four hours a day. ”
Tired of her baiting him, Colt crowded her. “Any man with half a fucking brain, who is lucky enough to be in you
r bedroom at any time, ain’t thinkin’ about nothin’ but how perfect it’d feel to have your hot little body under his. Or on top of his. Or in front of his.
Over and over. And if it’d been me? Twenty-four hours would be the minimum amount of time I’d keep you in my bed. ”
India stared at him. “Is that what you were thinking about, Colt? Us having sex?”
Yes. Goddammit, that was all he could think about. Why in the hell couldn’t she see it?
When he didn’t answer, she blurted, “I didn’t have sex with Blake last night, or any other night. Those banging noises you heard? Was him hammering—”
He actually heard himself growl.
“—my headboard back together. The last time I moved my bedroom furniture, the bed frame snapped from the headboard base and I asked him to fix it—”
Colt pushed her against the wall and smashed his mouth down on hers, taking the hot, wet kiss that he’d been dying for.
God. The softness of her lips. The feel of her fingers twining in his damp hair. The taste of her was as potent and intoxicating as he’d imagined. The warm wetness of her mouth, the eager touch of her tongue to his was like a drug. Colt was half-afraid to open his eyes and find this was a damn dream.
India wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer, opening her mouth for total access.
His hands moved from her shoulders to caress her neck. He feathered his thumbs along the length of her jaw, still kissing her senseless, sucking her soft, sexy moans into his lungs like air. His cock was already straining at the waistband of his sweatpants and he’d barely begun.
She placed her hands on top of his, breaking the kiss to say,
“Touch me. God, put your hands all over me. ”
Colt was captivated by the sight of her smaller hands guiding his bigger hands down her body. When the base of his palms reached the barrier of her robe, India slid her fingers beneath the lapels and ripped it open.
Sweet Jesus, her nipples were pierced. With little silver hoops that accentuated the rose-colored tips. His mouth watered. His cock twitched. He groaned and bent his head to taste, helpless to resist.
“Oh. Yes. ” India arched into him, her hands dropping to squeeze his hips.