Cowboy take me away, p.6
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       Cowboy Take Me Away, p.6

         Part #16 of Rough Riders series by Lorelei James
 

  Carson pushed her hair over her shoulder. “Like when are you comin’ home with me.”

  Somehow she kept her jaw from hitting the ground. She’d told him about her life so he had to know she had zero experience…

  Wait a second. Maybe that’s why he was interested in her. He “collected cherries” as her friend Cathy called it. She stepped back. Way back. “I…I have to go.” Then she turned and fled.

  Carolyn didn’t get far. A strong hand circled her arm and jerked her around.

  Carson bent down until they were nose to nose. “Why the hell did you run again?”

  “Because I’m not going home with you!”

  “Sweet Christ, woman, don’t you think I fuckin’ know that?”

  “Don’t swear at me,” she snapped.

  He struggled for composure. “Caro. Sugar. I fu—screwed this up. I want you to come home with me, but you’re not ready for that yet.”

  The yet part caused her to tremble.

  “I was thinkin’ out loud, getting ahead of myself as usual, okay? That’s it. I promise.”

  She should’ve doubted his sincerity, but she believed him.

  “I want to get to know you, but like you said, it ain’t anyone’s business what goes on between us.”

  “So you want to sneak around with me.”

  His eyes hardened. “No. But I thought you’d prefer that to me stakin’ my claim on you in the middle of the damn bar on a Saturday night since your family don’t know about us.”

  Us. Did he really consider them a couple? “You’d do that? For real?”

  “In a fuckin’ heartbeat. So what’s it gonna be?”

  “I don’t know. I have no experience with any of this.”

  “Good.” He snaked his arm around her waist, not-so-subtly pressing their hips together. “I like that you’re inexperienced.”

  “Why?”

  “Because it’ll force me to take my time and enjoy every moment of bein’ with you.” Carson dipped his head and tugged on her hair until she bared her throat to him.

  Her entire body broke out in gooseflesh when his lips touched her skin. He nuzzled and licked the sensitive flesh until she had difficulty breathing and her body reacted in ways it never had before.

  “You like this?” he murmured in her ear.

  “Yes.”

  “I’ll take it as slow as you want.” He smiled against her neck. “Until you don’t want me to go slow anymore.”

  “You sound so sure of yourself, McKay.”

  Carson lifted his head and looked into her eyes. “I am sure. Not because I’ve got experience but because of this.” He curled his palm over her throat and rested his thumb at the spot where her pulse raced. “And this.” Then he slid his hand down her chest and gently cupped her breast, sweeping his thumb over the hardened tip of her nipple. “And this.” His hand slipped around her back, following her spine to the curve of her behind. Then he pressed her lower body against his and she could feel his erection digging into her belly.

  Her gaze zoomed to his.

  Taking her hand, he kissed her palm before placing her hand on his chest. “And because of this. My heart is damn near ready to beat out of my chest. My hands are shakin’ at the thought that I might actually get to put them on you.”

  “Carson.”

  “Say yes.”

  “Yes to what?”

  “Bein’ with me.”

  “Yes.” Carolyn framed his face in her hands and kissed him. Mimicking the way he’d kissed her. The soft wet glide of lips. The gentle rub and swirling tease of her tongue against his. She let all of the nuances of kissing him wash over her, not wanting to miss a single one. The smoothness of his cheeks, the strength in his jaw, the wonderful scent of his body heat drifting from beneath the collar of his shirt. The tightening and releasing of his fingers on her butt. How his big, strong body shook with need.

  For her.

  She slowed the kiss gradually, rather than just ripping her mouth free. She rested her forehead at the base of his throat and tried to figure out a way to calm the blood pumping, body tingling effect the man brought out in her.

  Carson’s lips connected with the top of her head and he stayed like that for several long minutes before he released her. “I want to see you tomorrow. Can you get away?”

  “Probably. As long as it’s right after church gets out.”

  “What time is that?”

  “Around eleven.”

  “Which church?”

  “Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Gillette. Do you know where that is?”

  He ran the backs of his knuckles down her jaw line. “I’ll find it. I’ll try my best to be there by eleven, but I’ve gotta check cattle and do a bunch of other stuff before I can get on the road, so I might be a little late.”

  “I’ll wait. But right now I have to find my brother and convince him to take me home.”

  Carson’s eyes sharpened. “You make sure that jackass Randy doesn’t volunteer to give you a ride.”

  “Carson—”

  “I mean it. He touches you or comes on to you in any way, I will pay him a visit, because I know where he lives.”

  “Fine.” She’d never had a guy show jealousy and it surprised her how much she liked it.

  “Good girl. Until tomorrow.” One last kiss and he headed toward the parking lot.

  She watched him walk away, that cowboy swagger such an innate part of him she knew he’d been born walking that way.

  Within ten minutes of returning inside the bar she found Thomas and pleaded a headache, asking him to take her home. She felt Randy’s suspicious gaze on her but she didn’t acknowledge him. When they reached the car, Carolyn crawled in the back seat. Thomas dropped Randy off at the ball fields.

  He didn’t say a word until they’d parked at home. “So is your headache from bein’ in too tight a lip lock with Carson McKay?”

  She scrambled upright from her prone position in the back seat.

  “I saw you with him, Carolyn.” Thomas whirled around and glared at her. “What the hell are you thinking, getting mixed up with him? The man has a bad reputation. He uses women and dumps them. He’s reckless and rude; the typical McKay.”

  “So says you. I’ve not seen him act like that. He’s different around me.”

  “Because he wants to get into your pants. Literally. If Dad finds out—”

  “Thomas. Please. You can’t tell him.”

  He sighed. “He’ll find out. Trust me. There’s bad blood between the Wests and the McKays and someone will tell him.”

  She leaned over the seat. “Do you know what happened between our families?”

  “Dad refuses to talk about it. I’ve just heard him muttering about them bein’ above the law, and bein’ a bunch of liars and thieves.” Thomas pointed at her. “So if that McKay is sneaking around with you, it just proves the point. The McKays can’t be trusted.” He paused. “But I can. I’ll keep your secret since you agreed to keep mine.”

  “But?”

  “But I’m rescinding my offer of help with the dishes.”

  Chapter Four

  Carson

  “Why’re you in such a damn hurry this mornin’?” Cal asked as they sped across the pasture to check the bulls.

  “I’ve got plans so I wanna get this done.” Carson scowled at his watch. If he took the shortcut on the back roads he might only be fifteen minutes late.

  “What kinda plans?”

  “None of your business kinda plans.”

  “It’s her, ain’t it?”

  “Yeah.”

  “Why you even bothering with this, Carse? You know it can’t go anywhere.”

  He downshifted and stopped so Cal could get the gate.

  But Cal made no move to get out of the truck.

  “What?”

  “Answer the question.”

  “Why you pushing me on this?”

  “Because I think you’re getting involved with her for all the wrong reasons.


  “As usual, you don’t know shit.” Carson threw open the door and stomped across the pasture to get the gate himself. Then he climbed back in the cab and drove through the opening.

  This time Cal did get out and close the gate behind them.

  They’d nearly reached the corner section where the bulls had gathered when Carson spoke. “I’m not pursuing her because I wanna piss Dad off or get her to sleep with me. It’s different with her. From the moment I saw her I knew… Dammit, you were there.” He scrubbed his hands over his face, realizing he had to shave before he left. “Makes me sound like a pussy, but I’ll just say it straight out, okay? She’s special.”

  “See? That wasn’t so hard,” Cal said with a grin.

  “Jackass.”

  “You plannin’ on bringin’ her to the trailer?”

  Carson shot his twin a look. “She’s not ready for that. And why do you care?”

  “A woman like that won’t slide into filthy sheets with you in your pigsty of a bedroom. We both know getting her sweet ass into your bed is the final goal here. And if it’s not?” Cal raised an eyebrow. “Then her wearin’ pants last night wasn’t just a fashion statement, was it? She gonna expect you to slip on a frilly apron?”

  “Says the man who knows his way around a feather duster and a vacuum,” Carson retorted.

  “You’re damn lucky I can’t stand to live in filth ’cause it sure don’t bother you.”

  “Fine. I’ll fumigate my room.” He’d rather live with Cal’s nagging ways about the state of their trailer than spend a night living with their dad again. “But when she does agree to come over, you gotta give us some privacy.”

  Cal smirked. “No problem. I’m sure I can find a warm bed to sleep in.”

  “I’m sure you can.” But his focus was already on a black bull, lying down away from the other bulls. “Was 729 acting sickly yesterday mornin’?”

  “We didn’t check yesterday; it’s been two days. But no, he was fine.”

  “Don’t look like he’s fine now. Come on, let’s go check it out.”

  The bull was dead. Which meant they needed to move the bulls out of that pasture now. Normally he and Cal would’ve just taken care of it, but Cal insisted he get cleaned up and head to Gillette.

  Poor Cal was still arguing on the phone with Casper about getting his lazy ass out of bed and helping him deal with the dead animal when Carson took off.

  Casper. His younger brother had had a vindictive streak since they were kids. Had a big damn chip on his shoulder too, where Carson and Cal were concerned, claiming they got preferential treatment from their father. Well, yeah, they did. Because they actually worked.

  Thinking about Casper was sure to put him in a foul mood so he shoved it aside. He turned up the radio and hauled ass to Gillette.

  He pulled into the church parking lot at twenty-five after eleven. His worry she’d be gone evaporated when she climbed out of a 1955 Oldsmobile 88. Seeing her in a slim skirt, a floral blouse, a tight short sweater and a pair of high heels that did amazing things for her calves, had him bailing out of the truck to meet her halfway.

  She smiled at him. That beautiful I’m-happy-to-see-you smile that lit up her entire face. “Hi.”

  “Hey. Sorry I’m runnin’ a little late.” Rather than haul her into his arms and lay a big wet kiss on her, he reached for her hand and brought it to his mouth for a soft kiss. “Sugar, you are pretty as a picture in your Sunday mornin’ finery.”

  “Thank you.”

  Carson noticed she’d pulled her hair back and piled it up into some fancy hair-do. She wore just enough makeup to make her look polished, but not plastic. Instead of the vivid red lipstick she usually wore, her lips were a soft pink. Innocent looking but he knew the power of what that mouth could do to him.

  “Umm, Carson?”

  His eyes connected with hers. “Yeah?”

  “Do you realize you made a…growling noise when you were staring at my lips?”

  He grinned. “Nope. But it’s only because your mouth looks so tasty and I can’t wait to take a bite.”

  Carolyn stepped closer and placed her hand on his chest. “Maybe it’d be best if we left the church parking lot before you start chewing on my lips.”

  “That works for me. Are you hungry? The truck stop is a dive, but the food is good and I doubt you’ll run into anyone you know.”

  She cocked her head. “The truck stop is fine. But I’ll remind you that you’re the local, not me, if you’re concerned about anyone you know seeing us together.”

  “I could give a damn who sees us together, Caro.”

  “One of these days very soon, McKay, I’ll expect you to prove that.”

  He stole one quick kiss. “And I’ll be happy to.” He opened the passenger door for her and helped her inside. The sleeve of her sweater snagged on a wire sticking out of the seat. “Hang on a second. You’re caught.” Carson gently pulled the metal free and smoothed the section of yarn back in place. He said, “All fixed,” but kept running his fingertips over the back of her arm.

  “Carson?”

  His glanced up at her. “Did you buy this sweater because it’s the exact shade of your beautiful eyes? Or because it’s as soft as your skin?”

  Something dark glittered in her eyes before she grabbed onto his chin. “Give me a taste of that silver tongue.” She fit her mouth to his and kissed the holy hell out of him. Right there in the church parking lot.

  And her lips formed a very sneaky, self-satisfied smile when she released him. “Drive, cowboy.”

  At the truck stop they chose a seat at the back of the restaurant.

  “So what’d you tell your family you were doin’ today after church?”

  “They didn’t ask. I put a roast in the oven and told them when it’d be done. As long as they’re fed, they probably won’t even notice I’m not there.”

  Carson reached for her hand. “I’m sad to hear that. I imagine bein’ the oldest girl in a family of boys and your mama bein’ sickly that most the household stuff fell on you.”

  Carolyn squirmed and sipped her Coke. Then she said, “It wasn’t all bad.”

  But that didn’t convince him. “How old were you when you started doin’ all the cookin’?”

  “Ten. But I didn’t do it all. My brothers sort of helped and my mother supervised. She taught me how to do everything. I didn’t look at it as a chore until a couple of years ago when I came home and my father expected me to do everything around the house.” She disentangled her fingers from his. “What about you? How much work does your father do on the ranch?”

  He pretended not to notice her physical retreat when his question hit too close to home. “He still runs everything. Me’n my brothers are just pups to him, as he reminds us every day. But he does listen to us. At least he did when two parcels of land came up for sale in the last year and he bought ’em up. With the extra grazing areas we added more cattle to our herd.”

  “I know I’m not supposed to ask a rancher how many heads he runs, but I’m asking you.”

  “Between us? Three hundred.”

  “Oh. That’s a lot.”

  “Keeps us busy. We’ve had a couple of neighbors approach us about buyin’ them out too, but we gotta wait to see how our finances are when we start selling cattle in October.” He reached for her hand again. “I get plenty of ranch talk. I don’t want that with you.”

  “Can I say something, and I hope you don’t take it the wrong way?”

 
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