Cowboy take me away, p.9
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       Cowboy Take Me Away, p.9

         Part #16 of Rough Riders series by Lorelei James
 

  “Because it needed done.”

  “Even when it’s a hundred in the shade?”

  “Even then. Stuff needs done even when it’s fifty below with the wind-chill. Dealin’ with the weather…hot and then cold.” He snorted. “Kinda like dealin’ with my dad. I’m used to that too. He doesn’t have to do the shitty chores anymore. That’s why he has us.”

  “That hardly seems fair.”

  He shrugged. “It is what it is. My dad won’t just hand over the McKay Ranch to me or my brothers. We’ve gotta prove we’re worthy.”

  “Worthy of what?” She didn’t see Carson as the type who’d need validation even from his father; he oozed self-confidence.

  “Worthy stewards of the land. He doesn’t say too much unless one of us royally fu—screws up. But owning land isn’t a right; it’s a privilege. Guess that’s something he learned from his dad when he and his brother came over here from Ireland.”

  “Speaking of our ancestors… Do you have any idea what happened between the Wests and McKays?”

  “Nope, and I don’t care. Water under the bridge.” He faced her. “Besides, I’ve got a new appreciation for the West family.”

  Carolyn set her hand on his cheek. “Do you now?”

  “Yep. C’mere. You’re too far away.” He plucked her up and settled her on his lap, facing him, with her legs dangling on the opposite side of his.

  “Carson, I don’t—”

  “You don’t want to be this close to me?” He pushed her hair over her shoulder. “Or you’re feelin’ it’s wrong that you want to be this close to me?”

  “Am I that easy to read?”

  “Sugar, you’re just that innocent. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. With your background…there’s part of you that feels what we’re doin’ is wrong.” Carson kissed her chin. “But it’s not. I believe you have more curiosity than guilt when I touch you.”

  “So I am very easy to read.”

  “I’ll respect any boundaries you set. But I ain’t gonna lie to you. If it was up to me there’d be no boundaries between us at all.” He smoothed his hand down her hair. “It’s different with you.”

  “Why?”

  “I don’t know. I just know I like bein’ around you.”

  Carolyn studied his mouth.

  “What?”

  “Oh, I was so busy listening to your words that I missed flashes of that silver tongue.”

  He laughed. “Lemme show it to you up close.”

  This was yet another type of kiss, teasing, playful; still the passion between them simmered below the surface and that kicked her anticipation higher, knowing the kiss could change at any second.

  In this position, she felt just how the kiss and their bodies being meshed together affected him.

  Carson’s hands slipped beneath her skirt. He stopped kissing her when his hands reached mid-thigh. “No stockings today.”

  “Too hot. But if I did have them on I’d let you take them off.” There. That was bold.

  His eyes glittered in the near dark. “You liked that?”

  “You know I did. Your hands give me that shivery feeling. Inside and out.”

  He ran the tip of his finger from her chin down to the V of her blouse. “Did that do anything for ya?”

  Her arms were a mass of gooseflesh. “Yes.”

  “How about if I do this?” He fastened his mouth to the skin below her ear and sucked.

  “Oh. That…” Her ability to speak vanished when he placed soft kisses down the arch of her neck.

  “I’m thinkin’ you bein’ speechless means you like it.” He nuzzled the spot between her collarbone and her shoulder. “You smell so damn good.”

  “It’s probably the powder I use.”

  “Or maybe it’s just your skin.” He kissed a path to the other side of her neck. “Makes me want to check if you have this same scent everywhere.”

  The entire time Carson’s mouth was on her his hands weren’t idle. He’d have one hand twisted in her hair while the other hand would roam; caressing her back, her behind, her hips, the outside of her thighs.

  With every touch he wound her tighter. She had the urge to rub her thighs together to offer some relief to the ache she felt building there. She wanted to rock her pelvis forward to feel his hard bulge rubbing against her. She wanted his rough hands and his soft kisses on her breasts. She wanted to reacquaint herself with how warm and smooth and hard his chest felt beneath her hands and her mouth. And since she’d never wanted anything like this before she had no idea how to ask for what she wanted.

  Then Carson’s hand was on her jaw, forcing her attention to him. “Sugar, you still with me?”

  She blinked at him.

  “If you don’t like what I’m doin’, tell me.”

  “I like what you’re doing. A lot. And I want more, but it… I don’t know how…”

  Keeping his gaze locked on hers, he feathered his thumb across the inside of her bottom lip. “I can’t give you what you want if you don’t tell me. You set the boundaries.”

  “I want to take your shirt completely off this time,” she blurted.

  He lifted an eyebrow. “Really? That’s what you want?”

  She nodded.

  “All right. But here’s the deal. If my shirt comes off, your shirt comes off too.”

  “You want me to take it off now?”

  “No. I get to take it off you as soon as you’ve had your turn with me.”

  “Okay.” Carolyn scooted back on his knees and dropped her feet to the ground before she stood.

  “Whoa there. Where you goin’?”

  “Nowhere. I thought it’d be easier if you sat on top of the picnic table.”

  His answering grin was very naughty.

  But as soon as he’d moved, Carolyn had a moment of shyness.

  Of course, Carson caught it and reached out to her. “I know I’m the first man you’ve been with.” When she ducked her head, he tipped her chin back up. “I’m nervous too.”

  “Why?”

  “I don’t want you to be disappointed, thinkin’ you’re getting a guy built like Mr. Universe and end up with this.”

  Smiling, she leaned forward to kiss him. “I already had a little preview of you so I know getting you would be the better deal, cowboy.”

  Her hands shook when she popped the first snap on his shirt. The second snap revealed a delicious glimpse of his chest hair. The third and fourth snaps even more. She experienced the urge to bury her lips in the dark curls and breathe him in like she’d done yesterday.

  After she freed him of his shirt, she set her palms on his shoulders, marveling at how broad he was. Then she inched her hands down his upper arms, feeling every bump and bulge of his muscles. His forearms were thick, bunched with tendons and sprinkled with dark hair. As she let her fingers trail back up, she noticed the tan line in the middle of his biceps, separating the pale skin of his torso from the sun-kissed flesh on his forearms, neck and face.

  She flattened her palms on his pectorals. His muscles were so firm. Hard, but not unyielding. His chest hair started below the hollow of his throat and spread out in a triangle across his upper chest, tapering to a thin line that disappeared beneath his waistband. Carolyn slid her hands down, her fingers ruffling through the springy hair. She could feel his heart beating and the flat disks of his nipples brushed the base of her hand. Her own heart raced and her mouth went dry in anticipation. She wanted… Oh how she wanted…

  Take what you want. Do what you want.

  Carolyn pressed her lips to the center of his chest, and immediately his musky, masculine scent surrounded her. Desire bombarded her from all sides. She rubbed her right cheek into that downy softness, then her left.

  Hands landed on her head, pulling her away. For a second she panicked, worried she’d done something wrong. Then her eyes met Carson’s and the molten heat in those blue depths stole her breath.

  “Christ, woman. Do you realize you made a purring sound w
hen you were rubbing on me?”

  “I did? Does it bother you?”

  He laughed. Then he took her hand and placed it over the bulge between his legs. “Hearin’ you make that sexy noise gets me even more hot and bothered than you touchin’ me.”

  Her cheeks went red hot and she slammed her eyes shut. She couldn’t believe she had her hand on his… Why wasn’t she pulling away? Why was she wishing she’d demanded to strip him out of his shirt and his pants?

  “Much as I like how you’re rubbing on me, if you keep doin’ it something will come out of there but it won’t be a genie.”

  Crude man. Just to be ornery, because he was teasing her, she locked her gaze to his and kept stroking her palm up over the hard length. “Maybe that’s what I want to see.”

  Carson curled his hand around her face. “You will. But not tonight.” He ran his thumb back and forth over her cheekbone.

  “What?”

  “You’d run if you could read my thoughts right now.” He picked up her hand from his crotch and kissed her fingertips. Then he scooted aside and stood. “Now I really need to cool down.” He unhooked his buckle and unzipped his pants.

  “Carson. What are you doing?”

  “Goin’ swimmin’.” Thud, thud went his boots.

  When he yanked off his socks and dropped his pants, she got an eyeful of his erection. And she couldn’t quite force her eyes away from it. She asked, “Do you have swimming trunks?” hoping he said no and that he swam naked.

  “Don’t need ’em.” He grinned. “My boxers will do.” He whooped and took off.

  She watched him run straight for the water, splashing until he disappeared beneath the surface. And she caught herself counting the seconds until his head bobbed up again.

  “Damn, this feels nice.” He dove back under, then resurfaced, playing around like a kid.

  Her friend Beverly had described Carson as gruff and quiet. A little cocky. Belligerent and prone to fighting if he’d been drinking. Beverly claimed the only time he smiled and turned on the cowboy charm was when he wanted sex.

  That wasn’t the man Carolyn saw at all. Not that they’d been with other people, so she could see if he was reserved in mixed company, but the man she knew was full of mischief and surprises, with a sweet intensity and blatant sexual confidence that drew her in like nothing she’d ever experienced.

  “Sugar, you oughta come in. The water is beautiful.”

  “I don’t swim, remember?”

  He stood. “It’s only up to my waist right here.”

  “A person can drown in an inch of bathwater.”

  “I’d never let you drown. No horsin’ around or dunking you either. You wouldn’t even have to get your hair wet.”

  “I don’t have a swimsuit.”

  “The bra and panties you’re wearin’ would be just fine.”

  Strip? Right here? With him watching?

  She wrapped her arms around herself. “I’m fine on shore.”

  “If I come back to shore and walk you in, step by step, will you consider it?”

  “No.”

  “Oh. I see.”

  “What?”

  “It’s not the water you’re afraid of as much as takin’ your clothes off in front of me.”

  Her mouth dropped open. “That is not it.”

  “Prove it. Even if you don’t get in the water. Show me that body you’re hidin’, because I’ll bet it’s amazing.”

  “Did you hit your head on a rock when you dove in?”

  Carson laughed. “Remember when I said if you took off my shirt, I’d expect the same from you? I’m thinkin’ now’s about as good as time as any. So take it off.”

  “Now?”

  “Right now. Maybe do a little strip tease.”

  “If I could swim I’d run in there and dunk you.”

  “Try it.” He flashed his teeth. “Show me whatcha got, ’cause sugar, you know I want it.”

  Would she really give in to his goading?

  Looked like it.

  As she popped the first snap, then the second, she realized he’d moved closer, but he hadn’t taken his eyes off her. A tiny feminine thrill heated her blood. She wanted him to like her body, but she’d never been half naked in front of any man before.

  “Keep goin’.”

  Once she had the buttons undone all the way down, she was surprised he couldn’t hear the booming of her heart. Another moment of uncertainty had her facing the picnic table when she took the shirt off.

  “Turn around.”

  She did but she couldn’t meet his eyes.

  “Huh-uh. No way am I lettin’ you be ashamed of a body like that. Holy hell, woman. It’s something.”

  That bolstered her confidence enough that she lowered the zipper on her skirt. She kicked off her shoes and shoved the clingy fabric down to her ankles. When she stepped out of it, she was tempted to hold it in front of her body as a shield.

  “Caro, look at me…and don’t you dare hide yourself behind that skirt.”

  How had he known? She lifted her head and heard Beverly’s voice. Throw your shoulders back. Be proud. If I had a bosom like that I’d be flaunting it. So she did just that.

  Carson had sunk so low into the water all she could see were his eyes and his nose. But his eyes were enormous and glittered in the darkness. Like an alligator. With the way he stared she felt like prey.

  Finally he stood; the water rolled down his impressive chest. His arms were clenched at his sides.

  “Do you care if you get wet?”

  “What?”

  He stalked toward her, the water no longer hiding his lower half. Didn’t look like his dunk in the lake had cooled him off at all.

  “Do you care if you get wet?” he repeated.

  “No, as long as you’re not hauling me into the lake.”

  “Good.”

  Then he was on her. Every hard, wet inch of his body plastered to hers. One hand held the back of her neck while he seized her mouth in a scorching kiss. His other hand clamped onto her butt.

  Carolyn barely registered the wetness of his boxers against her underwear. Her entire focus was on that jutting piece of male flesh pressing against her.

  In a state of shock, she didn’t protest when Carson picked her up and carried her to the picnic table, carefully setting her on the end. He stepped between her thighs and broke the kiss. He nuzzled her ear. Some instinct had her arching slightly to offer him her throat.

  “I swear by all that’s holy, you are a work of art.” He left a trail of kisses down her neck. “Let me touch you. Let me put my hands and mouth all over this beautiful body of yours.”

  “Yes.”

  A rumble vibrated against her neck. Then he kissed her so perfectly, so hungrily, so reassuringly, so sweetly, that he could’ve asked for anything in that moment and she would’ve given it to him.

  Carson’s hands were cool as he dragged his fingertips up and down her arms. He pushed her hair over her shoulder and guided her to set her palms on the picnic table, leaving enough space that he could grip her hips.

  Her belly quivered when his thumbs traced the edge of her panties. Just a slow brush of his skin on hers and she felt like she couldn’t breathe.

  He kissed the corner of her mouth. “Easy.”

  “Sounds as if you’re trying to gentle a skittish horse.”

  He chuckled. But he didn’t dispute her statement.

  Then she forgot about everything except more of that skillful mouth of his as he dragged kisses to the top of her breast. He nuzzled and kissed that section of skin while his thumbs kept up the caress between her hipbones.

  His lips wandered to her other breast, treating it to the same teasing exploration. He followed the edge of her bra cup with his tongue.
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