Saddled and spurred, p.9
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       Saddled and Spurred, p.9

         Part #2 of Blacktop Cowboys series by Lorelei James

  girly? The way I like you best is when you’re wearing my dirty coveralls.”

  Bran granted her that irresistible cowboy grin before he sauntered out the door.

  The cowboy sent off mixed signals like no man she’d ever met.

  At two in the morning, Bran figured they’d seen the last calf of the night. They’d had to pull three, always a pain in the ass. Luckily all the calves and mothers survived, which wasn’t always the case.

  Harper had learned that fact firsthand last night, seeing a stillbirth. The mama cow mourned the loss of her baby with a series of frustrated bellows, and she kept licking the dead calf, nudging it, wanting it to get up but not understanding that it never would. Harper’s eyes had taken on a sad sheen and she’d walked off by herself for a few minutes. Bran hadn’t said a word to her when she returned; he’d just squeezed her shoulder. It’d been good for him to see some of this day-to-day ranch life—stuff he’d gotten cynical about over the years—through Harper’s eyes.

  They hadn’t talked in the truck as they made their way back from the herd. When they reached the last gate, Bran had to shake Harper awake to get out and open it. Muttering, she hopped out of the cab and slammed the door. She stumbled, disappearing from Bran’s line of sight. When she didn’t immediately reappear, he slid from the truck’s warmth and found her lying by the front tire, staring up at the sky.

  Shit. Had she gotten hurt again? He crouched next to her. “Harper? You all right?”

  “The stars are so pretty out here in the middle of nowhere, aren’t they? They look so different in the wintertime. Almost like they’ve shriveled up from the cold.”

  “Come on, sweetheart, let’s get you back in the truck.”

  Her gaze snapped to his face. “You’re kinda pretty too, Bran. And sometimes? Your eyes twinkle like the stars.”

  She must’ve whacked her head to be spewing such sweet bullshit. He stood over her and enclosed her gloved hands in his. “On the count of three I’m gonna pull you up. You’ll need to help me, or else I’m liable to jerk your arms out of the sockets. You ready?”

  “No. I’m tired. Just let me sleep.”

  “You’ll freeze to death out here. Count with me. One. Two.” On three, he used the weight of his body to propel hers off the ground. As well as it worked, it also brought Harper directly against his chest, and he had to wrap his arms around her to keep them both from pitching over backward into a snowdrift.

  Oh, man. She was so soft, and she smelled like flowers. And why was she wrapping her arms around him and pressing her lower half against his lower half?

  No. No. No. If she touched him or gave him any kind of encouragement . . . Too late. Harper did a little grinding movement against the front of his coveralls. His body might be dragging, but all of a sudden his cock was wide-awake.

  She sighed and ground into him again. “That was fun. Can we do it again?”

  “Nope.” Rather than trying to get her to walk, Bran scooped her into his arms. He managed to get the truck door open and deposit her inside without injury. He was dead on his feet as he opened the gate. Drove through. Closed it.

  What seemed like an hour later, Bran parked and shook her awake. “Harper. Wake up.”

  “Where are we?”

  “At the trailer.”

  Something must’ve clicked because she climbed out on her own and beat him to the door. She stopped.

  “Whatcha waitin’ for?”

  “For you to unlock it.”

  He snorted. “I never lock my door.”

  “Someone might break in.”

  He shut the door and turned off the porch light. “You’ve seen the piece of shit trailer I live in, right? I ain’t got nothin’ worth stealing.”

  “But you have all those cool fishing doohickeys in your spare bedroom. I know. I peeked.”

  Fishing doohickeys. He fought a laugh.

  Harper yawned and swayed into the wall.

  He steadied her. “Whoa there.”


  “I know. Let’s get you outta these clothes before you crash.”


  Great. Now she was down to one-syllable answers. He tugged off her hat and gloves. Then he sat her on the ottoman and pulled off her boots. He unzipped her coat and the coveralls before bringing her upright again. Harper stood statue straight, not helping, but not impeding his progress in undressing her. Once she was down to socks, jeans, and her long-sleeved shirt, Bran began to remove his outerwear.

  Harper said, “Good night,” clear as a bell and walked down the hallway. Straight to his bedroom.

  “Oh, no. Oh, hell, no.” If that woman went into his bedroom, he couldn’t guarantee he’d ever let her out again. Bran hopped on one foot as he removed his boots, and accidentally left his sock inside the shaft. Zip. His coat hit the floor. He shimmied out of his coveralls and left them wadded in a ball in front of the door. He took off down the hallway. “Harper. Don’t ...” Then he came to a dead stop in his doorway.

  Holy. Fucking. Shit.

  Harper had stripped down to her panties and bra. She’d sprawled sideways on his bed, the side of her face pressed into his comforter, her hair sticking up all over the place like she’d shoved her finger in a light socket.

  Keep looking at her head, man. Do not let your eyes wander.

  His eyes wandered.

  Straight to her ass. Sweet Jesus, did that woman have a mouthwatering ass. Curvy and just wide enough for a man to grab a handful as he fucked her. She wore turquoise bikini panties with bright red lace around the leg holes and the waistband. The sweetest slice of her butt cheeks hung out of each side, where her thigh connected with her bottom.

  Bran was instantly awake. And instantly hard. Again.

  Oh, this is bad. Very, very bad.

  He clenched his hands into fists, fighting the temptation to trace the curve of her legs from her ankles up and over that amazing ass, dipping into those sexy little indents at the base of her spine, then up the feminine arc of her back, stopping only to unhook the red bra. He’d brush the hair from her nape, letting his hot breath tease her before he kissed her there first, imagining the sweet and salty taste of her skin.

  Harper stirred, making a sexy, low-pitched moan. She turned her head. Lifted her shoulder.

  Oh, no. Oh, hell, no. Please do not turn over.

  She rolled over.

  Keep looking at her head, man. Do not let your eyes wander.

  His eyes wandered.

  Straight to the crotch of her panties. His mouth watered, hungrily taking in the rise of her mound, the cleft subtly pointing the way to her core. He forced his gaze up, sweeping over her flat abdomen and the cute notch of her belly button, stopping when he reached those luscious tits.

  Holy. Fucking. Shit.

  Her nipples practically spilled out of the deeply cut bra cups. The edges of the bra dug into the pale upper swells, leaving red marks on each side. That had to be uncomfortable.

  Maybe you oughta take her bra off to alleviate the pressure.

  No way.

  Maybe you oughta kiss it and make it better.

  Jesus. What was wrong with him? He was standing there drooling and fantasizing over her like a twelve-year-old virgin faced with his first half-naked woman.

  But even Bran had to admit, this half-naked woman was riding the top of the leader board with one of the best bodies he’d ever seen.

  Harper made that sexy-sounding sigh again and his dick jumped against his zipper.


  Bran grabbed the extra blanket off the dresser and threw it over her, resisting the temptation to tuck it around her. Any contact with her body would destroy his good intentions.

  He retreated to the bathroom and locked the door. After shedding his dirty clothes, he stepped into the shower. The initial blast of cold water didn’t affect his hard-on at all. His dick slapped against his belly when he leaned over to grab the soap.

  Goddammit. He’d get no rest u
ntil he got some relief.

  Hello, Jack Off, his old friend. A friend he’d known intimately the last six months.

  He rested his left forearm level with his forehead on the longest side of the enclosed shower. The water spray hit his groin. Bran grabbed his cock firmly by the root and started to stroke.

  Harper’s face appeared. Then it was her hand working him, not his. She knew exactly how he liked to be touched—slow, slow, and then wham! Fast and faster.

  But in this wet dream, her fingers played with his balls as she kept the steady rhythm on his shaft. She wasn’t watching her hand; she was watching his face. Raptly. When he groaned and sucked in a swift breath, she swept the pad of her thumb across the sweet spot beneath the cock head. Her breath whispered across his skin, drawing the flesh into goose bumps as she brought him closer to the edge. Heart racing, hips pumping, the slapping sound of skin on skin increasing inside the steamy shower.

  She was attuned to his body’s every response. When she felt his balls draw up, she eased her finger back behind that sensitive section of skin and rimmed his anus.

  Bran started to come. In his mind, he’d pushed Harper to her knees. He replaced her hand with his own and aimed his cock at her chest. He came with a roar. Spurts jetted out the end of his spasming dick and hit the white shower wall. The image blurred again and he saw his seed landing on Harper’s pale chest. Each spot of come slipped down the slope of her tits. One heavy dot clung on the end of her nipple like a milky teardrop.

  Keeping her gaze locked on his, Harper caught the drop on her fingertip. She stuck that fingertip into her mouth and sucked.

  Hot as fucking hell.

  Bran let go of his dick and it bounced against his belly. He opened his eyes from his mental skin flick. Getting off had taken the edge off, but it left him craving the real deal.

  Harper. Naked. Nine ways ’til Sunday.

  He cleaned up the shower. After he’d toweled off he realized he hadn’t brought fresh clothes with him. No fucking way was he sleeping in a towel all goddamn night when he’d already given up his bed. He made as little noise as possible as he slipped into his bedroom.

  Harper had kicked the covers off.

  Not only was she gorgeous, but she was so damn ... cute. She’d charmed him this morning with the delicate way she’d eaten her doughnut—a proper lady having high tea. She’d surprised him when she’d slipped on his old cowshit- and grease-stained Carhartt coveralls, looking far removed from the gorgeously put-together beauty queen he’d seen her as at the salon earlier.

  But the capper for him in this losing battle to keep things platonic? When she’d reached up and casually brushed the sugar from his lips as if it was the most natural thing in the world. It’d taken every ounce of his control not to suck those questing fingers into his mouth. As she’d traced the arc of his lips, she looked like she wanted to do so much more than just touch him, but she had no idea what to do first.

  That was when Bran first suspected that Harper Masterson wasn’t as skilled in bedroom arts as he imagined. Oh, she wasn’t totally innocent. A beautiful woman like her wouldn’t be untouched. But hers was a different level of innocence, and that scared him because he wanted to be the man to show her the pure pleasure of giving herself over to a demanding lover. How intense, sweet, and fulfilling it’d be to lose that sheen of innocence with a lover who would unleash all sides of her sexuality and expect her to embrace them without apology.

  But on the flip side, Bran knew they’d be in close quarters, especially for the next couple of weeks. He needed her focused on helping him finish calving, not focused on whether her boss was going to make a pass at her.

  How long could he hold out?

  Another night, for sure.

  He pulled on a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt. He snagged a pillow and his sleeping bag, then shut off all the lights before bedding down on the couch.

  Any additional fantasies about Harper faded as exhaustion overtook him completely.

  Chapter Six

  Mmm. The blanket felt soft and fuzzy against her bare skin, but it wasn’t very warm. Harper shivered and rolled over.

  Wait a second. She shouldn’t be able to feel the blanket against her skin, since she never slept naked. Too many years of the fear that she would run into whatever bar rat her mom had picked up the night before if she went to the bathroom or the kitchen.

  She opened her eyes and jackknifed in the middle of a kingsize bed. Clutching the blanket to her chest, she squinted at her surroundings. Wood-paneled walls. Two dressers against the wall with a small window. Sliding doors that hid a closet. A ginger jar lamp on the nightstand next to an alarm clock. The red numbers flashed 3:15, but that wasn’t right. It felt like early morning, but not that early.

  The whole space was impersonal. Bland even. She inhaled a deep, slow breath and the scent of man, of the clean tang of aftershave filled her nostrils. Harper was in Bran’s bedroom.

  But where was Bran?

  She’d slept on top of the covers. The sheets weren’t mussed. Neither were the pillows. She scooted to the edge of the bed and set her feet on the floor. Her clothes were in a pile.

  Good Lord. Why couldn’t she remember stripping and falling into Bran’s bed?

  Maybe Bran stripped you.

  Shoot. That was definitely something she wouldn’t want to sleep through.

  Harper shoved the blanket aside and dressed quickly, wrinkling her nose at the barnyard smell wafting from her clothes. She had a blurry memory of standing in front of the trailer door, waiting for Bran to let her in. Then . . . nothing.

  She ventured out of the bedroom, passing the bathroom and two closed doors before she was in the living room. There he was. Warmth flowed through her when she saw Bran sprawled on the couch, his forearm across his eyes, the stubble of his beard darkening the angular lines of his face.

  Although he was mostly covered, the lower part of his leg peeked out from beneath the fleece blanket. His sweatpants had slid up to his knee, revealing the dark hair on his leg and the muscled flesh of his calf. The muscles gave way to the stoutness of his ankle and the smooth white skin covering the top of his bare foot.

  She’d never seen cowboy Bran without boots, or at least socks, on his feet. Seeing that vulnerable part of him—well, she wouldn’t have felt more like a Peeping Tom if she’d gotten a glimpse inside his boxers.

  Don’t stare at his crotch.

  She purposely scrutinized his foot, from his heel to the tip of his big toe. Mighty long. Hmm. She wondered if foot size really was an indication of the size of his . . .

  “If you’re done gawking at me, I’ll get up and make us a pot of coffee,” he said gruffly.

  “Sorry. I didn’t want to disturb you.”

  “Were you planning on takin’ off without saying good-bye again?”

  That was the first time he’d mentioned her sneaking out. She honestly thought he hadn’t noticed. Or cared. “No. I just . . .”

  Bran moved his arm and she was staring into his eyes. Oh. Not fair. Why were his eyes more blue than gray this morning? A bottomless blue like the wide Wyoming sky? She could totally lose herself in his eyes.

  “Harper. You just . . . what?”

  Her cheeks flamed as she realized she’d been gazing at him like he personally hung the moon and the stars solely for her. “What? Oh, right, I’m, ah, still pretty confused. I just don’t remember anything from last night.”

  A dark brow winged up. “Nothin’?”

  She blushed harder, if that were possible. “I remember you opening the door. That’s it.”

  He shifted until his feet hit the floor. “Not much to tell. I helped you get your outerwear off. As I was takin’ mine off, you disappeared. I found you in my bedroom stripped down to your very sexy underthings and passed out on my bed.” Bran locked his gaze to hers. “I threw a blanket over you. Then I came out here and crashed on the couch.”

  Such a gentleman.

  Such a pity.

  Get a grip. “I’m sorry if I was a problem.”

  Bran grinned the wicked cowboy grin that fired every feminine molecule she had. “The only problem I had was walking away when I had a gorgeous half-nekkid woman in my bed.”

  How was she supposed to respond to that?

  Don’t. Ignore it.

  Brightly, with a totally fake smile, Harper said, “I’ll make coffee.”

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