Authors: Keri Ford
Tags: #Romance, #Erotica, #Southern fiction, #Erotic Romance
In The Hay
In The Hay
Copyright © 2011, Keri Ford
Digital ISBN: 9781935817772
Cover Art Design by Kim Jacobs
Electronic release, April, 2011
Turquoise Morning, LLC
In The Hay
is a Sapphire Nights book
Sapphire Nights is an imprint of Turquoise Morning Press
Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work, in whole or part, in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, is illegal and forbidden, without the written permission of the publisher, Turquoise Morning Press.
This is a work of fiction. Characters, settings, names, and occurrences are a product of the author's imagination and bear no resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, places or settings, and/or occurrences. Any incidences of resemblance are purely coincidental.
This edition is published by agreement with Turquoise Morning Press, a division of Turquoise Morning, LLC.
Very big thanks to my critique partner, KJ Reed and my editor, Jacqueline Daher.
helped me turn this story into a
. It wouldn’t be what it is without the both of you.
In The Hay
It’s been a White Picket Fence life for Nicolette. Charming, but tedious. She graduated high school, raring to go. Nothing is ever as easy as it seems though. The fear of being stuck in a rut, living a dull day-to-day life keeps Nicolette from settling on a career, despite her six years of college. When the chance arrives for her to housesit, she takes opportunity by the horns for a little playtime. She would experience life and find something that would make her happy.
Drew knows exactly what he wants. To run the family construction business. Too bad his dad doesn’t think he’s ready. They make a deal. Drew will help his cousin put up a new fence and after he’s learned hard work, the construction business is his. Drew's not sure learning how to string fence line together will see him suitable for a career of paper pushing, but he’ll do it.
When Drew meets the
-be-free-spirited Nicolette, his determined thoughts of what he’s always worked for begins to sway. Nicolette’s finding the fun in life. But their relationship is temporary. A week tops.
“You’re changing your degree.” Ted shook his head. “Again.”
Nicolette nodded and pretended the churn in her stomach was from the jalapeños.
“What is it this time?” The unbelieving tone of his voice matched his disappointed face. “You’ve chased childhood education, business, and graphic design so far.”
She gave up trying to eat and wasn’t going to mention the broadcasting attempt. “I’m not sure. I’m dog sitting for my cousin next week in Apple Trail. I thought of taking some time to figure out what I want.”
“You’re twenty-five, Nicolette. Grow up already and quit making excuses to live off your parents’ money in college.”
Knots filled Nicolette’s throat. “Get out.”
He sighed. “
She shook her head. “I said out.”
Ted closed the lid on his food and grabbed his laptop with all his graphic design work. That’s where she’d met him. In graphic design school. He’d since completed his degree, graduated and was making a career of it. And it’d all been so easy for him.
She’d never once in her life picked out any activity on her own and now was supposed to be able to pick something
for the rest of her life
. Forgive her for taking her time. She gripped the edge of her enchilada plate and sent it flying across the table to crash into another chair where an explosion of melted cheese, sauce and whatever else was in that thing flew into the air and rained to the floor. Satisfaction bloomed in her chest and pulled out a smile.
Now that she enjoyed and could do again.
This wasn’t the first time the redhead had caught Drew starting at her. He doubted it would be the last. It couldn’t be helped. Her god-awful dancing had first drawn his eye, but it was the realization she wasn’t drunk, or even drinking, that held his gaze. Moves like those should really only come after shots.
Eight or nine of them.
He wasn’t certain what she was attempting. Looked like a combination of the robot, chicken dance, and hokey-pokey. Bad enough, but made so much worse by the others rhythmically dancing on the floor beside her.
Drew could give her props. What she lacked in talent, she was more than making up for with enthusiasm and seemed to be having the best time. It was refreshing since he was having the worst.
A cop leaned on the bar next to him and gestured at the girl with his fingertips. “She with you?”
Drew glanced at the red headed beauty. “Ah, no.”
The officer shrugged. “You’re both new around here. I didn’t know if you were together.”
“Nope. Riley Hamilton is my cousin. I’m in town helping put up his new fence.”
“Good man.” The cop held out his hand and they shook. “Mike Gable.”
“All right.” Mike nodded, his brows pulled into a V as he searched the small bar. “Let me see if I can find who she belongs with. Want to make sure she doesn’t drive out of here drunk.”
“She’s not drinking.” Drew searched the crowd, his chest tightened when he couldn’t find her short, but very nice legs or her just barely long enough yellow skirt. He looked higher and caught a bit of red hair swinging around as she looked to be head-banging to the classic country tune.
Mike winced. “She looks pretty wasted to me.”
“Haven’t seen a drink in her hand all night, but I’ll keep an eye on her for you.” Because he was going to be watching her anyway, and continue looking to see if she was with anyone here.
Only a few had attempted to dance with her. One guy thought to get behind her and grind on her, but in all cases, she laughed, scouted away and carried on with flinging her body about. She’d only stopped her attempts long enough to sip from a bottle of water before returning to the middle of the dance floor.
The cop flicked his fingers up. “Didn’t want to trouble you, but was just checking.”
Drew smiled at Mike. “Really no trouble at all.”
The door to the packed out bar opened and two tall blondes walked in. They were pretty, but they didn’t draw his eye near like the redhead. She was just…bless her heart, she just didn’t have a dancing bone in her body no matter how hard she tried or attempted to mirror the girls next to her.
Mike straightened and cursed under his breath. “Thanks. I’ve got my hands full now.”
This was not only Drew’s worst night ever, but the start of the worst couple of weeks and he didn’t want to lose sight of the little bit of entertainment he had for the evening. Or maybe had. Either way, come morning, it was time to straighten up his act, and help Riley install a new fence for his cows. Drew’s dad had the mistaken belief that once he proved he knew hard work, then he was ready to take over the company.
Drew wasn’t sure how in the hell being able to drive hundreds of fence posts in the ground and string barbwire meant he could manage their construction company. He’d do it though, to prove he was ready. Just one more step up his dad’s ladder.
Drew turned back to the bulk of the crowd, looking for the nutty dancer. Their gazes caught again. This time she stilled and stared back. He glanced down her body. Her heaving chest. Flat stomach. Shaped legs and little slipper-Tinker Bell-looking shoes.
She took a step. He lifted his gaze back up her body, past her fisted hands, straightened shoulders and raised head as she crossed the small bar. Her stare never wavered from his face. As she drew closer, he could see the sweat that had formed on her brow and soaked into the center of her barely covering white tube shirt thing. Her cheeks were flushed. Breath rushed out of her. She stopped before him, dark red hair clung to the sweat on her neck.
She stared up at him. Her little chin upturned, pouty lips parted as she gasped for air. Freckles dusted over a nose framed by wide brown eyes with long, thick lashes. Hmm. Not just simple brown eyes, so much more than that. Golden and bright and flecked with bits of green. “You’ve been watching me.”
He shrugged a shoulder. “I have.”
She pressed her lips together and glanced away for a brief second before looking back at him. “What’s your name?”
She didn’t look like a Nicolette. Nicolette was too formal, too proper. This girl looked like honey fresh from a hive. “Having fun dancing?”
Her lips split to a wide grin, hands came up and clasped before her chest. “I’ve never danced the night away before.”
“Ah. That makes sense.” Not really, but she smiled, liking the response, so that was good enough.
She glanced around and bit her lower lip, kicked at the old concrete floor with her toe, and twiddled with her fingers. He started to ask if she wanted to get out of there, but he wasn’t given the chance.
Her gaze returned to his as she grabbed the front of his shirt, tugged him forward, and planted her lips to his. No sooner did their lips touch and the tangy sweetness of what he thought was peach bubble-gum filled his mouth, she pulled away, red-faced.
“I’ve never done that before.” Air gushed from her in a rush. “So sorry.” She spun on her heels and started away. Her heat and fire was slipping through his fingers along with her red curls.
“Not so fast.” He wrapped his arm around her slim waist and spun her back against him. “For your first time, it ought to be done right.”
Her lips parted, her eyes widened. A soft gasp escaped as he tugged her hot and sweat dampened body flush to him. Fully and right as he’d been wanting her all night. She was taller than he'd thought. Her hips were against his. Chest on chest. He waited no longer to take what’d he’d been wanting and pressed his lips over hers. She stiffened for only a moment before she melted against his body and sighed into his mouth.
He stroked his tongue along hers and finally got his hands in her thick hair. It curled over his arms, the thick strands wrapped around his fingers as he tipped her head back and deepened the kiss, giving her a full taste of what he could deliver. By the purr vibrating in her throat, he’d say she was onto the idea.
Besides, he was only doing his civic duty here. He
promised that officer he’d see her out safely. What better way to keep his promise than if they left together?
Hoots and hollers shouted out in deafening volumes, breaking the all too quick moment. Her hands landed flat on his chest and she started to push, but he linked his hands together at her lower back to keep her close, to hold the sweet, peach scent close.
He leaned over and whispered in her ear. “We could get out of here together.”
She blinked. Her fingers curled against his chest. Breath filled her twice. He waited for another push from her, ready to release her if that’s what she wanted. There was no shove. She wouldn’t meet his eyes, but stared toward the base of his throat. “What about my dancing the night away?”
“Haven’t you heard of the horizontal tango?”
She burst out laughing and her forehead dropped on his chest. Those slim fingertips curled into fists and tugged at his shirt until her knuckles were whitened. She was silent for a long moment. The grip on his shirt loosened.
He pulled his hands from her and cursed himself for moving too fast. “Go back to your dancing.”
She didn’t release him. Or push away. Or tell him off. “I’m not sure I want to.”
When he wanted to put his hands on her again, he lifted them instead and curled the ends of her hair around his finger. The golden-red strands were soft and thick. He wanted to see them bounce and sway against her shoulders as she straddled him. Feel them across his chest. He’d never seen or felt hair like this. It seemed to have a life of its own, curling perfectly around her. “What do you want?”
“I think I want to get out of here. With you.”
He stilled and stared down at her, wondering if he’d heard right. After the past few seconds, he wasn’t expecting a yes.
“Oh, God.” Her jaw dropped. “You were only kidding.” She spun away, head down and walking a straight bee-line toward the door.
“Nicolette!” He left his nearly full, now warm beer abandoned on the bar and chased after. She never looked back, but kept going. That wild, long hair of hers flicked up and danced nearly to her lower back. She hit the front door with her hands flat on the glass and shoved it opened, disappearing into the night.
Deputy Mike stopped him at the door. “Is there a problem?”
Drew shook his head. “Nothing I can’t straighten out. I’ll take care of her.” He glanced over his shoulder toward the two blondes chalking up sticks and taunting a couple of gang-looking members. “I think you have your hands full here.”
Mike followed his gaze and cursed under his breath. Drew breathed a sigh of relief and headed out into the night for the redhead.
Rocks kicked over the ground to his right and he went off in that direction and found her just around the corner. She leaned against the brick wall, head tilted back, and stared toward the bright moon. She breathed hard and her lips parted. Dim light reflected off the sheen on her chest and she looked just perfect.
He crossed his arms over his chest. Mostly to keep them to himself. After wanting her all night, those all too short seconds were a sampling tease. “You took me by surprise. That’s all.”
“Why?” Her head cocked to the side. The moonlight caught on her cheek and eyes. “Why ask if you didn’t really mean it?”
He chuckled, “I meant it, sweetheart. I just didn’t expect you to go for it.” She only stared after him. “That is, I didn’t think you’d leave with a man you didn’t know.”
She tugged on her shirt and brushed something off her naked shoulders. “I’m not.”
“That's what I thought.”
“Doesn’t mean I’m not game for it though.” In the pale light, a brow arched in clear challenge.
But Drew wasn’t quite ready to go there yet. She might talk a good game, but he had doubts she’d ever played one. He had to admit, he liked this girl. There was something about her. An edge lurking just under her pop princess, peach-flavored façade. So he’d take his time and see what happened. Peel her back by layers. He had all week at the least. “What do you want to do then?”
Her eyes widened to saucers. “I thought...”
Yeah, he’d make her say it. Not because he wanted to be an ass about it, but if she said it, he’d know she’d meant it and that might change everything he had in mind.
Her lips twitched and her gaze dropped from his face. “I’m not sure.”
Ah, shy. Definitely not the kind of girl who’d ever picked a man up at a bar before. But yet, here she was, alone with him, thinking about doing that very thing. Interesting. “You said you’d never danced the night away. Do you want to go back inside and finish that?”
“No. I can check that off my list.”
“Your list?” He didn’t have to see her cheeks to know they were glowing pink.
“I want to try a few things I’ve never done before.”
That explained a little. Or at least explained why she was blushing and fidgeting in this dark alley with him, but clearly still tempted enough that she hadn’t run back inside. Yet. “What did you have in mind?”
She walked a few steps away. Not leaving him, but pacing. He leaned against the course brick wall and let her have at it. And then she went and tucked her hair behind her ears. He didn’t like it. It confined her hair. Shoved it back when he preferred it waving around her face. He nearly reached forward and loosened it before he caught himself.
What the fuck.
He rolled his shoulders back, shoving off his nagging curiosity with her.
She stopped suddenly and faced him. “Well, such as, I’ve never been skinny dipping before.”
He choked and coughed it off. She stood under the light a few feet away and he could see the grin she tossed him.
. He cleared his throat. “All you
do is go. Can’t imagine that anyone would stop you.”
“I don’t have a swimming pool.”
Easy enough. He stuck his hands back in his front pockets before loosening her hair. “I know where there’s a pond.”