Authors: Codi Gary
“I’m being serious,” she said, trying to sound stern.
“Okay, well, it probably looks something like this,” he said.
When she looked up from another bite of pancakes, he was fluttering his lashes and pursing his lips and she choked
“And then you say things like, ‘Well bless your heart, aren’t you a gentleman?” He added, raising his voice several octaves.
Grabbing her glass of orange juice, she tried to stall the coughing fit of laughter his antics had caused.
“Maybe you should wear a wig and go for me. You’re obviously a better woman than I am,” she said, pretending to glare.
“Hey I was just trying to be helpful. You want advice on how to flirt, talk to one of Red’s sisters. They have wrapping a man around their finger down to a science,” he said, going back to his pancakes.
Why did he sound so irritated? She was just playing with him
“I don’t want him wrapped around my finger. I just want to find someone that I won’t absolutely hate being married to.”
“Well I’d offer myself up, but I couldn’t do the name only thing.” He said it so casually her mouth dropped and she could do nothing but blink at him, her heart beating wildly
Had Jake considered marrying her?
By the look of pure terror on his face now, she doubted it and had a feeling he was afraid she would take him seriously.
“Yeah, well, I couldn’t deal with your constant narcissism, so it’s a good thing that’s decided,” she said, trying to lighten the mood and calm her happy heart palpations.
He lost the deer in the headlights expression and flashed a sheepish grin. “I’m not narcissistic; I’m just self-aware.”
“You would think women would find you arrogant, but they just seem to keep flocking to you,” she said, making a face at him.
He waggled his eyebrows and crooned, “The ladies love my eyes and amicable charm.”
She snorted and went to put her dish on the counter. “I don’t know what you’ve been told, but you have as much charm as an armadillo’s backside.”
Suddenly, his hands were on her shoulders, and spinning her around. He slipped his hands down to lay flat on the counter, leaning over her until their noses were almost touching. “Now that isn’t very nice darlin’, especially when it’s coming from the prettiest mouth I’ve seen west of the Mississippi.”
She blinked at him, and his tone turned caressing, his eyes hot. “In fact, I’ve been thinking; lips like that have got to be soft as a rose petal. You wouldn’t mind if I tested them out, would ya, sweetheart?”
Her heart did a double dip back flip and her lips parted as he leaned closer. Her eyelids dropped down and at the first brush of his mouth, tingles tickled their way down her body until she was squirming closer. Her hand slid up to cup the back of his neck and she slipped her fingers into the short strands as she leaned into his kiss.
He made a noise that was a cross between a moan and a growl before she felt him lift her onto the kitchen counter. His hands slid up her thighs, his thumbs rubbing through her jeans and a throbbing tempo started between her legs. She gasped against his mouth as he cupped her through her jeans and he pulled away, his breathing harsh.
“Shit. This is crazy. You are making me crazy,” he said, still hovering above her.
It took a second for her to understand that he wasn’t going to come back to her.
Dropping her hand from the back of his neck, she whispered, “What is going on with us?”
Jake backed away from her and cursed again. “I’m sorry. Fuck! I need to go.”
“Jake…” she called out, but he was already slamming through the front door like she was going to chase him down and hog tie him.
This was the second time in a week Jake had kissed her and run out without explaining. At this point, she wasn’t sure who the crazier one was: him for kissing her or her for forgetting why she shouldn’t enjoy it.
Jake cursed as he shifted his truck into gear. They were friends, and he knew enough to know he was no good to any woman for more than a few days. If he kept kissing her, he was just going to end up hurting her. He wasn’t ready for anything serious; he was just upset that the bank had turned down his loan application and wanted to feel better. And kissing Rand had made him feel fucking fantastic.
He needed to apologize, to explain that it wasn’t her fault and it would never happen again. Right now though, he couldn’t get the taste and feel of her out of his mind, and until he did, he shouldn’t get within ten feet of Rand.
Things would never be the same.
That thought had been popping up all week, ever since Jake had walked out on her again. She’d avoided church last Sunday, getting her chores done and heading over to Earl’s instead. Although, that hadn’t exactly been a relaxing visit either. The old badger had known something was up and kept pestering her until she’d threatened to poison his pie. He’d let up with a grumble, but still, she hadn’t been able to stop thinking about the kiss.
Monday, she’d sent one of the guys into town for supplies, too nervous to face Jake and demand an explanation. Tuesday, she’d headed over to the veterinary clinic with a check for the fundraiser, but Jay hadn’t been in the office. It had been disappointing, but nothing that kept her up at night. Not like the mystery reasons behind Jake’s sudden kiss and run habit.
Last night she’d gone to The Hole and had a few beers with Red, but Jake hadn’t shown. When she’d asked Red about him, Red had mentioned he had a hot date and that had pissed her off. Bad.
He had kissed her, ditched her, ignored her all week, and then had the balls to book a date for Friday night? Not that she cared about the date cause lord knows, she didn’t really want Jake, but did guys just do that? Did they just go around kissing unsuspecting women for no reason? No explanation? She’d almost asked Red about it, but he would have asked questions she wasn’t prepared to answer. For a sometimes male chauvinist, Red could be curious as a cat and as tenacious as a pit bull.
Rand looked up at the sky when she felt the first drop of rain and wanted to scream in frustration. The cows had downed a section of fencing on the road side, and the last thing she needed was to lose any. She had to get it repaired now, and stop obsessing over Jake and his wandering lips before the storm rolled in.
Hammering a nail into the post, she ignored the splatter of the falling rain on her ball cap, her face dry and her eyes clear as she focused on the repair.
Wonder if he kissed his date last night.
The hammer slipped and slammed down on her thumb. Crying out and dropping it to the ground, she held her injured hand and cursed a blue streak. The sucker throbbed so bad, tears formed in the corner of her eyes and she pulled off her glove to assess the damage. Her thumb was already starting to swell and would be black and blue, but she didn’t think it was broken.
Slipping her glove back on carefully, she took a deep breath and grabbed another nail from her belt.
You have better things to do than think of Jake and his revolving door of hussies.
With the peace offering of pizza and beer, Jake waited for Rand.
He hadn’t meant to avoid her, but was struggling with his feelings. On one hand, he knew what he wanted and knew that it wasn’t a wife, even a temporary one. On the other, he couldn’t seem to stop thinking about Rand; her kiss, her skin, and the way her perfect, unwrapped breasts filled out a t-shirt.
Even the very hot Laura Anne Gentry hadn’t been able to chase Rand from his mind. He’d ended up dropping her off right after dinner and heading home to his apartment alone.
He saw her walking up to the house; head to toe covered in mud and grinned. This was the Rand he was used to; dirty and messy, not beautiful and sweetly sexy.
“What the hell happened to you?” He called.
Her head flew up and he saw her eyes narrow. “What the hell are you doing here?”
He held up the box of pizza and bag. “It’s movie night.”
She stomped up the porch and snapped, “Did it ever occur to you that I might have made other plans?”
“No, it never occurred to me.” And it hadn’t. Even madder than a wet hen, Rand had never missed a pizza night unless she was sick and even then it was iffy.
“Where’s Red?” She unzipped her sweatshirt, dropping it on the ground and kicked off her boots. His eyes followed her hands as she unhooked her overalls, noticing her wince as she slid them down until they lay in a heap.
“You okay? You looked like you were in pain,” he asked as she stepped out of them, wearing a pair of black long johns and her red t-shirt.
“Hit my damn thumb with a hammer. You didn’t answer me.” She said, her head bent over as she took off her wet socks.
Jake wasn’t listening though. As she lifted each long leg, his mind started to wander, picturing those slim limbs wrapped around his waist as he pushed her against the wall, his mouth coming down on hers as he reached for his zipper, determined to-
“What are you looking at?” His eyes came back up to focus on her dark expression and he took a breath, trying to expel the fantasy.
“Nothing.” He remembered finally she had asked him a question an added, “Red said he had something else going on again.”
“He’s sure been a busy beaver lately,” she said, bending over to pick up the pile of clothes. She opened the door to go inside and Jake followed, watching those long legs and tight, shapely rear until she disappeared into the laundry room.
Get a grip man!
When she came out of the laundry room, he jumped in with, “Look Rand, I’m sorry about last week.” She watched him with those big brown eyes, her expression pointed and he shifted uncomfortably. “I don’t have an excuse, but I promise, it will never happen again.”
The silence was deafening for several ticks.
“Fine.” She said finally, her expression telling him things were anything but. “I’m going to take a shower. Heat up my pizza would you?”
“I thought you had other plans tonight?” He asked, smiling.
“Yeah well, for pizza and beer I’ll cancel it. What movies did you get?” She asked.
He pulled out Young Guns One and Two, Tombstone, and 3:10 to Yuma.
“Wow, you really are sorry,” she said, and he caught himself thinking he liked the way her eyes grew warm when she was happy.
As westerns were not his favorite genre he knew exactly what she meant. “I am.”
“Well I’m going to run and shower before you change your mind.”
He watched her go, thoughts of a naked Rand only a few rooms away made him want to bang his head against the wall.
Rand went back to the bathroom after her pizza and brushed her teeth, figuring she’d probably fall asleep during the third movie. By then she’d be out of it and forget, and she hated going to bed without brushing.
She came back into the living room, flopped onto the couch and curled her legs under her chin. “So what should we watch first?”
Jake’s lips twisted into a grimace. “You pick. They’re all painful for me.”
She jumped up with Young Guns, and slipped it into the DVD player. She loved Young Guns, especially because of the very young and cute Charlie Sheen. She came back to the couch and tapped the remote against her thigh impatiently as it loaded.
Sitting next to him on the couch, she could feel the warmth radiating off his body and the smell of his cologne was giving her those tingly feelings again.
“So, have you picked out any other dates,” Jake asked.
She shook her head. “I think I’m going to take your advice and ask Red for help. Or one of his sisters.”
“Wow, I thought you wanted nothing to do with them,” Jake said, frowning.
“I just thought if you’re right and Jay is really going to ask me out I should probably be a little more…feminine I guess,” she said, nervously playing with the knee of her jeans. “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” he said.
“When you go out with a girl, how many dates do you wait before you kiss her,” she asked in a rush.
Jake cleared his throat and shifted in his seat. “Well, there’s no set date. I can usually tell when a girl is into me by the way she acts and she’ll usually give me signs that she wants me to kiss her.”
Had she given Jake some kind of signal
Her face flushed at the thought.
“Like, what kind of sign,” she asked, holding her knees tighter.
For a minute there, she thought he wasn’t going to answer her. After a long, thoughtful look though, he slid closer to her and pulled her arms from off her knees. “Usually, if she wants me to kiss her, she doesn’t cross her arms. Crossed arms make a guy think you don’t want him touching you.”
She dropped her arms and prodded, “What else?”
“She’ll usually touch me a lot. Run her hand over my arm, touch my hair, or brush off some lint,” he said, demonstrating with a soft caress on her own arm.
His fingers on her bare skin made little goose bumps pop up everywhere and the tingles were traveling from his touch to her toes. She reached out a hand and brushed his bronzed hair off his forehead. “Like that?”
He nodded, his eyes capturing hers. “And she usually licks her lips or applies gloss. I’m not a big fan of the sticky shit, but for girls it’s like a neon sign that says, ‘Kiss me.’”
She ran her tongue over her lips. “Like that?”
“Just like that,” he said, scooting closer and cupping the side of her face. His thumb brushed across her lips and unconsciously she kissed its tip.
He stared at her mouth intently, but made no move to kiss her. Boldly, she kneeled up and moved until she straddled his lap, her arms wrapping around his neck.
“What are you doing,” he asked, his hands going around her waist like he was about to lift her back off.
She squeezed him between her thighs and bent down. “You weren’t taking the hint.”
And without giving him a chance to say no, she dropped her mouth that last inch and molded it to his.
You have to stop this.
Instead of listening to his voice of reason, Jake deepened the kiss, running his hands over her back. Reaching the tight bun of hair, he tried to take it down so he could tangle his hands in it, but she jerked away and cried, “Ouch.”
“It’s okay, you just startled me. You want it down,” she asked.
Reaching up behind her head, he watched as she released the brown strands, fanning them out with her fingers. “How’s that?”
“Beautiful,” he said, sliding his hands into her hair and pulling her mouth to his.
“I’m not,”she whispered between kisses.
“What,” he asked.
“I’m not beautiful,” she repeated.
“I think you are,” he said, moving his mouth along her jaw to her neck.
“You are such a liar,” she said, but he caught the way her neck tilted to the side to give him better access and smiled against her skin.
Continuing his slow decent down to the edge of her t-shirt. “Am not.”
She reached her hand up and ran her finger tips over his neck, making him forget exactly what they were arguing about and he was uncomfortably aware that his hard on was nearly perfectly nestled against the apex of her thighs.
Pulling away from her, he looked up and asked, “What are we doing?”
“What? I like kissing you.” Her fingers were playing with the back of his neck and it was distracting as hell.
“Yeah I like it too, but aren’t you supposed to be looking for a husband,” he asked, and her fingers stopped moving.
“Yeah. And I was thinking maybe you could help me out with that,” she said.
“How am I going to do that,” he asked, his chest tightening with anxiety.
Her cheeks blossomed pink. “By teaching me how to kiss and anything else I need to know.”
That wasn’t the answer he had been expecting and instead of being relieved, he was irritated. “So you can practice on me, and then use what you’ve learned to snare some poor sap? I thought you wanted a marriage in name only, anyway?”
She shrugged, which infuriated him more. “I don’t really know what I want anymore. All I do know is I’m about to lose my ranch and I can’t let that happen.”
He didn’t like her pleading look. Rand never begged for anything, and she looked like she was three seconds away from falling to her knees and clasping her hands. “You know how to kiss.”
He almost didn’t hear her, her voice was so quiet. “But I’ve never done…anything else before.”
“Rand, are you saying you’re a virgin?” He asked the question, unable to conceal his surprise. He knew she didn’t really date, but he figured she had just been sly about it.
She tried to look away but he caught her chin. “Are you?”
“Yeah,” she said hesitantly, but her eyes suddenly flared and she added, “By choice. I didn’t want anyone talking about me and my private matters.”
He almost asked if he had been her first kiss, but thought it might put her over the edge. Releasing her chin, he tucked her hair behind her ear gently. “Lesson number one: Leave your hair down. Guys like long hair.”
“It gets in my way,” she protested.
“I thought you wanted my advice and expertise,” he countered.
She frowned. “I do.”
“Then take my advice. Anytime you aren’t working, wear your hair down.” Tangling his hands in the brown curtain, he pulled her down and kissed her right under the ear.