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Authors: Victoria Vane

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BOOK: Slow Hand
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He never got to finish. She silenced
him
this time, softly biting his lower lip and sucking it into her mouth. His shirt was already off and her hands were everywhere. His were too, except where he wanted them most. He lowered them both to their knees and slid his hands beneath her sweater. Her skin was smooth, soft, and cool to his touch. His thumbs strummed over her lacy bra, tantalizing her nipples as he dipped his head to the junction of her neck and shoulder, breathing her in, tasting her sweet skin on his tongue. She shivered.

“I promise you'll be warm real soon,” he murmured thickly.

“That one wasn't from cold, cowboy. Don't stop what you're doing.”

He drew her onto his lap and pulled off her sweater, cupping her breasts, and lowering his head to root for a beaded nipple even as he unhooked her bra. Once freed from the bra, he suckled her harder. “God yes,” she whimpered.

With a sound of impatience, she pushed him onto his back, straddling his thighs, and finding his chest with her mouth. She worked her way down his body with feverish desperation, yanking his belt free and fumbling with the button fly of his Wranglers. Shit! Why the hell hadn't he worn a pair with a friggin' zipper?

Giving up, she slid a hand deep inside his jeans. He sucked in a breath to give her more room as she wrapped her fingers around him. She kissed and licked and suckled his belly while stroking inside his jeans, sending him into a near frenzy to release himself into her greedy hands. Wade pulled her back up to his mouth as he tore at his buttons and then hers. Never breaking completely free from the hot and heavy bites and kisses, they yanked, wriggled, and squirmed out of their remaining clothes.

He stroked his hands over her hips to her cool butt cheeks. Sure enough, she was wearing a lacy thong. “How's your ass feeling?” he asked with a chuckle.

“Chafed raw,” she confessed. “But maybe you could kiss it and make it all better?”

“Hell, yeah, darlin'. I've been dreaming of licking that sweet ass of yours since the Denver airport.” He laid her down, working his mouth down her body with the intention of peeling off her panties with his teeth.
Shit!
He cursed in frustration. For hours he'd been hard as a sledgehammer from tantalizing images of
nectarines
knocking around in his head, and now it was too dark to see a damned thing.

“What's wrong?” she asked breathlessly.

“Nothing the morning light won't fix.”

“I don't want to think about morning.”

She shivered again. Violently. He looked up to find her lips turning blue from cold.

“C'mon. I promised to warm you up.” Abandoning his quest, he dragged her into the snug confines of the sleeping bags, kissing her and warming her body with his. Taking his time, he moved down her throat once more to her breasts, loving the shape and feel of them in his hands and mouth. She squirmed beneath him, removing her panties, and then guiding his hand over the soft, smooth plain of her belly, then southward to a place equally smooth. Wade skirted his hands over her baby-soft skin to slip his fingers deep inside her. So warm and wet.

Writhing beneath him with whimpered impatience, she wrapped her fingers around his prick, coaxing him toward the source of her wet heat. She was wide open, slick as sin, and begging. “I need you inside me.
Now
.”

“Just hold that thought, darlin', and I'll be happy to oblige.” Extricating himself with a supreme effort, Wade groped in the dark for his crumpled jeans, sighing with relief when he found the foil packet. He quickly rolled on the latex and returned to Nikki, fisting her hair and taking her mouth hard and deep, muffling her cry when he penetrated her in a single slide home. She clutched his shoulders, wrapped her legs around his flanks and urged him deeper. Harder. He withdrew and slammed into her again. His mind blurred with the tight, slick, friction.

Holy
shit, it was good… Was there anything better on God's green earth than immersing himself to the balls in this
woman?

And it only seemed to get better as they increased the intensity. She ground up into him with soft, sensuous sounds, meeting him eagerly, and matching his furious rhythm. Wade pounded into her, ruthlessly and relentlessly, every thrust ratcheting him higher and closer to the peak. Though his balls ached for release, Wade held himself in check, gritting his teeth and easing himself back from the edge of oblivion. But three more hard thrusts sent her into the abyss.

She threw her head back with a scream, her channel convulsing in pleasure, her inner walls squeezing him in milking spasms. Holy hell, he'd never made a woman come so fast.

She gazed up at him with a dazed smile of repletion. “I think you've kept up your end of the bargain.”

“Been awhile?” he asked.

“Yeah, too long.”

“That so? Was that how you like it, Nikki? Hard and fast?”

Her mouth curved in the corner. “Hard, fast, slow, deep, I think I'd like
you
any which way.” Her brow wrinkled. “Do you know, I think you're the first man who's ever asked me what I like?”

He gave her a crooked grin. “Just aiming to please.”

She flicked her gaze southward and ran her tongue over her lips. “Then it seems only fair that I reciprocate.”

“All in good time, darlin'. First, I want to make you do
that
all over again.”

Chapter 11

Nikki opened her eyes to Wade's warm body cloaking hers, his steady breath heating her neck. He mumbled in his sleep, dragging her closer, scraping a bristled jaw over her nape. She was afraid to move, almost afraid to breathe, for fear of breaking the spell. Had it all been just a wild erotic fantasy? But the air was still scented with sex. If that wasn't already enough to jar her memory of last night, her mental DVR began playing back the preceding hours in vivid and breath-catching clips.

She'd never experienced anything even close to being wrapped in him, filled by him. He'd made her come apart so many times she thought she'd lose her mind. They'd had hard, fast, mind-blowing sex—and she'd fallen just as hard and fast. Now she was struggling to deal with the emotional upshot. It wasn't just great chemistry; he was everything she'd ever dreamed of—big, strong, intelligent, compassionate, sexy, and with a great sense of humor. She couldn't suppress the tiny hope that that just
maybe
he'd felt something more too.

He stirred again. His erection pressed up against her ass. She wriggled into it with a moan. “I want you again, Wade.”

“We can't,” he murmured hotly against her neck. “I don't have any more protection, but here's a little reminder until I
can
be inside you again.”

His mouth came down at the junction of her neck and shoulder. He slipped his hand between her thighs, stroking and circling, making her crazy while biting softly, and sucking on her neck. She basked once more in his unselfishness, and even more in the mastery of his hands and mouth—until the sound of thunder shook the door and rattled the windows.

Startled, Nikki cried out. Wade jolted upright, scrambling blindly for his clothes.

More thunder sounded and then the door flew open, slamming against the wall with a thud. It was Dirk. A big, bad, glowering intruder casting his long shadow from the doorway.

His face hardened as he took in the scene. “Just fucking great, Wade. You told me you were going to bring down the strays. Instead, I come all the way up here to find you two knocking boots!”

Wade yanked on his jeans and tossed Nikki his shirt before stepping toward the door, effectively blocking her from Dirk's view. “What the hell are you doing up here anyway? I told you we'd bring them down and we will.”

“I'm playing the messenger boy for Allison Evans, that's what. Seems she has a new offer on the table and
needs
you, Wade. She won't go into it with anyone else.”

Nikki looked from one brother to the other with a sickening churning deep in her gut. “What's he talking about, Wade? Who's Allison Evans?”

“He hasn't a friggin' clue what he's blabbering about,” Wade replied. “Allison is my partner's daughter. She's the ranch broker I've been working with. This is business, Nikki. Plain and simple.”

“‘Plain and simple'?” Dirk laughed outright. “Yeah, you just tell yourself that, little bro. Hell, it seems to me with such a fierce competition for that dick of yours, we should pin a blue ribbon on it.”

“Shut the hell up, Dirk!” Wade snapped and glanced back at Nikki. “And get out!”

“You done fucking then?”

It was Wade's turn to glower. “One more word and my fist is going to get mighty familiar with your face.”

Dirk's eyes darkened, his body stiffened for a moment, but then he turned and stalked out.

“Look, Nikki,” Wade began as soon as the door closed. “This is nothing like it appears.”

You're an idiot, Nikki Powell. You knew how this would turn out and you did it anyway. You deserve what you get for your
stupidity.

“You don't need to explain anything,” she said tightly. “I already knew this was a huge mistake even before it happened.” She shook her head. “No, make that a
colossal
mistake.”

She climbed out of the sleeping bag and snatched at her own discarded clothes.

“Sweetheart.” Wade wrapped his arms around her. “I've got only one reply to that. If you think last night was a mistake, I'd better try again until I get it right.”

She averted her face. “Last night was last night. Now it's done. Over. It's not going to happen again. There's no point in continuing what never should have started to begin with.”

He gave an exasperated groan. “Please, listen to me. I know you must be feeling pretty raw after that asshole barged in on us, but don't be getting wrong ideas about me and Allie.”

“Let it be, Wade. I meant what I said. Let me be.”

“I'm sorry, but I can't accept that.”

“Why's that? Because
I'm
the one ending it? Is that a novelty for you?”

He cocked his head. “Damn straight it is, and I don't like it. Not a bit.”

“Guess you'll have to get used to it.”

She took off his shirt and threw it at him. He caught it in one hand. “You'd better go now. Dirk and the cattle are waiting.” She jerked her head toward the door. “You go ahead and I'll catch up with you later. I'd like to get cleaned up before I see anyone else.”

“You can take your time. We'll be driving them back down this way anyhow. You can join us then.”

He pulled his shirt on, grabbed his hat and jacket, stomped into his boots, and then headed for the door. He only made it three strides before turning back. “We'll talk more about this when I get back.”

She shrugged indifferently. “It doesn't matter. I'm leaving in a few days.”

He hesitated, a muscle twitching in his jaw. “Maybe. Maybe not. You've still got a number of legal matters to attend to.” He opened the door, and threw over his shoulder, “In any case, we're not done. Not by a long shot.”

When the door closed, she whispered, “Yes, cowboy. We're done.”

* * *

Nikki shivered at the blast of icy spring water on her face. Though she'd mixed it with what little hot remained on the stove, it still wasn't enough to take the chill out. After quickly dressing, she struggled to saddle up Redman. It took three grunting heaves before she finally managed to hoist the saddle high enough to get it on his back.

The horse truly had the patience of Job, standing quietly while she ranted and cursed. She also hoped he had the wilderness instincts of Davy Crockett. She was counting on it anyway. Nikki figured if she just turned him in the correct general direction, the old ranch horse would have no trouble finding his way back. It was chancy perhaps, and no doubt stupid as hell, but her only thought was to get away from the
cowboy
.

They passed the next three hours picking their way carefully down the mountain and into the valley, where thank God, she spotted the Knowlton homestead. Nikki thought dryly that while her instincts about men still sucked, at least her judgment about the horse had proven correct.

Redman's pace picked up the nearer they got, until he was close enough to nicker to his buddies who stood in the corrals contentedly munching alfalfa. Nikki's ass ached and her legs felt like jelly when she dismounted, though Redman was far less to blame for that than Wade. The man had impressive stamina. She supposed he needed it to keep up with his collection of women.

As heavy as the saddle was, and as weak as she felt, she knew she'd never be able to untack the horse without help, but there appeared to be no one around. It hadn't struck her until now that she hadn't encountered any hired hands. A place this size would surely need a number of able bodies to run it, but she'd only seen Dirk, Wade, and their parents.

Nikki tethered the horse, but just as she wondered if she'd have to go to the house for help, the back door opened. Wade's father appeared, followed by Donna and a tall, gorgeous blonde who could only be Allison Evans. One look at her incinerated any lingering hope that Wade's interest in Nikki had ever been real.

What an idiot she'd been! What was she thinking to fall into such a fantasy that someone like
him
would ever want someone like
her
—other than for just a good time between the sheets? A giant knot formed in the pit of her stomach. If she could only rewind the last forty-eight hours she swore she would play them out so differently.

Fate was such a bitch.

She wished she could disappear, just slip away unnoticed, but Wade's mother spotted her and beckoned with that big-as-Texas smile. The blonde followed suit with her own blinding white flash of perfect teeth. Realizing she had no escape from the happy threesome, Nikki waved back and forced her stiff-feeling lips to curve upward in return.

Justin Knowlton approached with a bowlegged swagger. “Need some help there, young lady?” He jerked his head to Redman.

“Actually, yes. The darned saddle weighs a ton. I doubt I can even lift it off his back.”

He grinned. “Stick around long enough and we'll make a real cowhand out of you yet.”

Nikki snorted. “There's little chance of either, I'm afraid.”

“Is that so?” His weathered face split into a grin. “I get the feeling Wade might try to persuade you otherwise.” He patted the horse's rump and proceeded to loosen the cinch. “Speaking of which, where the dickens are my boys?”

“Still gathering cattle, I imagine.”

His mouth hardened. “You don't mean you rode down that mountain
all
by
yourself
?”

Nikki fidgeted with the bridle. “Yeah, I did. Well, Redman really brought me.”

Donna's crystal blue gaze flickered in disbelief. “Wade let you ride
alone
?”

Nikki squirmed. “Well, he didn't exactly know I was leaving. He thinks I'm still at the cabin.”

“The cabin?” Allison asked. “What cabin?”

“The hunting camp up on the mountain,” Nikki explained. “We went to up there to gather some strays yesterday afternoon, but then it got dark and we had to stay.”


We?
” The blonde's blue gaze turned to ice. “
You.
And Wade?” Her smile suddenly became brittle
.
Slightly hostile. Definitely territorial. The message wasn't lost on Nikki.

“Yeah. Me and Wade.”

Donna's gaze darted between the two women. “I'm sorry, sugar. I've not introduced—”

“Allison Evans.” The blonde extended her hand.

Although the smile never left her face, she eyed Nikki with a look that hinted at contempt. Small wonder. Allison looked like a cover model, while Nikki resembled something the cat dragged in. Nevertheless, she burned under the obvious scrutiny.

“Nicole Powell,” Nikki replied tightly. “I'm up from Atlanta.”

“Really? What brings a girl like you so far above the Mason-Dixon Line?”

A
girl
like
you?
What the hell did that mean?

“I have some personal business to settle here,” Nikki replied, purposefully vague.

Wade had told her that Allison was just a business associate, but Allison's manner indicated a much more personal relationship than he'd claimed—the lying sonofabitch. Only hours ago, she'd awakened beside him in a blissful lust-induced daze. He'd made her feel like the only woman in the world—in his world anyway. What a gullible idiot she was.

Allison's brows rose. “Business? Really? And I suppose Wade's taking care of this business for you out
here
on his family ranch?”

Nikki bristled. “As a matter of fact, he is, or will be soon enough.”

“Sweet tea anyone?” Donna Knowlton chimed in.

“I'd love some,” Nikki replied, desperate for any excuse to get away from Allison.

“None for me thanks,” Allison said. “I'll just stay out here and visit with my little Sunshine.”

Nikki was about to follow Donna inside but stopped in her tracks. “
Your
Sunshine? The palomino mare is yours?”

“Well, not quite,” Allison said. “I've been wanting to buy her for a good while, but Dirk wouldn't part with her. But once the ranch deal is done, it's just a matter of negotiation. Dirk won't have any reason to keep her then. I don't know why he's held on to her all this time anyway, unless it's just to torture poor Wade.”

“Torture poor Wade?” Nikki shook her head in growing puzzlement. “What do you mean by that? Why would keeping a horse bother him?”

Allison cocked her head with a smug smile. “I guess Wade hasn't told you about Rachel?”

“Rachel?” Nikki asked.

“Please, Allie. We don't need to go there,” Donna interjected with a tight smile. “Let's just let sleeping dogs lie, all right?” She hooked her arm through Nikki's, steering her toward the house. “How about that tea now, sugar? We can wait for the boys inside.”

The last thing Nikki wanted was to see Wade and Allison together. She already abused herself with that mental image…and it hurt like hell. The longer she'd studied Allison, the more her insecurities had bloomed. She cursed herself as ten kinds of fool for thinking Wade was interested, and refused to make things worse by hanging around like a dog who'd just lost its bone.

“Donna,” she asked, “is there any possibility I could get a ride back into Sheridan?”

“Don't you think you should wait for Wade? I expect he and Dirk will be back before too long—”

“I'm so sorry to be such trouble, but it's really quite urgent. I really have a lot to do and need an Internet connection,” Nikki insisted.

Given the opportunity to leave now, rather than waiting for Wade to return, she'd beg a ride or even hitchhike if necessary. At this point she'd do just about
anything
to avoid further contact with him or incur any greater obligation. She only hoped the balance on the prepaid Visa card would be sufficient to cover a couple of nights lodging at a cheap motel until she got her ID and credit cards back.

BOOK: Slow Hand
11.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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