Authors: RG Alexander
Alicia folded another towel and frowned. “That can’t be true. Trust me. He’s boring but I wouldn’t put money on him never having a date. Where are you hearing this?”
“I didn’t say he didn’t date, I said he’d never had a girlfriend.” Jinny gestured toward the window. “And everyone. Well, not everyone. They really love him and respect his privacy, but they worry about him. His family? The people who have worked here since he was a teenager? They said he was engaged to his high school sweetheart, but then something bad happened and he changed.”
“Something bad? That’s frustratingly vague for gossip.” She felt a pinch of pain in her heart at the idea that he’d been engaged to someone, even if it was twenty years ago. For someone like Tracy, that kind of commitment would mean something. He was old fashioned like that. “Maybe Mr. Reyes just likes his privacy. Maybe he doesn’t want his family to know about his girlfriends so they won’t pester him about getting married and having kids. I was at your baby shower, you know. I must have heard them mention it a dozen times.”
Jinny giggled. “A billion. But you’re right, it’s probably just gossip. Miguel’s mother said he told her on the phone last month that he’d be settling down soon. That it was time. Now everyone is speculating, and I’m learning all sorts of things about him. Like his nickname in the papers. Apparently they call him the Teflon Cowboy because nothing bad ever sticks to him and no one’s even been able to get an interview with him. Ever.”
“Now that I can believe.” Alicia responded absently. Tracy was settling down? It didn’t look that way to her. Didn’t feel that way either.
“I can’t,” Jinny argued. “He’s young, but he’s been the head of the Reyes empire for the last twelve years. Young and a
. Patricio Reyes is the kind of guy you expect to see splashed all over the tabloids, or at those Hollywood parties with a runway model on his arm. Or a princess. But there’s never been anything. No scandals. No pregnancy scares. And no interviews, not even about his business dealings. He has people to do that for him, apparently.”
Alicia waggled her eyebrows playfully, ignoring the visual. “He sounds important. Who knew my sister was marrying into an empire?”
“Not me. Miguel never told me anything. Until Mr. Reyes threw that party, I thought they had one ranch, which was impressive enough. I didn’t know they were all like landed, secret gazillionaires. Even Miguel’s mother. Her husband stole her trust fund, but she had stocks in her name that she found out about when she came home. She’s already talking about paying for the baby’s college.”
Alicia didn’t want to think about it. Not now. “It’s going to be a challenge at Christmas. I’ll have to get really creative if I want to be known as the cool New York City aunt.”
Jinny stopped smiling and fiddled with her blankets nervously. “You could stay.”
“There are teaching positions available in this district, Al. You could move here. Be near me and the baby.”
Alicia came over to the bed and sat down beside her sister, reaching for her hand. “Not that I’m not thrilled that you actually want me around, sweetheart, but what brought this on?”
Tears spilled down Jinny’s cheeks and she brushed them away impatiently. “Miguel and I have been talking about family. He didn’t really get that he had one for a long time, other than his mother, and now that he’s here and he’s getting to know them? He says he can’t imagine being without them. Without having people he can trust to have his back.” She looked at Alicia, her heart in her eyes. “I had you, Al. You always had my back, even when you didn’t agree with me. I know I didn’t appreciate it until now. Until the baby. Whoever he’s going to be, I want him to grow up having you around.”
Alicia was crying too. She had to remember to thank Tracy for giving her such good advice. She hadn’t felt this close to Jinny in a long time. They were a family again. “How do you know it’s going to be a he?”
“He’s being a pain.”
She laughed and wiped her damp face. “Jinny? Thank you. I mean it. You don’t know how wonderful it is to hear you say that. But whether I stay or go, this baby is blessed, because he has you. You are going to be a phenomenal mother.”
Jinny took Alicia’s hand and placed it on her stomach in time for her to feel a kick. “I should be. I had a good teacher.”
They forgot about everything else and talked about baby names and childhood traditions Jinny wanted to pass on until Miguel had come to the room to bring his wife to dinner. Alicia made her excuses and left before they could ask her to stay another night, needing to process what her sister had said.
She started her car and began the drive up the mountain back to the main house, lost in thought. Jinny wanted her to stay after the baby came.
It was hard to believe that three weeks had gone by so fast. Every day she grew closer to the woman Jinny was becoming and every night she discovered something new about herself in Tracy’s arms.
He was still an exciting, frustrating mystery. He’d had her car fixed, he’d given her presents—most of which she would never be able to show anyone or wear in public—and he’d shown her more about her desires and fantasies, more about her body than she could have imagined.
The things they’d done together, that he’d done
her… Just thinking about them made her tighten her hands on the wheel and drive faster.
The first week she thought she’d die of frustration. Not because he wasn’t letting her come. She’d had more orgasms in those seven days than she’d had in her entire adult life.
It was because he wouldn’t have sex with her.
They’d done everything else. And everything else in Tracy’s world was more sexually stimulating and satisfying than most women dreamed about. Once he’d tied her up in the loft of the barn, with that damned delicious knot between her legs, and gave her an orgasm without touching her. Just by reading one of her erotic stories out loud. Once he’d taken her to the hot tub to reenact the scene he admitted to witnessing the first night he’d arrived—with his own unique twist. Once… she felt her face heat and shook her head. Some of his ideas should be illegal, but none of them could put the fact that they hadn’t actually done the deed out of her head.
When she’d finally asked him if that was ever going to happen, it seemed to be the question he was waiting for. He’d spent hours playing her that night without letting her come, hours exploring her body until she was begging for release.
And then it happened. She was on top but he still had all the power, lowering her so slowly she wanted to scream as he filled her inch by thick, delicious inch. He was a big man, but he’d been thorough in his desire to make sure she was ready for him. She was so aroused by that point that all she felt was passion and need and a connection that was beyond intimate. Even the fullness that brought a momentary pain only made it better. They’d been so close, staring into each other’s eyes as she came, that it felt like they were coming together in every way.
That was something she wasn’t sure either one of them was prepared for. That perfect first time. For Alicia it had been earth shattering. One of those rare moments you actually recognize as it’s happening, and know what it means. That you’ll never be able to look at things the same way you did before.
She’d known—lying across his broad chest as he stroked her hair after it was over—that anything less than this wouldn’t do. Would never satisfy her. She’d also known it was going to end. That however perfect this interlude had been, Tracy wouldn’t ask her to stay.
His walls had gotten higher after that. He seemed more determined to hang on to his control. He never left her wanting, if anything he was more insatiable and passionate with each day that passed. But he was holding something back.
Maybe it had to do with Jinny’s gossip. His high school sweetheart. Had she died? Did he love her so much that he vowed never to give his heart again? She knew firsthand that he hadn’t been a monk. He was too experienced. Too skilled. Too up front about his sexual history.
That, she sometimes wished he held back more, but she was curious and she had to admit—titillated with his descriptions of the things he’d done. He’d participated in several ménages, but usually only if he was the one in charge. He’d been to an orgy once, and she’d been unable to keep herself from laughing at his description of the oily, confusing mass of bodies.
And a few days after he’d tied up his best friend’s girlfriend to help her enact a fantasy, he’d even played with a woman on his personal jet on the way home, though they hadn’t had sex. The same day Alicia had met him and he’d decided he wanted her.
The opposite of a monk.
From what she’d learned about BDSM so far, sexual honesty was one of their Boy Scout badges. He hadn’t been trying to make her jealous. He’d been forthcoming. That was how it worked. She gave herself into his care and he hadn’t given her any reason to believe it was a mistake.
He’d also told her this was the first time he’d had this kind of “relationship”. He’d had weekends with a single partner in the Bahamas and Las Vegas, but he’d never had a sexual playmate living in his house.
Sexual playmate. He hadn’t meant those words to be hurtful, she knew. But they painted a picture she couldn’t mistake. Defined what it was they were doing in a way that left no wiggle room for more.
If Miguel’s mother was right and he was planning on settling down, it wouldn’t be with her.
She refused to regret the decision she’d made to say yes to his proposal. Making love, swimming naked in the mornings and going for rides together on Old Man at sunset…trying to cook in the kitchen without it turning into a sexual food fight.
Alicia had never had this before. She’d been forced to grow up overnight and had to focus on being responsible. Reliable. She’d never even had a real vacation, telling herself that New York had all she needed and summer school was relaxing.
This wasn’t real, but it was the best time she’d ever had, something just for her that she couldn’t feel bad about even if she wanted to.
She was a realistic woman. Even if he weren’t a controlling cowboy who didn’t know how to express his feelings, he’d be an impossibility. Jinny hadn’t had to tell her how often he traveled and how much he had on his plate. She’d heard enough of his phone calls to know people were surprised that he’d taken any time off at all. Being the head of a billion dollar family didn’t leave a lot of time to start a life with someone. Certainly not a teacher with a junk heap of a car and a lifetime of student loans to look forward to.
She turned into the driveway and her throat closed when she saw the outline of Tracy’s roof. It felt like home. Which was why she couldn’t do what Jinny wanted. She couldn’t move to Colorado.
No matter how much she would miss seeing the baby grow up, she knew herself well enough to know she wouldn’t be happy here. Not when this was over. Not when he’d moved on and settled down with someone else.
Against her better judgment, his honesty and all her sound, logical reasoning, she was in love with Tracy Reyes.
The long, ostentatious Hummer limousine in the driveway pulled her abruptly out of her thoughts and she blinked away her tears with a frown. Someone was here.
Alicia couldn’t stem the initial flood of resentment for the stranger. She’d been looking forward to making up for the night she’d spent away from her lover, for making as many memories as possible before Jinny had her baby.
Guests were not in her plans.
There was a man leaning against the car and talking on his cell phone. When he saw her he hung up swiftly and smiled. “Good evening, Miss.”
She drew her long braid over her shoulder and tugged self-consciously on her t-shirt. “Hello.”
Alicia moved closer to him on her way to the door and he held out his hand. “My name is Roy.”
She shook his hand and smiled politely. “Alicia. It’s nice to meet you, Roy.” She looked around, dying of curiosity. “How long have you been standing out here? Would you like something to drink? Some water or something?”
He laughed, delighted. “That’s nice of you, Miss Alicia, but I’ve got everything I need in a cooler on the passenger seat. I’ve never been to Colorado before. It’s beautiful and I was just admiring the view.”
“It is, isn’t it?” Alicia’s gaze drifted to the mountains she could see beyond the house. “They don’t have views like this in New York.”
“Nowhere,” he agreed companionably. “When Mr. Warren told Mr. Henry Vincent he wanted me to join them on their road trip? I wasn’t expecting this kind of scenery. The city will never hold the same appeal.”
She knew she looked surprised. “Wait, Henry Vincent, the guitar player for Shattered Pieces?
She loved that band.
Roy was beaming with pride. “The very same. He, Mr. Reyes, Faraday and Warren have been friends since college.”
Warren. Dean Warren, his best friend he was just visiting with the sexy new girlfriend? “So Mr. Warren is here?”
And he’d taken a road trip from the city…in a Hummer?
She stepped back uncertainly, sticking her hand in her jeans pocket to grip her keys. “I should let you get back to your view, Roy. I think I’m going to spend the night at the ranch. If Mr. Reyes asks, let him know I’m with my sister.”
Roy frowned slightly, nodding at her as she turned and walked back to her car. She should have called first, or Tracy should have let her know he’d be entertaining. It wasn’t exactly something he needed a sexual playmate for.
She grimaced and opened the car door.
“Alicia Bell? What in the hell took you so long?”
She looked up to see Tracy striding down the steps and past Roy with a nod. He didn’t have his hat on, and his thick hair looked disarmingly tousled. He was also wearing the blue button down shirt she loved.
When he reached her he cupped her shoulders and bent his head, kissing her with a carnality that made the keys drop from her limp fingers.
He pulled away with a growl. “You are in trouble, you know that right? When you drove away last night you didn’t mention anything about being gone for eighteen hours.”