“You listening to me?”
“So, how have you seen them doing…things with one woman?”
“Well, yeah. They don’t hide it. Ask anyone what they done last year behind the chutes in Cheyenne.” He leaned in so she heard the full account. “They had this young chickie stretched out naked over a stack of saddles. Hands tied behind her back with a piggin’ string. A bandana covering her eyes.”
“Was she there willingly?”
He snorted. “Those kind of women always are.”
“What were they doing to her?”
“Using her like a blow-up toy. She was sucking Trevor’s c**k as Colby nailed her from behind. Then they’d switch, like some kinda Chinese fire drill. Laughing, carrying on. They’ve no shame, either of them. No respect for women either, if you ask me. Then joking afterwards about that being the proper way to ‘break in a new saddle’.” His gaze narrowed. “Why? Did that cheese head proposition you?”
I wish. “Umm. No.”
“Good. Stay away from their other traveling partner, Edgard.
Something about that bloke rubs me the wrong way.”
Jared’s foul mood required an abrupt switch in the conversation.
“Guess what? I won the wet T-shirt contest.”
“As you bloody well should have. You’ve got fantastic tits, love.”
Jared’s hand snaked up her belly. He yanked up the damp shirt and cupped her bared left breast.
Channing squirmed. “Hello? We’re in public.”
“So, if you want to maul me, let’s go back to the room.” She tugged the shirt down to cover her belly.
“Ah. I see. You can flash these titties to the whole bar, but the minute I want to touch them, they’re off-limits? Crikey, I could’ve stayed in the Outback and gotten that attitude.”
An acute sense of unease built. “What is wrong with you tonight? You eat a bad kiwi or something?”
“Then knock it off.”
He laughed harshly. Meanly. “Little Miss Prim and Proper, are we now, love?”
Jared squeezed her nipple hard enough that it brought tears to her eyes. She slapped his hand.
“That wasn’t how you were last night.”
“How much have you been drinking?”
“Not nearly enough.” He puffed up with belligerence. “I oughta be asking you that question.”
“You know why. A little liquid courage is what you need.”
“Need for what, Jared?”
Jared clamped his hands on her hips, spun her until they were back to front and he dry humped her. “A few beers would loosen you up. When you gonna give up this tight ass? It’s been a week and I’m bloody well tired of waiting.”
Ignoring the burning in her cheeks, Channing twisted from his hold.
She latched on to his polyester shirt with both hands, hauling herself up until they were nose to nose. “Lower your voice.”
“That bothers you? People hearing you love to do the nasty stuff? Or knowing you’re a hypocrite for begging me to use my fingers on your tight little hole, and then pretending it disgusts you?”
Infuriated, she released his lapels. “It doesn’t disgust me. The way you’re acting disgusts me.” She wasn’t ashamed of a thing they’d done behind closed doors. But him talking about it as if it were some big joke made her feel used and cheap.
“S’matter? Truth sting a bit, love?”
She stared at him. Who was this cruel man? Something had set him off tonight. Before she could formulate a snappy response, Cash Big Crow sauntered up and tapped Jared on the shoulder.
Cash was another heart-stoppingly handsome cowboy on the rodeo circuit. Native American, short and stocky, with long dark hair he wore in a braid, he had a grin as wide as the brim of his black Stetson. Cash was a little older than the youngsters on the circuit, and bit bowlegged from years spent riding bulls, broncs and “anything that bucked”.
“Hoka-hey. Hope I’m not interruptin’ a lovers’ spat.”
“You are,” Jared snarled. “What the bloody hell do you want?”
“Whoa, hold on, partner. Just wanted to return this to the lady.” He handed Channing her trophy. “You forgot it on the bar. Wouldn’t want some other gal to steal it, seeings you worked so hard to win it.” He winked.
“Oh, and this.” Cash held out a silver cell phone to Jared. “You left it in the can.”
Jared snatched it. “Appreciate it. Now move along, mate.”
Channing had endured enough of Jared and was tempted to ask Cash to take her back to the motel. Let Jared sort out his fit of temper on his own. She wasn’t his goddamn babysitter.
“What? You waiting for a tip?” Jared demanded.
“I’m going.” Cash took a couple of steps, then turned back. He gave Channing a pitying look before addressing Jared. “Your wife called your phone while I was in the bathroom, that’s why I picked it up. She wants you to call her back right away.”
Dead silence, ugly as the antelope-horn chandeliers hanging above them.
“Wife?” Channing repeated.
When Jared’s gaze zoomed to hers then flitted away, she knew the truth.
The bastard was married. He’d lied to her. Guilt, shame and fury arose inside her.
Jared spun on Cash to chew him out.
Without thinking, Channing blindly swung the trophy and clocked Jared in the back of the head.
He crumpled to the floor.
She froze. Shit. What had she done? What if she’d killed him?
Spending her life in a Southern prison wearing orange paper shoes wasn’t part of her big adventure.
Clutching the trophy like a shield, she dropped to her knees and accidentally squashed Jared’s hat. She gingerly touched his head. A big bump protruded from the back of his neck. No blood though. Good thing she had lousy aim. His chest rose and fell so she knew he wasn’t dead.
A sick sort of relief swamped her.
“Hey, slugger, you okay?”
She looked up at Cash. “No. Cash. Please. I didn’t know—”
“I figured you didn’t, sweets. You don’t seem the type to mess around with a married fella.”
“I’m not.” New experiences did not include becoming a home wrecker.
Her stomach churned. “Please get me out of here. I can’t stay with him.”
“Well, he can’t stay here to get trampled. Grab his boots. Let’s move him outta the way first before we figure out what to do with you.”