Now he was absolutely stunned. And scared shitless. He’d never been more in tune with a woman—a woman who was guaranteed to leave him.
And as each day with her progressed, he suspected she’d mostly likely leave him a broken man.
Instead of trying to come up with flowery love words or a sly retort, he kissed her. Pouring his heart and soul into that sweet, steady mating of mouths, hoping she understood all he couldn’t say.
Exhausted, for the first time in three nights they didn’t share lovers’
pillow talk, or dissect how things had changed between them—even when it was obvious it had.
Early the next morning Colby brought her new coffee pot into the motel room before he headed out to watch the morning “slack”
competition. He urged her to stay in bed and rest until check-out time.
Channing didn’t argue. She was wiped out. Too much tension. Too much sun. Too much booze. Too much sex.
She groaned and rolled over. Her whole body ached. Talk about sore.
She’d had sex with Colby twice early yesterday morning. Oral and sixty-nine with Trevor mid-morning, and then last night…
Wowza. Hot flash. Last night had been the most erotic night of her life. Not only because she’d been initiated into the pain/pleasure of anal sex, but because she’d been initiated into dark, possessive side of consuming lust. Hers. His. The scary beauty of it when they came together in unrestrained passion.
Maybe it’d been foolish in the aftermath of such a scintillating episode, but Channing couldn’t stop from telling Colby how she’d felt last night. No. How he’d made her feel. Sensual. Beautiful. Desired. And he couldn’t have marked her as his any more clearly than if he’d whipped out a branding iron and burned his initials into her ass.
Oh, it would be easier if she could be blasé about it. Chalk up the experience to another rocking sexual encounter and move on. Problem was, she couldn’t. She didn’t want to. And she didn’t want to analyze why things had changed last night.
She’d rather curl up in a ball, comforted by the scent of sex lingering on the sheets as she napped. Naturally her brain wouldn’t stop spinning.
After fifteen minutes of tossing and turning, drifting off into blessed slumber wasn’t an option.
Rather than taking a shower, Channing indulged in an hour-long bath. The heat leached out some of the soreness, but it might be a few days before her butt quit hurting. She snickered. Now she totally understood the phrase hurt so good.
She dressed in loose-fitting jeans, a lightweight, long-sleeved white cotton shirt, hoping it’d reflect the sun’s brutal rays. Even after slathering on sunscreen yesterday, her skin had turned crimson from a day in the stands. Good thing she’d kept her hat on and saved her scalp from frying. Instead of boots she wore strappy sandals. Cool head and cool feet meant a cooler core temperature.
With her bags packed and lined up by Colby’s by the door, she slurped the last of the coffee. Then she lovingly cleaned the carafe and packed it back in the box. It would probably sound silly to Colby, but she knew it would become one of her most treasured possessions.
She wasn’t a stranger to gifts. Mostly big, expensive ones. Her parents had given her a BMW for her sixteenth birthday. When she’d turned twenty-one, a flawless string of pearls. But they’d never given her a gift from the heart or paid much attention to her sentimental yearning for something unique and well thought out. Like a handmade scarf. Or pair of skates and a promise to take her to the rink for an afternoon of frolicking on the ice. They’d never really listened to her.
In a few short days Colby knew her better than either of her parents.
She suspected the shrewd cowboy might know her better than she knew herself.
A sharp knock echoed in the quiet room. The maid kicking her out already? Channing lifted to her tiptoes and checked the peephole.
Edgard. She opened the door. “Hey. I thought you’d be at the rodeo grounds.”
“On my way, chica. I just need to load yours and Colby’s stuff in the horse trailer. Do you want to ride over there with me?”
“Sure.” She touched his arm. And she thought she’d looked wiped out. She could’ve packed her stuff in the luggage under Edgard’s eyes.
“Ed, are you okay?”
“Yeah. Just worried about the events. Trev and I could sure stand to win some money today.”
“I’ll cheer you on, amigo. Although I guess I’m not bringing you as much luck as you’d believed?”
Surprisingly, Edgard grinned, leaning over to buss her cheek. “You bring me something better than luck, Channing.”
“Hope. Come on. Colby forgot his saddle and he’s waiting, probably pacing behind the chutes.”
Channing wondered. Had Colby been thinking about her and their erotic interlude last night that he’d waltzed off and left his saddle behind? Maybe he was as bowled over by what was happening between them as she was because he was meticulous about his equipment.
At the rodeo grounds Edgard had parked the rig at the far end of the lot, near the back entrance. He handed her a key to the horse trailer.
“Can you lock up? I gotta get this saddle over to him before he starts freaking out.”
“Sure. See you. Tell him I said good luck.”
“Maybe you wanna give me a kiss that I can pass along to him, too?”
“You know, that’s the first time you’ve offered to kiss me. You feeling okay, Ed?”
“I’m feeling great. Later.” He flashed her a bone-melting smile, hefted the saddle over his broad shoulder and sauntered off.
At the box office a ticket was held in her name. And it really brightened her day when several of the women from the Wild Bronc came over to chat, to tease her about her abrupt departure with Colby the previous night. The bolder ones even confided about the early days in their relationships with their cowboys and how they remembered—and missed—that urgency.
But mostly these trash-talking women wanted to tempt her into placing small stakes bets with them. A time-honored tradition, they swore. The only rule was you couldn’t bet against your man.
Channing knew it was a test. And she soon discovered very few bet against Colby McKay. So she prepared to clean them out of their pocket money and she’d enjoy every minute of it.
“Let’s rodeo!” the announcement boomed.
During the bareback competition Channing won twenty-five bucks.
Then the saddle bronc event started.