A loud male grunt and he stretched himself flat on his back and didn’t budge again.
Channing busied herself getting an icepack ready for his hand, knowing she’d need to use the compresses for his ribs—whether he liked it or not. She rummaged in her bag until she found a bottle of Tylenol with codeine. Then she climbed up beside him. Her stomach roiled to see such a virile man so vulnerable.
Sweat coated his skin, yet he was shivering like a naked baby. His mouth was set, like that tough, determined action alone could drive away the pain.
Right. Maybe it had worked in the past, but she wasn’t going to let it slide on her watch.
“Listen up, McKay. You’re taking these pain pills. Then I’m icing up your poor hand and your ribs and spread this stinky junk all over you.
Once I’ve got you doctored up, you’re going to sleep. And you’ll stay up here, resting up and healing up until I say otherwise, understand?”
Surprisingly enough, he didn’t argue. He merely nodded and winced when she removed his hat. Lord. If just taking off his hat hurt him, how would she get through the rest of this?
Only after she’d finished carefully tending his injuries, did she allow herself to give him the type of lover’s comfort she sensed he needed from her. Her fingertips swept the damp hair from his brow. Repeatedly, she smoothed the back of her hand over the five-o’clock shadow on his rigidly set jaw. “Are you comfy enough so you can rest?”
“No problem. Is there anything else I can do?”
“Yeah. Kiss me, darlin’. When you’re kissin’ me I forget about everything else but how good your sweet mouth feels on mine.”
“You didn’t hit your head hard enough to injure that silver tongue of yours, did you, cowboy?” she murmured.
“Not hard enough to knock any sense into my fool head, either.” He looked at her; his blue eyes were stark and needy. “Please.”
“I’d say no if it weren’t for the fact you can still charm the hell out of me while you’re flat on your back and frozen in pain.” She ran her thumb over the dark circles under his eye, noticing a mouse high on his cheekbone. “But I’m finding I can’t deny you a damn thing, Colby McKay.
So c’mere and let me lay a big, sloppy, wet kiss on you.”
Channing rubbed her lips over Colby’s, infusing him with all the sweetness and joy and heat he usually gave her. He melted deeper into the mattress, and let her have total control of the kiss. Of him. His surrender was as rewarding as it was arousing.
It was a long time before either one of them could speak after their mouths reluctantly parted.
“Stay with me?” he asked gruffly.
“For as long as you want,” she whispered. She pulled the flannel sleeping bag over them and rested her head beside his chest, drifting off to the solid, steady beat of his heart next to her ear.
A loud clank woke her from a light sleep. Channing opened her eyes and realized the trailer was bumping up and down like a logging truck, which meant they were still tooling down the highway.
She lifted her head from where it’d been resting beside Colby’s bare chest. She looked up, expecting to see him sleeping, but his eyes were open and he was staring at her.
He smiled gently. “Hey.”
“Hey yourself. How do you feel?”
“Like I’ve been run over by a buckin’ bull and a wild bronc.”
Channing kissed his left pec. “You were run over by a bull and a bronc today.”
“Well, no wonder I’m feelin’ it.” Colby absentmindedly twisted a section of hair around his finger. “Thanks for stickin’ around.”
“You’re welcome.” She pushed up. “I probably need to get some more ice for your hand.”
“My hand is fine.”
“Do you need—”
He pulled her back down. “I need you to stay snuggled up to me like this. It’s makin’ me feel much better, shug.”
“Of course, I’d feel even more like my old self if you took off the rest of your clothes.”
Channing rolled her eyes. “One thing at a time, okay?”
“Okay. Scoot closer. I like havin’ your softness and warmth wrapped around me. It’s like heaven, bein’ with you.”
They stayed cocooned together in companionable silence. Colby dragged the fingers of his left hand up and down her spine.
Finally, he said, “I guess you found out about Trevor and Edgard, huh?”
Her stomach did a little flip. “Yeah.”
“Kinda shockin’ to see them like that, ain’t it? That’s how I found out.
I walked in on them. Wanted to gouge my eyes out with a hot poker afterward.”
“And it doesn’t bother you? I mean, you’re still traveling with them.
You haven’t gotten them blackballed to the ‘gay’ rodeo circuit or anything. Especially if people do find out, they might assume you’re just like them.”
He snorted. “I ain’t g*y. Or bi. I gotta be honest, I don’t understand it, wantin’ to be with another guy.” A small shiver worked through him.
“Trevor never once made advances toward me like that or I’da busted him in the chops—and he and I have had our share of threesomes so there’s been ample opportunities. Damn. It’s just plain weird. I think it must be something about Edgard alone that he’s attracted to. Trev and I have been friends for our whole lives. We’ve been damn near as close as brothers. I always jokingly said that he’d f**k anything that walked, only I didn’t know how true that actually was.”
“Aren’t most cowboys highly homophobic?”
“Yeah. If it would’ve been somebody else I’d seen doin’ that…I might not have been so understandin’. Then I think about if someone else would’ve discovered them before I knew about it. How they might’ve started vicious rumors to get them blackballed from the circuit. Bugs me because I ain’t like that.
“What they do is their business. Besides, Trev is with women just as often as I am. Or as I was before you. I don’t think many people—even folks who know them well—would believe that he and Edgard are more than ropin’ partners.”
For the first time she thought there might be another reason why Colby had been eager to have her ride the circuit with them. “So having me traveling with you guys is good for everybody? A cover story for them, so to speak? The girl willing to do all three cowboys, when in fact, two of the cowboys are content just to do each other?”