Rode Hard, Put Up Wet (Rough Riders 2) - Page 64

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Sexy, low male laughter drifted from the other lawn chair.

Macie took another couple of steps and noticed the beer cans. A whole lot of empty beer cans. Beside Carter.

The man stood and thrust his hand out. “Hi. You must be Macie. I’m Jack Donohue.”

“Jacksh’s my beshtesht bud from college.”

Macie looked up at the man. Good God, he was a god. Firelight glowed behind him, making him look as if he’d been forged from steel. He was huge. Muscular. With a brawny chest, ripped biceps, big hands, and never-ending legs thick as tree trunks.

Longish coal-black hair framed his square face. He had a roguish smile boasting brilliant white teeth; a deep cleft in his chin, and eyes the color of green grass. Those same eyes were highly amused.

“Nice to meet you, Jack.”

“Ain’t she beautiful in firelight?”

“Yes, she is. Hang on. I’ll get you a chair.” Jack disappeared into the barn.

Whoo-ee. The beefcake was a gentleman to boot.

“Come over here and give me shome shugar, shugar.”

Macie skirted the fire and looked into Carter’s face. He had a silly smile. And glassy eyes. She bit back a grin. He was unbelievably adorable. “Hey.”

“Hey. I misshed you, my shweet darlin’.”

“I missed you too.” She brushed the springy curls from his damp forehead. “What are you celebrating?”

Carter frowned. “I don’t remember. You probably.” He cupped his hands around her face and brought her mouth to his for a deep, wet, beer-flavored kiss. Even drunk the man knew how to melt her with his kisses.

She gradually removed her lips from his. “I won’t stay, since you have company, but I wanted to tell you thanks for the apology and the picture.”

“An apology for what? The pictures I’m paintin’ of you?”

“What are you talking about?”

From behind her Jack said, “He’s babbling because he’s been drinking for hours.

Hate to say it, but he probably won’t remember you were even here.”

“Doesn’t matter. I’ll remember.”

Jack said nothing.

Carter’s head drooped to his chest.

“Carter?”

No answer.

“Maybe we’d better get him in the house before he passes out,” Macie suggested.

“If you insist. Or we could just drag him into the barn.”

“So you claim you’re a good friend of his?”

Jack chuckled. “Don’t kid yourself, he would’ve done the same thing to me had the situations been reversed. In fact, he has.”

They tried to rouse the party animal but he wouldn’t budge. Carter wasn’t a small guy by any means, and Macie wouldn’t have been able to move him by herself. Luckily for Carter, Jack was strong enough to carry him in a fireman’s hold and deposit him on the sofa in the trailer.

Macie managed to get Carter’s boots off before he started to snore. She stripped him down to his boxers, tucked a blanket around him. On her way outside, she noticed he’d added a picture to his family collection. She peered at it and her breath caught. It was one he’d taken of her the first day she’d posed for him, a profile shot. The light turned her skin a stunning shade of red-gold. Her lips were parted, almost in a smirk. She looked mysterious and…beautiful. Was this the way he saw her? Would his paintings reflect the same mood? Shaking such crazy, hopeful thoughts from her head, she returned outside.

Jack sat by the fire. “Got a minute before you need to take off?”

“I suppose.”

“Want a beer?”

Macie wrinkled her nose.

Jack smiled. “There’s Diet Pepsi in the cooler too, which is why I’m not in the same sad shape as McKay.”

She grabbed one and sat. “It’s the first time I’ve seen him drunk.”

“Wish I could say the same.”

“How long have you known him?”

“Three years. We met in Denver while we were in grad school.”

“Oh. Are you an artist too?”

“No. I’m an architect.”

“Sounds interesting.”

“Carter tells me you’re posing for a couple of pieces for his art show.”

“I guess. I haven’t actually seen anything yet.”

“That’s nothing new. He’s usually pretty secretive about his work.”

Awkward silence followed. His eyes seemed to be following her closely too.

“How long have you known him?” Jack asked.

“Seems like forever, but since the beginning of summer.”

Jack frowned.

Crickets chirped. The fire crackled. A gentle breeze blew. The uncomfortable quiet lingered.

“Carter was right. You really are beautiful by firelight. I suspect you’d even be more dangerously beautiful in the dark.”

Macie froze.

“How serious are you about him?”

Her heart beat faster. “Why?”

“Just curious.” Jack granted her body a visual examination that burned her skin hotter than the bonfire. “Just wondering if it’s an exclusive thing. Or if maybe you and I…”

This guy was Carter’s best friend? He was a total letch. Macie scrambled to her feet.

“No way. Not interested.” She stomped to her SUV.

“Macie. Wait. Sorry. I had to do that.”

She whirled on him. “Do what? Hit on me? When your friend is passed out not more than twenty feet away?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because Carter is head over heels for you. I’ve never seen him like this and I had to make sure…Sit down and let me explain. I’m not going to make a pass at you, okay?”

She sat.

More sticky silence.

Macie said, “So, if I would’ve jumped at the chance at, well, jumping you, would you have told him?”

“In a f**king heartbeat.”

She waited.

“Can I be blunt?”

“I don’t know, Jack. You’ve been pretty subtle so far.”

Jack grinned. “You bust his balls all the time, don’t you?”

Macie shrugged.

“Do you know why I’m here?”

“No.”

“Carter called me in a panic yesterday. He’s never done that. So, I changed my schedule, flew in, expecting to hear he’s dying or something. But no. He sits me down, tells me about you, how crazy he is about you, and then he asks me…shit. I need another beer.” He snagged one out of the cooler and drank.


Tags: Lorelei James Rough Riders Billionaire Romance
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