Rode Hard, Put Up Wet (Rough Riders 2) - Page 8

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You can’t blame me for not waiting around for you to ditch me.” Again.

Cash’s eyes and his voice softened. “Oh, honey-girl, I ain’t gonna ditch you.” He shot Carter a dark look. “But it appears you decided to ditch me with the first loser wannabe cowboy that comes along, eh?”

Gemma cleared her throat.

Macie and Cash both swiveled to look at her.

“Cash Big Crow, meet Carter McKay. Carter, Cash is the new foreman I hired for the Bar 9 Ranch. You two will be working together.”

“You gotta be f**kin’ kiddin’ me,” Carter muttered.

Macie frowned. Her dad had taken a job? What’d happened to them hitting the road this summer?

“McKay?” Cash repeated. “You’re related to them slimeball McKays from up around Crook County?”

Carter’s gaze hardened.

“Cash! What a thing to say,” Gemma chided. “You’ve been friends with Colby McKay for years.”

“I am friends with him, just as long as he and his wild brothers are far away from my only daughter.”

“Macie is an adult,” Carter pointed out.

“True,” Gemma said.

“Jesus, Gem.” He threw his hands in the air. “You know the bad reputation them McKay boys have!”

“With all due respect, sir, I’m nothin’ like my brothers.”

Cash whirled on Carter. “Yeah? I ain’t some dumb Indian. I traveled the rodeo circuit with Colby. I know what he’s like—like breeds like, so I ain’t lettin’ a McKay within two miles of Macie.”

“Well, that’s gonna be difficult, since we’ll all be living together on the Bar 9 for the next few months,” Gemma said dryly.

“All? Me too?” Macie asked suspiciously. Her gaze darted from Gemma to her dad and back to Gemma.

Gemma nodded. “You are welcome to stay as long as you want. Cash said he’d set up his camper for you. I’ll warn you there might be some chores involved if you’re living with me.”

Macie’s head spun. This was all happening way too fast; hooking up with her dad, him taking a new job on the spur of the moment, meeting the woman she suspected would be more than Dad’s new boss, and trying to figure out what weird connection she and Carter shared, mostly whether it was real or wishful thinking on her part.

Her dad lowered his voice. “Truth is, I need this job. But I want to spend time with you, that’s why I’m here. Can we try it for awhile and see how it goes? If it don’t work, we can go on as planned?”

What other choice did she have? Besides, wouldn’t this provide them with neutral ground? If trying to establish a father/daughter relationship wasn’t working, would it be easier to place blame on outside forces? Such as the stress of a new job, or romantic relationships or an unfamiliar setting? She could leave and he wouldn’t be forced to give up a good job opportunity. She briefly closed her eyes. “I guess.”

“Then I guess it’s unanimous,” Carter said. “We’ll be one big, happy family all summer.”

Cash took a menacing step toward Carter. “You ain’t part of the family. If I see you around I’ll kick your sorry—” Gemma grabbed Cash’s shirtsleeve and tugged him out of range.

While Gemma and Cash argued, Macie glanced at a grinning Carter. “Why’re you smiling like that? He’d like to scalp you.”

“I noticed. Your dad’s a bit protective, huh?”

It was a surprise to her.

Carter moved until he loomed over her. “I am curious as to where he’s keepin’ your chastity belt.”

“Funny.”

“He won’t think so when he realizes nothin’ will keep me away from you this summer, Macie.” The sexual heat in his eyes changed the color from sky blue to indigo.

“Nothin’.”

“A little sure of yourself, aren’t you?”

“Yep. And I’ve got a few belts and ropes to keep you right where I want you, in case you need a little convincin’.”

Sweet, hot pleasure rippled through her.

Carter’s warm, firm lips grazed her ear. “I’ll come to you tonight, okay?”

“That’s not a good idea.”

“It’s the best idea I’ve had in a long time. Be ready.”

“For what?”

“For me to be the man to give you everything you’ve ever wanted.”

Chapter Five

Gemma and Carter were lost in their own thoughts on the way back to the Bar 9.

Once they hit the sagebrush and wide-open spaces of Wyoming, Gemma sighed. “Sorry to spring this on you, Carter. I was afraid if you knew I was lookin’ for another fulltime foreman—”

“—that I’d bail on you? Come on, Gemma, you know me better than that. I promised I’d be here all summer. Despite the shitty opinion Cash has of the McKays, you know we always keep our word.”

“That you do.”

“What’s really goin’ on?”

She didn’t take her eyes off the gray ribbon of bumpy road. “I wasn’t sure he’d say yes.”

“So? It ain’t like he’s the only man for the job. Shoot, there’s lots of guys around here more than qualified.”

Gemma angled her chin from Carter’s shrewd eyes so he couldn’t see her blush.

“Hellfire and damnation. He is the only one you wanted, ain’t he?”

She paused. “Yup.”

Carter sighed. “I ain’t gonna ask why.”

She probably couldn’t give him a good answer on that one even if he did ask.

“Just so you know, what happens between the two of you after the barn door closes ain’t my business. You don’t hafta worry ’bout me blabbin’ your private business to everyone or pokin’ my nose in where it don’t belong.”

Gemma looked at him. “Thanks.”

“But that goes both ways.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning, I won’t stay away from Macie just because her father wants me to.”

Lord. He was just as bull-headed as the rest of his family. She waited, knowing he wasn’t finished.

Carter drummed his fingers on his thigh. “Remember last week when I was cleanin’ stalls like the devil possessed my soul, and you asked me what the hell was wrong with me?”

Gemma nodded.

“It was her.”

“Macie?”

“Yeah.”


Tags: Lorelei James Rough Riders Billionaire Romance
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