Tied Up, Tied Down (Rough Riders 4) - Page 35

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Crap. Good thing she hadn’t said, living with their secret love child. She’d never live that down. She took a different, flirty tack, which felt damn good. “With the hot and bothered way you’ve left me? I can’t guarantee I won’t jump you, or sneak off to touch myself, earning myself a whole passel of trouble for doing either, without your permission, if I simply hold your hand.”

“There’s part that’s hopin’ the ‘jumpin’ on me’ school of thought wins out.”

Outside the horse trailer, Skylar started toward the picnic area where Eliza was and Kade snagged her elbow. “I thought we were gonna wander around.”

“Don’t you want your parents to see the presentation? Beings that you placed and all?”

“Shoot. I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll tell them meet us by the north end.” After he made the call, he said, “Been a while since I’ve had a beer and I sure could use one, how about you?”

Now that Sky thought about it, she hadn’t seen Kade touch a drop of alcohol since he’d moved in. “Sure. I’m curious, didn’t you drink when we went out last year?”

“Used to. Don’t so much any more.” They walked in silence until they were through the parking lot and standing in front of the beer tent. He paid for two drafts, gesturing for her to precede him into the seating area.


“No problem.” Kade sipped the foamy goodness, licked his lips and sighed.

“Just so you know, if you want to keep beer in the fridge, I’m fine with that. I’m sure Eliza wouldn’t mind if you had the occasional beer either.”

His eyebrows drew together. “You think the reason I’m not drinkin’ is because of Eliza? It’s not. It’s ’cause of Colt. And it ain’t just about the drinkin’ entirely. Other issues surfaced because of it, things that’d been simmerin’ for years.” His thumb rubbed the lip on the plastic cup, as he seemed to struggle for the right words. “I’m talkin’ about family stuff, fistfights, hard words, unspoken resentment that was pittin’ brother against brother. I wondered if any of us was ever gonna be able to work together on the ranch again. I was glad to get out of there. Last year was the ugliest, lowest point of my life.”

She didn’t interrupt.

“Colt’s been sober for a year. I’m proud of him and I respect his sobriety enough that I don’t drink around him. I haven’t been drinkin’ at all in the last year anyway.”

“Not many honky-tonks up in the north forty?”

“No. Funny thing is, Colt was supposed to head up the cattle grazin’ experiment, not me. But after all that’d gone down with Dag, and me messin’ up so bad with you, and dealin’ with the rest of the McKay/West family shit, I volunteered. I needed time to get my head on straight. Kane says Colt’s had a rough go, mendin’ fences with his brothers.

Guess we all learned some things take time to heal.”

Skylar let her fingers drift down Kade’s arm and she covered his hand with hers.

“I’m sorry and I’m not blowing smoke up your chaps when I say I understand what you’ve been through. My sister is a recovering alcoholic and a former drug addict. The last time they pumped her stomach? She coded twice. I thought I’d lost her. And the worst part at the time? My guilty feeling of relief. My life had revolved around middle of the night phone calls—from the hospital, or her scary drug dealer boyfriend, or the police, or trying to scrounge up cash for the bond agency, because she was in jail. Again.

With our parents dead, I was all she had. I had to witness her ruining her life and nothing I could say or do would change her behavior. Fortunately, India wised up. She’s been clean for five years.”

Neither said anything, they sipped beer in the stuffy tent, lost in thought.

Finally Kade said, “Ain’t I just a barrel of fun? Maybe we could talk about something else? When’s Eliza’s next doctor’s appointment?”

“Much as I love our darlin’ baby girl,” she grinned when he looked up at her mimicking his vernacular, “I don’t wanna talk about her.”

“Then what?”

Sex. Tell me what’s in store for tonight. In detail. Maybe with a hands-on preview.

“We’re supposed to be getting to know each other, right? So, tell me about your day to day ranch duties.”

Kade lifted both brows. “Why? You lookin’ to take a nap?”

“No, I’m serious. I saw you on the horse today and I realized I don’t have any idea what it takes to raise cows.”

“Money. Stupidity. Stubbornness.” He sipped his beer. “Sorry. What we do depends on the season. Right now, we gotta make sure the cattle have water where they’re grazin’.

The cows have been pregnancy tested. The calves have had their vaccinations and aren’t ready to wean quite yet. We start cuttin’ hay in another week, that’s long, hard work, pretty much sunup to sundown. Something’s always broken, equipment wise. Then there’s the fences. Lord. I could hire a crew of twenty and send them out seven days a week for the next year and never get all the damn fence mendin’ done.”

“Wow. You must have a lot of land.”

He gave her a sardonic look. “Or a lotta bad fences.”

“Funny. So do you ride horses every day?”

“No. Wish I could, but it’s faster to take the truck or the four-wheeler. I keep my horse at my folks’ place. He’s an old work horse, not a rodeo horse like Colby’s.” He took another sip. “What about you? Do you ride?”

“I can ride, not very well. And I do like it, but I don’t have a horse.”

“Seems a shame. You have a sweet setup with that big barn and the corrals.”

“Maybe someday, when life isn’t so chaotic, I’ll get a gentle horse. What do you do for fun when you’re not working on the ranch?”

“Been so long, I don’t remember. I used to like to do a little dancin’ at the Golden Boot. Do you two-step?”

“I’ve never been very good at dancing.”

He angled over the table, a mere kiss away. “You said the same thing about blowjobs and you proved yourself wrong there, so I’m thinkin’ I’d like to prove you wrong on the dance floor. There’s something mighty enticin’ about the thought of holdin’ you in my arms in public, Sky, holdin’ you without apology.”

Tags: Lorelei James Rough Riders Billionaire Romance
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