Branded as Trouble (Rough Riders 6) - Page 49

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Go on the offensive.

“Colt? What are you doing here?”

He patiently returned her cool stare. “I’m here to ask why I haven’t seen you.”

She dropped the soap on the counter and pointed to the boxes scattered around the showroom. “I’ve been busy.”

Colt gave her that you’re-full-of-shit eyebrow lift.

“And you were out of town.”

“I was in Guernsey for two lousy days, India, two days in which I didn’t hear from you once.”

“Hey, bucko, the phone lines run both ways.”

“Is that so?” Colt began to stalk her. “I thought we were beyond this fightin’ just so we can make up stuff.”

“But it’s so fun.”

He growled.

“Besides, didn’t we talk about not spending every waking minute together?”

“You talked. I listened. And I disagreed.”

India’s pulse doubled. He’d used that matter-of-fact tone before he’d stripped her, boosted her against the tile in his shower and screwed her until the water ran cold and her vocal cords shorted out from shouting his name in rapture.

Thinking about showering with him and experiencing his hot, naked male stamina is not helping you retain the upper hand, India.

Right. And she so had the upper hand when the man had her in full retreat until her spine hit the wall.

“Got nothin’ to say?”

“Fine. What do you want?”

“You,” he said tersely, slapping his hands on either side of her head. His mouth swooped down on hers in a kiss that wasn’t gentle, wasn’t meant to soothe, but to chastise. His mouth punished, forgave, and seduced—all at the same time.

It was a kiss that smacked of ownership.

It was a kiss that knocked her for a loop.

It was a kiss that was four long days overdue.

After he’d thoroughly scrambled her brain cells, Colt whispered, “Sweet Jesus, you piss me off sometimes, but I missed you, Indy. Come home with me tonight so I can show you how much.”

She ducked under his arm. “I can’t.”

“Why not?”

Tell him the truth? Or lie?

He didn’t give her time to decide. “What? Are you sick of me?”

“No!”

“Then what?” His gaze roamed over her. “Are you sick?”

“Sort of.”

“Explain.”

She huffed out a nervous stream of air. “Dammit, I got my period after that last time in the shower.”

“That’s why you’ve been scarce?”

“Yes.”

He looked utterly confused. “Why didn’t you just tell me?”

“Because it’s not usually a topic for discussion between men and women when they’re first dating. Plus, I feel gross and I’m not good company. I thought I’d spare you.”

Colt kissed her hard and quick. “I don’t care. I want to be with you no matter what your mood or what your hormones do.”

“Really?”

“Really. We’re way beyond the first dating stage, Indy, and don’t pretend what’s going on between us is only about sex.”

“Oh yeah, Mr. ‘I Disagreed’?”

“Don’t get me wrong. I love getting nekkid with you.” He kissed her. “All.” He kissed her again. “The.” Another kiss.

“Damn.” And another. “Time.” He grinned. “But I’d be just as happy hangin’ with you as bangin’ you.”

“How poetic, McKay.”

“I am tryin’ like the devil to get the shine back on my silver tongue.” He fingered the gold hoop in her eyebrow. “Come over anyway. You can sit on the couch with a heating pad and a bag of Hershey’s Kisses. I’ll even watch chick flicks with you.”

“How’d you know—”

“That you crave Hershey’s Kisses that time of the month?

We’ve been friends for almost three years. I’ve noticed all your little quirks and your hormonal breakdowns.”

“Why didn’t you say something?”

“Because I was too much of a gentleman to mention it. Now that I know you prefer my ungentlemanly ways…” He brushed his mouth across the crown of her head. “Sometimes I think I know you better than you know yourself.”

He was so damn sweet that she teared up. “Colt—”

“Hey now, none of that. I’d rather you were throwing wrenches at me instead of crying.”

She kissed his chin. “I’ll be over at seven. But I’m warning you; in my hormonal state, I expect a lot of kisses. And chocolate for dessert.”

“Sugar, I’ll give you as many kisses as you can handle.”

***

After an amazing week with India, didn’t it figure his weekend started out crappy?

Colt’s morning had gone to shit after the engine on his four-wheeler blew up. If that wasn’t bad enough, he’d gone to check cattle and found two dead cows and one dead calf that’d been gnawed on by coyotes. Then he’d sliced open his forearm on a piece of metal sheeting in the barn when his mother called demanding he show up for Sunday night supper. He spilled gas all over the floor in the garage and the fumes gave him an instant headache.

It was enough to drive a man to drink.

By the time he finished his daily chores and returned to the house well after dark, he needed a beer. Or a shot. Anything grain alcohol based.

Days like this, it flat-out amazed him he’d passed the three-year mark without ingesting a single drop of booze.

India had left a message on his machine and on his cell phone and he ignored both. Pissy, testy, fighting the temptation of addiction; he wasn’t fit for company.

He needed a distraction. Driving into town and running on a treadmill at the gym didn’t appeal to him. He was too wired to sit on his ass and watch TV or climb into bed and sleep it off. He wanted to hit something—just not hit the bottle.

In the spare room he slipped on a pair of boxing shorts, his sparring gloves and circled the punching bag. Starting slow, he wanted to stretch out this beating and not tire himself out too quickly.

Right jab. Right jab. Left jab. Reverse the sequence.

He hit the bag over and over. Then he moved to the speed bag and pummeled it until he could scarcely hold his arms up. Only then did he take a breather. The workout mats were slick with sweat.

Colt’s entire body was soaked, even his hair dripped. His eyes stung. The self-inflicted physical punishment usually helped him focus on one thing: not chugging beer until he passed out.


Tags: Lorelei James Rough Riders Billionaire Romance
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