“Or what? You think I’m gonna truss you up and f**k right out here in the truck? Give me some damn credit, Domini. I do have some damn restraint.”
“Too much restraint sometimes.”
In another bout of silence between them, his dog yipped along the fence.
“Gracie,” he yelled out the window. “Hush. We’ll be there in a sec so you can sniff her and make sure she’s not a threat.”
Domini’s whole body went rigid beside him.
“Are you afraid of dogs?”
“Yes. You probably think it’s silly—”
“Hey.” Cam bent his head to peer into her alarmed eyes. “Nothin’ silly about it. I’ll keep her in the yard if it’ll ease your mind.”
“If you do that, the dog will have another reason to hate me.”
“Luckily Gracie doesn’t hate anybody.” He smiled. “Just let me know when you’re ready to meet her, okay?”
“You aren’t going to assure me she is the best dog ever and I will immediately love her?”
“No. Although she is the best dog ever, I’m serious about not pressuring you about her. I know what it’s like to have that ‘just get over it’ mentality thrust at you.”
Cam’s gaze descended to her lips. He couldn’t resist stealing a kiss. Her mouth was so warm and supple moving beneath his that he stole another one. And another.
She sank into him, welcoming his attentions with a dreamy sigh.
After several long, deep, wet kisses, he playfully nipped her bottom lip. “Let’s take this inside.”
She paused at the base of the stairs. The bottom was divided into two sections. Half was a set of steps, half was a wheelchair ramp. “I’ve never seen you use a wheelchair.”
“That’s because I don’t use one.” Ever.
“Then why have a ramp?”
“It’s a daily reminder I could end up in a chair if I don’t work hard every damn day at staying out of one.”
“Did you build it?”
Cam shook his head. “Blake did at Colt’s request. Right after I got back to the States and was discharged.”
“Did Colt think you wouldn’t walk again?”
“No. But he knew I needed a place that was accessible just in case.”
She curled her palm over the handrail. “It must be nice to have that kind of unconditional support from your family.”
“I guess. But living around all of them can drive me nuts.” Domini didn’t avert her eyes as Cam ascended the stairs, and oddly, her scrutiny didn’t bother him. He opened the door. “After you.”
Domini ducked under his arm and stopped on the edge of the carpet, taking it all in.
Cam tried to see his refuge through her eyes. His cousins Chet and Remy West had gutted the inside of the house after he’d purchased it from Colt and Buck. Any resemblance to the infamous Boars Nest party house had been completely eradicated.
The structure of the living room hadn’t changed much, besides replacing the sagging bay window with a newer, larger window. Modern track lighting ran along the center of the ceiling. The rectangular room was anchored at one end by a gigantic flat screen TV and a stack of audio/visual components, and on the other end by a fireplace. A wood coffee table was centered between reclining chairs and a plush, oversized couch the color of tobacco.
“This is awesome. Did you pick out the colors and the furniture and everything?”
“Keely helped. Said she didn’t want me living in a man cave with white walls, a TV and cheap bean bag chairs.”
“Come see the kitchen.”
The wall between the formal dining room and the kitchen had been demolished, creating one large open space. New appliances, pine cabinetry, bigger windows and tile flooring showcased modern amenities, yet the eat-in breakfast bar uniting the two areas retained a rustic, country feel. A sliding glass door led to an enormous covered deck that wrapped around the entire backside of the house.
“Please tell me you use this fabulous kitchen for more than zapping microwave meals and cooking frozen pizza.”
“Um. Not really.”
She scowled at him.
“I wish you would’ve taken the cooking lessons you won. It would be a dream to teach you to cook in this kitchen.”
Cam slid his hands around her hips to cup her ass and urged her lower body against his. “You really think we would’ve gotten any cooking done? Or maybe I just would’ve spread you out across my table and feasted on you. ’Cause princess, you look mighty tasty.”
A shuddering breath left her lungs.
He kissed the corners of her mouth. “I want you like crazy. I wanna tie you to my bed for days. But before any of that happens, we need to get some things straight.”
She nodded. “Can we sit outside and talk? It’s such a beautiful day.”
“Sure. Would you like a beer?”
“A beer would be fine.”
“Head out onto the back deck and I’ll bring it to you.”
Cam heard the sliding glass door open, forgetting Gracie was penned in the backyard until Domini shrieked. He turned just in time to see Domini leap on the antique oak table.
Gracie barked and raced around excitedly, thinking it was a game.
A disbelieving whimper sounded and then the Border collie obeyed.
“Good girl.” Cam crossed to the dog, ignoring Domini crouched like a cat about to pounce. He ruffled Gracie’s silky ears. “Listen up, pup. Domini hasn’t been around dogs as cool as you, so give her some time to adjust. Be on your best behavior and before you know it, you’ll have Domini sneakin’ you treats and rubbing your fat belly. Understand?”
Gracie barked twice.
“Good girl. Stay.” Cam grabbed a new rawhide chew out of the pantry. The second Gracie saw it her tail thumped. Her tongue flopped past her gums in a doggie version of a smile. He couldn’t help but grin. The damn dog cracked him up. “If I let you out in the pasture, you can’t be sneakin’ up on Colby’s cattle.”
A tiny, sad noise hummed from Gracie.
Domini said, “She’d do that?”
“Yep. Her breed is great for herding. Since I don’t have cattle she tries to herd everyone else’s cattle. Back here. The first couple times my brothers were amused. After that, not so much.”
Gracie whined pitifully again.