“I don’t want anyone else, and I want to be good for you. I’m going to need a lot of help with that, though. And maybe a lot of discipline.”
“I will take care of that. I promise.”
“Okay.” His voice was shaky now, less sure, but he managed to do as I asked. With a few long pauses to stare at me, he told me what each of the spreadsheet columns were for and what the totals at the bottom meant. When he was done, I closed my laptop. The click seemed to echo in the room, and Riley’s chest rose and fell with a long breath.
“You weren’t kidding about this, were you?” he asked. “About taking me back to your house?”
“I would never joke about something like this. That wouldn’t be fair to you, and the most important rule between us is that we both respect each other.”
“I don’t know that I’ve ever respected anyone more than you, Blake. I know I don’t always show it, but I do.”
I took his hand and tugged him to his feet. “As long as you try, that’s all I can ask.”
“I… I’ll try, Daddy.”
Fuck, hearing him call me that was hot. “Before we go, I need you to understand one more thing. If I could, I’d be happy to tell the world you were mine, but we’re going to have to be discreet. I think you know as well as I do how your father would react to us being together.” It would be all that much worse if he knew the nature of our relationship. “The hands all know I’m gay. They know Casey is too, but even if they don’t mind that, the foreman fucking the boss’s son would not be okay. Maryellen has already noticed the way we watch each other—”
“Casey has too.”
I sighed. “Yeah, he has. We’re going to have to be damn careful. Can you do that for me?”
He nodded, and I saw concern in his eyes. I didn’t want to worry him, but I needed to take this seriously. He was used to getting away with whatever he wanted, but if he lost his chance to prove himself, he would care about the consequences, and I would sure as hell care about losing my job.
I was so distracted at dinner, I was lucky to have been able to get food from my plate to my mouth, but somehow, Riley and I both managed. I deliberately sat at the opposite end of the table from him, and I was glad to see him conversing easily with Casey. I texted him that he should walk back to the main house and wait until everyone had time to settle in for the evening, then come knock on my door. Hopefully, if anyone saw him, they would think he had a question about what we’d done that day.
I saw him look at his phone when he got my message. He glanced up at me, and his expression said he might die if he had to wait any longer.
He wasn’t the only one who was anxious. By the time he knocked on my door, I was pacing the floor, ready to come out of my skin.
I forced myself to cross the room slowly and take a long, slow breath before letting him in. I did not want to rush this. It felt like I’d been waiting ages to have him like this. I didn’t care anymore how wrong it was. He needed this, and so did I.
I was damn good at running the ranch. If we got caught and Lawson fired me, I would find somewhere else to work, and I’d make sure Riley was taken care of too. He was my responsibility now. When the time came for him to leave the ranch…
Well, I’d worry about that later.
I opened the door, and Riley practically bounded in. “I can’t believe you made me wait that long.”
I started to respond, but my words stuck in my throat as he gave me a careful once over.
“I swear you just get sexier every fucking day. I mean I thought you were so hot back when I was fifteen, but now… now you’re just…” He sighed.
I wanted to kiss him so badly. I’d loved feeling the passion in him the other night. I didn’t think it would be diminished now that he was sober, but that wasn’t how we were going to start out.
“You asked me what would happen if you demeaned yourself again or told me you couldn’t do something?”
He shivered. “I did.”
“It’s time for me to show you. I want you to know that any time I discipline you, it’s for your own good. You’ll always have a safe word because I don’t ever want to go too far with you or do something you truly don’t want. There are other ways to deal with you breaking the rules.”