Taming the Texan - Page 20

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The wall of shelves drew her in even farther. She adored reading, though lately it was more books about the ABCs or colors and shapes than anything. Which was fine, she loved snuggling with Mason after he’d had a bath and just before bed. They would settle in his room in the corner rocker and read and sing. It was actually the most relaxing part of her day. She wanted traditions and routines for her son, so he always felt safe, protected, loved.

Alexa blew out a breath and tried not to get too upset about being stranded here, away from Mason. She would’ve been away this weekend anyway, but now there was a real threat she’d be away even longer than the weekend.

The far wall of windows reaffirmed her fears as the rain beat against the side of the house. Alexa chose to keep her eyes on the books and something that would take her mind off her current situation. Surely there was one title in all of those she would find interesting.

The dust on the shelves was thick enough she doodled a heart. Wait. What? No, no hearts. She swiped her fingertips over the juvenile design and focused on reading the spines.

“Hope you like history.”

Alexa cringed as Hayes’s voice washed over her, but she didn’t turn to face him. “Better than any other way to occupy my time,” she muttered.

“I deserve that.”

Alexa laughed, still staring at the titles as if some self-help book on dealing with cranky, sexy cowboys would jump out at her. “Oh, you deserve more, but I’m holding it in.”

“Why? You’ve been brutally honest up until now.”

True, but just because he’d been less than hospitable didn’t mean she needed to be rude. Besides, she truly didn’t know what to say. This situation was so far out of her comfort zone, she didn’t even know what zone she was in. She was well aware that anything that happened here was temporary because she wasn’t about to get involved with anyone and take them home to her son, but she’d never done temporary before.

“Are you going to look at me?”

Of all the times she’d wished for a snarky comment, now Alexa’s mind came up blank. She blamed the intense encounter on the back porch for her momentary lapse.

“You don’t use this room much,” she commented casually as she shifted to examine more titles. “This is every reader’s dream. A wall of books, a view out the window, a couch to curl up on. Not that I have downtime, but if I did, this place would be perfect.”

“This was my grandfather’s study. It hasn’t been used since he passed.”

Alexa turned now, crossing her arms over her chest. He’d changed his clothes, and thankfully put a shirt on. His hair was still damp, as was hers, but he looked…exhausted. Not merely tired, but absolutely worn down, almost beaten and defeated.

A piece of her softened because she truly had no idea what Hayes had gone through. If he’d open up just a little, maybe she could help. Then again, they’d just met and someone like Hayes wasn’t about to bare his soul. She’d bet her entire year’s salary that he’d been appointed a counselor through the military and had balked at talking to a professional. Someone like Hayes would think he could get through the difficult times on his own, or maybe he’d enlist the help of his brothers. But he was strong and determined, and not about to admit any type of weakness.

Hayes took a step inside the room. “What happened earlier—”

“Won’t happen again.”

He stopped a few feet from her and lifted one dark brow. “Is that right?”

“I’m pretty positive, considering the way you backed away from me.”

Not to mention the fact that she hadn’t missed how he’d closed up when she’d flashed images of Mason. Some men just weren’t interested in children. Which was fine, it wasn’t like she was about to take Hayes home or anything.

Hayes’s lips quirked into a grin. Damn that man for being sexy and for making her want him. He’d touched her, kissed her, teased the hell out of her, and that orgasm hadn’t done a thing to rid her of this desire. Now she wasn’t just fighting attraction—she was trying to fend off the memories of how amazing he’d made her feel.

“Darlin’.” He took another step closer “I set out to seduce you.”

“Really? You have a terrible way of going about that.”

He stopped just beside the cloth-covered sofa and leaned a hip against the arm. “You threw me for a loop when I saw you down in the stables and then to have you stranded here didn’t help. But seeing you in my clothes, the way they plastered all over your curves, made me snap.”

“How is that a problem?” she asked, her heart revving up all over again at his bold declarations. “I thought we were both on the same page.”

He shook his head and glanced down to his hands. “We were until my mind started lying to me again and I went to war with myself.”

Alexa padded across the hardwood toward him. “Don’t be so cliché to say ‘it’s not you, it’s me.’”

“My entire life is a damn cliché,” he snorted. “You recall my fiancée and my CO, but I’ll save you the sob story. In this instance, though, it was me. Damn it, I still want you, but…”


Tags: Jules Bennett Romance
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