Taming the Texan - Page 24

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The second Alexa stepped into the kitchen, all her nerves were gone, quickly replaced by another rush of arousal. Hayes stood at the stove wearing only denim on the bottom half and ink on the top. Mercy, who knew a half-dressed man at the stove could be so sexy?

Her bare feet slid over the old linoleum, landing on a squeaky spot in the floor. Hayes jolted and focused his attention over his shoulder, eyes alert.

“Sorry,” she told him. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

His shoulders relaxed as he raked his gaze over her and she was instantly aware of how potent those dark eyes could be. Almost as potent as his hands.

“You like wearing my clothes.”

Maybe she did. Or maybe she liked the way they smelled, like a rugged man. “My shirt wasn’t upstairs.”

His mouth quirked. “You could’ve come down without a shirt. I did.”

Great. He wasn’t in a funk brooding about regrets and being noble or some other nonsense that would make this situation extremely uncomfortable. She was already feeling nervous again because she’d stepped so far out of her element.

At least he was talking like this situation was no big deal. Because it wasn’t…right? Just because her body still tingled, she wore his shirt and she wanted to do it all over again didn’t mean anything. It couldn’t mean anything.

“If I’d come down without a shirt, you’d ravage me again and then we’d never eat,” she replied as she crossed to the stove to see what he was making. “I’m starving, by the way.”

“Who said I wasn’t going to ravage you again?”

Standing right next to him, her wearing his shirt and him with no shirt, seemed far too intimate. Much more than the act of sex. Add in the fact that he was cooking and this whole scenario took on a domesticity she definitely wasn’t comfortable with.

She’d done family before…then her husband died and she was left raising a baby alone and trying to piece together her shattered heart. She wasn’t looking for someone to fill the void. One day, she would put herself first and find a man who loved her. She wasn’t afraid of marriage, but she certainly wasn’t looking right now.

Then again, she hadn’t been looking for a fling either, but here she was with her breasts brushing against the shirt of a man she’d only met hours ago.

“Calm down, cowboy.”

She patted his cheek. The bristles along his jaw tickled her palm and reminded her of how glorious he felt tracing his lips all over her.

In a swift move, Hayes grabbed her hand. Then he took it and flattened it against his chest. “That’s the second time you’ve patted me like a child. I wouldn’t do it again.”

She shivered because, as he left the veiled threat dangling, there was so much heat in his tone, in his eyes, she wanted to pat him again just to see what would happen. She had no doubt it would be glorious.

And mercy, those muscles beneath her hand had her wanting to curl her fingers in to get a better feel.

“What are you cooking?” she asked, sliding her hand from beneath his. Alexa leaned over and spotted a pot with noodles. “You cook something like that?”

With a grunt, Hayes turned back and picked up the spoon from the counter. “I’m thirty-four years old, Alexa. I’m a single man. I either needed to learn to cook or starve.”

“Aren’t you supposed to live on bacon and beer?”

He threw her a sideways glance. “Those are definitely staples in a single man’s diet. Hell, any man’s diet. But I also appreciate real food and my mother was the best at homemade chicken and noodles.”

Surprised, Alexa stepped back. “You make homemade noodles? Like, with a rolling pin and everything?”

“I’m wounded you think I can’t.” He continued to stir as she stared, until he finally said, “Okay, fine. I didn’t make these noodles, but I can.”

Alexa crossed her arms and leaned against the wall next to the stove. “Is that right?”

“I swear, ask my brothers,” he exclaimed. “We all can. My mother insisted we know our way around the kitchen, because she wasn’t raising men and future husbands who couldn’t help in every room of the house.”

“Sounds like a smart woman.”

A faint smile danced around his lips. “She was the best. My dad never was the same after she passed. Hell, he’s really not the same now.”

“Does your dad live on the estate, as well?”

Hayes shook his head and dropped the spoon back into the pot. “No,” he replied, turning to face her. “He’s in an assisted living facility not far from here. He doesn’t know who we are most days.”

She hadn’t expected that. She knew Pebblebrook Ranch was the biggest in the state. It was the pride of the area, and now that rumors were swirling about the dude ranch extension, she would’ve never guessed there was heartache beneath all of that wealth and power. The dynamic family that seemed to have it all suffered brokenness just like anyone else. Money couldn’t buy everything.

“I hate to hear that,” she told him. “Has he been suffering long?”


Tags: Jules Bennett Romance
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