He leaned against the cabinet and took a long, hard pull from the bottle. Piper admired the view of her best friend without his shirt, how his muscles flexed without any effort from Ryan. The man simply had to shift and those muscles put on quite a show.
When he licked his lips after his drink, Piper swallowed and tried to ignore that she had been taken off guard earlier with how toe-curling that kiss had been. She knew her best friend could kiss, because she’d heard talk from some ladies, but she’d never, ever, thought he’d kiss her in that way or that she’d be nearly on her knees because of the intensity of it.
“Want to bring it out in the open or just let it keep replaying in your mind?”
Piper’s eyes met his and, damn him, he was grinning because he knew what had been running through her mind.
“How do you always know what I’m thinking?” she asked.
He shrugged, took another drink and sighed. “Call it a gift. I just know you better than you know yourself.”
Piper rolled her eyes. “All right, Mr. Smarty Pants. What was I thinking?”
“You were thinking how you wished you would’ve ravished my body earlier instead of calling it quits.”
Piper laughed. “Not hardly. Try again.”
“Oh, you’re right, that’s what I was thinking.” He set his beer on the top of the fridge and crossed over to her, bending and blocking her meager breeze from the fan. “You were thinking that the kiss we shared was more than you expected. You’re wondering if we’re going to do it again or if you should press your luck. Maybe it won’t be as great the second time.”
He took her hands in his, pulling her to her feet. Their faces were mere inches apart and Piper did her best to keep her breathing steady though her heart was beating rapidly.
“You’re afraid to admit to yourself that you enjoyed it and you wonder what would’ve happened if we hadn’t stopped.”
Piper’s eyes held his. “I’m pretty sure I know what would’ve happened.”
“Doesn’t matter that it didn’t,” he whispered. “One day it will.”
Gone was the gentleness from earlier. Ryan gripped her arms, tipped her toward his chest until she landed against him, and then he claimed her lips.
Being trapped against such a strong, hard chest was no hardship and being in Ryan’s arms somehow felt...perfectly right. Every part of their bodies lined up where it should, making that image of the two of them in bed even more believable and real.
Just the thought of where he promised they’d end up sent a shiver down her spine. One part of her wanted to explore beyond these kisses, but the other part worried the door to friendship would slam and they’d never get back this bond they shared.
But right now, with his hands holding her firmly in place, his erection pressing into her belly and his mouth making love to hers, she almost didn’t care about crossing into unchartered territory with Ryan. She almost didn’t care that he was her best friend and the closest thing to family she had.
Then she remembered he was a rodeo man. A true cowboy. He had the itch in him to chase adventure and go from one arena filled with screaming fans and danger to the next.
Just like her father.
And while these kisses were totally off the charts and had her fantasy life shifting into overdrive, she knew she could never fall in love with a cowboy. There was no way she could live the life her mother had tried to put up with. And there was no way Piper could tame a cowboy.
Once that thrill of adventure entered their blood, it never left. Could Ryan really and truly be done? He was opening a school, so Piper knew he was serious about staking roots here for the long haul. But what if he grew bored? What if he needed that adrenaline rush that only the rodeo could provide?
For right now, Piper slid her arms around his waist and allowed his kiss to take her to another place. A place where they were just two people acting on this new attraction...not two people destined for heartache.
Because as scared as she was that he may decide to leave again, she couldn’t deny the fact she was getting in deeper with her best friend.
“You don’t have to stay, you know.”
Piper pushed off the wooden porch with her bare toe and put the swing into motion. Ryan lounged across her chaise on the other side of her porch.
“I know,” he told her, tipping up his cowboy hat to look at her. “I want to. Nothing else to do.”