“Oh, hell no!” Zack objects. “You always overcook the steaks.”
“I know how to cook a damn good steak,” Ty announces.
“Actually, I’m going to let you guys fight over the steaks and go freshen up a bit.” I tug on Josh’s hand, pulling him down so I can kiss him quickly, but he passes the steaks off to Ty and folds me into his arms, bending me back and kissing the living hell out of me in front of his entire family.
“Wow,” I mutter, breathless, when he lets me back up. “What was that for?”
“I just love you.” He winks and smacks my ass as I turn to walk back to his bedroom.
“Love you back. I’ll just be a minute.”
“No hurry,” he assures me happily as I saunter down the hallway, pulling my suitcase behind me.
I plop the heavy case on the bed and unzip it, pulling my toiletries out so I can brush my teeth and my hair and reapply deodorant.
Feeling marginally better, I grab a few things that need to be hung and move to the closet, coming to an abrupt halt at the open doorway.
There in the closet are all of my clothes from home, hanging side by side with Josh’s things.
I’m struck speechless. I can’t move. A dress falls from my hands to the floor and my hand covers my mouth.
“I called in a favor,” Josh says from behind me. I can’t make myself turn around to look at him.
“What does that mean?” I whisper.
“You already agreed to move in here,” he reminds me, and comes up behind me, wraps his arms around my waist, and kisses my cheek. “So while I was gone, I had Ty bring your clothes and personal things over. We can move the rest later.”
“Kind of presumptuous, aren’t you?” I ask dryly.
“Maybe.” He turns me in his arms and tilts my chin back to look me in the eye. “I need to wake up next to you every morning, Carolina, starting now. Tell me this is okay.”
“Are you gonna start wearing cowboy hats and belt buckles?” I ask with a half smile.
“I hadn’t planned on it, no.” He chuckles and nuzzles my nose with his, tucking my hair behind my ear.
“Maybe I’ll start wearing cowboy hats,” I giggle, and kiss him playfully.
“You can wear anything you like, sweetheart, as long as you do it while living here with me.” He’s grinning, but his eyes are watching me closely.
I sigh and drag my fingertips down his cheek. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be, my love.”
— TWO MONTHS LATER —
“Wake up, my love.”
“Hmph.” I bury my face in the pillow.
I hear Josh chuckle as he sweeps my hair off my back to plant a kiss between my shoulder blades. “Carolina.”
“I mope mom poo.”
“What?” He laughs and pulls me over onto my back. “English, please.”
“I don’t want to,” I pout. “Time is it?”
He brushes my hair off my face and cups my face in his hand, running his thumb over my bottom lip. “Just before five.”
“I’m going to kill you.” I don’t open my eyes. Instead, I stay still, enjoying Josh’s hands roaming over my naked body. “After you make love to me one last time.”
“God, you’re sexy,” he whispers, and kisses my cheek. “Open those gorgeous eyes.”
I comply and glare at him. “Why am I awake?”
“Why are your eyes so green?” He glides his hand from my face to my breast.
“Because you’re touching me and I’m naked.”
“Well, we can’t stay in bed.”
“We can do it in the shower.” I smile when he tosses his head back and lets out his big belly laugh.
“Later. We have something to do first.”
“You’re right.” I nod and settle down into the covers. “We need a couple more hours’ sleep.”
“No.” He stands and yanks the covers off me.
“It’s cold!” I squeal.
“So get up and get dressed.” He winks and crosses his arms over his chest and I notice for the first time that he’s already dressed.
“What’s in it for me?” I ask suspiciously.
“Just do it, Carolina.” He shakes his head and chuckles.
“Fine,” I grumble, and stalk to the bathroom to pee, then past him to the closet to pull on my underwear, jeans, and a T-shirt. “Is it cold out this morning?” I call out to him.
“Don’t worry about it, I have it covered.”
As I pull on socks and shoes, I continue to grumble about the downside of living with a morning person and then follow him out of the bedroom and out to the barn.
“Good morning.” Louie smiles widely at me, earning a small grin from me.
“Thanks, Louie.” Josh lifts me up onto Magic and does that sexy leap-up thing behind me, then accepts a thermos from Louie. “We’ll see you in a while.”
“Have fun.” Louie waves us off as Magic walks out of the barn and through the pasture, heading toward the special sunrise spot with the large maple tree.
“Here,” Josh murmurs, and reaches down into a saddlebag, pulls out a thick down blanket, and wraps it around us to ward off the early-morning chill that has settled in the air.
Fall is approaching.
“Summer never lasts long enough,” I complain.
“Not in Montana. I can already feel fall in the air.”
“Do you want coffee?”
“Sure.” I smile back at him.
“Okay, take the reins.” He slips the leather straps into my hands and pours us one large cup of coffee to share, slips the thermos into a saddlebag, and comes back out with a red-and-white-checkered linen napkin wrapped around something that smells amazing.
He takes the reins from me after handing me the mug of coffee.
“What’s in there?”
“Huckleberry muffins,” he responds casually, knowing that the sweet treats are my favorite.
“Did your mom make these?”
“God, I love you.” I open the fabric and pull out a muffin, still warm from the oven. “Oh, sweet Moses,” I moan, and chew the muffin.
“Can I have a bite?” He chuckles as I hold the muffin up for him to bite. “Mmm . . . good.”
“They are.” I settle my back against his chest. “You’re sure spoiling me this morning. A girl could get used to this.”