“I might’ve been a drunk, Indy, but I ain’t never been blind to the fact you’re all woman.”

“Sweet-talkin’ cowboy. There’s been no one since.”

“No one? Not even a one-nighter?”

“Nope. To be crude, I’ve been getting off with BOB, my battery operated boyfriend, or my own hand.” She gave him the same questioning look he’d given her. “What about you?”

“I’m well acquainted with my own hand.”

“Been dating Rosy Palm, have you?”

He laughed. “Exclusively.”

“But I’m talking about when it comes to sex with a person.

You’ve made no bones about the fact you were a serious horndog with a bad reputation before you had a drinking problem.”

“I was. I didn’t particularly care which woman I ended up fucking at the end of the night, just as long as I got laid. Just as long as I satisfied her to the point she’d tell every other chick in four counties what a stud Colt McKay was, so I wouldn’t have to work at all to coax any woman I wanted into my bed.”


“Yeah. And it worked. For years. Might sound cocky as shit, but I barely had to wink at a woman and I could have her on her knees or on her back in no time flat.”

“Didn’t the easy pickin’s get old?”

He grinned at her. “Are you kiddin’ me?”

India whapped him on the arm. “I’m serious.”

“Yeah, I guess it did. It all changed when my brothers started pairing off. I was jealous, but rather than try to settle down, I got wilder. In my way of thinkin’, if one woman was good, two would be even better. I’d make them jealous of my lifestyle. I’d be the Hugh Hefner of the notorious McKay clan, charming, sexy, with a rocket in my pocket ready to blow at the first spark and a legion of women lined up to light that match.”

“So what happened?”

“Besides getting hooked on all the booze I had to drink to maintain the illusion?”

She nodded.

“I woke up in the middle of a pile of nekkid bodies. Not all of them female.”


He closed his eyes. Way to toss that embarrassing fact out there like a rotten fish, McKay.

A cool hand touched his cheek. “No judgment, remember?”

“Good thing, because I don’t remember a damn thing. I could’ve had sex with any one of those guys, or all of them. I blacked out.”

“Was that the first time you’d blacked out?”

“I wish. So, I was totally hungover, I couldn’t find my clothes, had no fuckin’ clue where I even was. I managed to hit a familiar road outside of Wheatland, more than a hundred miles from my house—with no memory of how I’d gotten there. When I got home, I found out my mother and my aunt spent the day cleaning my house.

“We’re talkin’ bags of beer bottles and cans. Bags of liquor bottles. Empty condom wrappers, empty condom boxes. Hell, we even left used condoms all over the whole house. Even though it was a pigsty, I was livid. Probably out of embarrassment, but at the time, it felt like a total breach of privacy.”


“Because I wasn’t some fifteen-year-old kid. I was a thirty-year-old man, who owned a house and held a job that required more responsibility than I ever wanted. I was a landowner in my own right, outside of the McKay Ranch, with money in the bank, and a brand new truck. I had the adoration of women and the envy of men.

Who the fuck was my mommy to stick her big goddamn nose into my business?”

“Oh Colt.”

“I called her up and said all that shit to her. Really let her have it. And by that time of day, I’d sobered up some, which upset her even more, which pissed my father and my brothers off and they all but kicked me out of the damn family.”

“Then what happened?”

“My cousin Dag basically killed himself in a stupid fuckin’ accident. But it was almost like…he’d wanted to die. I figured it’d be the best thing for me—and everyone else in my family—if I followed his lead. It wasn’t the cold bucket of water Kade dumped on me that woke me up. It was the truth that Kade seemed to be the only person who cared whether I lived or died, when he should’ve hated me for fucking up things with Skylar.

“Might sound sappy as shit, but I wanted to be the kind of man Kade was. A stand-up guy. He and Keely and our cousin Nick West got me into rehab. A month later I came back here and met you.”

They stared at each other in silence for several long minutes.

“Talk about spilling our guts, huh?” she said with a laugh.

“Yeah. Mine hurt a little, to tell you the truth.”


“No.” Pause. “You?”

She shook her head.

“So the question is…you still up for datin’ me?”

“Uh-huh. But no sex? Seriously?”

“Nope. To start with, just havin’ you in my arms all night tonight would be good enough.”

“It has been a while since you’ve had sex, if you think cuddling is a good substitute for it.”

Colt laughed.

“Would there be kissing?”



“Some. Only over our clothes, not on bare skin.”

India’s mouth dropped open. “We’re going to have our clothes on?”


“All our clothes?”

“Well, you can take your socks off as long as you don’t put your cold feet on me.”

Her surprised look morphed into a shrewd one. “Fine. I’ll literally only sleep with you tonight. On one condition.”

“What’s that?”

“We have an end date for the moratorium on sex.”

He considered it. “Two weeks. From last night. That sound fair?”

India rolled her eyes. “I was hoping for two days.”

“Be glad I didn’t go with my original plan of two months.”

“That’s just cruel, McKay.”

“I’ve—we’ve—waited this long, a couple of weeks will be a snap.” He ran his knuckles down the side of her neck.

India leaned forward and kissed him. “I’m gonna so love tempting you into giving in before the official time is up.”

“You can try. But I can be damn stubborn.”

A cry sounded from the baby monitor. Then silence. When he looked back at her, she was yawning.

“Let’s call it a night. How about you check on the girls, I’ll set the alarm system and track down blankets and pillows?”

“Sounds like a plan.” India popped up off the couch like a jack in the box.

Less than five minutes later, they looked at the couch and then at each other. “What now?”

“Now we do what parents with little kids do. We fall into bed, exhausted, with thoughts of raunchy, hot sex the furthest thing from our minds.”

“That’ll work. But if you snore, I’m punching you in the nose.”

Colt tumbled them onto the couch, wrapped her in his arms and felt at home for the first time in years.


“But I really am a princess,” India read. She covered her hand with her mouth and yawned.

The book jiggled and an impatient Eliza said, “Innie. Read.”

“Eliza, we’ve read this book twice already. It’s boring me.

Can’t we read something else?” Headlights swept across the living room windows. “Hey. I think your mom and dad are home.”

The book flew and Eliza slid off the couch. She ran to the foyer and jumped up and down in front of the window.

The door opened and Eliza launched herself at the first person through the doorway.


Kade dropped the overnight bag and scooped Eliza into his arms. “Whatcha doin’ up, girly? It’s past your bedtime.” He kissed her cheeks and her forehead and the crown of her head.

Lord. He was so wrapped around her finger it wasn’t funny.

“I miss you, Daddy.”

“Missed you too, princess. Let’s move outta the way so Mama can get in.”

The second Skylar came in Eliza wiggled to be let down and threw herself at Sky. “Mama!”

“Whoa.” She lifted Eliza and the little girl clung to her neck.

“It’s good to be missed.”

India hung back while Eliza chattered away at her amused parents.

“…an’ unka Cole an’ me frowed rocks.”

Kade looked at India. “Colt was here?”

“He came by to help out.”

“Did the girls give you enough trouble so you had to call in reinforcements?”

“Yes. My God, at one point I think we all were crying at the same time.”

Skylar laughed. “Not as easy as it looks, is it?”

“I never said it was, Sis.”

“Shannie and Peyton asleep?” Kade asked.

“I put them down about an hour ago.”

“We’ve got a couple hours before they’re up again,” Sky said.

“Thanks for pinch hitting, India. We really appreciate it.”

“So you guys had a good time?”

Kade grinned. “Oh yeah.”

Skylar blushed and handed Eliza to India. “Give your Auntie Indy a bye-bye kiss and Daddy will tuck you in.”

“Unka Cole kiss Innie bye-bye too.”

India whispered, “You are a traitor, Eliza Belle. See if you get cookies from me again.” Then she blew a raspberry on her neck.

Eliza giggled and held her arms out to Skylar. “Mama tuck me.”

“I’ll be up in a minute,” Kade said to Skylar’s back.

“Well, I’m pooped. I don’t know how you guys do it.”

“Take it day by day. Sometimes hour by hour.”

Almost word for word on how to deal with addiction, but India doubted Kade would appreciate the comparison.