Cam laughed. “Right.”

“I’m serious.”

“So am I.”

“What about her has you runnin’ scared?”

“Everything. She deserves better than half a man.”

Colt widened his eyes in mock shock. “Did part of your dick get shot off at the same time as your leg and your hand?”

The look on Cam’s face was hilarious. “No!”

“Then you ain’t half a man.”

“What do I have to offer her? A soft, sweet, beautiful girl like her don’t wanna get mixed up with a fucked-up man like me, guaranteed.” The plastic bottle crumpled in his big hand. “I have dark edges she couldn’t handle.”

“Don’t we all?”

“Not like mine.” Cam’s eyes narrowed. “Maybe you oughta take your own advice.”

“You want me to ask Domini out?”

“Fuck off. Maybe you should quit mooning around India and do something about it.”

Colt chugged the last of his water. “I have done something about it.”


“Given up.”

“Are you kidding me?”

“Nope. I realized India ain’t ever gonna see me beyond a drunk she’s counseled or her best bud, so I asked someone else to the community dance Saturday night.”


“Fallon Jacobson.”

Cam’s jaw dropped. “No fucking way.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Because she’s so not your type. She’s…”

Irritably, Colt said, “She’s what?”

“Nice. Normal. Quiet.” He sipped his water. “Kinda plain.”

“And that’s bad?”

“Hell no. That’s just not the type of woman you’ve chased after in the past.”

“It’s been so long since I’ve done any chasin’ I figured my tastes have changed.”

“How’d you hook up with her?”

“She was in the hardware store Monday mornin’. We got to talkin’ and the next thing I knew I was askin’ her out.” His determination to move on had happened far quicker than Colt planned. “Maybe you should ask Domini and we can make it a double date.”

Cam scowled. “Yeah. I’m a one-legged dancing machine these days. Thanks, but I’ll pass from that public humiliation.”

“You can run five miles but you won’t two-step? That’s sad, man. Lemme know if you change your mind.” Colt stood. “I’m gonna hit the shower.”

“Me too. Later.” Cam grabbed his duffel and headed for the exit—the opposite direction of the showers. He never took off his prosthetic in public.

When Colt climbed into his pickup, his cell phone buzzed in the seat. He didn’t have to pick it up to know who’d called him.

Three times.


Seeing her name—and no one else’s—pop up on the screen, strengthened his resolve to put physical and emotional distance between them.

Chapter Five

“Come on, come on, come on, pick up,” India muttered as she paced in her kitchen.

“The number you’ve reached is unavailable. At the tone, please record your message. Beep.”

“Hi, Colt. It’s India. But you knew that. Anyway, I-umm, hope you’re okay. We missed you at the meeting Tuesday night, and I’m…well, I’m worried about you. I’ve been trying to reach you since Monday.” Stupid, India, he knows that, courtesy of the twenty increasingly paranoid messages you’ve left him.

“Beep. End of message.”

“Fuck!” India hit redial and waited for it to kick over to voice mail. She half-listened to the same canned response. Finally, the beep sounded.

“Look. I understand that you’re embarrassed about what happened Sunday morning. But I don’t see where you get off blowing three years worth of our friendship just because you’re embarrassed. We’ve always been able to talk through anything, and this shouldn’t be an exception. You’re making this so hard on—”

Dammit. Should she have said hard-on? Should she have said blowing? Shit shit shit. Think back. Did she say come? Or get off?

At any point?

“Beep. End of message.”

“Fuck!” Infuriated, she pressed redial. This time she was ready for the beep.

“Quit being such a dickhead, McKay. Call me.” She snapped the phone shut. Hah! That’ll get his attention.

But hours passed and still no word from Colt.

India crawled in bed and stared at the shimmery silver canopy.

For the hundredth time, she wondered how everything had spun out of control. Sure, she understood his anger at her accidentally shooting him in the butt and his frustration at being stuck in her apartment. India even understood him being pissed off about her going out on a date with his cousin and how he could’ve jumped to conclusions when Blake was hammering her headboard with such vigor.

What she couldn’t understand? Why sexy-as-sin, charm-the-panties-off-any-woman-with-a-pulse Colt McKay hadn’t gotten laid in three years. That boggled her mind.

The McKay men were all notoriously good-looking. Every.

Single. One. Since her sister, Skylar, was married to one of those hunky McKay men, and those cowboy beefcakes congregated on a regular basis, India had plenty of room to judge. In her eyes, Colt was the best looking of all of them. Period.

Not only was Colt a shining example of masculinity, he was sweet. Smart too, but he preferred to hide his brainpower under beguiling smiles and cajoling words. He was fun to be around, thoughtful, insightful…so it made zero sense he wasn’t getting any.

Neither are you.

And when had smokin’ hot bad cowboy Colt started leveling his intense I-wanna-fuck-you-now stare…on her? And using a seductive masculine growl instead of words?

Why wasn’t she put off by the changes?

Because it seems right. Natural. And about goddamn time.

India closed her eyes and relived the brief interlude in the kitchen. Her hand rubbing on his cock empowered her. She never remembered feeling such a thrill at a man’s loss of control. Wanting to see how he could take control of her. To see how far he could push her before she lost it.

Hell, she’d been tempted to drag him into her bedroom and see how wild they could be together. But she’d backed off. Partially out of guilt for his injury, partially out of self-preservation, fearing a spontaneous tumble would irreparably damage their friendship—a friendship she valued above all others.

And look what that self-preservation had gotten her…the man had cut off all communication anyway. She could’ve had a mind-bending orgasm or twenty and ended up with the same result.

Frustrated, India covered her head with a pillow and tried to sleep. She’d definitely get in touch with him tomorrow.


India hadn’t seen or talked to Colt for six days, which sucked, but not as bad as the impending humiliation sucked. She sighed.


“Stop it,” Domini said.

“But I don’t want to go to this stupid dance.”

“Tough. You are always making me do things I don’t want to do.”

India cocked an eyebrow at her. “Like what?”

“Things.” Domini waved her off distractedly. “Anyway, you have to put in an appearance. This is a fundraiser for the community and you need to show your support.”

“By donating a free tattoo to the highest bidder?”

“Better that than a week’s worth of cooking lessons.”

India knew who’d submit the winning bid for the private lessons, no matter how much it cost, even if he had to rig the results.

“Just promise you won’t ditch me. I probably won’t know many people.” The folks she knew through A.A. were an odd lot, she wasn’t sure they’d admit to knowing her outside the meetings.

“You’ll know everyone,” Domini said. “Isn’t your sister going to be there?”

“No. Sky Blue just donated a gift basket to the auction. Skylar and Kade don’t have time to turn around since the twins came along.”

“Ah. Then you are welcome to hang out with me.”

“You and who else? Because if Cat is going to be there? No thanks, I’ll pass.” Domini’s boss was a real piece of work.

“Cat is out of town on another trip to Denver, remember?”

Domini sniffed. “It’s Nadia, Anton and me. With him I’m guaranteed a dance partner.”

“Until he hits the sugar crash stage from too much Kool-Aid.”

India turned sideways in the mirror. The skinny jeans looked good, but the shirt? No way. “I don’t know which one of us is more pathetic, Dom. You, for having a six-year-old boy as a date, or me, for even trying to cover up my tattoos with this long-sleeved blouse.”

Domini moved in behind her. Man, the woman was tall. In bare feet she towered over India’s five-foot-four by a good six inches.

“Why would you cover your skin in tattoos and then freak out about people looking at them? Show them off.”

“Good point.” India unbuttoned the plain white blouse and tossed it on the bed. She rummaged through her closet until she found her favorite sleeveless shirt, a delicate silk, covered with a bold oriental floral pattern. As she pulled it on over her head, she noticed Domini looking at her chest. “What?”

“This may be none of my business, but did it hurt when you umm…pierced your bradavka?”

“My what?”

A blush stole across Domini’s cheeks, turning her icy blue eyes even more vivid. “Your nipples.”

“Oh. I don’t remember, it’s been so long. Why? You thinking of having it done?”

“No! I mean, I don’t know. I would like to know if it makes…things more pleasurable?”

“Things…meaning sex?”

Domini nodded, blushing harder.