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That vague comment got his back up. Was she trying to get rid of him? Just to be ornery, he said, “I hadn’t planned on goin’ anywhere today. Thought I’d stick around the room and rest up. Hang out with you, my friend.”

Panic darted through her eyes. “Oh. Obviously since you’re paying for half the room that’s your prerogative. But I was hoping…”

“Hoping for what?”

“To have a few hours of quiet time so I can get your rides separated from the other footage.”

Quiet time his ass. She wanted nookie time. And he’d be goddamned if he’d just fucking walk away and make it easy on her to bang a total stranger in his hotel room. “I’m not exactly loud, Ava.”

“I know, Chase, but I need quiet. Complete silence. No TV. No talking. No cell phone conversations. No fighting.”

The sneaky-ass woman knew that lying on his bed, counting the flaws in the ceiling tile for hours would drive him bonkers. But the idea of any man, in here—the private space Chase shared with Ava—touching her, kissing her, fucking her on that lumpy damn mattress—made Chase crazier yet. So he offered Little Miss Liar-Liar-Yoga-Pants-On-Fire a somber nod. “Understood. There’s online work I’ve been putting off. I promise to be as quiet as a church mouse.” By Ava’s expression, she expected him to tuck his tail between his legs, exit the room and leave her alone.

Like hell.

Chase smiled at her. “I’m glad we can sort this stuff out so quickly.”

After he was scrubbed and freshly shaven he wandered out of the bathroom with a towel loosely secured low around his hips. As he dug in his duffel bag for clean clothes, he felt her checking out his package, and then his butt, although she didn’t utter a peep.

It was a long, quiet afternoon.

An hour before the finals performance at the fairgrounds, Chase checked out his bull, stretched his quads and hamstrings and tried to mentally prep himself. He was leaning against the corral, watching the last rays of sunshine through the clouds of humidity, when he heard, “Bill Chase. You’re lookin’ good to win this tonight.”

He turned toward Taz. “I hope so. Be nice if we all came in the money, huh?”

Taz spit a stream of tobacco juice through the fence rails. “Yep. Be a boost to the boy if he could place.”

“He’s doin’ better than I did. Took three events before I even rode one for eight seconds. I damn near gave up.”

“Been there myself more times than I care to admit. Started the junior events at fifteen. Got my pro card at eighteen. I’ll be fifty-one next month. So a long damn time.” Another brown stream landed in the dirt.

“You get tired of it?”

“There are days. But it ain’t like I got other skills. Ridin’s all I know.”

Sobering for Chase to admit that he might be Taz in a few years.

That’s when Ava sauntered into view. Smiling at assorted cowboys as she shooed them aside and set up her video camera. Fuckin’ hell, the woman was something else.

“She sure is,” Taz said.

Shit. He hadn’t meant to say that out loud.

“I saw her last night at the bar on Main Street.”

He’d been too pissed off and filled with pride to track her down after she’d left. “Any guy in particular catch her notice?”

“Hmm. I believe one did.” Taz snorted. “If I were twenty years younger, I’da given that guy a run for his money. Man. He was all over her.”

Chase wanted to demand what the guy looked like. If he was tall. If Ava and the putz had danced together. Or whether they’d snuck off early. They could’ve gone back to his place right after they’d met. She could’ve ended her sexual drought and he wouldn’t know it. That thought turned his vision a dangerous red and he wanted to rip something to pieces with his bare hands.

“Didn’t see Ryan last night until late neither. Kid still had a grin on his face this mornin’. You got time to have a beer at the campsite tonight after the event?”

“I’ll swing by. It’ll be an early night since I’m hitting the road tomorrow mornin’.” He clapped Taz on the shoulder. “Gotta get my head on straight about this ride. See you in the chutes.”

He’d gone about fifty feet when Ryan tracked him down and blurted, “I need your help, man.”

“You nervous?”

“Like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t know—”

“You’ll be fine. You’re in the home stretch. Just treat it like any other ride. Concentrate on staying on, ridin’ hard, and that’s it.”

Ryan shot him a baffled look. “Huh-uh. I’ve heard guys talking and I know there’s more to it than that. I’ve got the basics down, but I need…ummm…advice with the fancier stuff I ain’t tried before.”

“Fancier stuff?” Chase frowned. “Explain that.”

His cheeks turned cherry red. “You know. Like usin’ my mouth on her and different positions.”

“Whoa.” Chase stepped back. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. You ain’t talking about ridin’ in the final go-round, are you? You’re talking about ridin’…a girl.”

“Ssh.” Ryan glanced around, owl-eyed. “Sheesh. Of course I’m talking about a girl. I know how to ride a bull. I need to up my game with Allison tonight. You know, do some different sex stuff to impress her.”

“For the love of Christ, Ryan. Seriously? You want my advice on sex?”

“Come on, everyone knows your reputation with the ladies. It’s been all over the rodeo magazines and the fan sites.”

“Don’t believe everything you read.”

“I don’t see you denying it. Chicks still line up to get with you, even after that video, maybe especially after that video, so it’s gotta be true.” Ryan crossed his arms over his chest. “Besides. You owe me.”

Of all the… Chase counted to ten. “How do you figure I owe you?”

“You threw me to Allison last night. And she… Well, she was all over me. Tonight I wanna show her that I can do more than just lie there with a stupid grin on my face wondering how I got so lucky to get naked with her.”

That comment hit home on many levels. Chase sighed. “You ever gone down on a girl before?”

Ryan shook his head.

Fucking awesome. “Okay. Take your time getting down there. Don’t just dive in. Especially not the first time. Use your mouth and your hands.” His eyes searched Ryan’s. “You do know where a woman’s clit is?”

“Yes. I’m not stupid,” he said sullenly.

“Well, you’d be surprised how many men are. Take your cues from her. If she’s moving and getting wetter, then you’re doin’ it right. If she acts bored, she probably is bored, and you need to try something different. When she says ‘Don’t stop’, for Godsake, don’t stop.”

“How will I know when she’s about to…”

“Come? You’ll be able to feel it. Trust me.”

“Some guys say they don’t like it.”

“Then they’re fuckin’ idiots.”

“But women like it, right?”

Chase grinned. “Women love it.”

Again, Ryan briefly looked over his shoulder. “What about different positions? We did it the regular way once, and then she blew me, and then she rode me.”

“It’s more important she’s hot to be nekkid with you than it is to try every position you see in porn.”

“Oh. Okay. That makes sense.” Ryan grinned and punched Chase in the shoulder. “Thanks, man. I wish I could tell my buddies I got sex advice from Chase McKay.” He bounded off.

Yeah. Sex advice from the guy who currently wasn’t getting any. That was something to brag about.

Somehow, Chase put sex out of his mind. At some events, the leader rode last, but this one he was scheduled to ride fourth. Helmet on, mouth guard in, a good wrap, a good seat and he was ready to hit it.

The bull went crazy, three jumps and then into the wildest spin Chase had ever experienced. Gritting his teeth, he held on by sheer strength. Soon as he heard that buzzer, he released his hand and hit the ground flat on his back. Luckily the bad dismount didn’t knock the wind out of him, but he was so damn dizzy he could barely stand. The bullfighters helped him stagger to the fence as he awaited his score.

Eighty-eight. He’d won. No other rider could catch him. Chase allowed a smile as he waved to the crowd.

Ryan finished third, Taz not in the money. Ava taped the prize handout, but then she disappeared.

He had a single beer with Taz and lumbered across the grounds and highway to his motel room. He hadn’t taken off his chaps, vest or even his spurs. Pausing in front of the room, he dug his keycard from his duffel bag and opened the door. It hadn’t occurred to him that Ava might have made plans—nekkid plans—until he saw her stretched out on the bed in her birthday suit.

“Chase?” Her feet kept slipping on the cheap nylon comforter as she scrambled up the bed. “What are you doing here?”

He dropped his bag to the carpet absentmindedly. Holy hell, did she have a rockin’ body. Golden skin that boasted curves, curves and more curves. As he took a step toward her, he noticed panic in her eyes—not heat or even that tempting sexual challenge he’d never be immune to. His gaze tracked her mesmerizing body, from the flare of her hip, to the contour of her belly, across those glorious tits and the graceful line of her neck.

Seconds after Chase noticed a full box of condoms, bottle of lube and two bandanas on the nightstand, a dude wearing chaps and a cowboy hat sauntered out of the bathroom with a hearty, “You ready for the ride of your life, toots?”

What the fuck?

After his shock wore off, Chase snarled, “Jesus, Ava, this is the type of douchebag you came up with? A wannabe cowboy with a fake drawl who calls you toots?”