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He stirred, moaning as his cock hardened. Lengthened.

When Ava started sliding his shaft over her tongue, his hand landed on her head.

Immediately it snapped back and Chase scrambled upright. “Ava? What the devil are you doin’?” He inhaled a sharp breath through his teeth when she tongued the tip. “Hell. I thought it was a dream.”

She pulled off his shaft long enough to say, “Nope. I want to make this buff body to squirm.” She licked him like a lollipop.

“Oh, I’ve no doubt you can make me squirm. You probably could get me to beg.” He brushed her hair back from where it’d fallen in her face. “But—”

Again, Ava eased off and met his gaze in the near darkness. “But nothing. You don’t get to direct this.”

If she thought he’d lovingly pet her, agree, and murmur encouragement, she was mistaken. Chase’s big hands were on her face, gripping her jaw. “Yes, I do.”

His answer turned her panties damp. As did his explicit command, “On the floor. On your knees.”

As Ava moved, so did Chase. He perched on the edge of the mattress, making space for her between his legs. Then he stroked her cheek. “Better. Now I can watch you workin’ me and you ain’t gonna choke when you swallow.”

No mincing words there.

“Take me in your mouth again, Ava.”

God that low gravely morning voice loosened something primitive inside her. She bent her head, letting her hair fall against his thighs, feeling his muscular quads quiver in response to the soft strands teasing the muscles. She suckled the tip, tracing the shape of the plump head with the inside of her lips, taking time to flick her tongue over the sweet spot below the cockhead with every wet swipe.

Tease. Retreat. Acquainting herself with his reactions, licking away the little pearls of pre-come. Then Ava moved in for the kill, needing to taste him fully. She made a fist around the base, sliding her hand up and down the length, bobbing her head to meet her fingers.

He stayed rigid, hands propped on the edge of the mattress, watching her. But Chase wasn’t completely motionless. His body trembled. His chest rose and fell rapidly. His toes curled.

Something about seeing that odd vulnerability made Ava ache. Made her want to assure him she’d never exploit this part of him that he was bold enough to share with her.

Her hand slid down to fondle his balls as she worked that long shaft, rubbing the plump cockhead against the roof of her mouth before opening her throat. Breathing through the gag reflex, she swallowed him fully.

“Holy. Christ.” Chase’s palms covered her ears and he pushed her upper body back. Then he thrust past her lips, lodging his cock into her throat, staying there until she swallowed. He pulled out and did it again.

Ava had no control. Chase held her head, keeping her in place. “Ava. Look at me. See what you do to me.”

Her gaze connected with his. Such lust. Such hunger in his eyes. Such need. She felt it all flowing between them, felt her body responding to the call of his. She hollowed her cheeks around the thickness filling her mouth and he groaned.

“Watch those teeth, darlin’,” he warned, “but don’t stop.”

She switched from deep throating him to shallow bobs of her head. Her senses were fine-tuned to the wet sucking sounds of his cock shuttling in and out of her mouth. The gentler grip he maintained in her hair. The shag carpet digging into her knees. His low murmurs of approval. The wholly male scent of his sex. And his entire body twitching with anticipation.

More more more. Give it all to me.

He swore and went motionless.

Ava moaned around his cock as he came and his taste exploded on her tongue. She swallowed each hot spurt and his pleasure rolled over her in a warm, satisfying wave. When the tremors ceased, she released his softened cock little by little, dragging out the moment for herself.

After his eyes opened and he seemed to remember where he was, he stroked her hair. Ran his thumb across her swollen lips. Then he granted Ava that cat-who’d-gotten-cream smirk. “Much better than an alarm clock.”

As much as she’d loved blowing him, now in the aftermath, she felt shy. Exposed. She ducked her head, letting her mouth connect with his thigh, loving the way that coarse hair felt on her sensitized lips.

He continued to pet her, soothe her, trailing his fingers across her shoulder and down her spine. He only allowed her to hide from him for so long before he forced her to meet his gaze. “I don’t want you to go back to LA now that we’ve scratched the itch. And before you go getting that mean glint in your eye, this has been way more than just sex for me. Way more.”

For me too. But she couldn’t say it. Instead she said, “But how does this—” she gestured to their naked bodies, “—change things between us?” She braced herself for a noncommittal answer, but Chase’s next words blew her away.

“Ava. It changes nothing and it changes everything. We’re friends. I can’t imagine losing that part of you. But now I see us getting nekkid together as often as humanly possible, until we’re both exhausted and grinning from ear to ear. So what does it mean we’ve gone from friends to lovers?” He bestowed that sweet, hot, naughty grin. “I believe that means we’re havin’ us a bonafide summer romance.”

Ava watched from the shadows of the bleachers as Chase strode out of the medical tent. He stopped and talked to a couple of riders.

The man was magnificent. Not just his physique. Not just his face. Not just his cowboy charm. Not just his way with people that put them at ease. All those things by themselves were pretty impressive. But were powder-keg potent wrapped up in one package—a hunky cowboy who defined resilient.

She felt the other men’s eyes on her, but she only had eyes for him. “Can I talk to you for a second?”

“Sure. Excuse us.”

Wanting privacy, Ava wandered to the far corner, away from the contestants and rodeo officials.

When she turned around, Chase rested against a section of the metal corral.

“You still pissy with me for insisting we book a room tonight instead of heading to the next rodeo?”

His bad dismount last night affected his right side, his knee, his hip and his shoulder. She’d cringed this morning, seeing his bruised and battered body. He’d turned pissy and told her to quit staring at him like a circus freak. Then he’d grabbed his clothes and headed to the bathroom on stiff legs.

His blue eyes trapped hers. “Maybe.” His big hands curled around her hips, but he kept their bodies apart. “But I’ll let you make it up to me.”

Chase’s stance gave Ava additional height advantage. He didn’t seem to mind, which was another big change in his attitude since they’d started sleeping together. “And what do you have in mind?”

He pressed a hot kiss on the center of her chest. Then those oh so talented lips traveled up the arc of her throat to her ear. “Guess.”

“A blowjob.”

Chase’s chuckle against her neck caused goose flesh to break out. “Tempting, but no.”

“You wanna bend me over a hay bale and spank my ass?”

“Wrong again. But you are givin’ me some great ideas.” His wet tongue flicked her earlobe like he was working her clit, which sent a spike of heat straight to her core. “I want a kiss.”

“In public?”

“Yep. Right now.”

She lowered her lips to his in a slow slide of mouth on mouth. Gradually shifting the kiss from sweet to fiery. Kissing him with passion, tempering it with tenderness. A languorous meeting of tongues, a communion of need.

He placed soft smooches on her mouth. “Thanks for caring about me, Ava.”

“You sound surprised I do.”

“Maybe I am. I’m not used to it because I’ve kept relationships casual. I wasn’t joking about my threshold being two weeks.” He twirled a piece of her hair around his finger. “I haven’t answered to anyone for years. I find I like answering to you.”

“I’m glad. I don’t like to see you hurting. You don’t have to be tough in front of me, Chase.”

“It’s a hard habit to break.” He quickly changed the subject. “Are you taping me tonight?”

“Yeah. Unless you don’t want me to.”

“I want you to. I just hope it’s not the same as last night.”

His injury was causing him more pain than he’d let on. She’d be surprised if he rode any bulls tonight. “Good luck. I’ll see you after.”

Chase stuck it out on both bulls. But he wasn’t in top form and finished in fourth place, out of the money.

First thing he did at the motel was shower. For thirty minutes. When they’d first started traveling on the road, she hadn’t understood why it took him so long to shower. But now she knew he needed that long to get rid of the aches and pains from riding.

He dropped his towel and crawled in bed, twining himself around her like her own personal anaconda. “I’m not up for sex games tonight.”

“So much for my nefarious plan to play nekkid Parcheesi with you.”

Chase laughed softly.

“Seriously. Can I give you a massage or rub some ointment on the sore spots?”

“Thanks. But this is good. Your warm body is like a magic heating pad. Makes all my aches and pains go away. Makes me all tingly.”

“Ooh. You’re good.”

“Mmm. You know it, but I’m at my best when I’m with you.”

Ava melted just a little.

“Now, we done talking so we can see who gets tossed off America’s Next Top Model, or what?”

Chapter Seventeen

Chase wasn’t claustrophobic. But if he had to spend another fucking minute in the truck cab with Ava, surrounded by the scent of her lotion, the sight of her pink-tipped toes tapping on his dashboard and the porn queen way she sucked on licorice, he’d go insane.

In fact, he figured he deserved a medal for his ability to withstand the temptation of pulling off on the closest dirt road so he could fuck her inside the truck cab, or against the truck door, or in the truck bed. He’d been so lost in fantasies of the many, many ways he intended to take her, he’d missed the damn turn off.