“Which one?”


“The one with the never endin’ legs puttin’ on the show in the miniskirt.”


Kade squinted. “You mean AJ?”


AJ? Not a familiar name. “Yeah.”


“She’s quite the dancer, huh?”


“Sure is.”


AJ performed a shimmy-shake with her hips, while snaking her arms above her head.


The movement caused her tight lace shirt to slide up, exposing the smooth curve of her lower back.


Cord withheld a groan. Nothing was sexier than that dimpled section of a woman’s back above her ass. Nothing.


With the exception of those unbelievably hot legs.


Every wicked undulation of her hips resulted in the fringe on her skirt swishing across the back of her firm thighs. He’d never been jealous of a skirt before now, but he sure as hell was right then.


“She seein’ the guy she’s dancin’ with?”


“Mikey? Nah. Not for lack of tryin’ on his part. AJ doesn’t lack for partners.”


“I’ll bet.”


“She’s sweet as the day is long. How your sister hasn’t corrupted her is beyond me.


She ain’t as wild as Keely, but ain’t for want of volunteers to take her for a walk on the wild side.”


Walk? Hell, Cord would take her for a ride on the wild side. Binding her mile-long legs around his waist as he drove into her hard and fast. Feeling those slender thighs draped over his shoulders as she rode his face.


Jesus. Been an ice age since he’d had a woman, especially a buckle bunny cowboy-toy like her—built for speed with curves that’d lead a man straight into temptation.


Cord nursed his beer, his eyes never straying from her twisting form. Still, something about her seemed…familiar.


AJ threw back her head and laughed. Her straw hat tumbled to the floor.


Come on, baby doll, bend over and pick it up.


She twirled his direction and Cord finally saw her face.


If his lips weren’t pressed against the beer bottle, his jaw would’ve smacked his knees.


The blonde sexpot with the killer legs and fantastic ass was none other than little Amy Jo Foster. His astonished gaze zeroed in on the cleavage spilling out of her V-necked blouse.


Nothing little about her now.


Talk about degenerate behavior. He’d been ogling his much-younger sister’s best friend. His son’s former babysitter.


Christ on a crutch.


Good thing she’d never waltzed into his house dressed like that—a sex kitten on the prowl. He’d’ve been arrested for his lewd thoughts alone. Dammit, why couldn’t he stop wondering whether her nipples were pale pink like her lips or cherry red like her undies?


Amy Jo’s large silvery-gray eyes met his for a moment. The come-hither smolder she aimed at him nearly knocked him off his damn barstool.


Where’d she learn that “fuck me now, Big Daddy” stare? She was too damn young.


She’s old enough.


And he was old enough to know better.


Wasn’t he?


Apparently not.


Amy Jo shrieked as Mikey lifted her up, gifting Cord with another glimpse of those sexy panties.


Cord bristled at seeing Amy Jo manhandled. Oh, he’d teach that pup with the roving paws a thing or two about manners.


Right. You’d love a chance to teach her a thing or two about how a real man would handle her.


Before Cord’s butt left the chair to rescue her, Amy Jo broke Mikey’s hold and stooped over to retrieve her hat. This time when their eyes met, she licked her lips and smiled seductively. Wantonly. Like she was picturing him buck-assed nekkid in just his damn hat.


Another wave of lust heated his balls. Then he knew the kiss she’d given him at Carter and Macie’s wedding reception last year hadn’t been a result of too much champagne.


His brain flashed back to the wedding dance at the Bar 9. The early autumn night held a bite of chill as the evening’s festivities were winding down. Dozens of couples boot-scooted on an improvised dance floor beneath a white tent. He’d drifted off, preferring to drink a Fat Tire beer alone. Amusing himself by watching Ky and a couple of boys chasing giggling girls around in the preschool version of two-stepping.


A swish of fabric caught his attention. He turned when Amy Jo sidled up, wearing an ankle length dress the color of sunshine, which fit the fresh, clean, sunshiny scent flowing from her.


He managed a smile. “Amy Jo.”


“I thought that was you, hiding over here all by your lonesome.”


“Story of my life.”


Silence stretched as thorny as the rose bushes lining the walkway.


Cord shifted his stance. Lately, being around Amy Jo made him feel like a tongue-tied fool. He couldn’t tell her how pretty she looked without sounding like a total letch.


He couldn’t mention how goddamn good she smelled without coming across like a deranged bloodhound, or worse—some kind of hopeful horndog.


When in doubt…“Nice night,” he offered lamely.


“That it is.” She shivered discreetly. “If a bit chilly.”


Should he act gentlemanly and offer her his suit coat? Nah. She’d probably think he was an old coot.


Which he was.


Dammit. Say something. Anything.


“You havin’ fun?”


“Absolutely. Weddings are always fun, aren’t they?”


Cord bit back a smart retort and swigged his beer.


“Why aren’t you out there cutting a rug like the rest of your McKay brothers and cousins?”


With his beer bottle, Cord gestured to Ky and the kids. “Someone’s gotta keep an eye on them so they don’t dunk each other in the stock tank.”


“Are you always the responsible one?”


“Yep. I reckon it goes with the territory of bein’ the oldest.”


“Isn’t just the providence of the oldest child to be forced into responsibility.” She sighed. “Don’t you ever want to…”


He gave her a strange look. “What?”


A smile bloomed on her face before it faded. “Never mind. Ky did a great job as ring bearer today.”


“That he did, besides refusin’ to let go of Callie Morgan’s hand.”


“Can’t say as I blame him. A cute girl who can rope and ride as well as he can?”


Amy Jo’s trill of laughter was as sweet and fleeting as the evening breeze. “Poor boy is smitten.”


“Seems to be an epidemic in the McKay family of late.” He glanced over to see his brother Colby and his wife Channing slow dancing, as well as the newlywed couple Carter and Macie entwined together, lost to everything but each other. A feeling close to jealousy tightened his stomach.


Not jealousy. Just indigestion.


Get a grip, McKay. This happily-ever-after wedding bullshit is addling your brain.


During his silent bout of self-pity, Amy Jo glided in front of him. Right in front of him. Lord. She was nearly as tall as he was in those ridiculously sexy yellow high heels.


“Why aren’t you smitten, Cord McKay?”


Cord had nothing to say to that. He studied her, half-wary, half-curious about her intentions.


“You could be smitten with me.” Keeping their gazes locked, she slowly angled forward and kissed him. Just a feather-light press of her soft mouth to his. As his lips were getting with the program, she withdrew slightly, letting their heated breath mingle for a second before she sank her teeth into his bottom lip. She gave a playful tug, followed by a thorough flick of her wet tongue to soothe the sting. “Because I’m definitely smitten with you.” She sauntered toward the tent in a cloud of chiffon and pure temptation.


Cord remembered licking his lip, realizing she tasted as warm and sweet as autumn sunshine. He’d been too stunned to chase after her, chalking up the teasing kiss and challenging words to booze and the party atmosphere.


He hadn’t thought about it again until now. As a matter of fact, he hadn’t seen Amy Jo since she’d moved to Denver last year to attend massage therapy school with his sister.


His mother kept him updated on Keely’s exploits, which usually included tidbits on Amy Jo and her family.


His mother relayed the turn of bad luck in regard to Amy Jo’s mother, Florence.


Evidently she’d fallen from her horse and broken her leg. Amy Jo’s older sister, Jenn, called Amy Jo home temporarily to help out with Florence’s recovery.


Just how temporary was the situation?


The McKay’s association with the Fosters spanned several decades. After Floyd Foster died four years back, Cord and his dad made a generous offer to buy the Foster ranch outright. But as Florence’s only grandchildren lived nearby, she wasn’t ready to sell the family homestead. And the McKays could afford to wait until she was.


Maybe the time had come.


A flash of metallic fringe brought his awareness back to Amy Jo exiting the dance floor. Cord sat up, straightening his hat, fully expecting she’d stroll to his table to flirt with him. Or at least beg him to dance with her. Or make good on the sultry promises she’d offered him with her smoky eyes. He’d be polite, but he’d gently discourage her attentions.


But Amy Jo flounced to the bar.


Chapter Three


What the hell?


Cord’s eyes narrowed as the bartender rang a cowbell and lined up a full shot glass.


Amy Jo slapped a five on the bartop. A group of young cowboys egged her on. She clasped her hands behind her back, bent forward, slid her lips down the shot glass and tipped her head, gulping the cloudy white liquid without using her hands.


Her throng of admirers whooped and hollered. Crumpled bills piled up on the bar napkin next to a bottle of Budweiser.


Amy Jo returned the glass to the bar the same way she’d taken it. She made a show of smoothing the bills and secreting them in her bra. Her sleek platinum hair tumbled over her left shoulder as she turned to smile at a guy creeping up behind her.


A small drop of milky liquid clung to the corner of her mouth. Sweet Jesus, it looked like a drop of…


Her smoking hot gaze hooked Cord’s. She brought her finger to that spot, wiped the droplet and sucked her fingertip between her full pink lips.

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