“I see weeds. You see all that?”


She nodded. “Nothing on earth is as pretty as Wyoming wildflowers.”


“Oh, I’d beg to disagree, baby doll.”


AJ looked up and saw him staring at her. “You know what I meant.”


“And you know what I meant. You’re beautiful, AJ. Wild and free on the back of that horse. The wind in your hair, the sun glowin’ on your face, miles of blue sky behind you. Wish I had a camera.” To show her how stunning she looked because he didn’t need tangible proof. The image of her would be burned into his brain forever.


Those sharp gray eyes narrowed. “Did you hit your head in the last couple days?”


“What do ya mean?”


“First an apology? Then a horseback ride? Now you’re tossing me compliments like poetry? You gonna whip out a guitar and serenade me with cowboy love songs next?”


“No. Next, I’m gonna…” He spurred Jester in the sides and yelled over his shoulder,


“Race you to the butte.”


He heard her laughing and knew his playful side surprised her, hell it surprised him too, but he didn’t let the reckless feeling deter him from winning for a change.


“I deserved that.” She urged Nickel to the left to skirt the base of the butte as she shaded her eyes and looked up. “You ever climbed to the top of this?”


“Long time ago. Why?”


“How far can you see?”


“Pretty far. Not like on that plateau by Devil’s Tower where everything is spread out for two hundred miles.”


“There’s a butte on our place—well, your place now—that I used to climb. Never imagined when I climbed it two years ago it’d be the last time.”


They rode in silence until Cord realized it was an unnatural silence.


“I’m really gonna miss all this like crazy.”


I’m really gonna miss you like crazy.


Cord checked his watch. “We should be gettin’ back. I’ve gotta call Ky pretty soon.”


“He ready to come home yet?”


“I have a sneakin’ suspicion he ain’t completely unpacked.”


AJ smiled. “Last year when I watched him he showed me his ring bearer outfit for Macie and Carter’s wedding, complete with ‘packin’ leather shoes. At first I didn’t know what he was saying. When I figured out patent leather, I’ll admit I asked him to repeat it a couple of times because it was so damn funny. I didn’t laugh at him, but that kid cracks me up.”


He grinned. “Me too.”


“Channing said she wasn’t picking out girl’s names because she knows she’ll have a boy.”


“Sometimes I wonder how many brothers I’d have after Carter if Ma hadn’t broken the hunnerd year drought and birthed a girl McKay.”


“Lots of girls in my mother’s family. When I loaded up boxes today I found a whole bunch of pictures and letters. Was weird to think of them as relatives. Even weirder to think there’s a whole bunch of family history I wasn’t aware of. It’s gonna be fun going through that stuff later, but packing has been a lot harder than I thought.”


“Physically?”


“No. Emotionally.”


They’d reached the backside of the fence. Cord dismounted and led Jester to the side closest to the barn. He didn’t offer to help AJ; she knew her way around.


After she’d hung up her borrowed tack in the barn, she carried out two buckets of oats as he brushed the horses down. Once Nickel finished his portion, she gave Jester his bucket. She rested her butt on the fence and gazed across the horizon.


Cord wrapped his arms around her from behind and set his chin on her shoulder.


AJ snuggled into him. “Mmm.”


“Whatcha lookin’ at?”


“The sunset.”


“Gonna be a pretty one tonight.”


“It’s pretty every night. I love the sky as it starts to fade from light blue to indigo to purple to black. You’d think I’d get tired of it, but I never do.”


How many times had he sat out here, content to watch the sunset? He never tired of it either.


Tonight he’d forego Mother Nature’s display because he wanted, needed to be with her.


“AJ. Come inside. I’m dyin’ to put my hands on you.”


“Don’t you have to call Ky?”


“Yeah. It can wait a bit.” Cord buried his lips in the slope of her shoulder. “Please.”


“Well…since you asked so nice.”


He hopped over the fence. They kissed all the way into the house. All the way up the stairs. All the way down the hall to his bedroom. Sneaking kisses as they undressed each other. Cord laid her on the comforter and lowered his body over hers.


“Baby doll, what’s wrong? You’re trembling.”


“You always make me tremble.” AJ’s eyes were bright with something resembling…lust. Had to be lust because he couldn’t fathom what that look on her face really meant.


Rather than dwell on it, he focused on mutual slaking of need. He groaned softly when the head of his cock brushed the wetness coating her sex. Sometimes he forgot she wasn’t as experienced as her body indicated. Cord eased into her on a slow glide. Once he was fully seated he looked at her.


“Go slow like that again.”


He’d never shown her the sweeter, slower side of making love after the first time?


Not really.


What a selfish prick. He’d make it up to her starting now.


“As slow as you want.” He kissed her mouth. That sassy mole. The curve of her cheek. Her temple and her eyelids. Her mouth again. All while leisurely rocking in and out of her body.


Her strong hands drifted up and down his back to his ass in a teasing caress.


Cord nibbled the line of her jaw. Her delicate earlobes. The muscles straining along the side of her neck. His tongue flicked across the pulse point at the base of her throat before dipping into the hollow. It took effort, but he managed to hold off on his climax when her first one ripped through her like wildfire.


Still, he didn’t speed up. He dragged his goatee across the tops of her breasts, offering the tip of each hardened nipple a swirling lick, then he returned to her mouth to toy with her well-kissed lips. Through half-closed lids he studied her face, lost in the pleasure he was bringing her.


He couldn’t hold off forever—everything was too perfect, the tender way she touched him, the glove tight feeling of her pussy sucking him to the root.


“Don’t stop. I’m so close again.”


“I’m right with you, baby doll,” he panted against her throat, lost in the scent of her, the everything of her.


AJ canted her pelvis, curling her thighs around his hips to bring him deeper. “Cord.”


“I’m here.”


“Love me like this, slow and easy and for a long time. Make it last forever.” AJ’s fingers dug for purchase on his sweat-covered butt as her spine bowed off the bed.


“Been about as long as I can take.” Cord sealed his mouth to hers as his balls drew up. The climax rolled over him, not a singular explosion, but in drawn out bursts, intensified by the rhythmic squeezing of her interior muscles around his cock.


He broke the kiss to press his lips to her temple, tasting sweat and sunshine and AJ.


When they’d recovered some, she nuzzled the side of his head. “Mmm. Slow is good.”


Cord smiled. “Definitely.”


She yawned. “Sorry.”


“Why don’t you crawl under the covers and rest while I call Ky?”


Once he’d gotten her settled she sighed. “Comfy as I am, don’t let me fall asleep here for the whole night.”


“Deal.”


“That’s assuming I can move. God. You’re an exhausting lover, Cord McKay.”


“I’m takin’ that as a compliment.”


“You should. I’m so glad I waited.”


“Waited for what?”


No answer.


“AJ?”


“Waited for you to be ready for me.”


Confused by her cryptic statement, Cord pecked her on the forehead, tucked the quilt under her chin and tried not to think about how natural it was to have her in his bed.


Chapter Twenty-four


“How many inches long you think his dick is?”


“Liza!” AJ nearly choked on her punch.


“Come on. Don’t pretend you haven’t been looking at him.”


“Yeah, but I wasn’t measuring him for condom sizes.”


“Extra, extra large. Super magnum. That bad boy’s gotta be at least ten inches.”


AJ eyed the stripper, whose junk was peeping out of the top of a metallic snakeskin G-string. The man looked little more than a boy. With his hands fluffing his shaggy rock star hair and the seductive way his slender hips gyrated, she knew no mere boy could move like that.


Four women from Liza’s church whooped, elbowing each other to line up first to shove money in the string circling the guy’s tattooed pelvis. In the corner by the food, seventy-something Bebe was winning the deep-throat-a-bratwurst contest. Marijane Jackson Goodhue, the president of their graduating class and extremely pregnant, showed how well she could roll meatballs in her mouth.


Liza’s wish had come true. This was one wild-assed party. Packed to the rafters with women from all over the county—including Cord’s mother, Carolyn, and his Aunt Kimi.


There were four six-foot tall inflatable penises making the rounds. Any woman who played the bratwurst game won a headband decorated with bobbing light-up penises. AJ


turned her head to the left and the spring on her headband caught in her hair again.


“Where’s the bride-to-be?” someone shouted from the stage.


AJ lifted Liza’s arm above her head and waved it madly. A horde of women descended on Liza, dragging her to a chair up front, which left AJ free to sneak to the punchbowl.


As she refilled her cup, Carolyn McKay sidled up. “Fancy meeting you here, Amy Jo.”

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