“Hang tight.” He removed the blindfold, returned with a fluffy towel, dried her off thoroughly and guided her back into the bedroom to tuck her between his sheets. “Rest, baby doll.”

“What time is it?”

“Not even noon.”

“So we still have all day?”

“Yep. And all night if you want it.”

AJ smiled and sank into the pillows. “Good. I’ll just take a little catnap.”

“You do that.” He kissed her forehead.

She expected him to leave. But Cord swept her hair from her face and dragged his rough-skinned knuckles up and down her cheek.

As AJ drifted away, she heard him murmur, “What the hell am I supposed to do now?”

She tried to fight her way back to consciousness to give him a couple of realistic options, but a veil of darkness covered her and she was out.

Chapter Twenty-eight

Rather than pace while AJ napped, Cord made lunch. Rather than dwell on the fact that in two short weeks he wouldn’t be able to drive to her place and kidnap her for a full day of wicked sex games, he thought about how they’d spend the rest of the afternoon.

Naked, obviously. But what else?

What else do you need? Wasn’t this deal supposed to be a way to prove that sex was separate from love and companionship?

Not love. Logically his need for companionship made the most sense on why he was so insanely crazy about her. He was missing his son and spending time with AJ was a substitute. The minute Ky arrived, things would be back to the way they’d been.

Wouldn’t they? Wouldn’t he be happy then?

Cord knew he shouldn’t be such a damn ostrich about this stuff, but he wondered if the “out of sight; out of mind” adage would hold true once AJ was gone.

He piled food on a tray and carried it upstairs. AJ was lying on her side, breathing evenly. “AJ? I made lunch.”

“What?” She scrambled upright. “Where am I?”

“You fell asleep in my bed.”

“Oh. Wow. How long ago?”

“Little more than an hour. You hungry?”

AJ stretched. “Always. What’s on the menu?”

“Cold cuts. Cheese. Fruit. Nothin’ fancy.”

“Sounds good. Do you have a robe I can borrow?”

“A robe? What the devil do you need a robe for?”

“I don’t want to sit in the kitchen naked.”

He grinned. “Who said anything about eatin’ in the kitchen? I brought you lunch in bed.”

“Aren’t you worried about crumbs?”

“No. We’ll do a number on the sheets anyway.” Cord scooted closer and plucked up a grape from the tray. “Open.”

Her gaze narrowed thoughtfully on the piece of fruit. “Are you gonna smear condiments all over me again?”

“Would that be so bad?”

“No. I just wish I could’ve taken a turn.” She scrutinized the tray. “Where are the cookies?”

“What cookies?”

“Exactly. Lunch isn’t lunch without cookies.”

“You sound just like Ky,” he said dryly.

“Ky is a boy after my own heart.”

A tiny stupid flare of jealousy appeared: Cord wanted to be the man after her heart.

You could be. Just take the chance. Admit this is long past a simple roll in the hay.

“Your son and I even have the same favorite cookie.”

“Peanut butter kisses?”


Cord leaned closer. “I don’t have any peanut butter kisses. How about a real one instead?” He granted her a quick peck and dangled a fat green grape above her lips.

“Open up.”

AJ sucked the grape from his fingers with deliberate sensuality, which made his dick stir. “This makes me feel like a lady of leisure. Laying in this soft bed. Having a hot guy hand feed me. You have palm fronds hidden somewhere too?”

“Hot guy. Right. You mean old guy.”

“So you have a few years on me. Hasn’t kept you from keeping up with me.” She purposely looked at his groin.


“It’s never mattered to me.” Her serious gray eyes searched his. “Do you remember the time I fell off my horse? When I was five? And you picked me up, wiped my tears and calmed me down?”

Cord frowned. Didn’t ring a bell. “You gonna be upset if I say no?”

She shook her head. “I’d be surprised if you did remember. But I’ve never forgotten it. Never. You were a Western knight in a white cowboy hat. You’ve been my fantasy man since that day all those years ago.”

“AJ, that’s not me. Then or now—”

“It is. Don’t spoil the memory for me by denying it. Don’t spoil this moment either.

Be Cord my sexy fantasy man, not Cord the responsible rancher who thinks too much.”

A section of her hair was stuck to her cheek from where she’d slept on it. Cord peeled it away and rubbed the damp, white-blonde strand between his fingers. So soft.

Such a contrast against his rough, callused hand. “You are sweet.”

AJ blushed. She picked up a chunk of salami and held it to his mouth. “I want to feed you too.”

By the time the food was gone, they’d teased each other to the point Cord was crazed to have her again. He sat in the middle of the bed and wrapped her legs around his lower back as she shifted down slowly, encasing his cock in her tight, wet heat.

“I like it this way.”

“Me too, baby doll. Me too.” Cord clutched her ass cheeks in his hands as they maintained a slow, sensual pace. Her soft skin brushed his everywhere. He consumed her mouth, her neck, her nipples, never completely leaving the heaven of her pliant pussy.

She climaxed and brought him along with her, in a deliciously sweet throbbing that seemed to last an eternity.

With their bodies and mouths still connected in the aftermath of lazy, but passionate loving, he realized he’d never clicked with anyone on this level—heart, body and soul.

He also realized he didn’t know what the hell to do about it.

AJ licked his Adam’s apple. “Mmm. Sweaty, yummy sexy man.”

“I can get some more food if you’re still hungry.”

“I’ll just nibble on you, if that’s okay.”

“Fine by me.” He arched his neck when her teeth scraped up to his ear and released a shudder. “God. I love that.”

“Then I’ll keep doing it.”

His hands were on her butt and his thumbs idly stroked the crack of her ass to the puckered rosette. On the next slow stroke up, his thumb lingered on that tiny opening.

Immediately she tensed up.

“You don’t like that?”

“No. I do, but I don’t think I’m ready for umm…more than that.”

“We can go slow.”

She said nothing—which alarmed him because she always spoke her mind.

“AJ? Look at me.” She lifted her head. Cord didn’t like the fear in her eyes. He especially didn’t like the fact he’d put it there. She’d given her body over to him without hesitation, with eagerness, with utter trust, with joy. He’d be a fool—and a bully—if he let his sexual desires overrule her panic. “I’d never make you do anything you didn’t want to, baby doll. If you’re not ready, no big deal, okay?”

“But you said—”

“Forget what I said. I’m a controllin’ dickhead sometimes. I’m used to bein’ obeyed.

Period.” He kissed her with reassurance. “No hurry. I can wait until you’re ready. In the mean time”—he flipped her on her back—“I want you again.”

AJ murmured, “I’m so glad Cosmo was wrong about the male recovery time thingy.”

He chuckled against her throat and wondered how he’d ever let her go.

After spending nearly all day in bed, AJ needed a break. She unfolded from Cord’s embrace and reached for her clothes that he’d brought up from downstairs.

“Where’s the fire?”

“Nowhere. Don’t you have to check cattle?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“Can I come along?”

Cord raised both eyebrows. “Really?”

“Sure. Can we take the horses instead of the truck?”

“Takes longer.”

“I don’t care. I like being outside.”

He rolled over and mumbled something as he reached for his clothes.

“What? If you don’t want me to come along, just say so.”

“It’s not that. Just shocks the hell out of me that you want to.”

“It shouldn’t. As much as I bitched about it when I had no choice but to tend to everything, I’m a ranch girl through and through. I think you forget that sometimes.”

“I’m tryin’ to.”

Not touching that comment, cowboy. I can’t wrestle your demons anymore than I can make you change your mind or see the truth.

Downstairs, as AJ slipped on her ropers, Cord waggled the silver boots at her. “You still haven’t worn these. Now you’ll have me thinkin’ of all sorts of scenarios in which you’re wearin’ nothin’ but these fuck me boots when we get back.”

She snatched them and threw them in the coat closet. “Wrong. Out of sight; out of mind.”

Cord froze.


“Do you think that’ll really work? Pretendin’ somethin’s not there when it obviously is right in front of you?”

AJ had the strangest feeling they weren’t talking about a pair of boots. “No. Come on. Let’s saddle up.”

Within ten minutes they were riding the fenceline. The late afternoon sun was hot, not unbearably so, but warm enough that AJ wished she’d grabbed a hat. Cord wore his, a finely woven cream-colored straw, not the frat party variety, but the type ranchers needed in the summertime to reflect heat. She couldn’t help but think the white hat just reinforced the white knight image she’d held of him her entire life.