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Yard mowed and trimmed, Georgia weeded and fertilized her little garden. She watered the pots of flowers she’d planted and scattered about. She swept the patio and scrubbed down the porch swing. She eyed the scraggly lilac bushes. Best not to trim them in her present mood—she’d likely hack them to stubs.


In her frame of mind, she considered canceling her date.


But maybe being a little pissy with Tell would force him to see that she wasn’t the purity-ring-wearing innocent he remembered.


Tell wanted her. He turned her inside out. She’d about come unglued—hell, she’d just about come period from those sexy love bites he’d given her in Ziggy’s parking lot. Obviously the man the bedroom sexpertise if he could almost get her off with just his teeth on her skin.


So why was he so hesitant to take that next step with her?


A power thing?


A fear thing?


A little dick thing?


She’d find out tonight.


Tell held a bouquet of flowers behind his back as he knocked on Georgia’s door. He heard the locks disengage and the door swung open.


“And of course you’re right on time,” she said.


He couldn’t make his mouth work. She was breathtaking. Not because of her clothes, although her hippie-type blouse, flouncy miniskirt and high heels made her look even more like sex on legs, but because a kind of ethereal glow emanated from her.


You are a sucky poet, McKay. Do not share that lame-ass you glow, baby observation with her.


“Tell?”


His gaze met hers. “Damn, woman, you look fantastic.” He remembered the flowers and handed them over. “For you.”


“Thanks. Come in while I put these in water.” She started down a hallway and disappeared around the corner.


Tell rested against the doorjamb into the living room and checked it out. Not at all what he’d imagined. The space was bland: white walls, beige-colored furniture. No pictures or books or personal items of any kind. Her couch wasn’t overloaded with those annoying throw pillows most women were so crazy about. No newspapers, magazines or TV remote on the coffee table. The space looked as if it’d never been used. As if it was just for show.


Weird. True, she’d just moved in a few weeks ago, but he didn’t see any boxes stacked around, waiting to be unpacked. After he’d moved in to Brandt and Jessie’s old place, he’d made the place his own, right away.


His subconscious snickered. Putting in a seventy-two-inch TV didn’t exactly make him Martha freakin’ Stewart.


Georgia sashayed toward him, her heels clacking on the wooden floor. She set the flowers on the coffee table. Then she grabbed her purse and smiled. “Where are we going?”


“Up to you. If you want steak, the Twin Pines is the best option. If you want to get out of Sundance, there are a couple more casual places in Moorcroft.”


“You choose. Just not Dewey’s. I had lunch there today.”


“Twin Pines it is.”


He opened the passenger door, figuring she’d need a boost into his pickup. When he put his hands on her hips, she twined her arms around his neck and pressed her lips to his. Not in a chaste kiss, but a let’s strip and get wild type of kiss. Her tongue was aggressive, her body so tight against his that he felt the rapid beat of her heart.


Tell’s mind shut down to everything but the scent of her hair and the minty taste of her mouth as their tongues dueled. He slid his hands down to cup her ass, and he groaned as he squeezed those soft globes.


That’s when Georgia broke the kiss and looked at him, her eyes shining with lust. “I’m an eat-dessert-first type of girl. Let’s go back inside.”


He grinned. “Nice try. We are eating food first. Then we’ll see about dessert.”


Georgia was quiet on the drive to the supper club.


She wasn’t overly chatting during their salads either.


Maybe that’s because your date has been interrupted half a dozen times by former female conquests.


Tell hadn’t encouraged the interlopers, but he hadn’t discouraged them either. He’d wondered if Georgia would mention it.


“So if the number of women who’ve dropped by to say hello are any indication, you’ve dated a lot of women.”


Guess she wasn’t the type to let it slide. Tell sipped his beer. “The word dated works better than some other words that come to mind.”


“Meaning, you’ve slept with a lot of women.”


“I guess.”


His answer seemed to annoy her. But she didn’t ask him to define a lot.


“Why? You worried I have herpes or VD or something?”


“No.” She stabbed her lettuce, then shoved the fork in her mouth, chewing angrily.


“Georgia, you want to tell me what’s goin’ on?”


She wiped her mouth. “I needed fertilizer yesterday, so I went to the hardware store. It appears your plan of convincing everyone in town that we’re a couple is working.”


“And that’s bad…how?”


“Evidently the store clerk has been on the receiving end of your sexpertise and she high-fived me.”


When Tell shifted in his seat but didn’t answer, Georgia added, “I didn’t catch her name, but then again, maybe you don’t remember it either? Rumor is that’s a major problem with you.”


That was a low blow. Or was it, since it was true?


Then she gestured to the space surrounding them. “Did you pick Twin Pines because you knew there’d be a bevy of women hovering around? So I could see how much sexy-man, town-stud Tell McKay is in demand these days?”


“Georgia. You’ve got it wrong.”


“Do I? Want to know what else I heard today at Dewey’s? From my waitress? Because evidently she’s another one of your conquests. And I got an earful from her.”


Oh fuck.


Georgia’s fingers tightened around the stem of her wineglass. “Aren’t you going to deny whatever she said and defend yourself?”


“Against what? I’m a guy. I like sex. What am I supposed to do when an attractive woman is throwing herself at me? Say no?”


Silence.


Jesus. He’d walked right the fuck into that trap.


And she didn’t snap back a smartass comment. She didn’t utter a sound. But the oddest, saddest expression crossed her beautiful face and he wanted to start this whole date over.


He reached for her hand, only to have her snatch it back. “It’s different with you.”


“Because I’m not an attractive woman?”


“No! Why would you even say that? You know I think you’re gorgeous.”


She shrugged and leaned back when the waitress brought their entrées.


As soon as they were alone again, Tell scooted forward. “I have an idea.”


“So do I.” She pointed to his plate with her steak knife. “Eat your steak before it gets cold.”


He ate. And kept stealing glances at her.


But Georgia ignored him. She didn’t shove the petit filet in her mouth in one bite, but damn close.


When she retreated to the ladies’ room, he slumped in the booth. He had no idea what he was supposed to do to make this right.


If he took her straight to bed tonight, she’d never believe it wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction.


If he didn’t take her to bed, she’d assume he wasn’t sexually attracted to her.


That brought up the question: why had he set these dating parameters? Because he wanted to show her that he was in control? Because he got off on making her wait? Or because he didn’t want a fast and easy hookup with her? He wanted something more.


Yeah. Like she’d believe that.


Georgia returned and pointedly waited at the end of the table. Tell paid the check. He placed his hand in the small of her back as they crossed the parking lot to his truck. “About the ladies who kept coming by—”


Georgia held up her hand. “No need to explain further. In fact, I really rather you wouldn’t even try.”


This night had gone straight to hell.


Rather than take her home, Tell decided to follow through with his original plan.


If she recognized where he was taking her, she kept it to herself. He drove to one of his favorite spots with an amazing view of the valley.


Georgia didn’t say a word until he shut off his pickup.


“Really, Tell? You brought me to Flat Top?”


“Yeah, why?”


“Because it’s the local make-out spot!”


Again, not the reaction he’d hoped for.


“What is wrong with you?” she demanded.


“Excuse me?


“Are you living out some high school fantasy? Taking Hot Lips Hotchkiss to Flat Top?”


He bristled. “So what if I am?”


“Then you’re an ass.” Georgia opened the door and bailed out.


Dammit. That’d been the wrong thing to say. Tell followed her. With clouds covering the stars, it was darker than normal, and he was afraid she’d forgotten about the steep drop-off. “Georgia? Be careful. There’s a—”


“Ledge. I know. It’s not the first time I’ve been up here,” she retorted.


“Then you’ll recall this time of year, the ground is soft and it gives way easily.”


“I’m not an idiot. But you’re certainly treating me like one.” She whirled around and crossed her arms over her chest. “Are you having a good laugh? Stringing me along these last few days? Did you even intend on taking me to the reunion? Or was that part of the joke?”


“What joke? I’m confused.”


“That makes two of us. I have no idea what your game is, but I’m tired of it. Just take me home.”


This woman ran hot and cold like no woman he’d ever met. “Huh-uh. You’re gonna tell me where these accusations came from.”


“Fine. This is our what? Fourth date? Let’s recap our dates. For the first date, we played basketball and you took me out for ice cream. The next date, you fed me burgers and fries before dragging me to an outdoor movie in the park. The third date, I watched you throw darts at Ziggy’s. Oh, we played a little grab-ass that night, but we had to stop, because we were in public. Now tonight it’s flowers, dinner and a trip to lover’s lane—where no doubt we’ll hold hands and gaze adoringly into each other’s eyes. What’s next, Tell? Pizza and video games while we grope each other on the couch?”

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