Trevor knocked any hope right out of her. “Well, that puts things in perspective. I appreciate you telling me the truth. But I’ll still pass on acting the part of your girlfriend.”
“I didn’t mean—”
“Never mind. I’ll hold down the fort until Gemma shows up. And if I get bored with my own company, I’ll wander around. You don’t have to baby-sit me.”
He smiled sadly and chucked her under the chin. “You make it sound like bein’ with you is a chore, Channing.”
They looked at each other for the longest time before Trevor slanted his mouth over hers and kissed her. Sweetly. It was probably meant to be a friendly peck. A show of comfort. Immediately, it morphed into heat and need.
Amidst twisting tongues and relaxed touches, the greedy part of her brain reminded her that this is what she signed on for—mindless, down and dirty sex, not love. Or the illusion of love.
Unlike Colby, Trevor hadn’t alluded to the idea there was more between them than a hot, uninhibited coupling whenever the mood struck them.
While Channing kissed Trevor, she unbuckled his belt, then loosened his Wranglers. Sliding her hand inside that tight denim she found him firm and ready.
“Hang on.” Trevor edged back and toed off his boots. He shucked his jeans and the rest of his clothes.
Channing marveled at his nude body. Ripped muscles. Smooth skin punctuated in spots by white and pink scars, large and small. She trailed her fingers over his defined pecs then to the little strip of hair arrowing the center of his torso, watching his cock jump when she lightly drew her fingertips from hipbone to hipbone. “You are a beautiful man, Trevor.”
“Thank you, darlin’, but as I’m standin’ here buck-ass naked except for my hat, we gotta do something about all them clothes you’re wearin’.”
Trevor unbuttoned Channing’s shirt, leaving kisses along every inch of skin he exposed an inch at a time. Her blouse fluttered to the floor.
He cupped both big breasts in his hands and suckled her nipples through her sheer bra. The combination of his wet, hot mouth on the silky material and his razor-stubbled cheek rubbing on the upper swell of her breast dampened her thighs with want.
And made her feel unbelievably guilty. She arched away from him.
“Trevor. Stop. I-I can’t… We can’t. I’m sorry.”
Neither of them said anything as they dressed in awkward silence.
She knew she’d never be with Trevor again, and the relief she felt surprised her.
“You okay?” he murmured finally.
“No. Why do I feel like I was about to cheat on Colby?”
Trevor sighed. “I suspect for the same reason Edgard makes me feel like that after he knows I’ve been with a woman. Guilt is something new to me. It ain’t like I haven’t ever hid that from him I still like women. Nor did I promise that I’d quit fucking them.”
They hadn’t talked about Edgard at all on the trip from Valentine.
“How did you end up with Edgard?”
“Funny thing is, I heard that phrase turned gay and never understood what it meant. My whole life I never looked at another man that way. Touched a man that way. Wanted a man to do the same to me.
Doing things to me I’d thought were wrong.” His hand stopped. “Lord.
Then I met Edgard and shit. Something about him turned me upside down. Turned me loose and turned me on.
“At first he was reluctant to be with me because I wasn’t gay. I’d never been with a man. But after we were together a couple of times, I couldn’t stay away from him. I couldn’t get enough. It’s like he’s a goddamn drug. I ain’t been with no other guys. It wasn’t like he flipped a switch in me or anything. It’s just him.”
“Do you love him?”
“Don’t matter if I do or not. Kinda like you and Colby. Things you can’t control will keep you from bein’ together. Makes me sick to my stomach. I guess that’s why they call it lovesick, huh?”
She knew what it felt like to be a lovesick fool, too.
He tipped her chin up, cradling her face in his hands. “Thank you, Channing. Not only for…everything we’ve done, but for bein’ a friend. It means a lot to me.”
“If you need anything call my cell.” Trevor peered at her. “You do realize that Colby and Edgard will roll into Cheyenne late tonight.”
“Which is why it’ll be better for me to stay here.”
“Okay. See you tomorrow.”
Her fake cheer disappeared the second the door closed.
Channing’s sexual fling was over. Time to quit running from her problems. If she’d learned nothing else on this trip, she’d discovered she did have a backbone. From now on she’d live her life on her own terms and woe to anyone who tried to stop her.
She flipped open her cell phone. Scrolled down until she found the number she wanted and hit dial. Seven rings later the answering machine kicked on.
“Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad. I just wanted to let you know to go ahead and RSVP yes to Melinda’s wedding reception invitation. I’ll be back in town soon. I’ll call when I have more details as to when. Good-bye.”
Channing slept surprisingly well for being in another strange town and at a strange new place in her life.
When Gemma returned the next afternoon, after she checked on Daisy, she stalked into the living quarters in the horse trailer and went straight for the booze. She flopped in the small easy chair, knocked back a can of beer and sighed. She seemed to notice Channing for the first time. “Oh. Hey.”
Channing said, “Hey yourself. Bad day?”
“You might say that.”
“Everything went okay getting the Morgans’ horses back?”
Gemma scowled. “Unloading the horses and the trailer was the easiest part. It was the drive that was the worst. I’m tired and strung as tight as a new barbwire fence.”
“Why? Didn’t you and Cash trade off driving duties?”
“Yes. But that ain’t what I’m talking about.” She pointed a finger at Channing. “Don’t get me started on that man.”
Gemma took a big swig of beer and blurted out, “He made a pass at me! He waited until I had my hands full of blankets and tack and then he pushed me against the trailer and kissed me like a crazy man.”
“Oh.” Channing hid a smile. “So it was that bad, huh?”
“God, no. That man surely knows how to kiss. His mouth is like—”
Her embarrassed gaze connected with Channing’s. “It just shocked the hell out of me. And instead of chalking it up to a fluke or a mistake, he kept jabbering his whole life story to me because I ‘needed to know about him’ if he and I were gonna get involved.”
“Did you tell him yours?”
She shook her head and snagged two more brews, tossing one to Channing. “No. It gets worse. Because I told him there was no way he and I would ever get involved. When I pretended I wasn’t listening to him? Then Mr. Smooth started describing all the sexy things he planned to do to me once he got me naked. In detail. In glorious, Technicolor detail.”
“Damn man.” Gemma slurped the beer. “Made me so twitchy when he ran his finger up the outside seam of my jeans, I jerked the steering wheel and we skidded to the shoulder. Before I could catch my breath and chew his ass, he hauled me across his lap, and…” She gazed off into space.
Channing kicked Gemma’s shin lightly. “Oh, no, you don’t. Details, now, Gemma. Vivid details.”
“Lord. I’m forty-seven years old. This is so embarrassing.”
“Huh-uh. Spill it.”
Gemma’s eyes were unfocused. “He pulled me into his lap and kissed me until I couldn’t breathe. Then we started messing around, touching, more like frantic groping, and things turned really hot and we both got off…with all our clothes on. That hasn’t happened to me since I was seventeen.”
“So you’re saying he makes you feel young?”
“I’m saying he makes me feel like an old fool, Channing. He also makes me feel guilty as hell.” She rolled the beer can over her forehead.
“It felt like I was cheating on my husband.”
Channing let Gemma regain her composure before she said, “You can only do what you feel is right, Gem. But you’re neither a fool nor are you old. Didn’t you tell me if you were offered a second chance, you’d take it?” She hesitated. Screw politeness, Gemma would just ask her the question outright. “Are you resisting Cash because he’s Indian?”
“God, no. That don’t matter a lick to me.”
“Besides the fact I’m a good ten years older than him?”
“Wasn’t Steve older than you? Why does age matter?”
“It doesn’t. Damn. It’s just…scary, okay? I’m set in my ways and I don’t know if I can change. What man wants to deal with that kinda stubborn woman?”
“Cash does, apparently.”
“So it would appear.” Gemma kicked Channing’s foot. “When’d you get so smart, girl?”
“I’m not feeling so smart. And let me tell you, I can totally relate to the guilt thing.” Before she chickened out, she blurted out everything that had gone on with her, Colby, Trevor and Edgard, only leaving out Trevor and Edgard’s secret, since it wasn’t hers to tell. She also puzzled out loud on why she felt like she’d been cheating on Colby with Trevor when she’d just kissed Trevor.
Gemma wasn’t as shocked as Channing thought she would be. “You know, I kinda wondered if that wasn’t the case with them suddenly picking you up as a new traveling partner. Those boys have a wild reputation.” She waggled her eyebrows. “So, two men at once, eh? I’ve always wanted to try that.”
Channing choked and barely stopped beer from coming out her nose.