“Sounds good to me,” Trevor said.

Channing set her chin on her forearms, which were resting along the back edge of the front seat. “How are the sleeping arrangements going to work? There’s hardly enough room in the horse trailer for two people, let alone four.”

Trevor signaled and pulled onto the freeway. “We don’t all stay in the trailer. We rent a motel room. It’s easier to shower that way. Two of us stay in the room, and one of us sleeps out here. We rotate, so someone is always keeping an eye on the horses.”

“Someone meaning me usually sleepin’ with the damn horses,” Colby grumbled.

“Besides, sometimes we need privacy. A break from each other,”

Edgard said.

Trevor shot Edgard a strange look.

Channing glanced at Colby over her shoulder. He shrugged at her puzzled expression. She’d learn to deal with the two of them sniping at each other, or she wouldn’t. He preferred to stay out of it.

“Like I told Colby, I can’t eat fast food all the time. I don’t mind cooking if I’ve got the right supplies.”

“And like I told you, we don’t expect you to cook and clean for us, darlin’,” Colby said testily.

“Especially if you’re gonna make us eat vegetables.” Trevor shuddered. “Give me jerky and chili dogs over any of that green shit any day.”

Edgard nodded. “Don’t forget the Mexican delights of Taco Bell.”

“Or meat and potatoes,” Colby added.

Channing rolled her eyes. She dug in her satchel and untangled her iPod. Once the earpieces were in place, she balled up her fleece-lined jacket to use for a pillow, rammed it in the corner, and closed her eyes.

Instead of gawking at Channing, looking far too tempting, even in sleep, Colby dry-washed his face and stared out the window at the landscape, a flat blandness spreading as far as the eye could see. The dirt in Oklahoma was an odd shade of pinkish orange and the horizon never changed from a washed-out, dirty gray.

He missed the brilliant blue Wyoming sky, with snowcapped mountains teasing in the distance. The rolling hills and valleys dotted with clusters of cedar and sagebrush. Herds of antelope running free among the wide-open spaces.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw Channing shifting to get comfortable. She might look little, sweet and innocent, but the woman definitely knew her own mind and didn’t hesitate to speak it.

Colby tapped Edgard on the shoulder. “Wake me up when we gas up.” He leaned his shoulders against the seat, tugged his battered Resistol over his eyes and drifted off to the familiar sound of the wheels clacking on the highway.

Chapter Four


She blinked at the late afternoon sunlight streaming through the window and scrambled upright. “What? Where are we?”

Trevor grinned and traced his fingers over her sleep-creased cheek.

“We’re about an hour outside Limon. Just wondered if you needed to use the bathroom before we get back on the road.”

“Wow. I slept for five hours?”

“Four. I’ve got a bit of a lead foot so we made good time.”

“I guess so. Where are Colby and Edgard?”

“Inside. Why? Did you need them for something?” Her skin was so smooth. How long had it been since he’d paid attention to the supreme softness of the skin on a woman’s face? Such a contrast from a man’s rough skin and stubble.

“No. I was just curious.” Channing smiled and angled her head more deeply into his touch. “Mmm. That feels nice. I probably should get out and stretch my legs and visit the little girl’s room.”

“Let me help you.” Trevor clamped his hands over her slim hips and scooted her from the cab. When her boots hit the ground, he slammed the door, and crowded her against the truck bed. “But first, how about one of them sweet kisses, darlin’?”

She rose to her tiptoes and gave him a loud smacking smooch on his Adam’s apple. “Like that?”

“You got a mean streak, Chan.”

“No, sir. How about if you show me how you want to be kissed, Trev, so next time I won’t have to guess.”

Trevor tilted his black Stetson further back on his head and lowered his face, keeping their eyes locked. When his mouth was close enough their breath mingled, he licked his lips and swept them across hers.

Lightly. Softly. Not applying pressure, not nibbling or teasing, not using his tongue, just feeling the warm fullness of her lips parting in expectation of his.

He brought his hand up to her shoulder and lazily rubbed his thumb over the pulse beating in the hollow of her throat. Then he rimmed the inside of her full lower lip with inside edge of his upper lip. Back and forth, creating friction and heat and moisture. Just that slick, barely-there slide of mouth on mouth made her whimper.

Taking pity on her and himself, he pinched her stubborn chin between his thumb and forefinger and unlocked her jaw to accept the invasion of his tongue.

She responded with such unrestrained passion Trevor knew it was a damn good thing they were in public. As it was he wanted nothing more than to drop his Wranglers to the top of her Tony Lamas and drive into her hot little pussy, right there, next to the gas pumps at the Flying J

Truck Plaza.

Trevor forced his mouth away, trying to level his ragged breathing and he rested his forehead to hers. Once he regained control, he stepped back.

Channing smiled and tugged his hat back in place. “Now that’s what I call a kiss.”

Edgard said, “If you two are done sucking face, we need to get a move on.”

“Quit bein’ an asshole, Ed. Give Channing time to use the can and get a snack.” Trevor waited for him to snap off another smart retort.

Instead Edgard scowled and skirted the front of the truck and climbed in the passenger side.

As Trevor watched Channing saunter into the convenience store, he knew Edgard was going to be a problem where she was concerned.

Problem was, Trevor didn’t know what to do about it.

Colby materialized from the shadows and leaned against the concrete pillar beside the pump. “Everything all right?”

“Yeah.” Trevor couldn’t meet Colby’s gaze. “She’s something, isn’t she?”


“I think you like her way more than you’re lettin’ on. So does that mean you’re gonna have a problem sharin’ her with me, Colby? Actin’ all pissed off if Chan and I spend time alone together? If you see me kissin’


“Nah, buddy, there’s enough of her to go around. This is what she wants and I think it’ll work well for us. But we both know I ain’t the one with the jealous streak.” Colby pushed away and reached for the windshield cleaner, scrubbing away the bugs and grime with the spongy side, before using the squeegee to slick away the filthy water.

By the time the windshield was clean and Trevor had checked the horses, Channing had returned, looking as fresh as a daisy. She rubbed a shiny red apple across her chest before she took a big chomping bite.

Juice dribbled down her chin.

“That apple actually looks good,” Trevor said.

“Want a bite?”

She held the fruit to his mouth. Instead of taking a bite, he leaned over and licked her sticky-sweet chin, then swept his tongue over her lips and dipped it into her mouth. “Mmm. I much prefer tasting the apple from you.”

Her cheeks were flushed from his attention, but Channing recovered and rolled her eyes before she jumped into the truck.

After they pulled into Limon, they found a cheap, slightly seedy motel close to the fairgrounds. Edgard and Trevor unloaded the horses, unhooked the trailer, and Colby drove Channing to the Hinky Dinky grocery store outside of town.

She loaded up on fresh fruit, a few veggies. Whole-grain cereal and bread. Lunch meat. Diet soda. And canned soup.

Colby’s contribution to the cart was an extra large box of condoms, four cans of Skoal and a case of Bud Light.

Every time she added a new item, her gaze strayed to that box of condoms, extra large, extra ribbed for her pleasure, and she tried not to panic.

She browsed the butcher block and pointed to a chunk of beef. “See?

If I had a big crock pot I could toss meat and potatoes in it in the morning, and by the time we stopped, dinner would be done.”

Colby brushed a kiss across her forehead. “As much as I’ve said I don’t want you goin’ to no trouble for us, slow-cooked beef and potatoes does sound tasty. I miss home cookin’. My ma is a helluva good cook.”

Channing bit the inside of her lip. Did she confess to him she really wasn’t much of a cook and have him compare her efforts to his mother’s?

Colby loaded the grocery bags and talked on his cell phone. They picked up a bucket of fried chicken and all the trimmings and ate the meal in the picnic area outside the motel. It was a beautiful night, not a breath of wind, the humidity tolerable and a silver moon hung low in the sky.

Several other contestants, Brian, Jeff and JJ, all sometime roping partners with Edgard and Trevor, stopped by and the beer disappeared quickly. Just in that short amount of time she realized that these people traveling the circuit were like one big family. Fighting, laughing, fiercely loyal to one another. Not that she’d experienced anything like that in her family life.

Trevor and Edgard returned to the arena to practice roping and Colby tagged along, needing to run his horse.

Channing stayed in the room and indulged in a shower. After she’d shaved and coated her body with lotion, she wondered what would happen when her cowboys returned. Was she supposed to stay naked?

Would they prefer another strip tease?

Did she really know what she’d gotten herself into?

The sound of a lock in the door sent her pulse tripping. She shoved the books in her satchel and flipped the page on her notebook.

Colby entered the room first, followed by Trevor. Edgard brought up the rear and he immediately went into the bathroom and the shower kicked on.

Trevor flopped on the queen bed against the wall. “I’m tired.”