I give him another worksheet with more of the same type of problems just as my phone chirps.
Just closed on a house & on my way to show another. Miss u. Talk soon?
I smile and respond. Miss u too. Call me.
Glancing up while tucking my phone back in my pocket, I see Josh riding to the back fence of his house with two other guys. The horses are beautiful, two black and one white with red patches. The guys are dripping in sweat, dirt clinging to their clothes and skin. They stop to talk, pointing to various parts of the ranch and even laughing once in a while.
While still in the saddle, Josh pulls his cap off, pushes his hand through his sweaty hair, then pulls his T-shirt over his head to wipe his face with it.
Holy Mary, mother of God.
He’s more than built. His muscles are toned and defined, thanks to all the work he does on the ranch. He has an amazing abdomen, and I can see the top of a sexy V rising out of the waist of his jeans, but it’s his arms and shoulders that have me mesmerized and my panties suddenly soaked.
His biceps have to be the size of my thighs, and not in a gross he’s-gotta-be-on-steroids way. I wonder what it would be like to have those arms wrapped around me, to feel the muscles flex beneath my hands.
His shoulders are broad and tanned, and he has just a light sprinkle of dark hair over his chest.
I could eat him with a spoon.
Josh pulls a bottle of water out of a saddlebag, takes a drink, and then laughs at one of the other guys. He swings his leg over the horse, dismounting easily, ties the rein to the fence, and waves as his companions ride off toward the barn.
“Why are you looking at him like that?” Seth’s voice is hard and angry.
“What?” Oh, crap, he caught me. I’m so embarrassed. “I’m not looking at anything. Just daydreaming, I guess.” My face is bright red when I look down at Seth, but he scowls and pushes his worksheet toward me.
“Girls are dumb. You shouldn’t look at him like that. He’s a jerk.”
Josh saunters in through the sliding glass door off the kitchen, his shirt still off, and I bite my lip as my eyes wander down his torso. When I glance back up, he’s grinning, that sexy dimple is winking at me, and I flush.
Maybe I should start working with Seth over at the big house.
“Are you guys almost done?”
“Almost.” I nod.
“I’m going to catch a quick shower and then put you up on a horse, my friend.”
“Cool!” Seth exclaims, surprising us both.
“Um, I wore shorts.”
“I noticed. You have gorgeous legs. We’ll make it work. I’ll be out in a minute.” With that, he saunters down the hall and I hear a door close.
“Why do you think he’s a jerk?” I ask, still stuck on the gorgeous legs remark. Does Josh mistreat him?
“Because he’s my dad’s brother. They’re twins.”
“And you think your dad’s a jerk?”
“He is a jerk,” Seth insists emphatically.
“I don’t remember your dad being a jerk, Seth.” I check over Seth’s work.
Something is wrong. Well, not something, everything. Every single answer on this sheet is wrong. But as I read through the work, it’s correct. He’s purposefully worked out every problem the right way and marked the wrong answer.
“What the heck, Seth?”
“All the answers are wrong.” I frown at him and wait for his answer.
“So, the work is right, and you wrote down the wrong answers on purpose.” I sit back in the chair and cross my arms over my chest. Seth squirms in his chair, his mouth set in a tight line as he frowns.
“Doesn’t matter if it’s wrong.”
“Well, yeah, it does because you’re being graded on these, Seth.” I tilt my head and watch him squirm some more. “You are so smart. Why are you doing this?”
His startled gaze meets mine, making my heart ache for this boy. He seems so lonely and sad. I just want to pull him to me and hug the defiance right out of him.
“I’m not doing anything,” he whispers, and looks down at his sheet.
“Okay, let’s do this,” Josh says, returning. His dark hair is wet from the shower and he’s changed into clean jeans and a white tee.
“Why did you put on clean clothes?” Seth asks with a frown. “They’re just gonna get messed up again.”
“Because I’m sure Cara doesn’t want to stand next to me when I smell funky, kid. That’s gross.”
“You smell funky no matter what,” Seth taunts.
Josh’s eyes light up with humor. “Back at you. I’m glad you’re staying over at the other house because I hate to think of what your bedroom must smell like.”
I watch the banter with a huge grin plastered on my face. I don’t think they joke with each other like this often.
“It smells like stupid air freshener because Gram keeps sticking smelly stuff in my drawers and stuff.” Seth wrinkles his nose.
“Take it from me, kid, air freshener in a young man’s room is mandatory.” Josh shakes his head and laughs. “Shall we?”
“Yep, we shall!” Seth jumps up and runs out the back door.
“I guess we shall,” I mutter, and stand to follow him.
When we step outside, Seth has already reached a tall, black horse and is petting its nose, talking to it softly.
“What if the horse doesn’t like me?” I whisper to Josh. He smiles down at me gently and tugs on my hair. I want to lean into his touch, so I step away.
“She’ll love you. She’s a gentle horse, Cara. I wouldn’t put you on one of the mean stallions. Magic is a sweet mare and she’s patient with the newbies.”
“Besides, she’s my horse. I know her better than any other animal on this ranch. You’ll love her.”
“I could love her from afar,” I mutter.
He laughs at me, and as we approach the horse, I hang back and watch Josh and Seth pet Magic, both crooning softly to her. She does seem sweet. She nudges their hands and nods her head as if she knows what they’re saying.
And her big, brown eyes shine with intelligence.
“I’m gonna go get her an apple!” Seth runs back to the house with excitement.
“Come here, Cara,” Josh murmurs gently, and holds his hand out for mine. I take it and immediately love the way his large, callused hand feels wrapped around mine. He tugs me to his side and places my hand on the mare’s nose. “Just pet her.”