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“Like candy. I could’ve gotten totally shitfaced on them.”

Dalton grinned. “I felt the same way the first time I tried expensive scotch. I wanted to steal the whole damn bottle and drink it down. But I figured it wouldn’t taste so good coming back up.”

“I remember you had to deal with that issue with me that night in Laramie.”

He stroked the back of her hand with his thumb. “Over and done with. Goin’ forward, not back, remember?”

Rory brought their joined hands to her face and rubbed his wrist against her cheek. Then she dragged an openmouthed kiss up his forearm. “Funny you should mention wanting to hold my hand. Seems I have a thing for your hands too. So big. So strong. I’d like to feel these rough-skinned hands all over me.”

Outwardly he went still. Inwardly he was so revved up he had to speak slowly so his voice didn’t waver. “What are you sayin’?”

“That I’ll spend the night with you.”

Dalton immediately dug out his wallet and threw a twenty on the table. “Let’s go.”

“But you haven’t even touched your beer.”

He wrapped his hand around the back of her neck and brought her close enough to kiss. “I’d rather be touching you. We’re leavin’. Now.”

Somehow he managed a leisurely pace out of the bar when his legs wanted to sprint.

He stopped beside his truck.

“Dalton. Wait.”

He ignored the sinking feeling in his gut and faced her. “What?”

“We met here, remember?”

He’d forgotten that. “Do you want to leave your car here or drive it to my place?”

“I’ll drive it. I’ll follow you.”

Dalton crowded her against the door. With his hands curled around her face, he could stroke her stubborn jawline. “I want you. I’ve wanted you for years, especially after the number of ways I’ve always fucked things up over the years…” He inhaled a silent breath as his eyes searched hers. “I’m goin’ home. You know where I live. Show up or don’t. But I ain’t gonna pressure you.”

Rory’s hands inched up his chest. “Wanna know a secret?”


“I’d intended to decline the invite into your bed.”

That sucked. “What changed your mind?”

“For once your actions spoke louder than words.”

He waited. It fucking killed him, but he waited for her explanation.

“When that mystery blonde wanted your attention, you didn’t give it to her. Your eyes never wandered that direction. Not even one time. You didn’t make a charming excuse about needing to use the bathroom just so you could see who the heck she was. The Dalton I used to know? He would’ve drained his beer within two minutes and said, ‘Hang tight a minute, sweet thang, I need another beer. I’ll go up and get it.’ Then you would’ve left.”

His face flushed. “Do you know how much I hate that I used to be that guy?”

Rory mimicked his pose, placing her hands on his cheeks. “But you weren’t that guy. You stayed one hundred percent focused on me. Like I was the only thing that mattered to you.”

“You are the only person that matters to me,” he corrected softly. Then he kissed her—going beyond the lazy seductive kisses, straight to the I-wanna-fuck-you-right-here-right-now passion that’d been waiting to erupt.

She clung to him, returning the passion without hesitation.

“I gotta stop while I still can,” he murmured against her lips after he found the strength to stop devouring her mouth. Dalton eased back to look at her. Eyes glazed with passion. Mouth damp from his. Breathing choppy. She seemed a little out of it. “Rory, you okay to drive?”

“Yeah. You just…”

“Come on, I’ll walk you to your car.”

“Dalton. This is Sundance.”

“Don’t care. Bad shit can happen here too.” He pushed away from her and reached for her hand. “Lead the way.”

Rory took a couple of steps and stopped. She looked at him with a hint of frustration. “That kiss flustered me to the point I don’t remember where the hell I parked, McKay.” Her eyes narrowed. “And no, that comment doesn’t entitle you to a cocky little smirk.”

No, but he’d definitely give her one when she was writhing beneath him later.

“I don’t want to know what that gleam in your eyes is about either.”

“That’s probably best.”

Dalton beat her to his house—but not by much. Not by enough so he had time to do what he needed.

As soon as she entered the house, he kissed her. Then he towed her to the dining room. “I wasn’t planning on this, so can you give me some time? Say ten minutes?”

“Time to do what? Wax your balls?”

He laughed. “I spent my monthly manscaping allotment on getting my back waxed. So, sorry, you’ll have to put up with my hairy balls.”

“That’s something I never thought I’d hear you say.” She touched his face. She did that a lot, which he hoped meant she liked his face.

He pecked her on the lips. “You want something to drink? Soda?”

“I’ll pour myself a soda while you’re…jacking off so you last longer or whatever you’re doing.”

The flip, semi-mean comment meant Rory was nervous.

That made two of them.

Dalton really hoped she wouldn’t laugh when she saw what he’d worked up. He headed to the bedroom and shut the door behind him.

He finished in eight minutes and allowed himself a minute to breathe. He kicked off his boots, ditched his socks and whipped off his shirt.

Rory stood in front of the living room window. Those rhinestone-encrusted jeans immediately drew his gaze to her ass. He couldn’t wait to have it in his hands.

“You do realize that growling sound you just made isn’t helping ease my state of mind?”

Dalton glanced up to see her looking over her shoulder at him. He moved toward her. “Where’s your mind right now?”

“Focused on what’s behind door number one.”

He set his hands on her shoulders. “So come take a look.”

“I almost left,” she blurted.

His hands gripped her shoulders as if that’d keep her from fleeing. “Why would you have left?”

“Because this is weird. I thought you’d meet me at the door, blow my mind with another kiss. Then clothes would fly, we’d go at it right on your couch in a fit of passion.”

“It’s been like that between us before. I didn’t want that again.”

“Didn’t want what? Passion?”

He kissed the section of skin below her ear. “You’re testy, sugarplum. If you’ve changed your mind, say so.”

Rory whirled around to face him. “Why did you need time to prepare? I wondered if you were just sitting in there, seeing how long it’d take me to bust in.”

“When I said no games, Rory, I meant it.”


Dalton got right in her face. “Stop. Talkin’.” He shook his head when she opened her mouth to protest. He kissed her forehead. “Trust me. Now close your eyes.”

As soon as she complied he pressed a gentle kiss on each eyelid.

Then he caught her peeking as he kissed her mouth. The little sneak. So he spun her, herding her back toward the bedroom, putting an end to her peeking.

Once they were through the doorway, he said, “Turn around.”

She spun so fast she almost lost her balance.

Dalton stayed behind her and let her look her fill.

He’d transformed his plain bedroom into a romantic space. Clean white cotton sheets on the bed. A dozen red candles scattered about, filling the room with a subtle scent and a soft light. He’d draped a bronze neckerchief over the bedside lamp, creating a golden glow.

Rory didn’t say a word.

Did she think it was tacky? Too bachelor pad? Too over the top? Was she holding back her laughter? That would be the worst—hearing her make fun of his attempt to recreate a first time for them.


She’d wrapped her arms around herself. “Yeah?”

“You’re quiet.”


His first response was to answer, how would I know why you’re quiet? But as he took a second to find the right words, she blurted, “Why did you go to all this trouble?”

“To make up for the fact I took your virginity in the front seat of my pickup with little care and thought besides getting myself off.” He ran his fingers down her hair. “This is how it should’ve been for you. I tried to make this special tonight in a way I was too stupid to do the first time. Or the other times.”

Rory turned and twined herself around him. “You are such an idiot, Dalton McKay. You didn’t have to do this. I was a sure thing tonight.”

Dalton trapped her face in his hands, forcing her to look at him. “The only sure thing is that I’ve screwed it up every single time I’ve been nekkid—or partially nekkid—with you. Hell, that first time I don’t think I even took my jeans off all the way.”

“You didn’t. I had the imprint from your belt buckle on my left calf from where you’d pressed my leg into the back of the seat.”

He groaned and rested his forehead to hers, not even sure what to say.

“So are we gonna stand here all night? Or are you gonna give me a peek at your hairy balls on that big bed as we’re surrounded by candlelight?”

Was it any wonder he was so crazy about this woman? “Maybe later. Right now, I want you to let me undress you.”

Rory retreated to squint at him. “What do you mean let you undress me? Why don’t we just rip our clothes—”

“And that, right there, is what I meant.” He drew a line from the tip of her chin to the start of her cleavage. “My pace tonight, jungle girl. And I’ll warn you upfront. That pace is gonna be slow.”