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“He didn’t. And he didn’t let me speak. I’m thinking he meant to call you or Tell—since my name falls between yours and Tell’s in his phone.”


“So go get ’em, sis.”

“I’m gonna kick his ass.” Rory slipped on her coat. “Dalton swore he doesn’t do this stuff anymore.”

“He doesn’t. So please don’t ream him.”

“I won’t. Unless he’s the drunken, belligerent Dalton I used to wanna punch in the face. Then all bets are off.”


“I’m kidding.”

“If I remember correctly, you owe him a drunken ride home.”

“Don’t remind me.”

Sierra laughed. “But to really even things up, you’ve gotta sleep with him when he’s still slightly drunk and then be gone when he wakes up in the morning with a massive hangover.”

Not a bad idea. In fact, that was a great idea.

“I was kidding.” A pause. “No, you’re not seriously thinking of doing that, Rory.”

“Why not? He did it to me.” Twice. “See if he likes being used for sex and then discarded?” she volleyed back.

“Sista, please. Even back then it was more than sex between you and Dalton and you know it.” Sierra paused. “I think you both might’ve forgotten that there’s always been more between you two. Anyway, you aren’t a mean girl, a vindictive woman or a badass seeker of revenge.”

Her inner bad girl flipped Sierra off with both fingers and cranked up the Joan Jett tunes.

“But you aren’t a doormat either.” Sierra belted out the first three lines of I Will Survive and laughed hysterically.

“Thanks for nothing, little sis. Your pep talk sucked as much as your singing. And you still owe me a phone call where I can properly grill you for hours on boys, boozing and the rumors about the mysterious businesses you’re involved in.”

“Goddamned gossipy McKay family,” she grumbled. “Fine. I’ll call you next week. Later.” She hung up.

Rory had no idea what shape she’d find Dalton in when she reached the Golden Boot twenty minutes later. The parking lot was nearly full, forcing her to park at the far end of the lot.

The cold night air sliced through her as she walked around the corner to the front entrance. There he was, leaning against the building with his coat pulled up around his ears.

Dalton looked up at her approach. His smile…damn that smile of his. Even his drunken, lopsided grin was a sight to behold.

Kudos to herself for not morphing into a snarky bitch when she said, “Little too much liquid fun, McKay?” She jammed her hands in her pockets even when her fingers itched to smooth back his charmingly messy hair.

“My beautiful Rory. Thank you for comin’ to get me. I’m, ah, a little drunk.”

“I see that.” When she got closer she smelled it too. “You okay to walk or should I bring the car around?”

“Probably need to walk it off.” Dalton stepped away from the building and swayed.

“Whoa there, cowboy.” She grabbed his arm and draped it over her shoulder. “Lemme help you.”

His balance was way off so Rory half-pushed him and half-pulled him through the gravel parking lot to her Jeep. She propped him up on the passenger side wondering how she’d wrestle him in. But he climbed in as if he were perfectly sober.

“I’m sorry. Didn’t intend to end up this way. I hate bein’ drunk.”

She backed out of her parking spot. “So what were you doing at the bar tonight?”

“Reggie’s bachelor party.”

“You must’ve had a good time.”

“Nope. Saw a bunch of people I used to know. Most of ’em were getting drunk and acting stupid.”

“What about you?”

“I didn’t act stupid. Except for the leprechaun thing.”

What the fuck? “Leprechaun?”

“Uh-huh. Leprechaun cocktail waitress. Think she was a stripper too.”

“Guess they’re hard up for chicks to strip in Wyoming if they’re hiring leprechauns,” she said dryly. Then she grinned. She was so going to lord this conversation over him. Maybe she’d even speak with a brogue. Dance an Irish jig while she served him Lucky Charms.

“They shoulda asked you to be a stripper,” Dalton slurred. “You’d make a great stripper.”

“Why would I want to be a stripper?”

“Because you’re flexible. But mostly because you’ve got the body for it. Goddamn do I love your body. I just wanna put my hands all over it. Then my mouth. Right now.”

“Not happening when I’m behind the wheel in a moving vehicle, bud.”

“But I wouldn’t want you stripping for anyone but me. No other man gets to see you nekkid. Ever. So no stripping.”

“Shoot. Now my lap dancing skills will go to waste.”

Dalton made that growling noise. “Where the fuck did you learn to lap dance?”

Not going there. “Did one of the strippers treat you to a lap dance tonight?”

He shook his head. “One tried, but when I told her I wasn’t interested, she moved on to the next victim.” He hiccupped. “Jesus, my head is spinning like a fucking washin’ machine.”

Rory snickered. “Maybe you shouldn’t have been drinking so much.”

“I didn’t mean to. Know what sucks?”

“The shitty way you’re gonna feel in the morning?” she said sweetly.

“That too. What sucks is that I don’t do this kinda shit anymore. And by getting hammered in the most popular bar in town, everyone still thinks I’m the same drinkin’ and fightin’ and fuckin’ around guy. But I’m not that guy anymore. And I didn’t like that guy very much. So why the fuck did he show up tonight?”

“You sure that old Dalton was there tonight?”

He looked confused. “Huh?”

“Did you get into a bar fight?”

“Ah, no, I don’t think so.”

“Were you fucking around with women including magical leprechauns?”

“No. Fuck no. I’d never cheat on you, Rory. Never fucking ever. Been waiting a long goddamned time to have you. Now that you’re mine, not gonna screw this up this time. I swear.”

Not a combative drunk. A sweet drunk. And another sure sign he’d changed. Her inner romantic did a pirouette and blew her a kiss before yelling told ya so, beyotch. She sighed. “What sucks for me is you won’t remember this conversation.”

“The fuck I won’t… Oh, hell. Stop the car.”

Rory hit the brakes and pulled over.

“Gonna be sick. Shit.” Dalton barely flung open the door before he started retching.


But at least he hadn’t thrown up in the car.

Like you did that night with him.

Even more awesome to be reminded of that.

She considered turning up the radio so she didn’t have to listen to him hurling, but she toughed up. He kept yakking.

Finally he swiveled back around, nestled his head in the headrest and slammed the door. “Sorry.”

“You want to sit here a minute?”

“No. Pretty sure there’s nothin’ left since I threw up my stomach lining along with everything in it.”

Rory shuddered. “No color commentary necessary.”


They were close to his place and she got him inside without much trouble.

He flopped on the bed in his room. Coat on, boots on, clothes on. Rory grabbed his wrist and pulled him upright. She lightly tapped his cheeks to get his attention. “Hey. Dalton. Gotta get your clothes off before you pass out.”

Although his eyes were closed, he smiled. “I love that you always wanna take my clothes off.”

“You have a bangin’ body, McKay.” First she peeled off his long black duster and he was zero help with that. Then she yanked off his left boot and then his right. She pulled the snaps on his shirt until it hung open. She couldn’t help but run her palms down his pectorals. Warm. Firm. Rough. “Yes, you surely do have a bangin’ body,” she murmured. Her hands moved down his torso. She needed to undo his belt, but her fingers had another plan as they trailed across his ridged abdomen.

“I hold my breath when you touch me.”


“Because I never want you to stop.”

“Crazy man. If you don’t breathe you’ll pass out and not be able to feel anything anyway.”

“The voice of reason.”

“I’m not exactly the romantic type, Dalton.” Rory unbuckled his belt, unzipped his jeans and pushed him back on the bed so she could strip him to his boxers.

“I am,” he said softly.


“The romantic type.”

“I know.”

“I don’t show you very often, do I?”

“I don’t expect it.”

“You should. You deserve it. Especially from me.” He sighed. “Thank you for picking up my drunken ass.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Will you stay with me tonight?”

Yes. Then I’ll get you hard, get myself off and leave you with your boxers around your ankles wondering what happened when you wake up alone tomorrow morning.

But she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t even say she’d stay and then just sneak out, which would be equally shitty.

Gazing into those vivid blue eyes, she brushed his hair from his cheek. “I’ll stay.”

Chapter Seventeen

“Where are we staying again?”

Dalton bit back a laugh. Rory hadn’t stopped talking since he’d picked her up. He lifted their joined hands to kiss her knuckles. “At the Bullock.”

“The one on Main Street?”

“The suite we’re staying in is in a renovated building behind it.”