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“How far?”

“You’ve been to Deadwood. Everything is within walking distance.”

“I know. But the fuck-me heels I’m wearing at your request—” she shot him an arch look, “—aren’t exactly winter sidewalk friendly.”

“Just hold on to me. I’ll keep you upright.” He grinned. “Unless I’m too busy keepin’ you horizontal.”

“I’m so looking forward to that,” she purred.

“Me too.”

Rory gave the questions a thirty-second rest before she started in again. “Is this a two-day poker tournament?”

“No. It’s two one-night poker tournaments. Two different venues. Neither of which are at the Bullock. Which works out for us because I don’t stay at the hotel where the events are held.”

“That seems odd and inconvenient. Have you always had that superstition?”

Dalton shook his head. “Mostly it started when I traveled by myself and didn’t want to pay the higher room cost. Didn’t bother me when I split the hotel bill with Tell. So I found cheaper rooms close to the venue, because I wasn’t actually in the room much. That’s when I had much better luck. Don’t know why that is, but I’ve done it that way for years.”

“What are your odds of winning?”

“Better than most. Tomorrow’s pot is bigger so we’ll see if I have to throw tonight’s game so I don’t have people tryin’ to knock me out in the first round tomorrow night.”

“The strategy part of card playing boggles my mind.”

Dalton laughed. “At least I’ve got you thinking there is strategy involved in Texas Hold’em and it ain’t all luck of the draw.”

Rory quit asking questions and gazed out the window.

The Black Hills were covered in snow so the drive up 385 to Deadwood was like a postcard. The setting sun reflected purple on the frosted trees and the sky. The roads were slick and the traffic was heavier than he expected.

This weekend marked the first time Dalton had brought a woman to a tournament. In years past he’d taken women back to his room when the games ended, but he’d never had a woman on the sidelines cheering him on. Winning or losing didn’t matter to Rory—she’d be waiting for him regardless.

Deadwood didn’t attract the big-league poker players, but the money was decent enough the mid-range players made it a destination. Those were the guys he worried about. The ones who considered Deadwood “their” town and banded together to defeat anyone new who dared to sit at the final table with them.

Rory waited in the truck while he retrieved the keys for their room. After he pulled up to the building he was glad for private parking. Deadwood appeared to be jam-packed. “Come on. Let’s see the room. I’ll come back for the luggage.”

He unlocked the door and she stopped just inside the doorway. “Dalton. This place is awesome.”

The suite of rooms wasn’t decorated old west style, but modern. A living room filled with low-backed furniture that faced a gas fireplace. An eating area with a counter and barstools.

Rory disappeared around the corner and he followed her. “Look at this bathroom.” It had a gigantic walk-in shower with a bench and two showerheads, and the room boasted an enormous sunken tub, surrounded by opaque glass bricks.

“Looks like we can have some fun in there, huh?” He took her hand. “Let’s see the bedroom.”

Rory squealed at seeing the king-sized four-poster bed and immediately jumped on it. “This has some give, which is lucky for us since you try to pound me into the mattress whenever possible.”

“Is that a complaint?”

“Not at all, high roller.” She kicked off her shoes and sighed.

Dalton wandered to the window and peeked out to see a view of the parking lot.

“What time do you have to check in for the tournament?” she asked.

“About forty-five minutes.” He’d reached that antsy stage where he needed to expel his nervous energy before he started playing. He turned and Rory stood right in front of him.

She ran her hands down the lapels of his wool vest. “You look sexy as sin. With your black hat, jeans, boots and white shirt, now alls you need is a pocket watch with a gold chain, a thin cigar clamped between your teeth and you look every inch the mysterious rogue card sharp from Wild West days.”

“Bit of a fanciful image from a woman who refuses to admit her romantic side.”

“You have been showing me the benefits of a little romance in my life, McKay.” Rory placed her hand on his cheek. “You okay?”

“Yep. Just ready to get goin’ to the tourney. Why?”

“Would you be mad if I hung out here while you do your poker thing? You won’t be there all night, right? I could just—” Rory pressed a kiss to the side of his neck, “—slip on something a little more comfortable and wait for you.”

Her suggestion filled him with relief. He could get the feel for the people and the place without worrying about her. “That’s a great idea. I’ll get the luggage.”

After he unloaded everything, Rory gave him a kiss for luck. Then she sang the chorus from “The Gambler” really loud.

“Thanks for getting that stuck in my head,” he grumbled.

“You’re welcome.”

A few hours later Dalton brushed the snow off his shoulders and stamped the slush off his boots before he inserted the keycard into the door. Probably a good thing Rory had remained in the room. The weather sucked. Hopefully it’d be better tomorrow night.

The room was quiet. No TV, although she did have the fireplace burning.

He checked the bedroom before he tracked her to the bathroom.

The lights were dimmed, music drifted from her iPod. A sugary sweet scent perfumed the air. All nice enticements, but none as enticing as his Aurora, up to her chin in bubbles, all that glorious blond hair in a messy pile on top of her head. Her cheeks were flushed from the heat, and maybe from the half-empty margarita glass in her hand. Her lips were tilted into a sultry smile. “Hey, five-card stud. So did you win?”

“Eliminated in the third to last round.”

“I’m sorry. Unless…that’s what you wanted?”

He nodded.

“See anyone you know?”

“One guy acted like he didn’t know me, which is fine because he’s an asshole. Another wanted to take me out for a drink to brag about how well he’s been doin’.”

Rory sipped her drink. “Did you go?”

Dalton’s hungry gaze roved over her, from her soft pink mouth to her pink toes peeking out of the bubbles on the opposite end of the tub. “When you’re nekkid in a hotel room waitin’ on me? Uh, no way in hell.”

That curl to her lips got a whole lot sexier. “Why don’t you come in and play?”

“Don’t mind if I do.” He shucked his clothes. His cock, already onboard with the bath idea, bounced against his belly as he started to climb over the wide ledge of the tub.

Rory said, “Wait. Grab some drinks first.”

“Good thinking.” He snagged a beer and a can of premixed margarita mix out of the fridge in the bar area. He noticed two dome-covered trays on the counter. Back in the bathroom, he refilled her glass and said, “Did you order room service?”

“I wasn’t sure what time you’d get back and I doubted we’d want to go out for food, so I ordered in, figuring we could heat it up later.”

Dalton grinned. “The only thing I wanna heat up right now is you.” He threw his leg over the edge of the tub and immersed himself in sweet-scented water. He hissed. The water was hot.

“Feels good, doesn’t it?”

Not as good as you’re gonna feel. “Mmm-hmm.” Sitting opposite her, he set his beer aside and wrapped his hand around her ankle. “How long have you been marinating in here?”

“About thirty minutes.”

“What’d you do before that?”

“Wandered around. Watched the fire. I might’ve dozed off in that puffy bed, which is heavenly by the way.”

“Which is ironic since we’re gonna sin like motherfuckers in it.”

Rory laughed.

He lifted her foot out of the water, pressed his mouth to her instep and lightly bit down.

“Got a foot fetish, McKay?”

“Only if the feet in question are attached to you.” He kissed her anklebone. Her instep by the ball of her foot. Then he ran his tongue across the pads of her toes.

Rory groaned softly.

He set that foot down and picked up the other. He grazed his teeth across her instep and dropped kisses on the top of her foot. He slipped his tongue between every toe.

Another soft groan.

Dalton slid his hands up her legs and floated toward her until they were groin to groin. Keeping his eyes locked on hers, his hands traveled up her body, over the curve of her hips, her belly, her ribcage, over those beautifully full breasts, her collarbones, up the column of her neck. He pulled her mouth to his, licking his way past her lips to kiss her with heat and patience, which drove her crazy. Rory wanted ferocious kisses. As much as he loved the passion that ignited in both of them so quickly, he liked the seduction.

Then he pulled back, gazed into her eyes.

Rory’s wet fingers traced the outline of his lips. “This mouth…” She sighed. “I’m crazy for this mouth and all it can do.”

He sucked her fingers and swirled his tongue around the tips.

She circled her legs around his hips and she canted her pelvis. She caught him off guard when she spun them around so his back was against the tub. “I’m pretty good with my mouth. So why don’t you hop on the edge and I’ll prove it.”

Dalton created a mini-wave he jumped up so fast.

Rory moved in, her fingers digging into the tops of his thighs. The delicate way her breath drifted over the wet head of his cock, caused him to shiver.