“No. I borrowed his horse trailer last weekend because we were bringin’ that mare home from Missoula.”
“You know it don’t count if no one saw you with her.”
“Cord saw me with her. He can back me up.”
“Cord.” Carter paused. “As in our brother Cord?”
“You know any other Cord?”
“No, but now I know you’re lyin’. Cord doesn’t go nowhere, especially a dance where there’s wicked women who can lead him into temptation away from his beloved ranch.”
Colt laughed. “True. But Dad sent him with me to get the horse. We stopped for the night, saw a street dance goin’ on and decided we’d have a beer and check it out. A couple hours later me and Mindy—”
“Mindy Sue LaRue, Miss Rodeo Montana. She rode me like a Pony Express rider.
Shoot, we rocked the horse trailer so hard we busted an axle.”
“We did it two times before she bailed. Cord walked in as she was walkin’ out. Then he asked me if her tits were implants. I was surprised he’d noticed them. Though, I gotta admit they were pretty hard to miss.”
“Damn. I take it back. You did nail her. Congrats.” Carter wiped another streak of blue across the top. “So were they fake?”
“Yep. Who cares? They were just the way I like ’em: big and round and bouncy and then they were gone.”
“What about you, bro? Getting any in that godforsaken part of Wyoming?”
Carter glanced down at the canvas. A serene Macie stared at him from the back of a dappled gray mare. Definitely not the image of his wild Macie from last night. With her sexy legs clamped around his waist, his hat sliding off her head, him swallowing her cries as she came from him fucking her against the wall. Man. She’d hardly made it inside the trailer and he was on her. In her.
The last three weeks had pretty much gone along those lines. She’d work. He’d work. They’d hook up a couple of times a week to fuck like animals. Then she’d go home and he’d go to bed. Alone.
The ideal set-up, right? No promises. No hurt feelings. Just lots of hot sweaty sex.
He was fucking sick and tired of…well, just fucking and didn’t know what the hell to do about it. The first week he and Macie spent together seemed different. Real. Like something special. Now they didn’t talk. They didn’t fight. They didn’t tease each other, or get to know each other, or even eat a damn meal together. They just screwed and that was the extent of it.
He scowled at the shitty picture on the easel, and resisted shredding it to ribbons with his exacto knife. Even his attempts at art were a screwed up mess. Nothing was working in his life.
“Carter? You still there?”
“So? Since there ain’t no women around…who’s your favorite sheep this week?”
A soft rustling filled the phone lines, followed by a heavy pause. Then he heard,
“…Carter, why? Really? I ain’t surprised. He is kinda rude. Self-centered too.”
“Who are you talkin’ to?”
“Mom. She says you haven’t called her lately. And you don’t answer your cell.”
“Shit. Do NOT hand the phone to Mom, Colt.”
“Yeah? There’s been no problems with the phone line to Gemma’s house as far as I know.”
“Hey, fuckface. I mean it. I don’t want to talk to her.”
“No, that’s cool. We were done anyway.”
“Colt, you fuckin’ loser, don’t you dare pass me off to… Hey, Ma.” Colt was dead the next time he saw him. Dead and buried. With a boot up his ass.
“If it isn’t my long lost son, Carter West McKay. Why don’t you get the excuses on why you haven’t called me out of the way first thing?”
Carter heard Colt laughing. He closed his eyes. He really did feel guilty. Especially since his mother was one of the few people he could really talk to. Yeah. Like his brothers didn’t tease him enough for being a momma’s boy.
“Sorry. I’m a terrible son. I know how much you hate it when you don’t hear from any of us, me in particular. Would it help my cause if I took you out for supper, tossed in some flowers and rubbed your feet when I get back to the ranch?”
“More like a recitation than an actual apology but I suppose that’ll do.”
Carter smiled. He’d still be groveling if his dad were near the phone. If Carolyn McKay was unhappy, Carson McKay knocked heads together to get answers as to why his beloved wasn’t beaming rainbows. Those heads mainly belonged to him and his brothers since they were the usual source of her angst.
“So…how are things? You about done with the pieces for your show?”
“Not really. I’m pluggin’ away. Day by day. Seems to be getting harder.”
“Have you talked to your agent about it?”
“Gemma working you too much?”
“Actually, she hired a foreman about a month back and so I’m not doin’ a whole lot of work for her.”
“Who’d she hire?”
“Cash Big Crow.”
“Really? Colby’s friend?” Surprise laced her voice. “I wonder if he knows about that.”
“Probably. How is Colby?”
“Busy. And before you steer the conversation away from asking more about you, I’ll give you the rundown on the rest of the McKays: Keely is running wild. Cord is working too hard, as usual. Ky is growing like a weed. Cam won’t be home for Thanksgiving again. Keely is driving your father insane. And Channing is turning out to be quite the little gardener. Am I missing anyone?”
“Did I mention Keely was making him crazy?”
He grinned. “Once or twice. So, how are you, Ma?”
“You are all a bunch of sweet-talkin’ boys, just like your father. Lord. It’s a wonder I don’t have a dozen grandchildren spread across a dozen counties. I’m fine. I miss you.”
“I’m two hours away. I’m closer than I was when I lived in Colorado.”
“Well, I hoped you’d been around more now that you’re done with school.”
Carter didn’t know what to say to that. Mostly because he didn’t know what would happen after he finished the art show.
A door slammed in the background. “Okay, I shooed Colt out so we can talk freely.
Honey, what’s wrong? And don’t say nothin’, ’cause I can tell something is bothering you.”
No sense lying to her or himself. “I’m in a rut.”
“With your art? Afraid I won’t be much help with that—”
“No, Ma. In a rut with a woman.”
Silence. “Oh. Do I know her?”
“No. I met her this summer.”
“Here. She’s Cash’s daughter.”
“Lord, son, she isn’t underage? When I remember what we went through with Keely when she lied about her age to that bull rider from Oklahoma…”
“Macie is twenty-two. Why would you think she was underage?”
“Because Cash isn’t much older than Cord.” Pause. “Cash has a daughter that old?”
“Yeah, fatherhood visited him early. Anyway, Macie and I are spendin’ time together, it’s just lately…it’s hard to explain. It’s different than it was at first.”
“You really like this girl?”
“Does she make you happy?”
“When she’s not makin’ me crazy.”
“I assume you’re knockin’ boots with her?”
“Oh pooh. If I can listen to Colt brag about bagging a rodeo queen ad nauseam, I can listen to anything.”
“So the boot scootin’ is…?”
“And that’s a problem, why?”
“Because I’m afraid that’s all there is.”
Another moment of silence.
“I’m still waitin’ for your sage advice,” he said dryly.
“Hold your horses. I’m thinking.” Then, “Have you and Macie spent much time with her father?”
“Cash? No. He hates my guts.”
His mom laughed. “I imagine he does.”
“Real nice that you’re takin’ his side, Ma.”
“I’m not. How important is family to her?”
“She doesn’t have anyone besides Cash so I don’t think she has a frame of reference.”
“Ah. There’s your answer.”
Carter scowled at the phone. “Where? I missed something.”
“No. She isn’t used to making connections on any level. Show her how. Good sex is a good start. But every girl needs a little romance. Make her feel special. Do something for her no one else has. Your job as a man is to show her you appreciate her brain as well as her body.”
“I cannot believe I’m havin’ this conversation with my mother.”
She laughed again. “You are so naïve when it comes to what I know and what I’ve done. I was young once.”
“Is this where you warn me to be careful because Macie is so young?”
“Young? At twenty-two? Please. At that age I had a two-year-old son, I was pregnant again, I had a ranch to help run and your brawlin’ father to deal with.”
“Not the same.”
“True. But I will caution you not to confuse her age with her experience. There is a difference.”
“Anytime. Love you, darlin’ boy. If I don’t hear from you soon, I’m sending Keely to live with you for the rest of the summer, understand?”
“Now that’s just plain mean.” But he hung up with his first real smile in days.