“I miss you, Macie.”

“What?” Her hand flew to her throat. A nervous gesture? From stand-offish Macie?

“I miss you.”


“I miss you.”

“You already said that.”

“It bears repeatin’.”

Talk to her. Ask her questions. Show her you’re interested in her mind, not just her body.

“So what were you doin’ before I barged in?”

She pointed to the tin on the table next to him. “I was just about to have a piece of pie. You hungry?”

For you. I want to savor you. I want to devour you.



“You sure? It’s a new recipe and I have whipped cream. Not fresh, it’s the canned kind—”

“Have you even been listenin’ to me, Macie?” He stood and crowded her against the small refrigerator imbedded in the wall. “I said I miss you.”

“How can that be? It’s only been two days since we—”

“—fucked? Yeah, I know. But it’s been a couple of weeks since we talked. Really sat down and talked. Or fought. Or did anything but fuck like wild rabbits then disappear into our separate little hidey holes.”

“Sorry to be such a disappointment to you.”

“There ain’t a single goddamn thing about you that disappoints me, that’s what I’m tryin’ to tell you. I miss you.”

“Then why are you here scowling at me?” She held up a hand and he automatically stepped back. “Besides the ‘missing me’ thing you keep bringing up?”

Carter smiled. “Because I wanted to see you. Can we just hang out and talk? Act like a normal couple?”

Her hazel eyes turned shrewd. “Are we a couple?”

“Hell yes, we’re a couple. A normal couple, doin’ normal couple things. Talkin’ an’ shit.”

“Fine.” Macie cocked her head. “A normal couple would sit down and have pie.”

“Then dish it up, darlin’. Extra whipped cream on mine.”

Once they were seated across from one another, Carter took a bite. He groaned.

“That’s the best pie I’ve ever tasted.” Another quick bite elicited another heartfelt groan of delight. “My mother would wash my mouth out for sayin’ that to anybody but her.”

Macie finally smiled at him. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. Where’d you learn to cook?”

“Self-taught out of self-preservation.”

Another bite of ambrosia. He moaned again. “Meaning?”

“My mom didn’t cook. I needed to eat. My first job was in a restaurant. I like to experiment with food. I’d still rather cook than waitress, but the money is better waiting tables.”

“Ever thought about goin’ to cookin’ school?”

“Now and again, but I wasn’t the best student. I don’t want to study in a specific area like French, Italian, European or vegetarian dishes. Being a fulltime sous chef would be boring. Same goes for a pastry chef. Or a baker. I don’t think I’d do well with people telling me what I don’t know, or telling me what to do all the time.”

“No? I’m shocked.”

She swatted at him. “Plus, I like mixing it up and doing it all myself. I’ve heard some of those specialized schools suck the creativity right out of you.” She gave him a sheepish look. “I wasn’t talking about the kind of stuff you do. Art.”

“But it’s true there too. The instructors make you learn how to do it the ‘right’ way so you can eventually do it your own way.” He shoveled in the last chunk of flaky crust and chewed slowly, drawing out the taste. “Then when you do the kind of art that makes you happy, no one thinks it’s real art. It gets called ‘folk’ or ‘rural’ or something that belittles it.”

“That’s happened to you?”

“Every damn day.” Whoa. He’d finished his dessert in record time. He looked over at her full plate; she’d scarcely eaten a bite. Shrugging, he helped himself to a taste of her pie. “Then there’s the whole all ‘artists are gay’ mentality. I’m constantly getting hit on.”

“Never in a million years would I look at you and peg you as gay.”

“Which is why I’m the perfect foil, darlin’.”

“The last guy I dated? He was an artist and I found out in a rude fashion he was gay.”

“Yeah? If anyone could turn a man from the dark side, it’d be you.” He scooped in two more heaping forkfuls of caramelly goodness and sighed. “A couple of the bolder ones thought I was playin’ hard to get, so they tried to convert me.”

“How’d that go for them?”

“I think the one guy from New York is probably still pickin’ up his teeth.” Carter plucked up the last chunk of pie from Macie’s plate, rammed it in his mouth with a happy little moan.

He froze. Lord. Was he smacking? Would it be bad manners to lick the plate?


Would it be rude to offer to lick her?


Focus. Romance. Normal couple things.

He licked the tines on his fork. “I don’t have nothin’ against gays.”


He dabbed up every single sugared crumb of the delicious piecrust from the pie tin, sucking the sweetness of the apple filling from the pad of his thumb, lost in thought.

“Although, I think it would’ve killed Dad to have a gay son. I’m pretty sure he developed an ulcer when I switched my major from ag to art. My brothers joked about it—until I told them how much I get paid for a sculpture.”


“But it’s feast or famine in the art world. I could bomb and be broke as easily as I could be touted as the next best thing.”


“I just don’t know how this show’ll go over. It’s a mix of styles. There’s some pressure from my agent and I need it to do well financially so I’ll have options. The thought of spongin’ off my folks indefinitely…Don’t get me wrong. I love them. I love the rest of my family and where I grew up.” He brooded and fiddled with his utensil.

Thinking about this stuff made him crazy. “I don’t want to go far, Wyoming is in my blood, but there’s no place for me on the home place if I’m not ranchin’. I’ve always been a bit of a loner and it appeals to me to be on my own. Even if no one understands.”

“Carter. Shut up.”

He froze again. Had he been yappin’ like an unwanted dog? He shot her a covert glance.

And lust kicked him right in the balls.

“Macie. Darlin’, don’t look at me like that. We’re supposed to be hangin’ out.

Talkin’. Actin’ like a normal couple.”

“Fuck being normal. I’d rather have you fucking me.” She lunged across the table.

The pie plates skidded and crashed to the floor. He barely caught the can of whipped cream before it rolled off the table.

Macie smashed her mouth to his and he fell into heaven.

Yeah. Fuck normal.

He scooted from the bench and took the four short steps to the bedroom with her clinging to him like a vine. Kissing her. Lord. It’d been a lifetime since he’d kissed her.

They half-landed on the bed. She ripped open his shirt and scraped her nails down his torso to his belt buckle.

Buttons flew as he tugged on the lapels of her pajama top.

“Hurry. Did you bring condoms?”

He didn’t answer. He’d seem like a selfish prick whether he said yes or no. Add in the tiny bottle of lube…

No use hiding them now. He tossed the whole shootin’ match by the pile of floral pillows.

Macie demanded, “Lose the jeans.”

Why was she always in such a damn hurry? He still had his boots on. She jammed her hands in his boxers and grabbed his dick. “Hey, hey. Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up. I gotta get rid of these shitkickers.”

“I don’t care if you leave the damn boots on as long as the damn pants come off.

Now.” Macie pulled his lips to hers as her fingers worked his Wranglers down his legs.

Carter realized the rut they’d fallen into wasn’t entirely his fault. In fact, she’d taken the lead when it came to sex in the last few weeks. She’d decided where (his place usually) and when (right after work) and how long (only long enough for both of them to get off).

Well, he was taking charge tonight. Taking what she’d promised him. Taking what would be his alone.

Screw romance. She’d had him tied up in knots for weeks. It was time for him to return the favor.

He gradually broke the frantic kiss. “Not so fast. There ain’t room in here for both of us to strip. Get naked. I’ll be right back.”


While Carter doffed his clothes, his gaze swept the kitchen/living area for an item he could use. He spied the frayed nylon rope poking out of Cash’s rigging bag.

Perfect. Tied up. Heh heh.

He grabbed the rope and the can of whipped cream.

Chapter Twenty-three

“You ready?” Carter asked.

“Ready, willing and able, cowboy, come on in.”

“Remember you said that, darlin’.” He set the can on the floor out of sight, but let the rope dangle in his hand as he stepped in front of her. His gaze took her in; she was stunning. Macie lay sideways on the bed, her head propped on her palm. Her glossy mahogany hair pooled on the white sheet by her shoulder. The sexy position emphasized the feminine bend in her waist, the womanly curves of her hip and belly. The tips of her breasts were hardened and her chest rose and fell with her rapid breathing. Her eyes.

Man. Her eyes were black with desire. Until they noticed the item in his hand, then a flash of fear showed.

“What’s that?”

“What’s it look like?”