“Uh-huh.”


“Please?”


He gave in. He always did when it came to Keely. “Fine. You can stay one night. But if one thing is out of place in my house, or if I see any other person besides you in my home? I will tell everyone in the family and the whole damn county what I saw at Colt and Indy’s wedding reception.”


Keely gasped. “You wouldn’t!”


“Oh, I most definitely would. With absolute glee.” Cam flashed her a cocky grin. “So do we have a deal, little sis?”


“Yes, but I am entitled to point out you’re a lot meaner than my other brothers.”


“No, I’m just not buffaloed as easily as they are.”


Keely harrumphed and remained unusually quiet for the rest of the drive.


When Cam pulled up the driveway leading to his house, he experienced a sense of joy, a swell of pride, a feeling of peace. This place was the first thing he’d owned outright, finally obtaining the space, freedom and solitude he’d given up during his years in the army. He’d spent his adult years living in barracks or in tents with just a cot and a footlocker to call his own. Meals, showers, hell even sleep was a group affair.


Not here. Cam rarely had visitors and he preferred it that way. Sometimes on his days off he stretched out on his couch and stared at the walls in complete silence just because he could. He’d created an island of peace for himself even surrounded by the turbulent sea of his family.


He parked on the concrete slab and the yard light clicked on. His dog, Gracie, raced back and forth along the fence, yipping with excitement. Cam turned to Domini. “Sit tight. I’ll be right back and then I’ll run you home, okay?”


“I didn’t know you had a dog.”


“There’s a lot you don’t know about me, princess.”


“The same could be said about me, Deputy,” she murmured.


Was that a…challenge? From sweet Domini?


“Are you gonna let me out, or what?” Keely complained. “I hafta piss like a racehorse.”


“Classy, Keely.” Grumbling under his breath, Cam exited the car quickly, wincing at the sharp pain in his hip. Upon opening the rear door, he heard, “—what I said about getting naked.”


Don’t ask what Keely is babbling about. You’re better off if you don’t know.


At the front door he rattled off, “Stay out of my room. Stay out of my bathroom. Stay out of the liquor cabinet. Don’t fuck with my TV. Leave Gracie outside. I’ll deal with her when I get home in a little bit.”


“There’s no need for you hurry back, bro. I can take care of Gracie.” Keely stepped into the foyer. “In fact, I hope I don’t see you until well after the sun rises.”


“Brat.”


She grinned and slammed the door in his face.


Cam counted to ten and backtracked to the car. He took his time getting in, not because he was stalling, but because his stump was starting to chafe inside the socket.


As soon as they were on the paved road, Domini said, “Is your leg hurting?”


How had she picked up on that so fast? “You wouldn’t think so, bein’s half of the damn thing is gone.”


Silence.


“Sorry. It’s been a long day.”


“Are you off duty now?”


“Yeah. I’ve been off since I finished up at Twin Pines.”


“I’m sorry you have to drive me home.”


I’m not.


The conversation died. Cam flipped on the defroster. Why was his windshield fogging up at the end of freakin’ August?


Because Domini Katzinski is smokin’ hot. She makes your heart pound. She makes you sweat. She makes you breathe hard. She makes you imagine what it’d be like pounding into her, both of you covered in sweat as you breathe in the scent of her.


Dammit. Think of something else. Do something else.


He fiddled with the police radio. Then he drummed his fingers on the dash.


Domini placed her cool palm over his knuckles.


Cam looked at her. “What?”


“Do I make you nervous, deputy?”


Yes. “No. Why?”


“Because you constantly fuss whenever you’re around me.”


“It’s just a habit.”


“An annoying habit.” She threaded her soft fingers through his until her palm rested on the back of his hand. “Can you keep still now?”


He shrugged. But he didn’t remove his hand. Actually, he was shocked she’d touched him so freely. Domini was usually so…reserved.


Normally silence didn’t bother him, in fact, Cam preferred it. But tonight, he wanted to talk, if only to hear her voice. “Did you have fun before the cops showed up?”


“Yes. We danced and drank and gossiped. I’ve never actually seen a bar fight.”


Cam snorted. “You must not hang out with Keely much. That girl is always finding trouble.”


“She seemed pretty pleased she’d popped my cherry tonight.”


He nearly wrecked the car. “What?”


Domini blushed. “It was my first Wyoming bar brawl. Keely came up with the cherry-popping phrase, not me.”


“It figures. I’m curious. What else did you ladies gossip about?”


“Family. Babies. Men. Sex.” Domini’s gaze pierced him. “You.”


“Me? What about me?”


“Your sister asked if something was going on between us.”


His stomach dropped at the thought of his family gossiping about him. “What did you say?” Cam eased the patrol car alongside her building.


“No. But I did say I wished something was going on between us.”


Cam didn’t know how to respond. Evidently saying nothing was the wrong response, because Domini attempted to bail out of the car.


“Forget it.”


“Ah-ah-ah.” Cam caught her wrist, holding her in place. “Wait just a damn minute. You don’t get to say something like that and then just leave.”


Domini just stared at him intently.


“Why would you want to start something with a gimped-up, scarred man like me?”


“That’s not what I see when I look at you.”


Fuck. This is what unnerved him about Domini. She saw too much. “Maybe you need glasses.”


“Maybe you’re the one who’s blind.”


He winced internally, but managed, “What’s that supposed to mean?”


“I see the fire in your eyes when you look at me, Cam. I feel it when you allow yourself to touch me. Yet, you won’t take what you so badly want.” Domini cocked her head. “Why? Are you a martyr? Or a masochist?”


“Neither. I’m just a man.” Not even a whole man.


“If I begged you to prove your manhood to me you’d run again, wouldn’t you?”


Heat rose up his neck. “I didn’t run.”


“No. You apologized first and then you ran. Which was way worse.”


Shit. He had no idea how much she’d misunderstood his reaction to her months ago. “Domini, let me explain—”


“No. Stop right there.” She drew away from him until her back rested against the door. “No more excuses. You either want me, or you don’t. You will either come upstairs right now and we can explore this—” she gestured to the space between them, “—or you can drive away and we will never speak of it again.”


Cam’s anger surfaced. “And if I drive off, you’ll what? Find another man?”


Her shoulder hitched in a half-shrug. “Perhaps.”


“Who?”


“Harold Henderson is always flirting with me.”


“If I ever see that fucking pervert looking at any part of you, I’ll gouge his goddamn eyes out,” Cam snarled.


“Then you’d better add Deke Nealon to that list because he asked me to a movie last week.”


“I’ve arrested Deke before and got no problem doin’ it again if he messes with you.” His head spun. No one touched Domini but him. No one.


Really? You haven’t been touching her either. She’s supposed to wait around for you to get your head out of your ass?


India’s comment, Either go for it, or let her go. But it’s selfish to try and have it both ways, haunted him because he knew she was exactly right. The time had come for him to fish or cut bait, as Colt always said. “Who else?” he demanded.


“Last night Marshall Benson offered to take me to Ziggy’s.”


“Marshall Benson? He cheats at pool!”


“So do I. You going to arrest me too?”


“Hell yes, if it’ll keep you from going out with a loser like him.” Stay calm. “What are you trying to do, Domini? Piss me off by naming all the guys who want to do you?”


She jabbed her finger at him. “You asked, Deputy. And I’m tired of waiting for you to come to terms with what you want to do to me. I especially want you to get over your mistaken belief that I am somehow…too fragile to handle you. I told you I like that you take charge, Cam.”


“You really wanna see that side of me, princess? The rough man who expects his demands to be met without question or hesitation?”


She nodded.


Lightning fast, Cam curled his hand around her neck and hauled her close enough to kiss. “I don’t play at this. It’s not a phase, not bedroom games. This is who I am.”


“Then that is who I want,” she said softly.


His resistance shattered. “I’m giving you one last chance to change your mind.”


“My mind has been made up for a lot longer than yours has.”


He put his mouth on her ear and growled, “Get upstairs. Get naked. Wait for me.”


Domini slipped from the car with such grace and determination Cam wondered what he’d gotten himself into.


After he plodded up the staircase, he stopped to catch his breath. Why could he run ten miles with no problem but a climb up a set of stairs made him ache like he’d scaled Mt. Everest?

***

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