Page 9

“What? No, of course not. I only had two beers.” Or was it three? “Okay, maybe I’m half toasted. I’ll call my sister for a ride.”

He wrapped his fingers around her wrist and turned back to his truck.

“Hey. Hey,” she said, tapping him on the shoulder to slow him down. “What are you doing?”

“I’m driving you home.” He hustled her back up into the truck’s passenger’s seat.

“I can’t ask you to—”

“You didn’t ask.” He shut the door on her next protest and walked around the hood to the driver’s side. He slid behind the wheel and turned to her, an arm up along the back of their seats. His other hand came up and he stroked the worry lines between her brows. “Don’t worry about the car, Emily. I’ll get it to you.”

She nodded. She didn’t trust her voice. He was sitting there, still wearing his puppy and kitty tie. And those glasses that made her want to steam them up. The combination should’ve made him look utterly ridiculous, but it didn’t. Instead, it gave the big, leanly muscled, sexy-as-hell guy an unexpected softness, and she wanted to kiss him. The kind of kiss where you tasted each other for a good long time, where you tried not to bite but maybe you bit a little anyway.

“You’re staring at me,” he said.

“Am not.”

She could practically hear him smile. Good Lord, she was out of control. He was over there being all Captain Platonic, and she wanted to rip that tie off and use it to bind him to her bed.

It was the beer, she decided. It had awoken her inner slut. He had one hand up on the headrest behind her, the other on the steering wheel, his thumb idly strumming back and forth.

She could remember that thumb doing the same over her nipple. “This is never going to work.”

“What?” he asked.

“Nothing.” Get a grip. The night was dark around them, pitch-black in a way that she never really got to see in Los Angeles with all its city lights.

Here, there were no lights at all, nothing but stars littered like diamonds across a blanket of black velvet. It took her breath away. “It’s really beautiful here.”

“You sound surprised.”

She turned to him and felt herself brush up against the inside of his forearm where it rested behind her. It was shockingly like being in his arms. She felt his fingers brush her bare arm and she shivered. “What are you doing?” she whispered.

“Waiting for you to tell me where you live.”

Oh. Right. “I live off Highway 29, between Rancher’s Way and Fisher Creek Road.”

“I own some land out that way,” he said, turning the truck’s engine over and pulling out of the lot. “Ten acres.”

“You live there?” she asked, wondering if they were neighbors. “With your sisters?”

“No, the land is just mine. I’m going to build a place on it eventually.” He glanced at her. “Just out of morbid curiosity, what did you think I was doing back there?”

“Trying to turn me on.”

He smiled. “I don’t have to try.”

Damn, he was right about that. In fact, he was doing it right now. She squirmed a little, and his smile turned to a grin, which made it easier to ignore him for the rest of the drive home.

The house she and Sara rented was on the end of a short cul-de-sac that backed up to at least thirty acres of wilderness. There were a few other properties scattered throughout the area, but not many. The closest house was fifty yards in one direction, and twice that in the other. She’d not met a single neighbor.

Her house was dark. It was karaoke night at the local bar, and Sara loved karaoke. She wouldn’t be home for hours. “You do realize that I totally blame you,” she said, breaking the silence.


“Sitting there wearing a goofy-ass tie, driving like you do everything else, which is so stupid sexy I can’t think.”

He swiveled his amused gaze her way. “Anything else?”

She blew out a breath. “Fine. Mock me. Just . . . keep your hands to yourself.”

He lifted them in surrender.

“And your mouth.”

Said mouth quirked, and he mimed zipping it closed.

God, she was out. Of. Control. She covered her face with her hands and took a deep breath. “I’m going in now.”

She didn’t go in.

“This is so ridiculous,” she finally whispered.

She felt his fingers grip hers. He lowered her hands from her face. “It’s fine,” he said. “You don’t want anything to happen, nothing’s going to happen.”

She stared at him. “It’s not?”

“Well, not unless you want it to, and then instigate things in a big way.”

She stared at him, and then dropped her head back to stare at the roof of the truck instead of into his mesmerizing eyes. “Well that’s just great.”

“You changed your mind. You want something to happen,” he said, sounding like maybe he was smiling again. “You’re the one who made the rules, sweetness.”

“I know, but . . .” She sank in her seat a little bit and sighed. “It’s just that I’ve never really mastered being the instigator in the man department when I don’t know how that instigation will be received.”

There was a horrifyingly long beat of silence, and she sunk in her seat a little lower, wishing she could poof, vanish.

“The problem isn’t whether I’m attracted to you,” he finally said. “But this isn’t about attraction.”

Her head came up, both startled and relieved to hear him admit the attraction was mutual. “It’s not?”

“No,” he said. “You have a grand plan. I’m not on it.”

“And I’m not on yours,” she said, grasping at straws. “Right?”


She ignored the little stab of disappointment. “Right.” Nodding, she stared at him in the ambient light. So strong, inside and out. He was so much more than she’d known on that long ago night.

“Emily,” he said, his tone low. A soft warning.

“I know.” She looked at his mouth again. And his Adam’s apple. And his throat. And his shoulders, covered by his shirt. Which didn’t matter because she knew what he looked like without that shirt. “It’s just that I hadn’t had an orgasm in forever,” she blurted out.


“That night. I hadn’t had an orgasm in six months.” She hesitated. “Or since,” she whispered, and then clapped a hand over her mouth. “Oh my God. Shut me up. I’m begging you.”

He laughed, that low, sexy sound that never failed to make her ni**les hard. He slid his hands to her arms and gently squeezed. “How about we just say good night.”

“And pretend this conversation didn’t happen?” she asked hopefully.

He gave a slow shake of his head, eyes flashing good humor. “Afraid I can’t make that promise. This conversation was good for me.”

“Okay, now I’m really going in.” She thrust out her hand. “Good night.”

Still looking vastly amused, he took her hand. His was warm, callused. Big. She held it for a moment too long, and then, oh God and then there was more eye contact. Nobody did eye contact better than Wyatt Stone.

“I like having you at Belle Haven,” he said. “I hope you get a lot out of this year, Emily.”

She stared at his square jaw, at his dark, thick eyelashes that were totally not fair and so wasted on a man, and then . . . and then somehow she tugged on his hand a little, to kiss his cheek.

Except she missed his cheek and got his mouth instead, dislodging his glasses, which fell between the car door and the seat.

“Uh-oh,” she murmured, but didn’t move away.

His hands went to her arms. “Emily.”

Maybe it was the way he squinted just a little, maybe it was the gruff warning in his voice, but she quivered again. Big-time. As if he felt it, he tightened his grip on her arms, then his hands glided up into her hair on either side of her head as he roughly whispered her name.

That was when she lost her tenuous hold on her sanity, reaching for him at the same time he tugged. She landed in his lap, straddling him. “Hi,” she said against his lips. “I’m instigating.

“Jesus.” Wyatt captured her wrists, wrapping his arms— and hers—behind her back. But this only served to press their torsos together, and she moaned helplessly at the contact.

So did he. And then he kissed her hard and long, until they were breathing wildly, breaking off only to stare at her in the ambient light of the dash.

She did her best to look like something he had to have.

“We can’t do this,” he said firmly, voice raspy like he wasn’t buying his own words. “It’s not Reno. Now you work under me. There could be a lawsuit—”

“I doubt Dell’s going to sue me for ha**g s*x with you.”

“Smart-ass.” He was still holding her wrists pinned behind her back. She could feel him hard and ready beneath her. Definitely, he wasn’t buying what he was saying.

“And I couldn’t sue,” she said. “Because this is consensual.”

He blew out a breath.

“Oh my God.” She felt herself freeze in horror. “Wyatt, say it’s consensual.”

“Killing me,” he said on a groan, dropping his forehead to hers.

“Say it!”

He huffed out a laugh, which was just about the best aphrodisiac she’d ever heard. “You’re crazy,” he said.

“Yeah,” she said. “But crazy hot, right?”

“Hot as hell.” Releasing her wrists, he cupped her face and stared at her for a good long beat. “What are you looking for?” she asked.

“Tell me you’re sober,” he demanded.

“I’m sober.”

“All the way sober?”


“What about that guy?” he asked. “Is he still the silent boyfriend, like the K in knight? Like the kind that isn’t really a boyfriend at all but a guy you use as a shield to hold off the other guys?”

She felt herself flush. He was totally on to her. “Yes,” she whispered.

He held her still another moment, then groaned. “Killing me,” he said again, but he finally moved, sliding his hands beneath her sweater. “Last chance,” he said gruffly, his fingers sliding north. “Last chance to stop me.”

She reached down and hit a lever, and his seat flew back.

Flat on his back, Wyatt laughed, and then her shirt was gone, over her head, gone and his hand was on her jaw, turning her where he wanted her, which was close, and finally.


They were heading in the right direction. She pulled his shirt from his jeans and shoved it up, revealing the mouthwatering torso she’d been dreaming about. She ran her fingertips over his abs counting ridges of muscles, loving how they quivered beneath her touch. “Six,” she whispered, and reached for his belt buckle.

This tore some more colorful swearing from Wyatt, and she bent low, nipping his lower lip. “Are you going to talk all the way through this?” she asked.

He choked out a laugh. “I might.”

“Good,” she said, trembling as she remembered last time. Not only had he talked, uttering rough, erotic nothings in her ear, he’d made her to do it, too.

And she liked it.

One hand in her hair, he seared his mouth to hers, hard and fast, his tongue demanding entrance. When she parted her lips, a low growl sounded in the back of his throat. Her bra went the same direction as her shirt, and then he filled his hands with her breasts.

Still straddling him, her head fell back and she oscillated her hips. Her butt hit the horn, startling the crap out of her as it went off, loudly.

Wyatt laughed again. Grinning against her, he pulled her down over him, his hands going to her ass. His kiss was heady stuff, all deep and hot and wet as they went at each other. In Reno, they’d been perfect strangers, and that’d been hotter than she could have imagined.

This time, knowing him now, was even better. It was like coming home.

“Kick off your shoes,” he said against her mouth.

She rushed to do that while he busied himself peeling her jeans to her thighs. “Lift up, Em.”

Bossy as hell, just like last time, and damn. It still turned her on. He lent his hands to the cause, tugging the jeans the rest of the way off, leaving her in just a little itty-bitty neon green bikini panty. “Pretty,” he said, hooking his thumbs in the sides. “I’ll owe you.”

And then he tore them off.

She just about had an orgasm at that.

But now she was completely na**d and he was wearing way too many clothes, especially since hers were littered around them. She tugged at his shirt and he pulled away to yank it over his head.

She got less than a second to admire his na**d chest before he jackknifed up with a ripple of his gorgeous abs so that his tongue could do things to her ni**les that should probably be illegal.

She couldn’t stop the helpless moan that escaped her mouth, though the sound seemed to trigger something inside Wyatt because the next thing she knew, he was swearing again, fighting one of the pockets of his cargo pants for his wallet.

When he produced a condom, she nearly sobbed in relief.

Then he was hauling her up his body.

From working with him, she knew something unequivocal. He handled an animal, any animal, with cool, calm, gentle-but-firm care. Always. In fact, she’d discovered she could watch him for hours, and he never failed to awe and amaze her. No matter if an animal was furious in its pain, or simply terrified, Wyatt had an unmistakably authoritative way of holding himself that made every four-legged creature innately trust him.