“True. Dad’d skin us alive if we upset the queen bee, even now.” Kane twisted the wire cutters. “Anyway, I’m thinkin’ about changin’ my name.”

Kade laughed. “Right.”

“I’m serious. Something that don’t start with a ‘K’ or a ‘C’ like everyone in this damn family.”

“How about…Dick?”

“How about you fuck off, smartass?”

Kade grinned. “So whatcha thinkin’? Bubba? Spud? Deuce? Fred? Ethyl?”

“I think Bennett’s datin’ a woman from Thermopolis named Ethyl.”

“No kiddin’?”

“Yeah, I’m kiddin’. Goddamn you’re easy to tease, Kade.”

“Give me a break. I ain’t had to make small talk besides with the cattle for the last year. Good thing Eliza ain’t expectin’ me to be a brilliant talker.”

Kane clipped a section of wire. “What about Skylar? Does she expect that from you?”

“Who the hell knows?” Frustrated, Kade pounded his foot against the metal jaws of the posthole digger. “We don’t talk about nothin’ except Eliza.”

“That’s to be expected, ain’t it?”

“Probably. But it’s been a few weeks since I moved in. I thought since I was up with the baby last night that Sky would be rested and we could talk about something else this mornin’. But after I got out of the shower, she’d already made up the bed. When I tried—”

“Whoa whoa whoa.” Kane held up a gloved hand. “You said she made the bed? As in—you’re sharin’ a bed with her?”

“Uh. Yeah.”

“So, man, why are you worried about talkin’ if you’re already nailin’ her?”

“Because I’m not.”

“Not what?”

“I’m not nailin’ her, okay?”

A stunned look crossed Kane’s face and then he laughed so hard he fell over on the ground.

When Kade suffered enough of his brother’s hysterics, he said, “It ain’t funny.”

“Yeah, it is. Jesus, Kade. The last year turned you into a Wyoming monk? You’ve been sleepin’ in the same damn bed with Skylar, the woman you have a child with, the woman you’ve been crazy in love with for over a year, and you haven’t tried to get busy with her? Not even once?”


“Does the thought of screwin’ her with the baby in the room…give you performance anxiety or something?”

“What the fuck do you mean, performance anxiety? No. I don’t have any problem gettin’ it up.”

“Does havin’ the baby listenin’ to you squeakin’ the bedframe freak her out?”

“I don’t know!”

“That is just plain sad, man. Sad.”

“No shit.”

“I’m assumin’ you still want her?”

“Like you wouldn’t fuckin’ believe.”

“So why would you throw in the towel so soon?”

“I haven’t.” Kade kicked a clod of dirt into the ditch. “I promised Sky I’d be a gentleman. At first I needed to be in her room to learn how to take care of Eliza. I thought maybe after Sky got used to me bein’ around and I rebuilt her trust, things might change.

We’d use the bed for more than sleepin’. Nothin’s changed. I’m waitin’ on her to give me some kinda damn sign.”

“There’s your problem. Waitin’ on her. Actin’ like a lap dog, happy for scraps.”

Kane stood and jammed the wire cutters in his back pocket. “See, women tell you they want a gentleman, when in reality, they want a man to take charge. Sexually speakin’.”


“Hear me out. A woman wants a man who can’t keep their hands offa them. A man who can make them feel feminine, sexy and needed. Desired, but not in a way that diminishes their independence outside the bedroom.”

He stared at Kane with his mouth hanging open. What’d gotten into his brother?

Kane was worse than him when it came to talking about touchy-feely relationship crap.

Kane never thought about man/woman shit beyond the locker room trash-talking of, “I fucked her” or, “I wanna fuck her” or, “Is she any good with her mouth?”

Now Kane was channeling Dr. Phil? It shocked Kade to the point of speechlessness, leaving him no choice but to take note of his brother’s opinion.

“Take a woman like Skylar, who’s used to callin’ all the shots in her life,” Kane continued, oblivious to Kade’s shock. “She’s ambitious. She’s convinced herself she always has to be in charge—of her business, of her family, and probably of her sexuality.”

A strange sense of déjà vu surfaced. That described Skylar to a T.

“Maybe she’s secretly lookin’ for man to render decisions in the bedroom. So, by you doin’ nothin’, she don’t see you as a real man. She sees you as another person in her life she has to be responsible for.”

Lord. He had a point. Sky’d been teaching him how to care for Eliza, much like how she’d taught her employees to do their jobs. Did she see him as just another project to finish? Get him up to speed in the parenting department and then merrily skip on to the next task?

Like hell.

“I think the only way you can combat Skylar’s way of thinkin’ is to prove to her otherwise.”

“Who are you?”

Kane actually blushed. “What? Everybody in this family wants me to change and then when I do, I’m told I ain’t allowed to? Or they don’t believe I can?”

“Shit. Sorry. I just can’t believe that Skylar would…” Want the man Kade used to be. That idea was just beyond bizarre.

But worth a shot since nothing else seemed to be working.

“Where did you pick all this up, Kane?”

“I’ve had a lot of time to reflect in the last year about what a first-class prick I’ve been to women.” He bristled as if the admission stung. “Besides. It ain’t all my fault.

Blame my roommate.”

“What’s Colt got to do with it?”

“Since our cousin quit drinkin’, he’s been doin’ some soul searchin’. Always bringin’ home them self-help books. I ain’t got nothin’ better to do, so I’ve been readin’ up. Hopin’ if I meet a woman I really like, I won’t be an idiot and blow it like you did.”

“Gee. Thanks.”

“Anytime.” Kane punched him in the arm. Hard. “I missed you, you dumb fucker.”

“Same goes.” He followed Kane’s lead and punched him in the arm. Hard. “So what do I owe ya for the advice? A buck?”

“Buck.” Kane rubbed the back of his glove under his chin. “You know, that’s a downright good name. Real cowboy. Real different from yours. That’s whatcha can call me from now on.”


“Yep. Now let’s get this fence fixed so you can go home early and fix your love life so I don’t gotta hear about it any more.”

Every woman in the factory stopped when Kade McKay sauntered into Sky Blue.

Didn’t matter his boots were muddy, his Wranglers were dusty, his chambray shirt had dirt smears across the chest, or his hat looked as if he’d sat on it before he’d placed it on his head. The man took total command of the place.

Dee and Bonita checked their reflections in the metal vats, but Kade only had eyes for her.

Skylar forced herself to stay put as he meandered over. When he hit her with that sexy smile, her stomach cartwheeled.

“Hey, boss lady. How’s it goin’?”

“Good. You’re off the ranch early.”

He shrugged. “A rare slow day. What about you? What time you callin’ it quits?”

“Another hour.”

“You need any help?”

“With what?”

“Anything.” He moved closer. “Anything at all I can do for you?”

For me? Or to me? Oh yeah, cowboy. Go to the house. Strip out of those dirty clothes and wait for me in bed. Naked. With a piece of straw between your teeth and that wicked I-wanna-bend-you-over-the-closest-haybale grin.

“Skylar?” he murmured.

She stared up at him. Lord. He was so tall. So big and broad. So intent. So thoughtful. So freakin’ hot. So…here.

“You okay, sweetheart?”

“I-I don’t really know.”

Kade ran the knuckle of his index finger down her jawline. “You feel fine to me—

very, very fine, but maybe you oughta be in bed.”

Her mouth went dry as powdered milk.

“Let me take you to bed and take care of you.”

Yes! “Ah. Okay.”

“What say we get out of here?” His voice dropped to a sexy growl. “Now?”

Before Skylar could drag him home, forcing him to fulfill the promises darkening his eyes, Annie shouted from the office. “Sky. Yellow Wheel Promotions. Line two.”

She backed up so fast Kade’s hand shot out to steady her. “Easy. Didn’t mean to spook you.”

“You didn’t.” Liar, liar. “I-I have to take that call.”

“I’ll just wait and have a look around. Do you mind?”

“Not at all.”

Then Dee was right there. Grinning and batting her fake eyelashes. “I’d be happy to take you on a tour.”

“That’s not—”

“It’d be my pleasure, yes-sirree, a real pleasure. You look awful familiar to me, honey,” Dee cooed. “Have we met?”

“No, ma’am.”

“He looks familiar, Dee, because his daughter looks just like him.”

Kade shot her a startled glance.

Skylar couldn’t withhold a smirk. “This is Eliza’s father, Kade McKay. Kade, Dee Bancroft.”