Throughout the conversations, Kade remained polite to his admirers. Skylar also noticed his warm hand remained firmly planted on her back. Even after they’d made their escape.
She spied Kimi and Eliza. Kade ambled up. Eliza took one look at him and her feet churned with glee. He grinned, stealing her from Kimi’s arms. “There’s my girl. Didja miss us, sweet thang?” He bussed the top of her bonneted head.
“She was an absolute angel,” Kimi said. “Skylar Ellison, meet my sister Carolyn McKay. She had to skip out on the West reunion earlier because her daughter-in-law Channing got sick.”
As they shook hands, “Your last name is McKay too?”
“Yep. We’re sisters who married brothers. Long story we’ll no doubt bore you with at some point. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much I love your Sky Blue products. Kimi has me hooked.”
“I always love to hear that.”
“You must not work at the shop in Sundance much?”
Sky shook her head. “I trust it to India while I’m running the manufacturing plant outside of Moorcroft.”
Kade moved to block the sun from Sky’s eyes. “You oughta see her setup. It’s something. Way beyond anything else goin’ around here.” He rattled off a bunch of things that Sky was surprised he remembered from the brief tour. And he almost sounded…proud of her.
Carolyn whistled. “Kade, are you driving from Moorcroft to the ranch? Every day?”
“Yep. Ain’t no big deal.”
“Sixty miles is quite a stretch, especially when you’re tired from working.”
He rolled his eyes. “You sound just like Ma, Aunt C.”
“I worry about all my family members, Kade, not just the ones I gave birth to.”
“You’d say the same thing to Colby or Cord?”
“If they were driving one hundred and twenty miles round trip every day, I’d ask them to be careful too.”
Skylar got right in his face. “You’re driving that many miles? Every day?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Bewildered, she could only stare at him and feel more guilty. “I didn’t know. No wonder you’re so tired. You shouldn’t have to—”
“Have to don’t enter into it at all.” He lowered his voice so only she heard him.
“Because it don’t matter. I want to. I’d drive twice that to be with you and Eliza every night.”
She melted and only managed a humble, “Oh.”
“Yeah, oh. This ain’t a temporary thing for me, so I figured I’d better get used to it early on.”
This ain’t a temporary thing for me.
The announcer listed the program order and team-roping trophies were second on the list. Kade passed Eliza to Sky. “I’ve gotta help Colt, then I’ll be right home.”
“But there’s a get-together at Colby and Channing’s place tonight,” Kimi said.
“Everyone in the family is gonna be there.”
“Everyone except us.” Kade exchanged a hot look with Skylar and a wave of anticipation flowed through her. “Eliza’s had enough excitement today. She’s had a rough week and she needs an early bedtime.”
“Fair enough. But you are comin’ to the brunch at Carolyn and Carson’s tomorrow?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Kade winked at her. “Later, sweetheart.”
Kimi and Carolyn moved closer to the action, while Sky watched from the fence.
She swallowed her jealousy at the legions of women who surrounded Kade and Colt.
Strange thing was, neither man seemed particularly interested in any of them.
Cash Big Crow and Trevor Glanzer hammed it up for the crowd. After the all-around title was announced, with Trevor as the winner, Trevor and Chassie took the stage. A buzz filled the air.
Trevor commandeered the microphone. “Last year due to an accident, my wife lost her brother, Dag West, and I lost a good buddy. Dag left behind many family members and friends. So in honor of Dag, his love of rodeo, and his love of this community, the Devil’s Tower Rodeo Association has created an annual award in Dag West’s memory.”
Murmurs of approval and a smattering of applause.
“Every year this award will go to the cowboy or cowgirl, who’s shown heart, guts, and a whole lotta try at this event and others around the area. Someone who’s overcome obstacles and still embodies the ideals and western way of life.”
More buzz reverberated through the crowd as folks speculated who’d win.
“Chassie and I are happy to announce that this year’s winner is a man well-versed in the cowboy way, a man who has thrived in spite of it.” Trevor paused for the laughter to die down. “The First Annual Dag West Memorial Award goes to…Colton McKay.”
Happy whoops rent the air. Colt lumbered across the dirt, the tattered fringe on his chaps flapping, clearly in shock. He hugged Chassie, clapped Trevor on the back, and studied the award. After a second or so, he faced the audience and raised it above his head. He seemed too choked up to speak.
The crowd went wild. A lump rose in Skylar’s throat when the McKays and the Wests ran across the arena to celebrate with Colt. Maybe Kade would rather be with his family tonight, instead of sixty miles away.
She loaded Eliza in her car and headed home.
The rodeo didn’t wear Eliza out. She’d just put the baby down a few hours later when Kade’s truck pulled up.
Thump sounded on the porch as Kade removed his dirty boots, like he always did.
The man was so thoughtful. The door squeaked open and shut. He paused on the rug, after hanging up his jacket and saw her standing in the hallway.
“Hey. Got done and got gone as quick as I could.”
“I thought you might call and say you were hanging out with your family tonight.”
In two strides he had her face cupped in his rough hands and was kissing her like he planned to eat her alive. Several minutes of tongue-tangling kisses that left her bare toes curling into the wooden floor, he broke his mouth free. “Does that seem like I’d rather be with anyone besides you?”
“Good. Hang tight. I need to wash the grime off. I shouldna been touchin’ you.”
“I didn’t mind.”
“Is Eliza sleepin’?”
“Down for the count. She’s in her crib.”
“I’ll poke my head in and check on her.”
“Do you want me to come upstairs?”
“No. Go on into the living room. I’ll be down lickety-split.”
Sky heard the shower turn on. She tried to sit but that lasted all of thirty seconds before she was up and pacing again. Her emotions ranged from nervous to excited, back to nervous.
The day’s events played in her mind. Kade taking control. Dictating to her. Not by humiliating her, but teaching her with not-so-gentle determination. And it was sexy as all get out, being in the position of giving him pleasure, watching the ecstasy on his gorgeous face, bringing that violent response to his body. She hadn’t been angling for false praise when she’d admitted her inadequacies regarding oral sex. But Kade acted as if she was a blowjob master and she couldn’t wait to do it again.
The stairs creaked. She saw Kade striding toward her buck-ass nekkid.
She was so staggered all she could do was stand and stare. And drool. Oh man.
Broad. Muscled. Big. Everywhere. Kade McKay was a perfect male specimen.
What would he think when he saw her? With her less-than-perfect body?
Again, he brought his mouth down on hers, intoxicating her with another bone-melting kiss. He murmured, “I wanna see you, Sky. All of you. I’m settin’ the nekkid rule in place right now.”
“The naked rule?”
“Yep. I say ‘get nekkid’ and you do it. That’s the rule.”
“I thought so.”
Kade nibbled at her lips and jaw as he unbuttoned her lace blouse. Once it was completely undone, he peeled it down her arms and it fluttered to the floor.
Her stomach fluttered in response.
His callused hands slid down the sides of her body to rest on her hips. Work-roughened fingertips traced the skin beneath the waistband of her skirt to the zipper in the back. Zzzz sounded as her skirt hit the rug, leaving her standing in a pair of turquoise bikini panties and a plain white sports bra, which she realized didn’t match the panties at all.
Skylar wanted to protest her near nakedness, to hide her body against his, but Kade was having none of it.
“Lose the bra.”
She eased away and lifted it over her head. Soon as she finished, her chin dropped to her chest and her hair fell over her face.
“Look at me.”
It took all her courage to meet his gaze.
“Don’t you know you’re gorgeous? Ripe and lush and beautiful?”
“I don’t feel beautiful, Kade. I’ve always been a little too round, a little too soft, a little too womanly. It just got worse after Eliza was born and now I’m still carrying around this extra baby weight…”
“I didn’t notice.”
Sky couldn’t help it; she snorted.
He smoothed a section of hair from her hot cheek. “Is that why we’ve been makin’ love in the dark?”
She nodded. “I didn’t want you to see me naked. I thought you’d…”
“What? Jump on you like a horny toad?”
“No. I thought you’d be disappointed.”
“Wrong. I’ve been dyin’ to see you completely nekkid since the first time you barreled up to me wearin’ them wicked purple heels. I thought about you standin’ in front of me, wearin’ nothin’ but them sexy-ass shoes and a big ol’ smile.” He kissed her so sweetly tears prickled behind her lids. “Trust me, the last thing I am is disappointed. The last thing I’m gonna do is spend time talkin’ when I could be touchin’ you. Or tastin’ you.” He put his mouth against her ear. “You been thinkin’ about this afternoon?”