“Ride me, baby.”

“Always thinking like a cowboy.”

“Can’t help what I am. Oh yeah. I like that.”

“See? I don’t need a horse when I have you around to ride.”

His chuckle turned into a groan when she began to lift and lower faster. Kade’s mouth sought hers, as his hands seemed determined to touch every millimeter of her damp skin.

Time stopped as they moved together. Two lovers locked in passion. Fast. Frantic.


Kade’s hips thrust up on her every downstroke. Her clit vibrated and pulsed in response to the grinding motion. “Yes. Oh yes. Don’t stop.” She barely withheld a scream as the climax knocked her sideways.

He groaned against her throat. “I’m right behind you. Come on, baby, squeeze me tight with your cunt muscles. That’s it. That’s so it.”

With their bodies plastered together, she reveled in the slick feel of his rougher skin scraping on her softer curves. The urgency of his pumping hips.

“Fuck.” His head dropped back on the couch cushion. His cock throbbed and jerked inside her, she swore she could feel his heat through the latex as he came. She shamelessly watched the concentrated look on his face morph to satisfaction.

After his last drawn-out groan, Sky buried her face in the curve of his neck, letting her lips travel along the strained muscles, tasting the sweat on his skin.

“Yeah. See, makin’ love on the couch ain’t so bad.”


“I’m likin’ this nekkid rule. A lot.”


“That was a damn content mmm.”


He whispered, “Skylar. Marry me.”

She whispered back, “No.”

A pause lingered and he sighed. “Give me a reason why you’re always sayin’ no?”

Should she deflect? Lie? Or buck up and admit the truth?

“See? Even you can’t think of one good reason.”

“Wrong.” Skylar lifted her head and looked him straight in the eye. “I keep saying no, because I’ve been married before.”

Chapter Fifteen

Kade looked at the embarrassment and truth warring in Skylar’s eyes. “You’ve been married before?”



“Years ago.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because it wasn’t the happiest time in my life, okay? I swore I’d never dwell…forget it.” Skylar tried to maneuver off him, but he clamped his hands on her hips, keeping her in place, keeping his cock imbedded in her.

“No fuckin’ way. You don’t get to blurt out something like that and then run off like a scared bunny, Sky.”

“I’m not scared.” In response, she looked down at her hands braced on his chest, as if she’d just realized she was pushing him away.

“Then talk to me.”

“Please. Let me go.”

He inhaled a deep breath. “If I let you up, will you promise to stay here and tell me about it?” His hand slid up her arm to her shoulder. He twined his fingers in a section of her silky hair. “You gotta know nothin’ you tell me is gonna make me change my opinion of you. And you can trust me to keep my mouth shut. Lord, I seem to be well-versed in keepin’ secrets.”

“I guess I never have heard you talking trash about anyone. Not even your family.”

“See? It’s because I’m trustworthy.”

Skylar didn’t look up. “Would you have a glass of wine if I opened a bottle?”

“Sure. I’d like that.”

“Let me climb off this ride, cowboy, before we get permanently stuck together.”

“I sure wouldn’t complain about that, sweetheart.”

Sky lifted off his softened cock. She scooted back and stood between his legs.

Kade snagged her hand before she ran off. “Just so you don’t get any ideas about puttin’ them clothes back on, the nekkid rule still applies. Even while we’re talkin’.”

“We’re drinking wine in the living room…nude?”

“Yep. And I wouldn’t mind if you walked into the kitchen nice and slow, so I can get all hot and bothered starin’ at your luscious ass.”

She blushed before she headed out of the room.

“Oh yeah, baby, that’s what I’m talkin’ about. Shake it a little more. Mmm. Mmm.

Damn, Sky, you are one smokin’ hot mama.”

She gifted him with a “come and get me” grin over her left shoulder.

“You’re gonna pay for that look, woman.”

“I can’t wait.”

Kade ditched the condom and tried to wrap his head around Skylar’s unmentioned marriage. These days it wasn’t a big deal to be divorced. They’d gone out a dozen times last year; it should’ve come up in conversation at least once. So why hadn’t she told him?

Why didn’t you tell her you were Kade, not Kane?

Shit. He hadn’t thought of that. Man, it seemed they were both good at telling half-truths. Haunted by memories they’d rather push aside than openly discuss.

It wasn’t the happiest time in my life.

He understood the desire to move on from the past. He’d done it, sending himself on a sabbatical to straighten out the mess his life had become. During the time away from family and friends, he decided he wasn’t going to live his life full of regret for time and opportunities lost. Nor would he wait around for happiness to float into his life. He was going after it like a rodeo junkie chases the gold buckle: full throttle.

Watching his cousins living the life of home and hearth, the life Kade had always wanted, made him more determined to make that happen for himself. On his terms. Yeah, he knew exactly what he wanted. And she walked in the room stark naked holding a bottle of wine and two glasses.

“What are you smiling at, Kade?”

“You. What a pretty picture you make completely buck-ass nekkid.”

She poured the glasses full of ruby-colored liquid, then sat on the opposite end of the couch with her knees tucked under her.

He didn’t comment when she downed nearly half the contents in one long swallow.

A couple of minutes passed before she spoke. “You know I grew up in California.

Graduated top of my college class. I scored a primo job at an ad agency in LA right out of college. Big money. Lots of prestige. I had my career all planned out. It never bothered me to be one of those women who are really successful in their work, but a total failure when it came to personal relationships.

“At a party I met this older guy named Ted. He was a real laid-back kind of guy, which was very appealing to me. We’d been dating for a month when my dad was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. Doctors told us he had less than three months to live. I’d always dreamed of my dad walking me down the aisle, and I was about to lose the chance forever. When Ted suggested we get married right away, I agreed.” She laughed bitterly. “It was the only impulsive thing I’d ever done in my life.”

Had she loved Ted? It tied a knot in his gut to think she’d married for less than the total love and adoration she deserved.

“Turns out my dad had less time. He died three weeks after the wedding.”

“Sky. I’m sorry.”

She knocked back a mouthful of wine. “Anyway, my mother went into a deep depression and decided to ‘find herself’ at a monastery on some damn island.”

“You’re shittin’ me.”


“People really do that?”

“My mom was a bit of a free-spirit, hippie type. She could do pretty much whatever struck her fancy because my father had left us well off.” Her troubled gaze met his. “Very well off. She vanished and I didn’t hear a word from her for two years.”

Kade cringed. He’d essentially done the same thing, disappeared without a word. No wonder Skylar had sported the attitude that he might not care about Eliza’s existence. Or that he intended to become a permanent part of her life.

“At the time, India was a drug addict and a drunk, in and out of rehab. I’d used my grief to bury myself in work and advanced to the level of vice president. Ted had a fairly low-stress job so he handled everything.”


“Yes.” Skylar closed her eyes. “All the finances, all the household stuff. Some nights I’d come home from the office an emotional basket case and he took care of me too. I trusted him. I let him have total control of every single thing in my life.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “And he fucked me over. Big time. I didn’t know he wasn’t who he said he was. Ted wasn’t a real estate developer as much as he was a con man.”

No wonder she’d freaked out so badly about him pretending to be Kane. No wonder she was taking her time on deciding whether she’d marry him.

“I also didn’t know he’d taken half of the inheritance from my father and squirreled it away somewhere. I didn’t know he’d helped himself to half my earnings over a two-year period. I only found out when he hit me with divorce papers. There were very little liquid assets, where we should’ve been drowning in them.

“California is a community property state, which entitled Ted to fifty percent of what I had. My house, my cars, my pension, my assets—assets that had dwindled to damn near nothing in the time we were married. Everything I’d worked for, all the money my dad left me…gone.”

“Oh baby, c’mere.” Kade put their wine glasses on the coffee table and enfolded her in his arms. She didn’t cry, this tough, independent woman who’d had every man in her life let her down. She just melted into him. That broke his damn heart. He didn’t speak, partially because he didn’t know what to say, but mostly because he now understood her need for absolute control.

“It was the most humiliating thing that’s ever happened to me. So yeah, I have some issues with trust.”