“I like the way you smell, fresh off the ranch. I like the way your tired muscles feel, flexing beneath my greedy hands.” She licked his throat. “I like the way you taste.



“Kade,” she imitated his tone. “The naked rule is in effect. Strip.”

“Wait a sec—”

“Nope.” Buttons flew as she ripped his shirt open.


She’d focused on unbuckling his belt as she rained kisses down his belly. “Damn T-shirt. Why do you have to wear so many layers of clothes?”

Why did he? Hell. He could not think. “Ah. Um. Protection from the bugs and sun.”

“This little scrap of cotton isn’t gonna protect you from me.”

Kade groaned again.

“Fine. Half-naked works. You want to leave your boots on?”

Kade’s head was spinning with, what the hell had gotten into her? Followed by, why are you resisting?

“I take that as a yes.” Zip. His fly was undone. Yank. His Wranglers and boxers were down past his knees. She looked up at him. “Are you gonna lay back on that blanket?”

When he didn’t move, her eyebrows rose in challenge. “Or am I going to have to push you down?”

Somehow, he managed not to stumble and ended up flat on his back, his cock sticking straight up like a divining rod, as he stared at the stunning cloudless blue of the big Wyoming sky.

Then an even prettier Sky was above him. “With your jeans around your boots, you’re hobbled, cowboy. You can’t get away from me.”

“You put your hand or your mouth or your pussy on my cock and I guarantee I ain’t gonna try to get away.”

She grinned, looking as carefree and wild as he’d ever seen her. “Have I mentioned that I love you?”

“Once or twice, but I wouldn’t mind hearin’ it again. And again.” He reached for the tie on her hair. The shining waves fell around his face like a curtain of silk. He crushed a handful of the sweetly scented strands and inhaled deeply.

She slowly unbuttoned her blouse, letting it flutter to the ground. Her rosy nipples were completely visible through the lacy pink bra. Skylar threw her leg over his hip, scooted back and lifted her skirt.

He caught a glimpse of a dark triangle of curls between her milky white thighs.

“Good Lord. You ain’t wearin’ panties?”

“Nope. Since you usually rip them off anyway, I took them off in the truck.”

“Hopin’ to get lucky, were you?”

“I already knew I was the luckiest woman in the world when I saw you on the tractor. When you came running across the field to meet me.”


“Let me finish. I didn’t think it was possible to fall in love in a month. But I do love you. Not because you’re Eliza’s father but because you’re you.”

“A month? I gotcha beat, babe, by a country mile. Do you know I’ve been in love with you since our second date?”

“No, but I figured it was a possibility when I found that letter you sent today.”

“You found it? Where?”

“It’d been shoved in a pile of junk mail. I’ve gotta say, for the strong, silent type, you certainly have a way with sweet words.”

His cheeks heated. “You didn’t think it was dumb? Or corny?”

“It was beautiful. And hopeful. And perfect.”

Kade twirled a section of her hair around his palm as he composed his thoughts. “If you hadn’t found that letter, would you be here?”

“Yes. It wasn’t that I thought you were lying about writing it. It’s just the way I am, Kade. I’m the type of person who needs proof in order to believe.”

“Believe what?”

“Believe you were with me because you cared about me, and wanted me for me, not just because of Eliza.”

“I only told you that about a dozen times. You want more tangible proof that I love you?”

“No. That’s not what I meant.”

“Hang on.” In one quick movement he whipped off his T-shirt.

Her eyes narrowed on the square of white gauze on the left side of his chest. “What happened? How did you get hurt?”

“Self-inflicted. It’s not completely healed, so you can’t touch it yet.” He peeled the adhesive tape and lowered the protective gauze so she could see his brand new tattoo.

Skylar’s eyes widened, then pooled with tears. “Kade. You did that? For me?”


“Why? You hate needles.”

“When you came to me the other night, and left your marks all over me, I knew they’d fade and I wanted to prove that you’re a permanent part of me.” He glanced at the puffy red skin, and the heart with Skylar scrolled in the center.

She squinted. “Is the outline of that heart supposed to look like…barbed wire?”

“Yeah. Your sister has a bizarre sense of humor.”

Tears splashed on his chest. Her mouth trembled.

“Baby, don’t cry.”

“But I don’t deserve you.”

“See, that’s the thing, you do. Believe you deserve me, because I finally believe I deserve you. All you have to do is look in my eyes to know the truth. I’ll always be your tangible proof.” Kade wiped her tears and curled his hand around her face, bringing their mouths together for a long kiss. He rested his forehead to hers. “Skylar. I love you.”

“Show me. Please. Show me now.”

“That I can do.” He braced his arms behind him as she lowered herself until they were joined completely. He kissed her as she rode him, slow and easy, sweetly. She freely and lovingly gave him all of herself, and she showed him tenderness he didn’t know he’d needed.

In one magnificent burst, the explosive physical pleasure they always brought to each other became the true intimacy they’d both been searching for because it came from love.

He flopped back, still inside her, taking her with him so she was sprawled across his chest.

Scarcely a heartbeat passed before she put her lips to his ear and demanded, “Marry me, Kade McKay.”

“About damn time you came to your senses, woman.”

“So, is that a yes?”

“Absolutely, it’s a yes.”

For the longest time, Kade was content to lay in the middle of the land he loved, with the woman he loved. He was content to just…be. To exist in the moment of perfect happiness and look forward to going home.