Yes, it is insanity. You don’t like this man. Do not close your eyes and pretend you’re enjoying this.
But she did relish his attention. She raised her gaze to his, but his focus was entirely on her mouth. When Tierney moistened her lips, he dropped his hand and scrambled back.
“Ah. I think I got it all, but you might wanna check.”
“Will do.” Tierney needed to escape from his über-masculine presence, so she snatched the suit jacket she’d draped on the prep stool and headed to the door. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
He called out, “Tierney. Wait,” when her hand gripped the door handle.
She turned and Renner was a foot away.
“Thanks for pitching in the past two days. We would’ve been screwed without your help. I know we have our differences, but it’ll take all of us pulling together to make this place work.”
Renner flashed that swoon-worthy smile. “So, how about a . . . truce?”
“Truce.” She smiled as cagily as he did. “At least until you piss me off.”
The truce lasted all of thirty-six hours.
Tierney froze in the doorway of the office—an office that’d been tidy when she’d left it the previous evening. Now the space looked as if it’d been ransacked by raccoons.
Papers strewn across the coffee table. A disemboweled printer, the spent ink cartridge next to a pair of greasy pliers and a screwdriver, teetered on the edge of the table.
She crossed to the sitting area, picking up a fleece blanket. Beneath it was a decorative tasseled pillow from the guest sofa downstairs. She studied the paisley pattern. Was it her imagination or was there a drool stain? She sniffed it. Smelled like coffee. Better than bourbon, she supposed.
Renner had left his laptop charging, a fact she’d discovered after tripping over the cord in the middle of the floor. A pair of gray athletic socks peeked out of a gap in the cushions—cushions that were askew indicating he’d slept here last night.
He’d made himself coffee, evidenced by the grounds scattered all over the coffee station. Also evidenced by the Styrofoam cups everywhere—next to the fax machine, her printer, her computer. Her eyes narrowed. Hey. Wait a second. What had he been doing in her private area? Were those . . . boot prints on the edge of her desk?
She stalked over and scrutinized them. Yes, indeed, those were boot prints. Muddy boot prints. And he’d taped something to her monitor. She bent down to read it. Squinted at it because she couldn’t believe her eyes. A to-do list.
The man had made her a to-do list.
That was the last straw.
Infuriated, Tierney barreled down the stairs and out the side door that led to the barns. When the pavement ended, she was forced to traverse the rocky path to the back of the corrals.
Wooden planks ringed the perimeter of the fence. A dozen men hung on the corrals on the opposite side. One guy was inside the corral, but he kept throwing looks over his shoulder to the chutes.
Her gaze followed his to where a couple of cowboys stood on the upper ledge. A sound of something hard, like a hoof or a horn striking metal echoed and the entire enclosure shook. The bull jumped again, throwing the rider in the air.
Two things happened simultaneously: the rider vigorously nodded his hatted head and the gate burst open.
A whitish-gray bull leapt from captivity with its hind legs in the air. The cowboy kept one arm high above his head, as his other arm, somehow attached to the bull, was jerked every which way as the animal whirled and kicked. What a display of power, man versus beast. How strong the man’s leg muscles must be. How beefy his biceps and forearms must be. How agile he must be.
What an idiot he must be to climb on the back of a bull in the first place.
When the bull twisted toward her, Tierney caught a glimpse of the rider beneath the cowboy hat. Every bit of breath stalled in her lungs.
The idiot rider hanging on to that beast was Renner.
Fear, anger, and more anger surfaced. Surely he could’ve forced another cowboy to exhibit this dangerous behavior. But as that thought popped into her head, she knew Renner wasn’t the type to pass the buck. Or the type to pass up a chance to buck, apparently.
A loud buzzer sounded. Renner freed his hand and sailed off the bull. Clapping and wolf whistles exploded from the peanut gallery as he landed on his feet with grace and ease.
The bull, seeing his nemesis unharmed, charged.
The other guy in the ring shouted for Renner’s attention—or maybe he was shouting at the bull. Renner turned, lost his footing and slipped beneath the bull’s stomping hooves.
Renner rolled away before a hoof connected with his body. Then he was up, the fringe on his chaps making a flap flap sound as he raced toward the fence . . . straight toward her.
She tried to scramble away from the man and the beast giving chase. Her heels slipped off the edge of the wooden plank, her arms pinwheeled and she fell on her butt. Right in the muck. Then Renner was throwing himself over the top of the fence beside her.
The bull’s gigantic body distorted at the last second before it plowed into the fence. The substance on the hooves sprayed over them in a wet splatter.
Renner reached for her hands to drag her out of the mud. “Are you all right?”
“No!” She looked at her clothing with disgust. Her pink tweed skirt was speckled with brown. As was her beige silk shirt. The sleeves of her matching pink tweed suit coat had brown smears from elbow to wrist. Although she couldn’t see her backside, she felt cold dampness of mud seeping through. But witnessing the state of her shoes, her beautiful pink suede pumps, caused the most distress. They were ruined. She’d worn them one time.
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