Her lips curled into a smile. “Fine. But you will owe me.”

“Anything you want.” He grinned. “Thanks. You never know, you might even have fun.”

Tierney rounded the desk. “I’ll need to change.”

Which was a damn cryin’ shame. His eyes almost hurt from all the stealthy glances he’d sent her way today, seeing her in a fluffy peach-colored angora sweater that rivaled her skin for softness. And like a f**kin’ pervert, he’d purposely brushed against her twice, just to feel the heat of her body next to his, just to catch a whiff of her hair. She’d worn another one of those damn distracting skirts, tight enough to hug her hips and ass, short enough to show off a generous section of toned leg. Normally he didn’t notice women’s shoes, but Tierney’s were peep-toe pumps, in some swanky mix of gray fabric and black leather with peach piping that matched her outfit and the heel height also did eye-popping things for her calves. He imagined her in those sexy shoes, a pair of black bikini panties that let the bottom slice of her sweet ass hang out, and nothing else.

“Renner? Did you hear me?”

He raised his guilty eyes to hers. “Ah no. I’m sorry. What did you say?”

“I asked if I should meet you at the barn?”

“That’ll work. I’ll fetch Marisol.”

“See you in ten.” She shoved her arms into a trench coat that covered her to her ankles, which ruined his chance to watch her hips swing as she strutted away in those fantasy-invoking shoes.

Renner stopped at the Mackenzies’ room, but Marisol’s mother had rallied enough to promise she’d walk Marisol to the barn. He was relieved the woman wasn’t turning over her young daughter to some strange guy.

He slipped on a pair of chinks and spurs before he readied the horses. A few weeks ago he’d compromised with Tierney as far as keeping a couple of older horses on hand for impromptu trail rides, and he wondered if she’d be smug and point out that she had been right.

Somehow, he didn’t think so. The more he got to know her, the more he realized she was a team player. It hadn’t been apparent to him at first, mostly because he’d been suspicious of her motives—he still was to some extent—but Tierney really did put what was best for the Split Rock first.

Then other surprising things about her surfaced. Thoughtful things, like when she’d tracked down a bottle of almond oil when he complained the skin on his hands started cracking. Sweet things, like when she’d given him a bag of chocolate-flavored jellybeans for his jellybean dispenser. Funny things, like when she’d found a picture of a naked guy wearing a cowboy hat, holding a towel and asked if he had a brother.

He adjusted the stirrups on the saddle for Marisol, and his mind wandered to the night he’d kissed Tierney in Buckeye Joe’s parking lot.

Immediately after the kiss ended and she’d lambasted him with harsh words, he’d formulated a plan to seduce her. To use her. So if Daddy Dearest tried to f**k with him regarding his decisions about the Split Rock, versus Tierney’s recommendations, Renner could point out that since he’d been banging Pratt’s daughter, then Tierney’s opinions might be based on emotion, not business acumen.

But after he’d cooled off, he knew he’d never follow through with such a cruel plan—no matter how much the thought of seducing Tierney appealed to him. And did it ever appeal to him. If—no, when—he and Tierney became lovers it’d be for no ulterior motive beyond acting on their sizzling attraction.

He’d tied off all the horses when Tierney appeared. In jeans. The type of skintight jeans he’d seen on cowgirls, but never expected he’d see on her. She wore a thermal shirt, a flannel shirt and a puffy ski vest. A vivid purple snow hat sat atop her head and she’d tucked matching gloves in the outside vest pocket. Her boots were heeled, but they were narrow enough to fit in the stirrups, and sexy enough to send him straight back to nekkid fantasy-land.

She froze, realizing he was gawking at her. “What?”

“That’s a much better outfit than the one you had on the last time you were down here.”

“The last time I was down here I wasn’t expecting to ride,” she retorted.

“Coulda fooled me by the way you rode my ass,” he muttered.

“What did you say?”

“Nothin’.” He pointed to the horse he’d picked for her. “That’s yours.”

“He looks mean.”

“She,” Renner corrected, “is about twenty years old and is almost as gentle as the horse I chose for Marisol. She’s used to bein’ the pack leader, so that means you’ll be on the trail first.”

Tierney approached the horse on the left side and patted her neck. “What’s her name?”

“Billie Jo.”

Marisol shouted, “Hey, Mr. Cowboy, sir, here I am!”

He looked at her and grinned. Not only was Marisol wearing a straw cowboy hat, and her brand-new red cowgirl boots; she’d donned a pair of pink chaps with silver fringe. “Well, lookit you. You sure are cowgirl material, little lady.”

She giggled and ran to hug Tierney. “Are you coming with us?”

“Yes sirree, Bob.”

“Yay!” She giggled again. “But my name’s not Bob.”

“Right. Your name rhymes with . . . something to do with rain.” Tierney snapped her fingers. “I’ve got it. Umbrella. Your name is Cruella!”


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