Tierney looked at him with shock. “Seriously?”

He hated telling this story. Made him look like a dumbass. “Actually it was about eighteen days. I was in Vegas, helping with my buddy’s stock for the AFR, and a bunch of us found a strip club off Fremont Street. The first night I met a stripper who had a thing for cowboys. I was flattered as hell because she was ten kinds of gorgeous and about ten levels outta my league. She gave me the impression she wanted to ditch the stripper lifestyle and settle down. So late one night, a week after we met, after way too many shots of Patron, I married her at some tacky Vegas chapel. I should’ve known she wasn’t serious when she didn’t immediately quit her stripping job. The finals ended and I was ready to go home. She didn’t understand I had no intention of living in Vegas and I expected she’d move to Kansas with me.” He chuckled. “She couldn’t get to the courthouse to file the divorce papers fast enough.”

“I’ve never met anyone who has a real-life ‘what happens in Vegas’ story.”

“Which is why I avoid sin city whenever possible.”

“Because you were madly in love with a stripper with a heart of gold who broke your little Midwestern heart?”

Renner bumped her knee with his. “No, smart-ass. I didn’t love Kandy.”

“Kandy?” Tierney snickered. “Her name was Kandy? Please tell me her last name wasn’t Cane.”

“It was Kandy Land, which ain’t much better,” he said dryly. “And now that you’ve had a good laugh at my expense, I fully expect you’ll regale me about your dates with the Winstons, Harringtons, and other blue bloods you rub elbows with in the Windy City.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, but my dating tales are woefully inadequate compared to yours. To anyone’s actually. I’m not much of a dater.” Tierney sat up. “I’d better start walking.”

Renner put his hand on her shoulder, stopping her retreat. “Hey. What did I say?”

“Nothing. I just realized how late it is.”

“Bullshit. You’re runnin’ from this conversation. And darlin’, whatever is in your past can’t be half as bad as getting hitched to a stripper named Kandy Land, for Christsake.”

She laughed softly. “That’s true.”

He slipped his hand up her arm. “Talk to me.”

“I don’t have any crazy stories like yours. I’ve been all over the place, but it’s always for a business-related trip. I’m all work and no play. I’m boring. God. It’s embarrassing. I wish I had an ex-stripper in my life because that’d indicate I’d actually lived my life instead of just stumbling through it.”


“Don’t feel sorry for me, Renner. I couldn’t stand it.”

“You know what I can’t stand? The fact I’ve been feelin’ sorry for myself because I’ve been dyin’ to kiss you all damn day.”

Tierney blinked at him distrustfully.

He moved in and cupped his hands around her face. “I’ve wanted to kiss you again since that night I kissed you at Buckeye Joe’s.”

She went very still. Watchful. Silent.

“Well? Aren’t you gonna tell me I can kiss your ass? Tell me I’m not your type?”

“You aren’t my type. But I’m beginning to think that’s not such a bad thing.” She angled her head to press her mouth to the inside of his wrist.

That innocent kiss was far sexier than it had a right to be. Before he could smother her lips with his, Tierney crawled onto his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck. Blowing his mind with a kiss packed with raging desire and sweet heat.

At first he was so stunned he didn’t touch her at all. Then he was tempted to touch her everywhere at once. So he settled for curling his hands around her hips, letting his thumbs sweep the bared section of skin above the waistband of her pants.

The initial burst of passion or whatever had led Tierney to make the first move, ebbed, and the kiss slowed. Sweetened. She gave him a lingering smooch, resting her forehead to his.

He managed a husky, “What?”

“I really should’ve taken my glasses off first.”

“Keep kissin’ me like that, I promise to clean the smudges and steam when we’re done,” he offered.

She slid her hands to his shoulders. “Even when a spoiled daddy’s girl isn’t your type?”

“I’m beginning to think that ain’t such a bad thing.” Renner bent forward to place an openmouthed kiss on the side of her neck. “I wish you’d forget I ever said that.”

“Keep kissing me like that and I’ll probably forget my own name.”

He paused. “Speaking of names . . . how did you end up with a name like Tierney?”

“Like Renner is common,” she pointed out.

“Renner was my granddad’s mother’s maiden name. Now spill it.”

She fiddled with the top button on his shirt. “Because my father’s name is Gene and my mother’s name was Jean, they had this brilliant idea to pass the ‘Gene and Jean’ theme along to their offspring. So they named me Tierney, after Gene Tierney, and my sister Harlow, after Jean Harlow.”

“That is kinda wacky. But the name suits you perfectly.”

Her nose wrinkled. “How’s that?”

“Gene Tierney was a smart-mouthed, dark-haired bombshell. You’re just like her.”


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