“You really think so?”

“I know so.” Renner teased her neck with soft-lipped kisses. Her sexy little moan instantly made him hard. “I want you.”

He felt her smile against his cheek. “You do have a certain economy of words, Renner.”

“And I’m hopin’ to get a firsthand demonstration of your other oral skills, Tierney.” He brushed his mouth across the shell of her ear until she shivered in his arms. “Soon.”

“Soon enough, but not tonight.”

He sighed. “Damn. I’d rather you were sore from ridin’ me, not a horse.”

“I’m sure you’ll live.” She kissed the tip of his nose.

This time he didn’t try to stop her when she moved off the couch and stood by the hearth.

“The fire’s almost out.”

He didn’t bother to bank the heat in his eyes. “Not all of them.”

Tierney studied him. “I’ll see you in the morning?”

“You probably won’t. I’ve gotta help Abe and Hank move cattle tomorrow. It’ll take all day. By the time I get the cow shit scraped offa me, it’ll be time to mingle with the guests.”

“Then I guess I’ll see you when I see you.” She ducked out of view, but not before he caught her strange look of determination.

Chapter Seventeen

True to his word, Tierney hadn’t seen Renner all day.

It’d taken an hour to pep talk herself into attempting an impromptu seduction—which just proved how not spontaneous she was, having to plan to be impulsive.

Her gaze stayed on him as she entered the main lodge area. Surrounded by a group of men, Renner was spinning some yarn, keeping them enthralled. The man had a way with people, any age, shape, size, nationality that produced a spark of envy.

Correction: just looking at him in his cowboy gear—jeans, boots, a Western pearl-snap shirt, black hat—caused a spark of lust to supplant the envy.

Janie chatted with a couple of the men’s wives, and Tierney ignored her attempt to grab her attention.

Starting a fight to get the man to kiss you, Tierney? Pathetic.

But she wanted to feel Renner’s mouth on hers. God, how she wanted it. Craved it. Another taste of that explosion of passion she’d never experienced. The hum of desire he triggered just by staring at her so hotly with those intense blue eyes.

Eyes, which were wary as she approached. Did Renner know what she was up to? And the question was: if so, would he play along?

“Tierney,” he drawled when she stopped before him, “you’ve got that look in your eye that means I’m in trouble.”

The men in his group laughed.

“Am I in trouble?” he prompted.

“It depends. Anything you want to confess? Something you’ve done wrong lately to save me the bother of guessing?”

Renner smirked. “So you’re narrowing the list to what I’ve done wrong lately? Hell, in that case . . . nope. It’s still gonna be a fairly long list.”

Another round of chuckles.

“I figured you might say that.” Tierney glanced at each male guest and smiled. “Gentlemen, I need to have a few words with Mr. Jackson, if you don’t mind.”

“I’m expecting they’ll be pretty choice words, Miz Pratt,” Renner drawled again. “But duty calls. Enjoy the rest of the evening. Remember, your huntin’ guides are gonna be at the lodge at five a.m.”

“Guess we’ll be calling it a night soon,” said the brawny biker with a Santa Claus beard.

“Good luck tomorrow.” Renner placed his hand in the small of Tierney’s back and steered her toward the curved staircase.

The heat from his palm seemed to sear a hole through her clothes, straight into her skin. Desire zinged up her spine. Every nerve ending in her body flared with anticipation. Halfway up the stairs, she turned and looked at him. His jaw was clamped together so tightly his lips had nearly vanished in the hard set of his mouth. “Renner—”

“Not a f**kin’ word until we’re in the office.”

Maybe he thought this was real. She’d never done a covert seduction, or any kind of seduction before. What if she’d hosed it up? “But—”

He bit off, “Not. Another. Fucking. Word. So help me God if you look at me like that again I will not be responsible for my actions. And that will not bode well for either of us, especially given where we are, understand?”

She swallowed. Managed to nod. Purposely added distance between them as they ambled down the hallway. With the open floor plan, everyone on the lodge’s main floor could see them from the waist up.

When they reached the office door, she unclipped the lanyard from the belt loop on her trousers. Her hand shook so much she couldn’t insert the key in the lock.

Renner swore and took the key from her, without touching her hand at all, and angrily jammed it into the keyhole. He pushed the door open and said tersely, “After you.”

Tierney marched past him, head held high. Two seconds later the door slammed. Hard. She had no idea how she’d heard him engaging the dead bolts above the hammering of her heart.

Before she uttered a sound, she was spun around and her back hit the door. Any protest was lost in Renner’s mouth as he plastered his body to hers and kissed her wildly.

No sweet kisses. No tender touches. Just raw hunger.

He tasted different than he had last night. A heady mix of male need and a hint of bourbon.

***

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