“Prove it. Open the door. Now. Guests are staring at me.”

“I don’t f**kin’ believe this.” After Renner zipped and hooked her pants, he rolled to his feet and snapped his own shirt.

Tierney’s fingers weren’t cooperating. He took over with a whispered, “Let me, okay?” and she could only nod in response.

He kissed her sweetly, murmuring, “We’ll pick this up later. For now, follow my lead. Go stand by the windows and pretend you’re so mad you can’t even look at me.”

She blinked at the brightness of the overhead lights when Renner turned them on. The lock disengaged and he opened the door.

“Took you long enough,” Janie complained.

“We were in the middle of something.”


“Not your concern. From now on if the door is shut and locked, that’s a big hint to stay the f**k out, understand?”

“Sheesh. All right. But in my own defense, I’ve gotten used to running interference between you two, so don’t blame me for worrying I’d come up here and find bloody entrails on the floor.”

“That’s in the past. We’re tryin’ a new approach.”

“Fine. I will let you two kill each other from here on out,” Janie retorted. “But I wouldn’t have interrupted if it wasn’t important. I’m taking tomorrow off, remember? One of the hunting guides can’t make it and he wondered if his son could fill in.”

Renner frowned. “Who’s his son? Did he leave a number?”

“The son’s name is Tobin Hale. He’s downstairs. He wants to talk to you.”


“Yes, now.”

He gave Tierney a smoldering look that Janie didn’t see. “This’ll take about five minutes, and I’ll be right back so we can finish our previous discussion.”

Tempted as she was to sneak off to her cabin, Tierney stayed in her office. If Renner just happened to come back . . . she’d be ready.

But two hours passed and there was no sign of the hunky cowboy who’d turned her world upside down. She worked until she couldn’t keep her eyes open and then stumbled to her cabin.

The next morning she found a note on her desk. Renner had been called away to deal with a livestock issue at a rodeo and wouldn’t return for two days. Which left her more nervous than disappointed. Because with Janie gone, it also left her in charge.

Chapter Eighteen

“What time is Holt supposed to be here?” Janie asked as she stripped the bedding.

Abe lounged in the bedroom doorway, wearing his lightweight coveralls. He’d already fed cattle, and probably constructed a new windmill. The man was almost too efficient. “He didn’t say. Happy as I am with the work he does when he’s here, I hate how them construction guys run on their own damn time frames. Christ. It’s almost noon.”

“I imagine that drives someone like you crazy.”

His dark eyebrows lifted. “Someone like me?”

“Yes.” She tucked the bundle of sheets under her arm and stood on tiptoe to kiss him. “Someone who doesn’t waste daylight. Who makes hay while the sun shines. Who doesn’t like to be beholden to anyone’s schedule but his own.”

He crowded her against the doorframe, rubbing his lips over hers with flirty kisses. “You oughta talk. I can’t believe you’re really takin’ today off.”

“I am. I deserve it.”

“That’s why I let you sleep in. I kept you up kinda late last night.”

Abe had locked himself in his office doing mysterious “paperwork” until past midnight. Then he’d woken her and rocked her world. “The late hours and the tangled sheets were well worth it.”

“Such a stroke to my ego. But I’ll take it. What are your plans for today?”


Abe frowned. “Janie. I already told you I don’t expect you to wash my clothes.”

“I don’t mind.” She ducked around him. For all the complaints she’d lodged during the last few months of their marriage about her household tasks, everything was different now. Abe didn’t expect her to do those things. Washing laundry and dishes, fixing meals and mopping floors wasn’t all she did—wasn’t all she was to him. Abe appreciated her efforts, which gave her a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Her inner feminist jeered.

But she’d refused to listen to a voice that she’d discovered wasn’t hers.

“Need me to come down and help you stuff that in?” he yelled from the hallway.


When she returned upstairs, Abe loitered in the kitchen.

“Since it’s so gorgeous out, I think I’ll hang the clothes on the clothesline.”

“Great. Now I’ll have a hard-on all damn day.”


“I catch a glimpse of white cotton flapping in the wind, and I’ll think about all the dirty things I wanna do to you between those clean sheets tonight.”

Janie smirked. “Go do your manly ranching stuff, Abe.”

“You’ll be here when I get back?”

“I plan on it.”

He dropped another peck on her lips. “Good. As much as I love the smokin’-hot sex, I’m glad you can finally admit that’s not all there is between us.”

Last night, after a particularly intense moment, she’d whispered how much she liked being with him, regardless if they were naked. And Abe, being Abe, pushed the point until she confessed it’d been about more than sex with them from the start. Rather than feeling trapped by the admission, she’d felt . . . liberated. In control of her destiny for the first time in years.


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