“Nah. I’ll walk you ladies out to your cars.” He pinned Tierney with a look. “Then I’ll be right back to help you lock up.”

There was that swooping sense of excitement. She bolted the back door. As she debated on whether to wait for Renner in the dining room or the kitchen, he paused in the doorway. Even duded up in his Western-cut suit he exuded an edge of danger. He was primed. A glorious male animal on the hunt for his mate.

Then his long-legged strides ate up the distance between them. His hands cupped her face and his mouth—God, his mouth—devoured hers.

The heat of his body and his tenacity immediately pushed her to a place where the only thing that mattered was satisfying this yearning for him. Her back met something solid and cold.

And still he kissed her. “First time, fast. Really, really fast,” he muttered against her lips. “Need you here. Now. Like this.”

With a drawn-out groan, Renner kissed the keyhole playing peek-a-boo with her cle**age. He traced the cutout with his mouth as his hands followed the silhouette of her body. When his fingers reached the curve of her hips, he slowly and steadily tugged the dress up.

The leisurely slide of the satin lining across her legs was as erotic as the slide of his satiny tongue across her bare skin. Once the fabric bunched around her waist, his lips returned to hers to kiss her hotly. Urgently.

She reached for his belt buckle the same time he did. He gently placed her hand over his racing heart, a gesture that proved beyond a doubt his need, his passion, matched hers.

Fabric whooshed on the front of her knees as his pants hit the floor. He clutched the back of her left thigh and urged, “Wrap your leg around me.”

Tierney didn’t worry about losing her balance, because as soon as she’d pressed the crease of her knee to his butt, he pulled her thong aside and that thick male hardness was filling her up. Holding her up. Burning her up.

Renner hissed, “So hot. Wet. Tight. Goddamn, you are . . .”

She snaked her arms around his neck and nibbled on his earlobe, absorbing his shudder. “I’m what?”

No immediate answer because Renner was obsessed with bringing them to climax in record time. His hips pistoned with enough force her butt slapped into the metal door. He’d pressed his lips against her temple and his every stuttered breath sent chills rippling across her skin.

The angle of her leg allowed direct contact with her clit. That telltale tingle swelled from the apex of her sex to her ni**les. He wound her tighter. And tighter until she was dizzy. “Renner.”

“I know, baby, me too.” He dragged scorching kisses across her collarbone up to the tender spot below her ear. “You know what you are, Tierney?”

“What?” she panted as he continued to hammer into her.

“Everything. Sweet Jesus, you are everything.”

His c**k pulsed, hitting her sweet spot and the orgasm consumed her in a throbbing wave of heat. The intensity faded quickly, and Tierney felt him hard and urgent as his seed filled her. Warmed her in more ways than she could fathom.

His body stilled and he murmured her name like a benediction. Before she could speak, his mouth was on hers, letting her know this interlude was more than just a quick f**k against the walk-in refrigerator.

Renner had taken things between them a step further tonight, and Tierney needed to meet him halfway. She eased from his bone-melting kisses to whisper, “Will you spend Christmas with me? Watch sappy holiday movies. String popcorn and cranberries and hang the strands on the tree? Sip mulled wine as we snuggle up on the couch and watch it snow.”

He tipped her face up and peered into her eyes. “You aren’t leaving to spend Christmas with your family?”

“No. My father isn’t a holiday person. Christmas was just another day.” She backtracked. “No big deal if you have plans.”

“Tierney. I’d love to spend Christmas with you.”

Relief flowed through her. She hugged him. “Thank you. And will you please stay with me tonight?”

“You cooking me breakfast?”


“Then I’m definitely staying.”

Chapter Twenty-nine

What a beautiful, perfect night. Janie stared out the windshield of Abe’s truck at the snow flurries shifting across the road in a ballet of white. She might’ve missed the movement if she hadn’t become so rapt watching the shapes and shadows in the stream of headlights. Her fingers tightened around Abe’s. “What’s that?”


“That.” She pointed. “See? Right there. Abe, stop the truck.”

He hit the brakes.

Janie unbuckled and jumped from the cab as soon as he put it in park. The box on the shoulder moved. She hung back for a second, not sure what might be lurking inside.

It sure ain’t gonna be a nest of snakes in this weather.

As the box rocked again, a pitiful whimpering echoed to her. All caution fled and she crouched over the open box. “Oh my.” A basset hound puppy blinked sad eyes at her and then tried to jump out of the box, yipping and whining.

“Jesus, Janie, what the hell?” Then, “Oh shit. Somebody dumped a dog?”

“It’s a puppy. Poor thing. Look at it. Its ribs are showing.” She crooned, “Hey, little guy. It’s okay. We won’t hurt you. We won’t leave you.” Leaning closer, she got a whiff of urine. “Think it’ll be okay riding in the back of your truck?”

“Gonna hafta be because it sure ain’t ridin’ inside the truck smelling like that.” Abe moved the box flaps and said, “Grab a side.”


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