Baby Stetson (Love and Music in Texas #1) (6 page)

BOOK: Baby Stetson (Love and Music in Texas #1)
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“Lucas and I were walking around this evening when I got the call. Lucas, you can come in, you know.” Avery gestured for him to sit. Now that she saw her mom in a normal mood, relief washed over her. She could rest easy now, though a shadow of worry still remained over her. Was running the inn getting to be too much for her parents? Should she say something about her concerns? The last thing Avery wanted to do was make her mom or dad feel unable, but the stress of the job could take its toll on anyone. But they loved that inn so much. Besides Avery, it had been their livelihood for so long. Would they ever give that up just because they were getting a little up there in age? Who would run it? As much as this was home, Avery had no desire to run the inn. But if it came down to it, she couldn’t say no to her parents.

“I hope you don’t mind me barging in. I couldn’t help but be concerned when Avery got the message. I couldn’t just leave her side when I didn’t know what the situation was,” Lucas said, finally inching his way into the room. Avery’s father gestured for him to sit down, so he did. On the love seat right near Avery. Though she didn’t want to leave her mother’s side, Avery’s legs were beginning to feel tingly from bending them so long. She eased up into the seat right next to Lucas.

“That’s so kind of you, but really, none of you should make such a fuss. Everyone has a fall sometimes. I’m just fine.” Avery’s mother tried to reassure everyone. “Goodness, y’all make such a little ruckus!” But she smiled. “Why don’t you two go back out and have a nice night? Get something to eat. I bet the kitchen still has some yummy leftovers you can dig into. I’d hate for food to go to waste.”

“Are you sure there’s nothing you need from me?” Avery asked, reluctant to leave.

Her mother nodded firmly. “Yes. There is something you can do. Go out, have yourself some dinner, and don’t worry so much.”

Avery giggled. “Yes Ma’am. But I have my cell phone on. If you need anything, call me. Please.”

“I think your dad and I will manage just fine, honey.” Her mother smiled warmly. She lifted her hands and flicked her wrists. “Now, shoo.”

Laughing, Avery and Lucas stood, heading for the door. Avery turned back one more time.

“It was nice to see you all again,” Lucas said, waving. He held the door open for Avery.

“You too, sir. Thanks for keeping our daughter company tonight.” This came from Avery’s father.

“Sweet family you have,” Lucas said, almost ... wistfully. Huh. Strange. She wasn’t sure what that was all about.

“They’re my world. See why I’d feel weird about leaving them?” Avery asked. Lucas was so close to her, walking with her to the point that on a certain move, their hands touched. She thought once that he almost closed his fingers around hers, but that may have been her imagination. She tried to understand why he’d been spending so much time around her. It seemed everywhere she went, Lucas was right there. The way he watched her with his deep, intense stare that sent shivers down her spine. Why? What was it about this man? The fact that he was so secretive? Who the hell was he? And better yet, why did she want to know so much? Just because a fire grew in her gut didn’t mean she really wanted to know, did it? Fact be known, Avery was attracted to him. More than she cared to admit. As long as things didn’t go further than lusting for him, she was fine. It was too soon, wasn’t it? Pulse racing, Avery tried to bring some distance between them. Hopefully, Lucas wouldn’t inch closer. It hurt inside that she had the want for someone else so soon after officially ending it with Jameson. That didn’t make her a slut, did it? Even though the relationship had honestly ended months ago, just without the official break up conversation. Avery suppressed a sigh.

The night was balmy. Warm, moist winds blew Avery’s loose hair all over the place, and right about now she wished she had some sort of clip to hold it all back.

“So, you want to get that food, or are you sick of me for an evening?” Lucas teased.

Under the bright glow of the street lamps, Avery noticed the laughter dance in his eyes. Was he lonely? Maybe that was it. He stayed in a small town, knowing possibly no one, so he just wanted some company. Why not be a decent hostess and give him that company? It wasn’t like it would lead anywhere, despite how her body reacted.

Avery shrugged. “I suppose I can allow you some more time in my presence.” She laughed. “I am hungry, anyway.” What time was it? She pulled her cell phone from her pocket to check the time. After seven already. Well, no wonder she was hungry. How did it get so late so fast? “Let’s go raid the kitchen, shall we?”

Alice still worked behind the guest counter and smiled as Avery and Lucas walked back in. Avery couldn’t help but notice how the woman’s eyes followed Lucas and her expression changed to a more than friendly smile. Alice was nice and all, but just a few years younger than Avery, the woman hadn’t grown out of her boy flirting phase. Alice took notice to the younger men that checked in that didn’t appear to be attached. Avery was even sure that a non-single status wouldn’t stop Alice, as Avery had caught her oogling over Jameson quite a few times, and everyone knew that Jameson loved Avery.

“Welcome back,” Alice said in a throaty tone, obviously directing it at Lucas.

He turned to her. Since Avery was on Lucas’s right side, she could see that he barely shot Alice more than a half glance. He didn’t even smile. Lucas just nodded and followed Avery.

Right on, Lucas.

Though at first glance, and by his actions, Avery had thought Lucas was more of a womanizer when she first met him. He didn’t seem that so much now.

Avery craned her neck to look back at Alice, who scowled at her.

The kitchen was dark, since no one was working in there anymore tonight. Though guests were still allowed to sit in the dining room and the entertainment room, the kitchen closed at seven. All the leftovers were put away for staff to enjoy.

“Wow. This is a nice kitchen,” Lucas said, closing the door behind him.

Avery faced him. “You like to cook?”

“Oh yeah. I learned at a young age that I had to take care of myself, so I taught myself to cook. Now it’s something I enjoy.”

“Are you good at it?”

“I’m good at a lot of things, Avery.” Lucas closed the gap between them.

Too close, too close!

She couldn’t back up anymore, though. Behind her was the counter. Her back was already pressed up against it. Lucas looked at her like he wanted to devour her.

“Lucas...”

“I know I need to stay away from you, Avery. All I want is one kiss. I’ve got to taste you. Tell me no, right now, and I’ll back away.”

Lucas pressed his body to hers. He slid his arms around her waist, pulling her to him. His face, only inches from hers, lowered. “Tell me now, Avery. Because if you don’t, I’m going to kiss you.”

Don’t! No! Yes! Do it! No!

She couldn’t get the words out. All she could think about were Lucas’s lips, mere inches from hers, sexy, tempting, inviting. Avery opened her mouth to say something, but no words came out.

“I’m not supposed to be so attracted to you, Avery,” Lucas whispered, then his lips crashed down on hers.

He cupped her face, pulling her into his kiss. She didn’t even have time to decipher what that comment meant. Avery tilted her head upward, responding to his kiss. She wrapped her arms around his broad shoulders as her fingers dug into them. Holy hell, this man could kiss. The deep urgency of his kisses drove her mad.

“Lucas,” she muttered against his lips. His touch was lethal. It wasn’t supposed to feel this good. Or amazing. Or sensational. Avery wasn’t supposed to react to him this way. She didn’t even know this man! Oh, but she knew his gaze, so intent on her, and she was fixated on him.

“Yes, Avery?”

He trailed kisses along her neck now. Desire burned within, igniting quickly. His lips were back on hers now. He darted his tongue out, touching the corners of Avery’s lips, pushing his way in gently. Avery opened for him, needing another taste. Lucas’s erection pressed into her, only making her want him more. She lost all senses, other than to kiss him. Lucas hoisted her up, still pressing her against the counter. Avery squealed and wrapped her legs around him. More fiery kisses came next. His tongue was gentle, daring, inquiring.

“Avery.” He moaned against her lips, nipping lightly. “I want to take you to-”

They broke apart as the sound of loud voices neared. Lucas put her down quickly and backed away from her.

“Oh shit.” Avery giggled, heart thundering in her chest, and blood roaring in her ears. That was close. Had anyone come in to see them, especially her parents ... she’d never live it down. Need pooled within her, but the distraction was probably a good thing, otherwise she didn’t know what would have happened next. She could almost picture what they might have- No, no. She wouldn’t have let things go
that
far, not here!

The fact that she had to convince herself of that meant that she very well might have given herself to Lucas, right then and there. What was wrong with her? She never lost that much sense, not for anything or anyone.

Emotions heightened, she fidgeted with her hair, smoothing it back and straightening her clothes as if nothing happened. Lucas still stared at her, that look of lust in his eyes, and smiled. “Well, that was fun,” he teased. If he was trying to ease the tension, it worked. Avery laughed out loud. Inside, she wasn’t. How could she lose control like that?

“Lucas, I-” What could she say? She liked kissing him, but it couldn’t happen again. She didn’t know anything about him, yet she wanted to jump his bones? Yeah, those were classy comments to end a moment of passion, even with a stranger, and even with an interruption. Busying herself and not wanting to look at Lucas at the moment, she opened the fridge, searching for what they came in the kitchen for in the first place. Food. There was plenty of it in there. As she looked through the containers of leftovers, she realized she’d started to say something to Lucas but never finished. When she pulled her head out of the cold air, Lucas stood close again, arms crossed over his broad chest.

“I know what you’re going to say,” Lucas said softly. “I never intended to kiss you like that. Well, I wanted to, I’ve wanted to all night, but I never meant to push. I apologize.”

Well, that was unexpected. She never thought he’d apologize. The way he kept turning her inside out, she didn’t want to not kiss him, but this wasn’t the best time, or place for that matter. Avery couldn’t get the kiss out of her mind now. How she’d love to do it again if she had the chance. The way Lucas’s arms felt around her, his hot body pressed up against her, the feel of his lips on hers. A slight moan escaped her throat before she came back to reality.

Lucas raised his eyebrows, looking at her strangely. “Um, are you okay?”

Heat rushed to her cheeks. “Yes, it’s just a little warm in here,” she lied, turning back to her task of finding something to eat. “Are you still hungry?”

For something other than kissing me?

“More than ever,” Lucas said. Was that an innuendo? Aww, fudge. He was determined to make her melt. He did a very good job of it so far.

Just ignore it. Ignore the feelings he draws out of you. Pretend they don’t exist. It’s lust. Nothing more, and don’t get involved.

Simple advice, right?

Avery shouldn’t kid herself.

“Okay, we have ham, pot roast, stroganoff...” She listed off the items one by one. She could feel Lucas staring at her, but she tried not to turn around and face him again. If she did ... she might have to fall into his embrace again. This time, there may be no stopping her.

“Avery.”

The way he said her name, so low, sensual, and so damned sexy, sent tentacles of icy chills down her spine.

“Corn on the cob, salad...”

“Damn it, Avery. Look at me. Please?”

Begging? Lucas was begging?

Avery whipped her head around, and straightened. She pushed the fridge shut. Lucas took a step toward her. She swallowed, hard. “I-”

“I don’t want any weirdness between us. Please. You’re the only person I know here. It’s been nice to spend time with someone, especially someone I connect with. I can’t take that kiss back, nor do I want to, but please. This tension, I don’t like it.” He reached out and touched her elbow. “Please?”

That look in his eyes melted her once again. What was it about him? “Okay. I can try.”

“I appreciate it. Look, maybe I’ll skip food for now. I’ve got a few calls to make. I just want to make sure we’re on okay terms before I bow out for the night, okay? So, are we cool?”

If he wasn’t holding her arm, if the chills would stop, maybe. She refused to tell him that. “Yeah. We’re cool. I guess I’ll see you around?” Another hard swallow. Why was her throat incredibly dry all of a sudden?

“I’d like that. Good night, Avery.” Lucas smiled. With that, he let go of her and walked out of the kitchen, the door swinging closed behind him.

Avery stared at the door, half expecting, half hoping Lucas would come through it again and finish what they’d started. After a few minutes went by and nothing, she sighed. It was for the best. As hot of a kisser as he was, and as good as it felt, it wasn’t supposed to happen. She’d gotten caught up in the heat of the moment. As her pounding heartbeat went back to normal, Avery decided against eating and left the kitchen. Her stomach was now in knots and she couldn’t concentrate. Alice gave her a smug look as she exited the area. Avery said goodnight to her politely and left the inn, never looking back. Who cared that Alice knew Avery left alone, when she’d entered the kitchen with Lucas? Whatever. She didn’t need to get involved in Alice’s childish games.

*****

I shouldn’t have kissed her.

Safely back in his room, Lucas paced the floor, his mind in a rut. Against his better judgment, he’d gone and kissed Avery. Who would have thought she’d respond that way? If there hadn’t been voices to interrupt, how far would they have gone?

When his cell phone chirped the familiar tune, Lucas groaned. He wasn’t ready to face the caller right now, but if he didn’t answer, he would never hear the end of it. “What?” he snapped.

BOOK: Baby Stetson (Love and Music in Texas #1)
10.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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