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Authors: Sherri Thomas

Tags: #Contemporary,Western

Explosive Memories (9 page)

BOOK: Explosive Memories
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“All cowboys want a pretty lady to check them out.” Standing up, the large man-child winked.

A sudden urge to kick dirt in his face propelled her over to the steps. “Bring the patient over to my porch, I’ll be right back.”

Walking into the living room, she struggled to compose herself. She’d tried over and over to envision Trent with children, but the images failed to materialize. Now, the picture was sure to replay a million times.

The rumble of the cowboy’s low murmur floated in from the screen door and surrounded her in warmth. She closed her eyes and absorbed this new discovery.

“You wanna tell me what you’re doing wondering off? Your mama’s gonna be worried.”

“Nah, she’s gots the new baby coming to worry ’bout.”

“Huh, I see. You think she don’t care ’bout you anymore?”

Silence met the statement.

“Those mamas are amazing people. No matter what happens or what you do, they never stop loving you and have lots of room in their hearts.”

“Really?” a small voice asked.

Jordan smiled at the question. She loved working with the kids at the hospital. They were so innocent and impressionable, and the highlight of her week when she’d been scheduled on the children’s wing.

“Oh, yeah. When my younger brother was born, I was sure my parents would forget ’bout me.”

“You’re joshin’.”

“Nope. One time, I even hid to see how long it’d take my ma to find me.”

“How long’d it take?”

“Only a few minutes, but you know what?”

“What?”

“She cried really hard when she thought I was lost.”

“Wow.”

“Yep, and I never hid from her again. And believe me, your ma will always want you around.”

“You sure ’bout this?”

“Cowboy’s honor. Now…” Some shuffling noises sounded. “I wonder where that nurse is with those bandages. We have cowboy stuff to do.”

Boots scraped on the porch as she hurried to the bathroom for the first aid kit.

“Jordan, you find what you need?”

“Right here.” She met him in the doorway before he entered farther. “How’s the patient?”

“Better,” the boy announced from behind the impressive male body blocking the path.

Trent’s gaze caressed her face, her chest, her legs, only to travel back up at an excruciating slow speed, causing heat along the path.

She raised a questioning brow, and he stepped aside for her to precede him out the door. Sitting next to the boy, she opened the lid and extracted a band-aid, ointment, and a cleansing solution.

“What’s your name?” she asked, working the denim up over the injury.

“P-Peter.” He glanced at Trent and squared his shoulders.

The brave front he faked for the adult male near broke her heart. “How old are you?” Taking antiseptic, she dabbed his knees.

He squinted his eyes shut tight. “F-five.”

Jordan blew on each scrape hoping to alleviate the sting before applying antibiotic cream and the protective pads.

“That should do it. You’re an excellent patient.” Patting her pocket she confessed, “Unfortunately, I don’t have a lollipop.”

“That’s okay, ma’am.”

She smiled at his politeness.

“You know what, partner? I keep a big stash of popsicles in my freezer. What’s your favorite color?” Trent asked.

His face lit up. “Red.”

“Mine, too. Be right back.”

The urge to watch the cowboy wander over to his bungalow surged hard. She gazed to the right, down at her knees, to Peter on her left, anywhere but at the gorgeous backside disappearing inside the door.

“How long have you been on the ranch?” she asked the little redhead.

“Couple of days. Mr. Trent’s real nice. He showed me the animals and even let me sit on his horse.”

The admiration in his voice shouldn’t have surprised her, but whenever she thought of
Mr. Trent,
he was naked in bed, not spending time with a five year old.

And he liked popsicles. Red ones to boot.

“You like horses?” she inquired as the distracting male headed back their way.

“Oh, yeah.”

“Here ya go, partner.” Stopping in front of the boy, Trent handed over a frozen treat. “You eat that up, and I’ll give ya a ride back to your ma on Rocket.”

The boy’s eyes widened. “You’re really gonna give me a ride?”

He tipped his hat. “How else is a cowboy to travel?”

“Thank you,” he replied and started in on the flavored ice.

“You sure? I mean what if his mom gets mad? Some parents might consider the animal dangerous.”

The side of his lip tipped upward, and he nodded toward the guests’ cabins. “I broached the subject of giving him rides yesterday with Mrs. Parker.”

Conflicting emotions started. During the years, Jordan spent a lot of time building him into a carefree, irresponsible male out for a hot, wild time with no ties. She never imagined this warm, tender side.

Strike that. He’d been nothing but that with her. Yet, the way he responded to this child maimed her speechless as the gesture of his kindness worked through the tough shell she’d built around herself and wiggled its way into her heart.

Taking a deep breath, she stepped from the alluring scene to an oversized apple tree across the dirt path and wrapped her hand around a branch. The rough bark bit into her skin, offering a bit of realism as she gazed out at the animals dotting the pastures.

How much longer before Dr. Sheffield called? How much longer before she cracked? She glanced over to where Trent stood with Peter and caught him moving his shoulder in a slow circle. Was he doing too much? Not letting the surgery site heal?

As if sensing her gaze, his traveled her way; a slow grin formed on his lips.

With a shake of her head, she turned away, focused on the land, and yawned, praying tonight the nightmares wouldn’t come. Being close to this man, feeling his touches, his kisses, caused those taunting images to the surface all the more.

“Great tree for climbing.” The baritone voice vibrated up her spine.

She spun around. The cowboy stood not two feet away, his black hat positioned low. The charcoal T-shirt hugged the dips and plains of his upper body to perfection, while the black jeans cupped lower muscles. Everything screamed sex…hot, sweaty sex.

Not good. Not good at all. Around him, her resolve weakened.

Guilt washed over her for her wayward thoughts, and she let go of the limb. “I’m too old for climbing.”

“You might be, but I’m not.” He ambled closer, his gaze not leaving her face.

“I’m younger than you.” She stood stock-still, waiting, watching, unsure.

He brushed a strand of hair off her collar bone and rested a hand at the base. “Two years and five months.”

She raised a brow in surprise. Her last boyfriend never remembered her age let alone the month she was born.

“Surprised?” he asked in a husky tone.

“Among other things.”

A palm slid up the side of her heated neck as his thumb rubbed the skin along her jaw.

Jordan swallowed the moan working its way out. “Please, don’t,” she squeaked and backed up into the solidness of the tree trunk.

His arm dropped, but his brown gaze appeared watchful. “Why?”

Their gazes met and held.

“I’m not the same person. I’ve changed. I grew up.”

“Haven’t we all.” He tugged his Stetson even lower and rotated his left shoulder.

“What happened?” she asked, nodding to his injury.

“What’s with the dress clothes?” he countered.

“There’s nothing wrong with my outfit.” She riled, noting the way he avoided her question.

“And the Miss Priss attitude?”

“What, because I choose to dress nice I have an attitude?” The gall of the man.

He drifted closer; heat radiated from his body in waves. Her heart thudded in her ears.

“Every time I get close, you tense up. Why is that?” His gaze traveled up and down her body. “The girl I remember liked me close,
real
close and would’ve opted to wear jeans on a ranch. Not that you don’t look amazin’, ’cause darlin’, you’re hot no matter what you wear.” He leaned into her. “Or don’t wear.”

Her body tingled, and she licked her dry lips. Oh, why couldn’t she muster up the strength to push him away?

His gaze dropped to her mouth. His finger traced her bottom rim, then with a wink, he turned away as Peter walked over to them.

“Mr. Trent, I’m done.”

Not missing a beat, he hunkered down in front of the child with a chuckle. “We should clean you up before we go see your ma.” A dark, hungry gaze swung her way. “We’ll catch up later.”

Not if she could make herself scarce.

The pair strutted away, and Jordan was hard-pressed to ignore his retreating backside. He wouldn’t find her later; going for a nice long ride would keep her out of his reach.

Dang it, she’d lost track of the time and forgot to meet Darcy at the barn. Fishing her cell out of her pocket, she dialed her friend’s number.

“Hello,” came the breathless answer.

“I’m sorry. I got delayed,” she explained, biting her lip to keep from babbling.

“That’s okay, hon, but I needed to get back to work.” A loud bang sounded.

“You, okay?” she asked, worried over the background noises.

“Sure, just dropped the bucket, that’s all. TJ’s brushed and ready to go. Chris is waiting for you.”

“He’s going with me?” Jordan swallowed her alarm and hoped Darcy didn’t hear the distress in her voice. She really needed this time alone.

“No. He has chores to do, but said he’d watch you do a few laps in the round pen to make sure you and TJ get along. He was saddling the horse when I left.”

“Thank you. You’re a gem.” Hitting the end button, she crossed to the cabin as Trent and Peter walked out of his bungalow.

He lifted the child onto the saddle and a grimace of pain crossed his face. She started toward him, but as she approached, he mounted behind the boy and winked in her direction before trotting off.

****

Trent went the long way to the cabin where the Parker family stayed in order to give the boy a longer ride. He tried focusing on Peter’s excited jibber, but his mind betrayed him by straying to Jordan. Back by the tree, he lost track of everything and was lucky the little guy interrupted or he would have kissed her senseless.

His hands tightened on the reins. Something didn’t sit right about her. The dress clothes and suit of armor confused him, as did the challenge in her eyes. She seemed so tense, like a rubber band ready to snap.
Maybe that’s who she was,
an inner voice whispered. Lord knew he wasn’t an expert on her after one night together. Hell, if his track record stood correct, he wasn’t an expert on a woman after years together.

But Jordan tried hard to come across as cold and uptight, yet didn’t stick her nose in the air at him or his family, even treated Darcy with the love of a true friend. And the longing when she laid those baby blues on him, the hot, unheeded passion in her kisses, and the way she dealt with the boy when he fell…the caring and compassion showed a contradiction to what she tried to portray. And a total opposite to the way his ex handled things.

To April, kids spanned from messy to an irritating nuisance. If she’d spotted the accident, she’d have ignored the child and stomped off the other way.

Matter of fact, she had made Trent deal with the smaller quests on the ranch, claiming the whiny brats gave her a headache. Why had he wasted a hay wagon full of time with a person he bore nothing in common?

“Mr. Trent?”

“What’s up buddy?” he asked, shaking off the unwanted memories.

“If you tell my ma you took me for a ride, I won’t have to tell her I ran off without permission and followed you?”

Chuckling at Peter’s logic, he paused long enough for the kid to believe he considered the explanation. “I’ll make ya a deal, if you promise not to wonder off again, I might be inclined to say I saw you outside and offered a ride.”

“Oh, you
are
kind, Mr. Trent.”

“What’s that?” Not sure what the boy rambled on about, he bent forward.

“You said you’d be kind to tell her.”

Trent bit back his laugh. “
Inclined
. It means willing to go along with your plan.” He stopped his horse, dismounted, and helped his passenger out of the saddle as Mrs. Parker came out the front door.

“Peter John, where have you been? I was worried sick.” She hurried over and hugged her son. “I’m sorry, Mr. Matthews. My husband and older boy went off with one of your brothers, and since Peter was playing, I decided to lie down for a few seconds. I must’ve been more tired than I thought.” She rubbed her protruding belly. “This one tends to zap the energy right out of me.”

“I can imagine.” Not really, but she sure had her hands full with Peter and the baby to come. “He was no trouble. Matter of fact, I asked him to go with me. Figured it’d be okay since Mr. Parker let him ride with me the other day.”

“Oh, yes. I trust you. My cousin, Trish, lives up this way. She knows your mama and speaks very highly of ya’ll.”

“Mr. Trent gave me a popsicle,” the child broke into the conversation.

“Cherry flavored, I’m guessing.”

“How’d you know?” He frowned in confusion.

“Moms know everything,” she told the boy, wiping off his red mustache with her thumb.

“Then how come you didn’t knows where I was?”

Trent smiled and dug into his pocket. “Here’s my cell number. If you need a break or someone to watch this cowboy, give me a holler. If I can, I’ll take him for a while.”

“Oh, no. I couldn’t.”

“Yes, you can.” He tucked his card into her hand. “And you”—he knelt down—“listen to your momma.”

Standing, he caught sight of another horse heading toward the woods. From the slender shape on the animal’s back, he figured the rider to be female—the very woman who wiped the cobwebs from his soul and kicked his heart rate up.

Chapter Seven

As TJ started toward the path to the shack, Jordan’s stomach heaved. This wasn’t her best idea. Maybe she should leave the past where it belonged, in the past.

BOOK: Explosive Memories
9.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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