Read Goodnight Kisses Online

Authors: Wilhelmina Stolen

Tags: #prequel, #texas cowboys, #sexy contempory, #novella romance, #contemporary cowboy, #teaser for book, #proposal of marriage, #texas ranch, #contemporary romance western, #love and romanve

Goodnight Kisses (7 page)

BOOK: Goodnight Kisses
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“Seduction can be a dangerous game for someone like
you, Eleanor.”

Her back stiffened. “Why?”

“There’s no delicate way to put it.”

She twisted in her seat to face him. “So don’t be
delicate. Spill it.”

When his eyes met hers, there
wasn’t one ounce of flirtatious fun
in
them. “You’re a virgin, and
if you try to seduce some of the young studs around here, there’s a
good chance you could get hurt.”

“A virgin,” she repeated and felt the sting of truth
penetrate her core. “That was blunt.”

“You asked.” He looked forward as he explained.
“Taking a woman’s virginity is very arousing for a man, and
dangerous for the woman if the man doesn’t know how to control
himself.”

“I don’t understand that at all. What’s so special
about taking a woman’s virginity?”

He switched the AC on high and
wiped his brow with the back of his hand. Was he sweating? “In the
old
days
it was a way for a man to claim his woman. It’s
all through history.”

She could see her truck as they rounded the curve.
Damn. The quick trip was wasted.

“Well, chalk one up for the modern
age. People have casual sex all the time and men don’t,” she made
quotation marks with her fingers,
claim
their women.”

“Sure we do.” He guided the truck off the road and
braked a few feet away from hers. “And not all men believe sex
should be casual. I don’t.”

A hard breath could have blown her over. “What?”

Her shocked reaction drew a smirk to his lips. “You
don’t believe me?”

Did she? “I-I…It’s just,” her words fell short of a
sentence. “What about all the women you’ve dated?”

“All the women I’ve dated?” His question was made
with a slight shake of his head. “There aren’t that many,
regardless of the rumors.” The vein at his temple doubled in size
when he paused to drape an arm over the steering wheel. His jaw
tightened, then relaxed. “I don’t screw everything with a vagina,
and I am faithful when I’m in a relationship.”

Faithful? Did he really just use that word? “But,
from what I hear, you’re with a different woman every night.”

“Hell, Eleanor this town doesn’t have that many
women in it. I’d have to drive all the way to Austin or Dallas, to
meet that quota.” He did have a point. Santa Camino had a slim
supply of women in it- eligible or not. “That’s just small town
gossip. I used to think it was funny.” He shoved the truck into
park and got out, pausing at the door. “Now, it just pisses me
off.”

The hard slam made her bolt from
her
seat
and sent her racing to the back of the truck in
pursuit of answers. “How many relationships have you
had?”

After he
loosened
the bungee
strap around the gas can, he lifted
it
and walked around her
without answering the question. He unscrewed the gas cap, inserted
the nozzle into the tank, and lifted the can until it made a
guzzling sound. When the can was empty, he twisted the cap in place
and closed the lid, then walked to the hood to find the release.
The latch gave way with a pop and a
chirr
, allowing him to lean
in.

She raised on tiptoes and joined him inside the
foreign land of grease and oil. “Ouch!” The rusty, sunbaked body
was hot against her fingers. “Why are we under the hood? I thought
it was out of gas.”

He stepped back to the work truck for an empty water
bottle, took out his pocket knife, and unfolded the blade. A thumb
to the side of the bottle kept the blade steady as he pulled it
around the top. “Older trucks have to be primed.”

It didn’t matter to her. She was just grateful the
hunk of junk was giving her more time with McCrea. “Oh.”

All the men on the ranch carried a pocket knife, but
none of them used it the way he did. She loved watching his hands.
There was just something about them that intrigued her. Long, lean
and tanned is the way she would describe them. Calloused, but soft.
Strong, but gentle. Sweet lord she wanted them to touch her. She
wanted to experience all the pleasures they could give, and know
firsthand the love they were capable of. She was more than ready
for that to happen. Years of wishing and dreaming of him was
getting her nowhere, and being this close to him was torture. A
delectable, tangible ache that was getting worse.

Damn. Damn. Damn. Her hand fetish
had her on the verge of squirming. Boots. Boots are safe. She
forced her
eyes
to
focus on his dirty brown footwear. But
boots are attached to calves, and calves to thighs. Firm thighs.
With muscles and a dusting of dark hair. She cleared her
throat
and let her curiosity lead the way. Up. Up. Up to the rise
beneath his zipper. Oh, yeah. This was a mistake.

“Get in and wait for me to tell you
when to start it.” The sound of his soft
order
snapped her
attention back to the truck.

“Yeah, sure.” She yanked the door open, climbed in,
and through the slit in the hood, watched him work.

“Okay, try it now.” She pumped the gas and twisted
the ignition. After a few tries, the engine started.

He dropped the hood closed, and rubbed his hands
together, wiping away gas and oil. “They say a woman always
remembers her first lover.”

She squinted one eye closed against the sunlight.
“Are you making another point?”

“This guy’s always going to be in your head.” He cut
a coy grin as he scrubbed his left thumb. “You might want to give
that some thought before you go jumping into his bed.”

Why did he make her intentions sound so vulgar?
“Thanks for the advice.”

“This guy.” He rested an elbow on the side mirror.
“He knows you’re a virgin, right?”

“He knows, McCrea, and I don’t need
you to protect me. He’s not like Willard or any of the other guys
at Tubs.” She stretched across the seat to roll the passenger
window down, and a cool breeze rushed in, scattering her hair. She
gathered it into a
ponytail
and twisted it into a crude
knot at the base of her head. “I’m leaving for college in a week,
and I’m afraid if I wait for him to make the first move, I might
not get the chance at all. The truth is; I think I’m falling for
him.”

His face drew into a deep scowl. “Does he know
that?”

A sigh left her. Not one ounce of intuitiveness.
“No. He’s clueless.”

His quiet study made her
uncomfortable. She had seen the same consideration a few
times
and knew his questions were brought on by a need to protect.
McCrea was looking out for her. He wasn’t worried about competition
from her mystery date, or losing her to another man. So much for
giving him competition. In need of a quick getaway, she pushed
the
brake down
and pulled the truck into drive. “Look, I trust
him. Plus, he’s older than me and more experienced.”

His head lifted from its downward tilt with a deep
breath. “That’s what scares me.”

“Don’t look so worried. He’s like you. He’s always
in control.”

“Every man has his limits,
darlin’.” His
eyes
darkened with heavy lashes that
lowered to her breast. “Even me.”

~~~

McCrea dodged the fist aimed at his
nose and counter-punched the man delivering the blow. The hard
knock to the man’s jaw sent him
spinning around
and into the
bar. “Come on, Benny boy,” he grinned. “Is that all you
got?”

Ben blinked to focus, but before he
could charge forward, an arm clamped around McCrea’s neck and
hauled him
backwards
. “Shit!” he said, briefly
seeing the faded Semper Fi tattoo of Old Ed Tubs as he watched his
favorite Stetson fly into the air.

“I’ve had enough of you two!” The
bartender was strong for his age and mean when you pissed him off.
And they had. He and Jess were always up for a healthy
brawl,
and when beers were involved, things could get
ugly.

“Ed!” McCrea croaked out as he dragged him towards
the door. “Ed!”

 

“Y’all are tearing my bar all to hell!” Ed threw him
to the floor.

“We were just having fun.” He
rubbed his throat and scooted against the wall to avoid being
trampled by Jess and
Scotty,
who were brawling a few feet
away.

Ed pointed a stubby finger at him.
“This is the last time─
Ooph
!” his threat was interrupted when a
hard right from Scotty sent Jess into him. The short and stocky
frame of the ex-navy seal absorbed the blow and barely moved
him.

When the creases in Ed’s brow deepened, Jess said,
“Oh shit.”

Ed gritted his teeth, grabbed Jess by the collar and
delivered a hard, swift punch to his mouth.

Jess’s head bobbed. He blinked, dazed by the punch
and fell to the floor beside McCrea.

“Damn kids,” Ed mumbled and stepped
over them to break up another fight. Tubs Roadhouse was the only
bar big enough or brave enough to handle tonight’s
much-anticipated
bachelor party for the last unmarried Langford
brother, Scotty.

Jess worked his jaw from left to right and scooted
back to join him along the wall. “Old Ed’s gonna kick us out for
good this time.”

Ed had been Old Ed for as long as
McCrea could remember, but
was, in fact,
a year younger
than his dad. The two had gone to high school together until Ed
dropped out his senior year to join the Marines. He came back
years
later
and opened the bar. He had no family or close
friends. He was a
loner
and seemed to like it that way.
“How many times has he threatened to do that?”

“More than I can count,” Jess laughed. “But two
weekends in a row ain’t good.”

“He enjoys tearing up shit as much as we do.” He
closed his eyes and tried to savor the excitement he felt at this
exact minute. Four years of college with only intermittent times
between semesters left him missing high school and a time when life
wasn’t so complicated. The days when football and women were the
only things that mattered. The days when he was free to do what he
wanted.

Damn it, Granddad! How could you do this to me? I
don’t want a wife!

He couldn’t blame everything on his
granddad. Even without Wade’s terms, he felt the weight of his
families’ expectations bearing down on him.
Marriage
eventually
happened to every man in Santa Camino. The town was steeped in
tradition, and family and ranching were two of its finest.
Twenty-four was too young to be tied down, but that’s what was
expected, wasn’t it? He was home and expected to make something of
himself. And he wanted to. He had plans. Damn it, he had plans that
didn’t involve a wife!

He felt caged. He needed to punch something. He
needed a release.

“Shit. I need a wife,” he mumbled
to
himself,
and with closed eyes, let his head fall back
against the wall.

“Hello, boys.”

The silky, honey dipped voice
opened his eyes to a pair of slim, tanned legs, and enticed them up
to one of the sweetest asses he’d ever had the pleasure to be
tempted by. He hissed in a deep breath between his
teeth
while trying hard to clear his mind of the unchaste thoughts
racing through his mind about his kid sister’s best friend. None of
which had ever been as strong as they were since his granddad
suggest he make her his wife.

He’d never tasted Eleanor Mackenna, but damn if he
didn’t want to. Their ride into town this afternoon left him
thinking about Wade’s suggestion, and suddenly it wasn’t so absurd.
Maybe she was just what he needed. She was a woman with her own
dreams and ambitions. She wasn’t clingy. She was smart and
beautiful. Funny and everybody liked her.

Wade liked her.

A wide grin covered Jess’ face. “Hot damn! This
night just keeps getting better!”

She ruffled the top of Jess’ shaggy
mop. “I see Old Ed put you in your place again.” She tucked a long
strand of her blonde hair behind her
ear
and tilted her head to
the side. “You boys ‘bout done for the night?”

Her playfulness made him hard and her tongue ─ Damn.
He watched it dart along the edge of her full bottom lip and felt a
cord of sexual tension tighten in his body. A man could stand only
so much temptation before he dove in face first, and that’s exactly
what he wanted to do. Dive in.

“Hell, no,” was his answer.

“Hell, yes,” was Jess’ before he jumped to his feet.
“I’d like to spend tonight doing something other than getting my
ass kicked. Where’s my hat?”

McCrea pulled a pack of cigarettes from his shirt
pocket and hit the top against his palm, producing a slightly bent
cigarette.

Shit.

He twisted the end of his new habit
between his finger and thumb, hoping the nicotine would settle his
nerves. He stuck it between his lips and stretched his legs out,
preparing to enjoy. “Isn’t
it past
your bedtime?” He
teased and dug into the front pocket of his jeans for his
lighter.

She took a step closer, twisted around on one hip
and folded her arms under her breasts. The action emphasizing their
already ample state. “Like you said, McCrea. Things have changed
since you left.”

BOOK: Goodnight Kisses
13.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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