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Authors: Cara Covington

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BOOK: Love Under Two Benedicts
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As he started the vehicle and pulled into traffic, he decided he’d better see what he could do about protection. Of course, he’d buy those condoms elsewhere. No need feeding the Lusty gossips any fresh fodder.

 

* * * *

 

“We like the look of you, Connors. Your résumé is downright impressive.”

Wesley Connors flushed, the praise coming from someone as influential in the state-wide political scene as Sherman Fremont nearly enough to make his head spin. The exclusive Faraday Club in Austin boasted a membership list of not only frontline celebrities, but the movers and shakers of government, too.

Connors soaked up the rarified atmosphere like a parched man slurping water from a fountain. He’d worked long and hard over the last four years to contribute to the party and make a difference. He’d put in hundreds of hours as a volunteer with three separate charities, he’d married “up,” and he’d been nominated as business innovator of the year.

Now all his hard work looked as though it was finally going to pay off.

“I don’t usually make promises, but I’m going to make an exception in your case.” Fremont leaned forward as though about to impart a secret. “You win the mayoral race with a margin of five percent or better, and you’ll have my personal backing for state senator in two years.”

State senator!
 
That was several steps forward in his plan at one go. Mindful of his image, Connors lowered his eyes, giving the appearance of humility.

“Mr. Fremont, I simply don’t know what to say. I had hoped to one day put my hat into the ring for the State House. But in two years? I’m honored, completely honored by your generosity and your confidence in me.”

“Of course.” Fremont signaled to the waiter who promptly brought the man another bottle of beer.

“Sir?” The waiter stood ready to get Connors whatever he wanted. Again, mindful of his image, he said, “Just water, please.”

Fremont grunted, which Connors interpreted as approval. He waited until the waiter had returned with Connor’s glass of ice water.

“Now, we’re expecting you to slaughter your opponent, Connors. At the same time, we want to see a full-out media blitz. You take your campaign for mayor to the whole of Texas. Name recognition is the name of the game. I expect that by the time you’re sworn in as Mayor, most of Texas will know your name.”

“Statewide, sir?” Connors tried not to let his shock show. Fortunately, though he failed in that regard, Fremont assumed the reaction had a different cause.

“Yes, it’s expensive. Don’t worry about that. I’m making arrangements. You’ll have the money you need to pull this off.”

“Thank you, sir. I’m very grateful.”

“Damn right you are,” Fremont said. “You just remember that gratitude, and we’re going to get along fine. Real fine.”

Connors managed to maintain his composure throughout the rest of the meal. He didn’t, in fact, allow himself to get nervous until he pulled into his driveway and watched the garage door open. Cora Lynn, his wife, was not yet home, which was a good thing. It would give him a bit of time to assimilate the good news–bad news revelations of this afternoon and settle his thoughts.

As he let himself into the house and headed for his office, he knew one thing for certain. Something had to be done.

He sat behind his desk and opened the locked drawer on the right. Reaching inside, he pulled out two pages he’d printed from the Internet.

One was a story from five years before, a brash and brazen holdup gone wrong that had shocked and saddened the entire city of Austin. A husband and father along with his young son had been shot to death in a convenience store robbery. Although the shooter had initially gotten away with the help of an accomplice driving a black sedan, he’d later been identified after the local news stations broadcasted the store’s security video.

That shooter, hopped up on drugs, had died in a shootout with police. His accomplice, the man who’d driven the getaway car, had never been identified.

The story went on to detail how the crime was even that much more tragic, for the wife and mother of the victims had sat outside the store in the family car. It was believed she witnessed the shooting and the flight of the gunman.

Wesley set that article aside and picked up the other. This appeared a much happier piece about a restaurant in a small Texas town that was fast making a name for itself as the place to dine in the area. He’d come upon the article by chance when he’d been searching for information on the convenience store shootings. The article had referenced the crime, for the efficient reporter had made the connection—victim turned entrepreneur.

Just when Wesley believed he’d atoned for his sins, just when he was about to take the next step into a career that he hoped to bring him to the governor’s office in Texas and maybe, just maybe as one recent Texas governor had done, to the nation’s capital itself.

He looked down at the face of a pretty brunette. Her hair had been pulled back and out of the way. She used to wear it in a chic cut, just long enough to brush the bottom of her face. In this photograph, taken to accompany the article about her business, her mouth tilted up in a small smile.

The last time he’d seen her face she’d worn an expression of shock and horror, her wide eyes drilling his from behind the windshield of her car.

Wesley felt the meal he’d just eaten sour in his stomach. Sherman Fremont wanted a statewide media blitz, which would undoubtedly feature Connor’s smiling face being flashed on the television screens and newspapers from Austin all the way to a small town he’d never heard of before.

He held up the page he’d printed and looked at the woman for a long time. He couldn’t take the chance she’d see his face and remember him.

If he wanted the life he’d earned, the life he deserved, then he would have to do something about Kelsey Madison, and he’d have to do it soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

Kelsey placed her hand on her belly, a simple reaction to the butterflies that wouldn’t settle there. Her last employee had just left. As she did every evening, she walked through the restaurant, seeing that everything had been turned off, closed up, and done.

At five minutes after ten, she stepped out onto the sidewalk and locked the door behind her.

They stood waiting for her, two handsome devils, one light, one dark, wearing identical expressions of mischief, mayhem, and mirth.

No, that last part was only her imagination. The brothers Benedict greeted her with smiles that truly warmed her, body and soul.

Enough of that, Kels
.
This is supposed to be about sex and nothing more.

Not surprisingly, she felt that reaction, too. Liquid warmth sped her heart and moistened her pussy. She’d focus on the physical and keep her soul out of it.

“Hey, pretty lady.” Matthew held out his hand, and in that moment, she set aside her musings and simply went to them.

She felt her heart bump when Matthew took her hand and used it to pull her inexorably into his arms. His movements slow, as if not to frighten her, he wrapped his arms around her and laid his lips on hers.

Oh, God
. She’d forgotten this, the sudden free fall into desire that the simple action of mouth on mouth could create. Soft and sultry, wet and wonderful, Matthew’s tongue stroked her bottom lip, then swept into the cavern of her mouth, tasting her, learning her.

She tasted him in turn, his flavor the ambrosia she’d longed for. Their kiss became a sexy dance of tongues and lips, a slide and glide that turned her nipples into hard points of desire.

He lifted his mouth from hers, his eyes hooded, his smile more disarming that she’d ever seen it. She felt that smile sliding into her, under her skin, and felt powerless to stop it.

Before she could think of something clever to say to pull her back from the vortex, he gently brought her arms from around his neck and edged her just subtly to the left and into the arms of his brother.

Steven’s mouth devoured hers, his arms hard and secure around her, pressing her to him chest-to-chest and thigh-to-thigh. He tasted different that Matthew, with more raw power and urgent need, and she felt helpless to do anything but surrender to his possession. A sense of safety stole over her, numbing her thoughts so she could only let herself go, let herself enjoy.

Carnal and captivating, his kiss fed the flames of her passion. The ridge pressing against her belly seemed to call to her, and her hips answered with a rolling, urgent thrust.

“I knew it.” Steven’s deep rumble vibrated inside her belly, and those butterflies took to performing aerial maneuvers. “I knew you’d taste like heaven.”

Kelsey blinked, trying to regain her senses, struggling to get her mind working again.

She must have looked worried because Matthew chose that moment to step closer to her. Between them, they bracketed her, cocooned her in male heat and pheromones.

“It’s all right, baby. No one drove past. The town’s asleep.”

“Good.” She hadn’t even
thought
about what anyone would think seeing her kiss one and then the other of the town’s two most eligible bachelors.

“Come on, sweet thing. Let’s take this party someplace more private.” Steven placed another, this time chaste, kiss on her lips, rubbed a possessive hand down her back, and then stepped away.

Steven walked around to the driver’s side while Matthew opened the passenger door and urged her into the front seat of the Jeep.

He got in after her, lifted her onto his lap, then wrapped the seat belt around them both.

“Are you sure this is legal?” she asked.

Matthew chuckled. “If the deputy sheriff doesn’t complain, I wouldn’t worry about it.”


You’re
the deputy sheriff.” Kelsey practically melted against the hard male body under her. The press of his erection beneath her bottom made her juices flow even faster.

My God if I’m not careful I’m going to leak all over him.

Just then, Matthew pushed his hips up slightly, and Kelsey thought it a miracle she didn’t come right then and there.

She needed to distract herself, fast. Using every bit of willpower she could muster, she searched for something safe to talk about. Her thoughts jumped ahead to their destination. Kelsey had never been to the Benedict ranch itself. She understood the operation and scale of the land was massive, even by Texas standards. “The Big House in town here was the original ranch house, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, until the 1950s when Sarah Benedict and Amanda Jessop-Kendall, along with our grandparents, decided to cede more land to the town. It suited Sarah to live out the rest of her years in the house she’d moved into with her husbands, and it suited our grandparents, who were true ranchers, to build a new house away from the settled area, closer to the land they loved.”

“Your grandmother knew Sarah?” There had been quite a bit in the museum about Sarah Carmichael Benedict. She’d been so beautiful, and Caleb and Joshua had seemed so handsome, it was no wonder they’d been attracted to each other.

“She knew Sarah
and
Amanda,” Matthew said. “The men had already passed on when Grandma Kate met her husbands. She has some very interesting stories to tell about our great-greats.”

“I met her one of the times I had dinner with your folks,” Kelsey said. “One time, I think Susan said she was in Las Vegas.”

“Grandma Kate loves to tour with a seniors group out of Waco. You never know where she’ll take off to next,” Steven said.

Both men’s tones had softened when they’d spoken of their grandmother. Texan men loved their mothers and grandmothers, probably more, Kelsey thought, than the average American male. She couldn’t recall too many male friends in Pennsylvania who’d displayed such sentimentality toward their older female relatives.

It didn’t take long to leave the few lights of Lusty behind. Minutes later, Steven slowed the Jeep and turned onto a lane.

No clouds marred the sky, allowing the full moon to bathe the landscape in a silvery luminescence. The lane proved long and gently curving. They drove up a slight rise.

When they crested the small hill, Sarah gasped. Before her, nestled in a small dale, stood an enormous home, two-story and sprawling, white with a wrap-around porch. Behind the house and to the left, she could see a barn. Corrals formed a patchwork pattern around that building. Even in the moonlight she could see horses grazing.

“It’s beautiful. And so big!”

“We tend to have large families,” Steven said. “My grandparents had five children, which made for eight people living in the house at one time. Plus, there had to be a couple of guest rooms ready for whatever family wanted to visit.”

“And now you live here alone?” Kelsey couldn’t imagine having such a large, magnificent house to herself. Here was a reminder of one very important fact about the brothers Benedict, something she tended to forget. The family was as rich as Midas.

“It’s just a house, sweetheart,” Matthew said. His words, accompanied by a slight hug, told her he could read her moods, could almost read her thoughts. That couldn’t be good for her continued emotional equilibrium.

BOOK: Love Under Two Benedicts
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