Authors: Lynda Chance
He stalked over and crowded against her. Her breathing fractured and her heart slammed in her chest. "Tell me now, Becky. You best not try to hide anything from me."
Becky's brain began to swirl from his nearness, and she tried to get her vocal chords to work. "I-I've b-been trying to save enough money to go home. H-home to Boston."
His scowl became ferocious. "Why? You don't have any family left there." His words weren't meant to hurt. They were just stating a fact.
"No, you're right. I don't. But my aunt needs the income that my room would bring. And there are jobs in Boston, and I can feel s-safe again." She wasn't paying attention to what she was saying, all of her senses were engrossed in him. Safe probably wasn't the right word. More like sick to her stomach at the thought of what the marriage bed would be like if she had to marry Kyle.
"Why the hell don't you feel safe? Is it because of me?" He reached out and stroked her cheek. Fire rushed through her body.
"N-not you. K-Kyle Bolton. He keeps asking me--" She gasped and the words got clogged in her throat as he grabbed her by the shoulders with a sudden move, his hands pulling her toward him. His fingers bit into her as his nostrils flared.
"Did he touch you?" She hung in his grasp as fierce excitement clawed through her. He smelled so good. He always smelled musky, an outside smell that went straight to her head whenever she got a little close to him. She had wanted him to touch her for so long. What would it feel like to kiss him? She had been thinking about it, at night in her bed for so long.
His fingers bit into her and he gave her a slight shake. "Answer me. Did he touch you?"
She knew he was asking her something, but Becky kept thinking about the details she had learned from Miranda about marital relationships. Miranda called it 'trying to make a baby,' but Becky knew that the same procedure happened when the men went to visit the girls at the saloon.
Waco was a growing town, and prostitution was now legally recognized. It was licensed and regulated by the city.
She knew that the sheriff went to the saloon twice a week, like clockwork. Miranda had told her where he was on those nights, when his supper would grow cold. Becky always went home, with her emotions in a mess and feeling more than a little put out.
And now he held her and demanded an answer.
His grasp became even more possessive at her hesitation. "Becky." He growled her name in impatience as he waited for her response, tension coiling through him.
"Y-yes, he's touched me." Her answer provoked him. Rage like he had never known engulfed him. A dark red mist rose up over him.
"How?" he bit the word out. "How has he touched you? Where? Where did he touch you?"
Becky was riveted by the incensed madman in front of her. He held her in a grip that was uncompromising, and his eyes turned feral.
"He touched me on the boardwalk, in front of my aunt's boardinghouse."
"Where on your body did he touch you? Did he hurt you?" Jake was maddened by the thought of that kid coming anywhere near her, let alone putting his hands on her. Or hurting her.
Touching what was his
"Sh--Sheriff, pl-please calm down. He didn't hurt me at all. He just keeps coming around, when my aunt isn't home, and he pesters me. He thinks he likes me and he tried to--he's tried to kiss me. I don't l-like it." She reached out and put her hand on his chest, next to his badge. She patted him, trying to calm him down. "It's nothing bad. It's nothing to worry about or to get upset about."
He looked down at her hand on his body. Her movements stilled.
Heat flooded through him and he took deep breaths as he tried to regain a modicum of control. His hands gentled and enfolded her, rocking her against him. "Don't worry, sweetheart. I'll take care of him.
! I should have realized this morning that he's been bothering you. If he wants to continue to live in this town, he won't do it anymore. He damn sure won't try to kiss you again. Nobody should be trying to kiss you,
." His voice was adamant.
She pushed against him as she realized the sheriff didn't want to marry her, but evidently, he didn't want anyone else to have her, either. Hurt and despair made steel run up her spine and her voice held a sarcastic tone. "Thank you, Sheriff. It's true that I don't want to marry Kyle, but that's not to say that I don't want anyone to ever kiss me again."
"What do you mean
you don't want
to marry him
Jake stiffened and ice ran through his veins at the thought of the topic of her marriage with another man even coming up.
"He keeps asking me to marry him. Repeatedly. I don't want to at all. It scares me to think of tying myself to him for life."
She looked up at him. Jake was entranced with the beauty of her face. She was lushly exotic, provocatively so. Her eyes were slanted, like a cat's. Jake felt their effect blaze through him. His body hardened against her. He was beginning to crave her sweetness continually. Her softness tantalized him. This
for her wasn't going away. He put his hands on her face and lifted. She raised her arms and grasped his wrists as their eyes tangled. He tried to fight it, but his head slowly lowered and he tasted her lips.
Becky hung in fascinated suspension as his lips touched hers. Pleasure, unlike anything she had ever felt rushed through her veins. Her world spun. Her breathing quickened. He pressed his lips firmly on hers and moved them back and forth.
Jake kept a tight leash on the lust that held him. He wanted to give her the kiss she so obviously wanted. But he couldn't take the kind of kiss that he needed so desperately. She was young and innocent, and he absolutely would not terrorize her with his uncontrolled desire.
Excitement and passion slid through Becky as she hung onto his wrists for dear life. His scent filled her lungs, and he took sips and licks of her mouth. Her nipples tightened when he opened his mouth and took her bottom lip and sucked on it. She felt dazed as her hips, of their own volition, moved toward his torso. She pushed into him. He pulled his mouth away.
They stood together, their breathing labored. Her body was soft, pliant in his arms. "Do you see now why you can't keep coming here?" His arms tightened around her.
"I guess so," she said miserably. "But I d-don't want to go back East. I like it here. I like cleaning for you, doing everything for you--"
"You don't do
for me, Becky." His words were harsh. "But I don't want you to leave town, either." He swore under his breath.
"I'm going to have to. You don't want to marry me, and--"
He cut her off with a perplexed snort. "You don't want to marry Kyle, but you want to marry me?" His words held a touch of amazement. "What the hell for?"
Becky struggled to answer. "I--I--"
"Do you know what marriage to me would entail?"
Silence met his words.
"Do you, Becky? Do you understand what it would mean?"
Becky felt her legs tingle as a shocking wetness gathered between her thighs.
Oh God, yes, she did
. The same thing that repelled her so much when she thought about doing it with Kyle, had just the opposite effect on her when she thought of doing it with Jake.
She wanted to marry him more than anything else in the world. She loved him beyond belief. He fascinated her like no one else. He was such a harsh man, and yet he captivated her completely. She had to convince him that she wasn't a child anymore.
She boldly raised her eyes to his. Their bodies were still entwined, with his arms around her and her hands clutching his chest. "Yes." Her fingers played with a button on his shirt. "It means that I would keep cleaning for you, and washing your sheets just like I've always done." Her fingers came dangerously close to touching a hard, masculine nipple. "It means I would cook your favorite foods." She looked at the window and back at him. "It means that I could sew curtains for the windows, and pick wildflowers for the table." She hesitated. "And--"
Jake listened to her spin a delicious picture of blissful domesticity around them. He wanted to hear more. His grasp on her tightened unconsciously. "And? And, what else, Becky?"
Becky worked up her nerve to say what he wanted to hear. "And it means that I w-would sleep in your b-bed at night." She finished with a demand of her own. "It means that you would never be l-late for supper again."
Heat slammed into him as desire pierced him. His grip tightened on her as his hands caressed her spine. Her words and her hands on his chest were drugging him. "
, do you actually know why I come home late?"
She nodded her head and a vision of what she was promising him made sweat trickle down his spine. But he needed to clarify that she understood.
That he understood
. "And if we were to get married, you wouldn't want me to be late? Is that what you're saying, sweetheart?" He lifted her chin and his eyes blazed into hers. "You're promising to give me everything I need right here at home?"
, he wanted that with her.
Her hips swayed into his. "Oh yes, Sheriff--"
"Jake. Say my name," he growled.
"J-Jake. I wouldn't like it at all if you were late." Her fingers continued to play with the buttons on his shirt. Her eyes flashed up at him. "I promise, I swear I'll make a good wife, Jake. If--if you t-teach me w-what to d-do, I promise you won't w-want to be late."
Jake felt like he had taken three shots of whiskey at once. Her effect on him was that strong. That potent. He felt her sorcery surround him and her allure bewitch him. He knew he was on the precipice of the biggest decision he had ever made. He had ached for her so long, for so many years, he had waited for her to grow up. Her ethereal beauty titillating him, her tender care surrounding him.
His conscience battled against the need he had for her. She was so young, so sweet, so damn innocent. He was a hardened lawman, constantly engaged in a ruthless fight to keep the town safe. Any softness he might have ever had, was long since gone. Too many years of fighting in a relentless, never ending war had hardened him. Years of trying to enforce the law with not enough help and too few resources had left him feeling older than his years. He didn't feel like he deserved her goodness, he didn't want to rob her of her wholesome youth.
In his heart, he knew she wasn't too young for marriage. He was so conditioned to thinking of her as too young, to protect her from himself. She was on the cusp of womanhood, and her beauty was exquisite. Other girls were getting married at her age, even younger. And he knew with her looks, it was only a matter of time before Bolton or some other man caught her.
take that chance
. Resentment and jealousy surged through him when he thought of someone else marrying her. Touching her. It couldn't happen. He wouldn't let it happen.
He had to have her. She was his. And nobody would take her from him.
"I want to marry you, Becky." His voice was firm, decisive. Now that he had made up his mind, he would brook no refusal.
She had no intention of refusing.
She gasped in delight and he felt her shimmer in his arms. "But, you need to know what it's going to be like. If you're mine, I won't share you at all. I'm not going to tolerate the likes of Kyle Bolton, or anybody else coming near you. I won't let them look at you, let alone talk to you. And you better understand that when you say
, there's no going back. Once I have you, I'll never let you go." He paused, then continued, as if he was confessing something horrendous. "I'm afraid I'm jealous, sweetheart. I don't know. I've never been jealous before, but I saw red today when that kid was standing too close to you.
Becky listened to his speech of warning and felt no fear, only an intense flare of excitement at his possessiveness. If he thought the idea of him having exclusive rights over her was going to frighten her, he was dead wrong. Another thrill went through her. Yes, yes, yes! She wanted to jump up and down and scream with joy. She couldn't wait to tell Aunt Beth and Miranda!
"And one more thing, sweetheart. It has to be soon." Now that he had made up his mind, he wanted the deed done before anything could come between them. "Saturday. That'll give you three days to get ready. I'll tell the preacher. You get a dress."
Wednesday morning dawned bright and sunny. A late autumn chill filled the air. Becky bounded out of bed, excitement gripping her. She had a million things to do today. The first of which, was to get to the dry goods store and visit Miranda.
Aunt Beth had been so happy for her last night. "I told you, darlin'. I knew that man wouldn't give up the home cooked meals, and all. Between you and me, sweetie, the whole town has been waiting for this to happen. It's a known fact the sheriff is spoiled rotten, and you're the little girl to blame for it. I bet his heart nearly stopped beating when you told him the Bolton boy was sweet on you. To offer you six marriage proposals in three months! That boy is surely not going to like losing out to the sheriff. No sir, you mark my words, he's going to be one unhappy young fellow."