Rode Hard, Put Up Wet Page 21

“You’re not. It’s okay. Just sittin’ here thinkin’.”

Gemma scooted next to him on the cement step. “Macie’s not back yet?”


“Maybe she got called in to work.”

“Be a little hard for Velma to reach her when Macie’s cell phone is dead and in the camper.”


“Yeah. I checked.” He set aside the empty bottle and sighed. “Go ahead and remind me she’s an adult.”

Gemma didn’t say a word.

The sweet, low tones of mourning doves rose and fell in the early twilight. A bull roared in the north pasture. The humid air seemed to amplify the normal sounds and every breath he sucked into his lungs was heavy. Oppressive.

Cash took off his cowboy hat and hung it on the metal railing so he could rub the knot at the base of his skull.

“You okay?”

“Just a headache.”

“Probably from tension. Want me to rub your neck?”

He glanced at her. “You wouldn’t mind?”

“No. I like touching you, Cash. It doesn’t always have to lead to the bedroom.”

Gemma’s sweetness soothed him somewhat.

“Come on. Scoot down on the next step and lean back.” Once she’d settled him between her thighs, she asked, “Can I unbraid your hair?”

“Sure. Why?”

“I could claim a too-tight braid as the source of your headache, but the truth is, I’ve been dying to get it loose so I can run my hands through it. Been afraid to ask you if I could.”

Cash looked at her over his shoulder. “Why? Do I scare you?”


“Is this about what happened in the barn?”

Her cheeks flushed and she dropped her gaze. “No.”

“That wasn’t a real convincin’ no, Gem.”

“Fine. I like everything you do to me. But that’s why…oh, never mind.”

“No. Tell me.”

“I want equal time to do things to you.”

That was all? He relaxed. “Okay. I’m listenin’.”

“So far this relationship has been pretty one-sided.”

“You think?”


“It’s been two days, Gemma.”

“Oh. Seems longer, doesn’t it?”

Cash didn’t know how to take that comment so he let it go.

Gemma loosened his hair and massaged his scalp, derailing his train of thought. He groaned with appreciation at her magic touch.

She dug her thumbs into the base of his neck.

“God that feels good.”

“There are other things I can do to you that will feel this good. Or better.”

His cock perked up. “Like?”

“Like, I don’t wanna give you a play-by-play, Cash. I’m more of a doer than a talker.”

“That a fact?”


“I gotta remind you of a fact, sweets. You agreed to let me be in charge when it comes to sex.”

“I didn’t think that meant all the time.”

“It did.”

Her fingers quit kneading.



Cash faced her. “If you ain’t enjoyin’ bein’ with me, just say so.”

“See? That’s not what this is about. You’re just like Steve, taking everything so personal to the point we can’t talk about it.”

They stared at each other. It was the first time she’d brought up her husband’s name in front of him. It didn’t feel as awkward as he imagined it would. Maybe it was a good reminder to him that they both had a past.

“Maybe you oughta explain that comment.”

A gust of wind caught Cash’s unbound hair and it lashed Gemma in the face. Before he could yank it back into a ponytail, she grabbed a handful and pulled him close. “Let me take the lead once in awhile. That don’t mean you’re doing anything wrong, it just lets me be on the giving end. Much as I like being on the receiving end, sometimes I just need to know you don’t mind when I’m aggressive and I don’t want to wait for you to take charge.”

Cash watched her eyes. She had no idea how much her confession meant to him. He hadn’t been kidding when he’d warned her of his savage appetites, or of his secret taste for a little kink. So, not only hadn’t he scared her off, she was letting him know she might even go him one better.

He whispered, “Show me.”

Gemma slammed her lips to his. After ravaging his mouth, she jerked his head back by the hair and sank her teeth into the skin above his collarbone.

And sucked like a vampire. He knew she’d left a mark and he didn’t give a damn.

Her show of force made his dick hard even when it softened his heart.

She licked the stinging spot. “I like to bite.”

“I’ll keep that in mind when my cock is near those sharp teeth.”

Gemma laughed softly. “Let me finish your neck rub. No teeth, I promise.”

Cash relaxed into her once again.

“Tell me about Macie’s mom. And how Macie came to be.” When he stiffened, she chided, “You had to expect I’d ask sometime.”

“Yeah, well, you’d think I’d be used to it by now.”

He wished he had another beer. “Macie’s mom, Jorgen Honeycutt, came to Pine Ridge on some kind of mission trip one summer. She embodied a gypsy, which appealed to a kid like me, bein’s I was stuck on the rez. Probably for the rest of my life.”

“How old were you?”

“Sixteen. I lied and told her I was eighteen. When she mentioned she’d just graduated, I figured her to be twenty-two. Later, I found out she’d meant from grad school, which made her twenty-six.

“I ain’t gonna lie. Jorgen was blonde, beautiful, rich, sexy and I talked my way into her bed.”

“I’ll bet in your teens you were one of those cocky, slow-eyed, good-lookin’ Indian cowboys, weren’t you?”

“Yeah. Me and Jorgen had nothin’ in common. She wanted to be with a ‘real’ Indian cowboy. We screwed around that summer and I knocked her up. Wasn’t a doubt the kid was mine as we were together all the time. She wouldn’t consider an abortion.” Cash still winced when he thought about how hard he’d argued for that option.

Gemma kissed the top of his head. “Sucks that sometimes those things from the past can still hurt us even when we didn’t make that choice.”

Soothed by her again, he continued. “Jorgen had some family money, and wanderingfeet so she took off. Called me six months later to tell me I was a father. I didn’t see Macie for the first time until she was two.

“I was such a bastard, Gem. I didn’t care. Thought I’d skated by easy ’cause I didn’t have to pay child support. Jorgen would call me, drunk usually, and tell me about my child. I dreaded those damn phone calls.

“I wasn’t interested in bein’ a father until my friends started havin’ kids. I suppose Macie was about eight when I began to see her once a year. We had fun together, but it wasn’t any kind of relationship. Mostly because Jorgen made sure she had all the control.

She’d decide when I could talk to Macie. Or see her. They moved all over the damn place so I had no choice. I never knew where they were, which drove me nuts.”

“Doesn’t sound like your lack of a relationship with your daughter is entirely your fault, Cash.”

“Maybe not. I don’t remember how it happened, but the year Macie turned twelve she called me. We talked for hours. I realized I wanted to get to know my child so I asked Jorgen if Macie could spend the summer with me on the rez.”

Gemma gently worked his left shoulder muscle in silence.

“Jorgen refused. I was travelin’ the rodeo circuit so it was easier for me to get to wherever Macie was. I went hundreds of miles out of my way to see my girl whenever I could.”

Cash took a break, not sure if he was doing the right thing telling Gemma all this nasty shit about himself.

“Can I ask you something?”

“I guess.”

“Is Macie like her mother?”

“In some ways.”


“Like I suspect she’s got itchy feet. Macie doesn’t seem inclined to put down roots anywhere.”

“Maybe she gets that from you. You’ve traveled around plenty yourself, Cash.”

He grunted.

“Or maybe she doesn’t know how to settle down because no one has shown her,”

Gemma offered.

“True. But it ain’t like she’s gonna learn it from me. I should be happy that she’s like Jorgen in that material things don’t mean nothin’ to her.”

“I thought you said Jorgen was rich.”

Cash laughed without humor. “Every white person seems rich to a rez kid who’s livin’ ten or twelve to a house and dependin’ on government commodities to eat. She had enough money to get by, and that’s more than I ever had.”

“That doesn’t tell me what Jorgen was like.”

“Sounds stupid, but Jorgen was the type who collected life experiences and checked them off her life list and moved on.”


“She had a list of things she wanted to accomplish. Live in Europe. Check. Get a graduate degree. Check. Live on the rez with indigenous people. Check. Have a child.

Check. Live in the desert. Check. Live in the mountains. Check. Live by the ocean.

Check. Work in a cowboy bar. Check. Work in a casino. Check. Work on a cruise ship.

Check. She went where she wanted to go, did what she wanted to do and didn’t care about anybody else.”

“Including Macie?”

“I suspect that’s the case. Macie doesn’t wanna talk about her childhood too much. I don’t know if it’s to spare my feelin’s ’cause I wasn’t around or because they ain’t the best memories for her.” Thinking about poor little Macie fending for herself made his gut clench and his heart hurt. “I know Jorgen loved Macie, as much as Jorgen could love anyone.”

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