Rode Hard, Put Up Wet Page 3


“Would it matter if I was older than you?”


“Then it don’t matter that you got a few years on me.” He kissed her hotly, a drawn out seductive promise. “Besides, you’re sexy. Kinda remind me of Madonna.”

“Madonna the pop singer? But she’s—”

“The same age as you.” He squinted at her. “Yep, definitely. You’re like Madonna in a cowgirl hat. And if I had my pick of any of the ladies—including the material girl, I’d still choose you.”

“I forgot what a sweet-talker you are.” She steered the conversation back to business.

“I’m heading back to my ranch today. When can you be there to start?”

“Damn.” He frowned and shuffled back a step. “One kiss and my mind is on a single track.”


“Macie. We’d planned to spend the summer traveling together. Since her momma died a coupla years back, she ain’t got no one else. I can’t just shove her aside, especially when I been doin’ that to the poor kid her whole life.”

Without conscious thought, she smoothed the guilt from his puckered brow. “I don’t expect you to ignore her, Cash. She’s welcome at my place too, if she wants to stay for awhile.”

“It won’t bother you that she’ll know we’re involved in more than a workin’ relationship?”

“Maybe I should wonder if it’d bother you. Think you might suffer from performance anxiety if you’re trying to fulfill all my wicked sexual fantasies when your daughter is sleeping under the same roof?”

Cash shuddered. “I’m thinkin’ I’ll offer her my camper for the time being. And we’ll park it away from the main house.”

“Good plan. Although, I’m still gonna assign chores for her to earn her keep if she decides to stick around.”

“That won’t be a problem. She’s an independent cuss; she ain’t one to take charity.”

“Like father like daughter, huh?”

“Yep. You won’t regret trackin’ me down.” Cash rubbed his jaw along hers. He placed a soft kiss below her ear and growled, “I’ve half a mind to make you crawl inside the trailer and take off every stitch of clothing right now.”

Warmth pooled between her thighs.

“But as I’ve been itchin’ to touch you forever, I ain’t about to settle for a quick tumble. I wanna take my time. Make it last until the sun comes up. Make you come until the sun comes up.” He leveled her with a hungry kiss. “Let’s get loaded, track down Macie and get the hell out of here.”

Gemma was only too happy to oblige.

Chapter Three

Macie Honeycutt muttered, “Watch it, Tex,” as another saddle almost clipped her in the head. It sucked being short. She ducked under the fence and detoured to the beer garden.

As she stood in line, she tried not to obsess about the situation with her dad. After hearing about her epically bad month, he insisted they meet up at a rodeo. Why? Far as she knew, he’d given up chasing the gold-buckle dream last year.

So what was the first thing he’d done after she’d shown up in the middle of nowhere? He’d ditched her!

Like that should surprise you, Macie Blue. You can’t count on him. Cut your losses and run.

She closed her mind to her mother’s phantom voice. The woman had been dead four years and she still had an opinion. Unfortunately, it was the same bad opinion of Cash Big Crow Macie had heard her entire life.

Macie’s relationship with her father was tenuous at best. He hadn’t been around when she’d been growing up, though as she’d gotten older, he’d made a point to track her down.

So why did she have the perverse need to do exactly the opposite of what Daddy said? It’d serve him right if she hooked up with a hot-tempered, good-looking cowboy, as it appeared he’d done some hooking up of his own.

Yet, by the almost worshipful way he’d talked about Gemma in the last few months, it didn’t surprise Macie that Gemma looked like a former rodeo beauty queen who’d horsewhip the shit out of you if you looked at her crossways. It’d take a woman like that to tame her father.

The white-haired man behind the plywood partition interrupted her thoughts. “What can I getcha, sweetheart?”

“Bud Light. In a bottle.”

“Can I see some ID?”

“Sure.” Macie whipped out her driver’s license, waiting for the man to make a smarmy remark about her age or her ethnicity.

But the guy smiled, popped the top and slid the bottle across the counter. “Four-fifty.”

She passed him a five. “Keep the change.” She snagged a seat at the back table, propping up her feet on the spare chair to discourage the group of cowboys eyeing her like a chunk of prime sirloin.

How long did her dad expect her to cool her heels?

Didn’t matter. Wasn’t like she had anywhere else to go. Macie tugged her hat lower on her forehead and nursed the beer.

What a jumbled mess her life was. Two months ago she’d caught her boyfriend two-timing her. She should’ve known with a sissy name like Dante that he played for both teams. She should’ve known since they’d dated for, oh, two months and they hadn’t had sex that he was, oh, gay.

Still, it’d shocked her to walk in on him scoring with his racquetball partner, Dooce.

They’d been so busy playing with each other’s balls and making a “racquet” they hadn’t noticed her.

Things went downhill from there. Her best friend Kat moved out of their apartment and in with her boyfriend. Two weeks after that, Macie’d gotten canned from her waitressing job. The jerk-off customer deserved the pitcher of iced tea she’d dumped in his lap after he’d grabbed her ass—even if management saw fit to punish her for the moron’s happy hands. No wonder she preferred to work in the kitchen. Vegetables didn’t talk back.

At her father’s urging, and the looming expiration of her apartment lease, she’d packed her few belongings into her Ford Escape and left Denver. Her options were unlimited. She was free, half-white and twenty-two. She could do as she damn well pleased.

The bottle stopped halfway to her mouth.

Mmm. Mmm. And she’d do him in a heartbeat. He was the first guy who’d tripped her trigger since the Dante debacle. She liked hot men. She liked hot sex. She really liked the hot man/hot sex combo.

Right. Like she’d ever be bold enough to try anything kinky with any man, let alone a man who looked like him. She talked a good game but it’d taken four trips to the adult toy store before she’d finally bought a vibrator.

Whoo-ee. She wouldn’t need a vibrator with him. This guy was pure hot sex on the hoof.

Her pulse skipped as the hunky man ambled into the beer garden. From a distance he was a yummy package; up close he was a gourmet meal. Tall and leanly muscular with sharply defined facial features. He had curly dark blond hair, liberally laced with streaks of brown and gold, long enough to brush his shirt collar. A little stubble on his square jaw made him look wild and sexy, like a roguish Viking raider. His mouth was drawn in a flat line. Ooh. A brooding bad boy. She wondered what color his eyes were. Blue? Green?

Hazel? Even wearing a scowl he was a head-turner.

As he waited for a beer, a couple of blondes took notice of him.

Slouched in her chair, Macie watched the scene unfold. The guy didn’t notice the attention he was gathering from women of all ages, shapes and sizes within his radius. He drank his beer fast, leaving as quickly as he’d arrived. The two blondes lingered a few minutes before they stalked him.

The poor bastard. Nothing was worse than buckle bunnies on the prowl for a “real”

cowboy. He wasn’t sporting the obvious cowboy clothing, but he owned the attitude.

Macie finished her beer, and headed toward the contestant’s gate. With any luck, her dad was done screwing around. When the wind caught her hat, she wadded it up and tossed it in the closest trashcan. She hated the cheap damn thing anyway.

Carter McKay perched on the split rail fence and longed to be anywhere besides the rodeo grounds. It wasn’t that he didn’t fit the rural surroundings. Hell, he fit outdoor arenas with dirt-packed floors and livestock sale barns better than he had the stuffy classrooms and snooty galleries he’d been living around for the last eight years.

As the last McKay boy born and bred on the family ranch, he not only looked the part of a cowboy, he was a cowboy—through and through. He just wasn’t dumb enough to climb on a bull or ride a wild bronc for the thrill, or for any amount of money. Not that rodeo paid diddlysquat. Not that being an artist was the most stable occupation either.

Certainly his family didn’t understand his chosen profession. Sure, pride shone in his parents’ eyes when he’d earned a Masters of Fine Arts—yet, they hadn’t known what to do with him.

Problem was there wasn’t need for a painter at the McKay Ranch, unless that meant slapping a coat of Sherwin Williams on one of the three wooden barns. Even if he’d wanted to join the family cattle business, between his father and his older brothers, Colby, Cord, Colt, and his cousins, Kade and Kane—every aspect of their growing operation was under control.

So Carter was at loose ends. He’d been on his own too long to live at home for longer than a week or two. Made him shudder to think of Mom and Dad dogging his every boot step. Or his smart-mouthed little sister, Keely, snickering and calling him a brooding “arteest”. He’d taken his revenge by using her favorite silk shirt to clean up his paintbrushes. Scary, how quickly he’d reverted to juvenile behavior.

Luckily, Gemma Jansen, a family friend, needed a part-time ranch hand. He’d signed on for the summer and relocated his art supplies, welding iron, and paltry possessions to a small trailer on her property with a huge barn he could use as a studio. An added bonus?

Her land was vastly different from the buttes and sage-dotted hills of the McKay Ranch and it gave him a wealth of new visual material.

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