Rode Hard, Put Up Wet Page 33

For some reason Macie was pleased he’d acknowledged her first.

“Whatcha ladies doin’?”

“Celebrating Macie volunteering to pull my ass out of the fire. She’s gonna cook up a storm today before the McKays arrive tomorrow.”

“Really? Honey-girl, that’s awesome.”

“No biggie.” Though it was, because she could see how happy it made him.

“You gonna wow them with your special caramel apple pie, eh?” He frowned. “Hey, didja ever bring back that can of whipped cream you borrowed?”

Macie choked on her beer, and waved off her father as he started toward her with a worried look on his face.

Gemma’s eyes narrowed, then widened with comprehension. She hid a grin behind her beer bottle.

“You ready, sweets?” Cash said to Gemma. “We need to hit the road.”

“Soon as I hit the bathroom.” Gemma stood and smiled at Macie. “Thanks again for helping out. I enjoy talking with you. Don’t be a stranger.” She disappeared up the stairs.

“You’ll be okay here alone tonight?” her dad asked. “Last time we left there was a storm—”

“I’ll be fine.”

“Is Carter comin’ over?”

“I’m not sure.”

He fiddled with his cowboy hat. “Call him. I’d feel better if he was around.”

Macie lifted her eyebrows. Dad wanted Carter here? That was a first. “Why?”

“Yeah, well, because I want him to check the cattle before supper. He needs to take care of what’s important.”

Right. The cattle. Instead of that horses-and-cows-and-everything-else-are-more-important-than-me sinking sensation, she knew her dad had meant her. She was important. Macie hid a teary smile and turned away.

Later that night, Macie was exhausted when Carter barged into Gemma’s kitchen.

After he kissed her thoroughly, he said, “Come on. I want to show you something.”

“Can’t it wait until tomorrow? I’m tired and I have to be up early.”

“It’ll be worth your while, I promise.”

“Then will you tuck me in bed?”

“Uh-huh. I’ll even let you sleep tonight.”

They weren’t getting a lot of sleep the nights they were together. If she’d thought the man was dynamic in bed before the whipped cream incident. Whew. It was nothing compared to the stamina with which he made love to her at every opportunity. Just a few hours back he’d wrestled her to the floor in Gemma’s living room and screwed her silly.

She still couldn’t figure out what’d changed him. In addition to the smokin’ hot sex, they talked into the wee hours. And laughed, Lord, they’d laughed until they cried. They had pillow fights and water wars. They’d crawl in bed and feed each other ice cream. Or snuggle up by the campfire. Sometimes they played cards, although neither of them knew how to play pinochle. They were truly acting like a couple.

Macie couldn’t remember ever being so happy. Or exhausted.

She sighed.

“Please? Come on, darlin’, be daring.”

“Okay. But you better not be taking me snipe hunting.”

“Never. Close your eyes.” He slipped something soft over her head. Everything went dark.

“A blindfold? Why?”

“You’ll see. Trust me.” He clasped her hand in his and led her outside. “It’s just a short drive.” He helped her into his truck. They rode down the gravel road in silence.

Macie was a little unnerved, not knowing where they were or what they were doing.

They walked a ways and stopped.

“Hang on.” She heard a rustling noise and then Carter picked her up and laid her on something soft flat on the ground.


“Ssh. Don’t be scared. I’m here. Keep your eyes closed until I tell you to open them.” He nibbled around the edges of her lips as he slid off the blindfold. One last sweet kiss and he moved away.

She felt him lay down beside her.

“Okay, darlin’, you can open them now.”

Macie blinked her eyes open and stared at the sky above her, which was a magnificent swath of pitch black, punctuated with silver stars. Stars so big she could almost reach out and touch them. Stars bursting with light so bright it was as if she were part of the Milky Way.

“Omigod. It is beautiful.”

“Isn’t it?”

“I’ve never seen anything like it.” That wasn’t a lie. She was absolutely floored.

“There’s no moon tonight and no clouds. No streetlights or air pollution to diffuse the pure blackness of the sky.”

“Is it always like this in Wyoming?”

“No. Maybe once or twice every couple of years. I’ve seen it in the summer when it’s hot as hell, and in the dead of winter when it’s ice cold. I have to admit I like layingon a blanket much better than bein’ wrapped up in a parka.”

“Me too. Thank you for sharing this, it’s spectacular.”

Carter reached for her hand. He swept his thumb over her wrist; he always had to be touching her. It wasn’t annoying; it was soothing, and becoming a familiar and welcome quirk.

They stargazed in awestruck silence. She had no idea how much time passed. Her mind blanked to everything the majesty stretched out before them and the sweetness of the man laying beside her.

She blinked and Carter was above her.

“I didn’t bring you out here to have my wicked way with you, believe it or not.”

He ran his fingers down the line of her jaw and she shivered.

“But I want you. I want to make love to you like this. With starlight on your face.

With warm sage-scented night air around us and a soft blanket below us. No one around for miles. Just you and me, Macie. As alone as we’ve ever been.”

They undressed each other slowly and rolled over the blanket, skin to skin.

Exchanging soft kisses, gentle caresses. A whispered word, a low moan. No hurry. The sexual heat between them simmered, rather than boiled.

In the breathtaking moment beneath the shimmering stars when Carter slipped inside her body, Macie also felt him slip into her heart.

Chapter Twenty-five

Colby and Channing McKay arrived with four pickup loads of bull riding equipment and half the population of Crook County, Wyoming.

Or so it seemed to Gemma.

Happy as she was to see wild child Keely McKay, her quiet friend/nemesis Amy Jo Foster, four teenage boys, and a dog named Shithead, Gemma wondered if she and Channing would get a chance to talk privately. Lord knew she needed it.

She wanted to know if she was acting like an old fool because she’d fallen head over heels in love with Cash Big Crow.

Macie had overtaken the kitchen and shooed her out. Cash loitered in the paddock setting up the mechanical bull, while Colby and two teenage boys tied one of the practice barrels between two trees. The other boys were hauling more stuff out of the vehicles and carrying it into the barn. Keely and Amy Jo were arguing while they dragged piles of brush for the evening bonfire.

Where there were cowboys, there were campfires.

Didn’t take long for the heated argument between the girls to reach her ears.

“He won’t let you, Keely, and it’ll just piss him off if you ask him, so drop it.”

Gemma’s brows lifted. Sweet Amy Jo cursed now? Didn’t take long for Keely McKay to corrupt her.

“Why are you acting like my mother?”

“Because I’m trying to keep you from getting killed.”

“Puh-lease. Do you know how many times I’ve watched—”

“Watching isn’t the same thing as participating.”

Keely let loose a sultry laugh. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you for months, but do you listen to me? No.”

“We are not talking about… that kind of stuff. We’re talking about you wanting to climb on that stupid mechanical bull. Colby won’t let you.”

“Maybe I can sweet talk Cash.”

Amy Jo released a disgusted sigh.

“Or Carter would let me do it.”

“Wrong. Carter won’t let you get away with half the shit that Colby does. So give it up.”

“If they don’t let me try it, I’ll sneak out on my own and do it.”

“Oh, no you won’t. I’ll tell.”

“You are supposed to be my friend and back me up on this.”

“I am your friend. And if you wind up dead, who will I room with in Denver? We already paid the deposit. We’re finally gonna whoop it up, away from—”

“How’s it goin’, girls?” Gemma asked.

Amy Jo gasped and whirled around guiltily.

Keely jumped. “What are you doin’ sneakin’ up on us, Gemma?”

“Seein’ if you were up to no good.”

“She’s always up to no good,” Amy Jo grumbled.

“Don’t I know it.” Gemma smiled. “I couldn’t help but overhear you talkin’. You two movin’ someplace?”

“Yep. We’re getting the hell out of Dodge and starting massage therapy school in Denver in September.”

“It’s a temporary move,” Amy Jo amended. “The school has an accelerated program, so we’ll be living there for a year.”

“Both of you? Together? In an apartment? With no supervision? Sounds like a disaster.”

“Sounds like an episode of Sex in the City: Wild Wyoming Women.”


“You should’ve seen the look on Dad’s face when I told him I wanted to open a massage parlor.”

“Good Lord, Keely.”

Keely smiled cheekily. “Well, I’m glad you’re here. We were just talkin’ about a…man versus woman situation. Men always havin’ the upper hand, tellin’ us what we can and can’t do. You think you could ask Cash if—”

“No. And if I see you anywhere around that mechanical bull, Miz McKay, I’ll tell your dad what I saw you doin’ in Cheyenne last year. That oughta get you grounded, oh, for life.”

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