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       Corralled, p.13

         Part #1 of Blacktop Cowboys series by Lorelei James

  right when you walked out on me.” Angry footsteps stopped.

  Holy shit. Abe was arguing with his ex- wife? Far as Kyle knew, Abe and Janie had severed all contact after the divorce. He hated to interrupt the phone call, but the access to the basement was through the kitchen. Before Kyle booked it downstairs, he saw Abe press his forehead to the sliding glass door in total defeat.

  In the guest bedroom, he dumped the contents of his duffel on the floor. Sorted the clothing from the other junk he’d shoved inside the bag. It’d all fit in one load. He stripped to his boxers, gathered the dirty clothes, and trudged to the laundry room.

  As he jammed the whole shebang in the washer and poured soap on top, he grinned, thinking his mother would be appalled.

  She hated how he did laundry. Which reminded him that he hadn’t called her about his win in Lamar.

  Not that she’d be thrilled. Maybe secretly thrilled, but she wasn’t happy about his getting back into bull riding.

  He sprawled on the bed before he dialed her at home.

  She answered, “If it isn’t my wayward son.”

  “Hey, Ma.”

  “Hey, yourself. You ain’t calling me to bail you outta jail, are you?”

  A real comedienne, his mother. “Nah. Can’t a guy call his mom just because he misses her?”

  “Lord have mercy, Kyle Dean Gilchrist. You must’ve lost your entry fee in Lamar if you’re sweet- talking me. Hoping for a loan?”

  “Nope. I got first.”

  “You did? Congrats! Tell me about it, but leave out the parts where you get the shit kicked outta you by a two- ton beast.”

  Kyle detailed the rides. He talked about the differences in the EBS and the CRA. He said nothing about Lainie or about her joining him and Hank on the road.

  The click of a lighter. A sharp inhale. Damn cigarettes. He wished she’d quit, but nagging her did no good.

  Like it did her no good with you and bull riding?

  “So, where are you right now?”

  “Hank’s place. We’re loading up Abe’s camper.”

  “If you tell me you drove through Cheyenne to get to Muddy Gap and didn’t stop to see me, so help me God—”

  “We cut across from Fort Collins and came up through Laramie. You’da chewed my ass if I’d showed up on your doorstep at three a.m. anyway.” Two soft raps sounded on his door. He held his hand over the mouthpiece and said, “Come in.”

  The door opened and Lainie was framed in the doorway, acting strangely hesitant. He motioned her in.

  “Look, Ma, I’ll call you from the road. We’ll be in Gillette the next two days.” Her threats burned his ear, but he still managed to grin. “No topless dancin’ on the bar tonight for extra tips. Love you too.” He snapped the phone shut and stared at Lainie.

  “You give that warning to your mother often?”

  “Every time we talk. It’s a private joke.”

  “Must be nice.”

  “It is what it is.” He smoothed his fingers over his mustache and goatee. “Something you need?”

  Lainie shuffled closer. “Just checking to see if you’re all right.

  You’ve been upset since we got here.”

  “I’m fine.”

  “You’re not hiding an injury from me?”

  “No.” He’d completely forgotten he wore just his boxer briefs, until her gaze lingered on his crotch and slowly, very, very slowly, inched up his torso. “You really oughtn’t be here, eating me up with those hungry eyes, sugar.”

  “I can’t help it. You have such a yummy body. I want to rub my face in the hair on your chest. I want to feel your goatee teasing my nipples. I want you to kiss me. Do I ever want you to kiss me, Kyle.”

  “Jesus. Lainie. Have you been drinkin’?”

  She laughed— a sultry sound that matched the heat darkening her eyes. “No.”

  “Hank won’t be happy you snuck down here.”

  “The question is: Are you happy I’m down here?”

  Kyle squirmed. “Of course. I just don’t want Hank to get pissed off at me. Or think I lured you into the basement.”

  “It’s not Hank’s decision where I go. It’s mine. I can tell him that if you like. After.”

  “After what?”

  “After you kiss me.” She paused by the edge of the bed. “Are you really all right?”

  “I am now.” Kyle jerked her on top of him. His mouth was on hers, catching her giggle. He rolled her beneath him, pinning her arms above her head. His dick had gone from zero to hard in about four seconds. His lips slipped across her jaw to her ear as he ground against her. “Tell me what you want.”

  “Get me off. And then I’ll get you off. Just do it fast.”

  “Deal.” Kyle twisted to his left hip, unsnapped her jeans, and yanked them and her underwear down past her knees. After popping the buttons on her blouse, he pressed on the front of her bra until the plastic clasp released. Kyle wiggled his boxers off and was right back on top of her. “Spread your legs wider.”

  “That’s the farthest they’ll go with my jeans on.”

  “Good enough.” Kyle sucked in a breath when his cock connected with the damp heat of her mound. He rocked until his shaft was nestled into that sweet cleft.

  “Kyle, what are you doing? We don’t have a condom.”

  “I’m making you come, like you asked me to. And I don’t need a damn condom to do it.” He thrust up, then pulled back, dragging the entire length of his cock across her clitoris. “Gimme that mouth,” he growled, kissing her urgently. His chest hair rasped over her nipples with his every upward movement.

  “I like that.”

  “I know. That’s why I freakin’ love to do it.” He felt goose bumps prickling across her arms. No matter how he touched her or what sexual position he suggested, she turned her pleasure over to him.

  Or to Hank.

  Dammit. He was not thinking about his buddy when he had Lainie in his bed.

  When Lainie started to bump her hips up, he stilled, until she understood he was in charge. She sagged into the mattress and kissed him harder, squeaking those sexy, needy sounds into his mouth.

  He shortened his strokes, keeping constant pressure on the slippery nub he could almost feel pulsing beneath his shaft.

  Lainie’s thighs trembled and she broke the kiss. “Kyle. Oh.Don’t stop.”

  “Shh. Baby, I won’t. Give it to me. Let me see you come.”

  Her beautiful neck bowed and she moaned as her orgasm hit.

  Biting her lip. Nipples stabbing into his chest. Her skin flushing a pale rose.

  Watching her come proved to be his undoing. Kyle propelled his hips faster, letting the underside of his cock head graze across the hard bone of her mound.

  Yes. Balls tight. Ass cheeks tight, stomach muscles tight. Almost. Almost. “Yes. Oh, sweet Jesus. Lainie.”

  He rammed one last time, resting his cock on her belly as spurt after spurt shot out on her warm, soft skin.

  Everything went fuzzy for a second. Then Kyle pushed up on his palms and looked at her. She wore a catlike grin. “What?”

  “You did follow through on your promise to make me come fast.”

  “Ditto.” He licked at her lips, placed soft smooches on the corners of her smile, and dipped his tongue into her mouth for a flirty kiss that left them both wanting more.

  “Kyle. I have to—”

  “I know. But I can’t get enough. I love the way you taste.” He nibbled on the baby- soft section of skin at the base of her throat.

  “The way you smell.” Kyle brushed his nose over the sweat dampened hair at her temple. “The way you feel under me. On me. Around me.”

  “The way I feel at this moment is sticky. Get off me so I can get cleaned up.”

  One last smooch to her chin and he flopped over on his back.

  His gaze sought the seed he’d left on her belly. Might make him a Neanderthal, but damn, did he love seeing his mark on her.<
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  Then it was gone. Lainie swiped it away with a tissue. She was zipped and buttoned in no time flat.

  She gave him a once- over and tossed him his briefs. “Where are the rest of your clothes?”

  “In the washer. They’re probably done by now.”

  “Want me to throw them in the dryer on my way upstairs?”

  Lainie’s thoughtfulness, even for the smallest things, always moved him. “If it’s no trouble.”

  “No trouble. See you.” She headed for the door.

  “Lainie. Wait.”

  She whirled around.

  “If Hank asks where you’ve been . . . will you tell him what just happened?”

  Indecision warred in her eyes, but she nodded. “The reverse would be true too, Kyle. Anything you want to know about what happens between me and Hank, just ask. It’s only fair.”

  The door closed behind her.

  Chapter X

  Turned out it wasn’t Hank that Lainie should’ve been worried about.

  She’d just tossed Kyle’s clothes in the dryer when a voice spoke behind her. “Lucky Kyle. You’ll do him and his laundry?”

  Lainie threw in two fabric- softener sheets and started the machine before she turned around.

  Holy crap— Celia was pissed. Arms folded over her chest. Slim body vibrating with anger. Mouth set in a grim line. Eyes hard and mean.

  “It’s not what you think,” Lainie said evenly.

  “Oh, it’s exactly what I think. I heard you moaning Kyle’s name. Same for Kyle gasping your name in praise.”

  Lainie’s face heated. Not out of guilt. Celia’s eavesdropping on a private moment irked her.

  “What kind of woman is all lovey-dovey with my brother one second, and not an hour later she’s fucking his friend?”

  “I won’t answer that, Celia.”

  “Why not?” she demanded.

  Because it’s none of your business. “Because it’s complicated.”

  “Maybe when I talk to Hank it’ll uncomplicate things for you.”

  Equally belligerent, Lainie pointed to the door. “Go ahead. If you bring it up with Hank, don’t do it in front of his friends.”

  “Why not?”

  “Because Hank doesn’t deserve to be embarrassed. Especially not by his hotheaded sister, who doesn’t have a freakin’ clue about what’s really going on.”

  Worry crept into Celia’s steely eyes. “That’s why I’m asking you, Lainie. What’s goin’ on?”

  Lainie yanked the ponytail holder out of her hair. The damn thing was giving her a headache. Right. It was the elastic’s fault her head pounded. Not this sneaking around and lying shit. “Look, Celia, no offense, but I don’t know you or if you can keep a secret.”

  “Believe it or not, I’m good at keeping secrets.” Celia snapped,

  “I’m good at recognizing a bullshit excuse too.”

  “The truth is, I’m with both of them.”

  “With both of them . . . As in sleeping with both of them?”

  She nodded.

  Celia’s mouth nearly hit the laundry room floor. “Holy crap. For real? And Hank and Kyle are okay with it?”

  “No.” Lainie smiled ruefully. She summarized the situation and finished with, “For obvious reasons Hank didn’t want to share the truth with you and Abe.”

  “God. It never even crossed my mind that a hinky thing could be goin’ on between the three of you.” A bewildered look darkened her eyes. “Kyle and Hank aren’t . . . together? And you’re just along as their beard?”

  “No. God, no.” Where in the hell had Celia picked up that term?

  “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” Celia rushed to say. “It’s just, well, Hank is my brother. Some folks around here already think it’s weird he ain’t married at his age. Especially since he’s not ugly or mean or a drunk— or all three.”

  Lainie seized her chance to get the lowdown on Hank. “Why isn’t Hank married?”

  Celia’s face became contemplative for a second before she answered. “Partially because Abe’s marriage went to hell. Obviously it was hardest on Abe, but it wasn’t a picnic for me ’n’ Hank because we lived here too. After that, Hank started traveling as a bullfighter, leaving more of the ranch responsibilities to Abe and me.”

  “You’ve known Kyle a long time. Why do you think he’s not married?”

  “Because he’s a douche bag.”

  Lainie stiffened.

  “Sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I used to get along great with Kyle. Until he . . .” Celia smiled slyly. “Can you keep a secret?”

  Swapping secrets with Hank’s sister? Bad idea. “On second thought, don’t tell me. My buddy Tanna always says—”

  “Tanna. As in Tanna Barker? The seventh- ranked barrel racer in the CRA? You know her?”

  “Yeah. She’s a really good friend of mine. Why?”

  Celia squealed. “Oh, my God! She’s totally my hero. I’ve memorized all her stats and watched her winning performance at the AFR on DVD a billion times. I even changed my saddle to one like she uses. What’s she like? Serious? Dedicated? I’ll be she spends all her off time training.”

  Countering the hero worship with, No, she spends a good amount of her time trolling for studs not of the equine variety, wouldn’t be fair.

  Accurate, but unfair. “Tanna is the best. If you bought a saddle like hers, are you a barrel racer too?”

  “Shh.” Celia tossed a panicked look at the closed door. “This is a secret you absolutely cannot tell anyone, especially not Hank.”

  Before Lainie could stop her confession, Celia blurted, “Two years ago I bought Mickey to use as a cattle horse. But he was fast and agile, so when I started running him around barrels . . . Holy crap, me ’n’ Eli were stunned. Mickey was made for barrel racing. We’re talking a championship- grade horse. But Hank and Abe don’t know anything about Mickey, let alone that I’ve been training him and competing.”

  “Who’s Eli? A secret boyfriend?”

  She snorted. “Not hardly. Eli Whirling Cloud is my brothers’ buddy. He ain’t happy about keeping this secret from Hank and Abe either.”

  “Why is this so hush- hush?”

  “Because I broke my leg barrel racing when I was fourteen and we had to put the horse down. Abe and Hank freaked out and made me quit the rodeo team and promise I’d never compete again. I did quit competing, but I never stopped training. I love it too much. So when Eli agreed Mickey was ready to compete, I snuck off to a couple of rodeos within a day’s drive and entered us under another name.”

  Lainie stared at Celia. Stunned. “Your brothers don’t know anything about this?”

  She shook her head. “You saw how they are. I’m still treated like a fourteen- year- old girl. What sucks is I’m acting like one too. Sneaking out at night. Lying about where I’ve been. Conning Eli into helping me maintain the lie. I’m exhausted from the secret traveling and late nights. Abe thinks I’m lazy. I can’t even tell them my alter ego CeCe Murray is currently ranked seventeenth in the standings for this circuit.”

  “But seventeenth is great, Celia!”

  “I know. I worked hard for it. I wish I could tell them, but they’ll be seriously pissed.”

  “Don’t you think they’d be proud of you?”

  “Maybe. On the other hand, Abe feels Hank is pulled in two different directions with the ranch and the bullfighting. It’ll get harder for Hank if he’s picked as an EBS bullfighter.”

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