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Tripped out, p.15
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       Tripped Out, p.15

         Part #8.5 of Blacktop Cowboys series by Lorelei James
 
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  possibility, please turn around and take me back to Denver.”

  She laughed. “Who even uses the word ‘fisticuffs’ anymore?”

  “I did.” Liam kissed her hand. “To bring a smile to your face.”

  His sweetness was still a shock to her. “Thank you.”

  “Stirling, what’s going on?”

  “Blunt truth? It bothers me that my parents haven’t come to see me in Denver since they moved closer to me. The rodeo school—”

  “GFR&R,” he interjected.

  “You’re catching on, boy. We’ll getcha talkin’ cowboy in no time.”

  “Pass. Back to the blunt truth, darlin’.”

  “I know firsthand how hard it is to run a business and how crucial that first year is. But I came home twice during the holidays. Phone calls, texts, all that…so sporadic it doesn’t count. I take some comfort in the fact they’ve been out of touch with Macon as much as me.” A scowl twisted her mouth. “But I can guarantee they haven’t been out of touch with London or their grandson Brennen.”

  Childish much?

  “Sorry. That wasn’t fair. London works at the ranch. Part of me fears that my parents make up excuses not to see me because whatever pride they had in me vanished when I lost my corporate job and jumped into the cannabis business,” she said in a rush. She’d never admitted that to anyone.

  “Let’s assume for a moment there’s some truth to that. Would your parents have lost pride in Macon, too?”

  Stirling shook her head. “Macon is an attorney. The cannabis business is a side gig for him. If it fails, all he’s out is money. He’ll just don one of his hideous three-piece suits and go to his office. I, however…”

  “Are a brilliant woman with a master’s degree, and racked up years of experience as an agriculture conglomerate executive.” Liam brought their joined hands to his lips to kiss her knuckles. “If it comes down to that, Stirling, I have every confidence you’ll land on your feet.”

  She blushed, almost blurting out she hadn’t been fishing for compliments.

  “I can’t imagine your parents aren’t proud of your ganjapreneurial endeavors.” He grinned when she laughed at his terminology. “Especially since they’re farmers themselves.”

  “They grow hay, alfalfa, and corn. Normal farmer crops.”

  Stirling felt him studying her and said “What?” without taking her eyes off the road.

  “Is that why you’re insistent on starting an organic farm? Because it’s considered more normal—in their eyes—than growing cannabis?”

  Liam’s perceptiveness startled her.

  “Partially. Running an organic farm appealed to me because I could make it my own niche by focusing on supplying to farm-to-table restaurants. I had a romanticized vision of harvesting the exact same variety of beans, tomatoes, squash, and potatoes that my great-great grandparents did. I wanted to feel connected.”

  “And since your acreage is close to your parents’, you’d be part of the same community; hence, they’d see you as an extension of themselves and show parental pride.”

  “It’s not their pride I wanted as much as that family connection. The truth…” God. Did she even want to tell him this? Would he look at her differently?

  Liam kissed her hand again. “No judgment, remember?”

  “The truth is I’ve been a shitty, self-centered daughter, singularly focused on me and my goals since I left for college. I rarely came home. Same story when I started grad school. Too busy making my own way. Then when I landed the job at GenAgra, as a big-time executive I had responsibilities they couldn’t comprehend. Again, I hardly ever came home. My mom and dad both stopped calling me, because every time they called, I told them it wasn’t a good time and I’d have to call them back.”

  “Did you call them back?”

  “A week or two later, when I remembered.” Guilt weighed on her whenever she recalled that time in her life. “So weeks stretched into months between phone calls. I had no idea the level of expansion Grade A Farms underwent. When I found out…” Her face heated and she choked back a bitter laugh. “I had the audacity to demand why no one had told me.”

  “Stirling.”

  She shook her head. Don’t be sweet and supportive right now because I don’t deserve it. “I’d like to brag that I had an epiphany and changed my self-serving ways, but it didn’t happen. My job became unbearable. Then when the Nick fiasco occurred, what was the first thing I did? Ran home to my mother. And because she’s such an amazing person, she let me cry on her shoulder and complain about my life. The last time I had done that I was a bratty sixteen-year-old. She gave me one piece of advice: find who you were meant to be. I ran with it and I haven’t looked back.”

  “Except for now.”

  “Yes. It sucks to admit this, but I’ve been out of touch with my parents the last year. Old habits die hard, right? Anyway, I shouldn’t be whining because they’re throwing a party for London. I love my sister and I’d always hoped as we got older that we could find that bond we had when we were kids.” Stirling flashed him a quick smile. “That was the super-long, super-psychoanalytical answer to your question about why I decided organic farming would be the best idea evah. I based a monetary investment on a career path that my emotions chose, not my brain.”

  He lifted his shoulder in a half shrug. “It happens.”

  “Has it happened to you?”

  His non-answer was telling.

  “So as if the universe wanted to reiterate that point, after the mess with the infestation, it hit me that as an organic farmer, I’d be dealing with plant diseases, bugs, and Mother Nature on a much larger scale. Two hundred acres of uncertainty. Do I really want that to be my life?” She shot him a sideways glance. “Why can’t I just admit I’m happy being fully invested—financially and emotionally—in High Society? Even if the failure of it rests heavier on me than on my brother.”

  “Then conversely, the success is yours to celebrate too.” He chuckled. “I do have an optimistic side. Who knew?”

  There are more sides to you than I ever imagined.

  “Sorry for veering onto that tangent. I’m sure you don’t want to spend this time hearing about my neuroses.”

  “I could tell you that your neuroses are unfounded…but that’s the rub, isn’t it?”

  She muttered, “I wouldn’t believe you.”

  “Exactly.” His fingers squeezed hers. “So will you make amends with your parents?”

  “Not at a party for my sister.” She sighed. “Who am I kidding? I’ll probably chicken out and say nothing.”

  “If it plays out that way, don’t beat yourself up.”

  “Because we agreed lamenting lost opportunities is pointless.”

  “Only regarding sex,” he said in a huskier tone. “Speaking of…”

  Her belly swooped. “Yes?”

  “Did you bring that condom with you?”

  Interesting. So he couldn’t see the square outline in the front pocket of her jean skirt. “Maybe. Maybe not.”

  “I’m to play the ‘will we or won’t we?’ guessing game?”

  “No. But you were bragging about having moves that would impress me.”

  His hard gaze bored into her. “And you want me to prove it.”

  She smirked. “Only if you want to know where that special condom is.” Taunting him was always entertaining. Plus, there wasn’t a whole lot of room for seduction as they were speeding down the highway, but it would make the time go faster.

  “Challenge accepted.”

  Sucker.

  “Can you keep your eyes on the road when I’m touching you?”

  His deep rasping voice fired every sense receptor in her body, blasting her with a punch of sexual heat. “Depends on where you’re touching me.”

  Liam trailed his finger up the inside of her wrist to caress the bend in her elbow. “Just your hand and your arm.”

  “That’s it?”

  “Yes.”

 
Sounds fair.”

  He traced the bones in the back of her hand with his thumb. “If you’d given me the condom and the choice of when we’d become lovers? I wouldn’t have lasted a day, to say nothing of four days.”

  She hadn’t been holding off because of pride or fear, but from lack of opportunity.

  Bringing her hand to his mouth again, Liam brushed playful kisses across her knuckles.

  Tingles inched up her arm.

  “That’s why I left the decision to you.” His lips glided across her fingers in a lazy zigzag.

  “Do you regret that?”

  “No.” Turning her hand so her palm faced him, he began nibbling below her pinkie, his thumb sweeping a sensual arc on the inside of her forearm. “Nothing compares to the unfettered imagination. You’ve wondered if my touch will be reverent or rough. Will the connection of our bodies be slow and sensual? Is my lovemaking like molasses, heavy and sweet in the darkness?”

  That’s where Stirling’s thoughts flew. To Liam’s body poised above hers, his hard abdomen sliding across the softness of her belly as he slowly thrust in and out of her.

  “Or will we join together in a clothes-ripping, hair-pulling frenzy?” Still clasping her hand, he scraped her fingers through the bristly five-o’clock shadow along his jawline. “Desperate to reach that pinnacle of release as our damp bodies slap together in perfect rhythm?”

  Stirling started to worry maybe she’d been a little cocky about Liam’s ability to seduce her as they cruised down the road.

  “But this isn’t about you,” he said. “This is about me. Imagine that I get to choose when we fuck, where we fuck, and how we fuck.”

  She shivered at hearing the sexy growl accompanying the way he said fuck.

  “I’d want you naked, spread-eagled on my bed.”

  And…she jerked the wheel.

  Paranoid, she spared a look at him. Whew. He hadn’t noticed.

  “Blindfolded, but not bound,” he added.

  Wait. What? “Why blindfold me?”

  “So your focus is solely on my touch.” After he placed an openmouthed kiss on her palm, he slid his lips to the base of her hand, spreading her fingers across his chin and jaw, gripping her arm below her wrist to hold it in place. His breathing had deepened, along with his voice. “I’d watch every quiver, every goose bump, every arch of your back as my hands worshiped you.”

  “Worshiped?” she repeated.

  “Every. Beautiful. Inch.”

  In her mind’s eye she watched Liam’s rough-skinned palms smoothing over her breasts and hips as she basked in the possessiveness of his caress.

  Liam didn’t resume his verbal foreplay, but the continual stroking of his thumb on the inside of her arm was a special kind of sensual torture.

  “And then?” she asked him.

  “Pardon?”

  “What would you do next?”

  “Hmm. Let me think.”

  “For fuck’s sake, Liam. This is your fantasy. What happens next?”

  Liam lightly rubbed the base of her hand back and forth over the scruff on his chin, his full lips teasing her palm with every pass.

  More erotic torment.

  A breathless moment and then an electric shock zinged straight between Stirling’s legs when Liam speared his hot, wet tongue between her index and middle finger.

  She gasped and shifted in her seat.

  “Focus on the road,” he said as a sexy reprimand.

  “I am.”

  “Don’t be cross. I’m getting to the good part.” He trailed his lips up the inside of her forearm. “This is how softly I’d kiss up the inside of your thigh.”

  Don’t close your eyes.

  “This is how slowly I’d go back down, letting my breath fan over each damp spot my kisses created.” His lips followed the path of his words, using her arm to demonstrate. “Savoring the journey.” Then he was pushing his wicked tongue between her fingers again. “Until the scent of you drove me mindless. Until…”

  Her breath stalled as she waited for him to continue.

  “I just had to taste you.” Liam opened his mouth over the ball of her thumb and sank his teeth into the smooth flesh, flicking his tongue where her clit would be if he’d settled that naughty mouth between her legs.

  Stirling jerked the wheel at the sudden throb in her pussy.

  He murmured, “Steady,” as he scattered kisses across her forearm.

  “Steady? How am I supposed to keep it steady? You bit me! You were just supposed to be touching me!” Maybe he’d believe that the bite threw her and not get cocky about his ability to render her wet with just his mouth on her hand.

  “I was touching you with my teeth.”

  “Touching with teeth is called biting!” Brilliant comeback, Stirling.

  “You don’t say,” he murmured again. He licked the bend in her elbow delicately, as if he was tonguing her pussy. Then his teeth were sinking into her skin, the suction of his mouth adding more pressure. When she gasped, he backed off and held her arm closer to her face. “That”—he pointed to the ball of her thumb—“was a nibble. But this one”—he swept his thumb across his teeth marks—“is more of a true bite, wouldn’t you agree?”

  And…she was done.

  No more hate flirting.

  No more innuendo flirting.

  No more under-the-influence-of-cannabis flirting.

  No more text flirting.

  No more flirting with disaster in the cab of her truck.

  Done. Done. And done.

  Almost petulantly she extracted her arm from his hold.

  “Stirling?”

  She held her hand up in front of his face, letting him know she didn’t want to talk.

  Surprisingly, he didn’t push the issue.

  When Stirling took the next exit, she felt his quizzical look, but he said nothing.

  When she turned down an unmarked gravel road, he said nothing.

  When she parked in a pullout facing an empty field, he said nothing.

  But when she killed the ignition, undid her seatbelt, pulled the condom out and slapped it on his chest, he said, “Right now?”

  “Right fucking now.” She climbed over the console and straddled him. “Your imagination puts mine to shame.” After she unbuckled his seat belt, she plucked his glasses from his face and set them on the dash. “I’m wet—which is your fault. And you’re gonna do something about it.” Stirling feathered soft kisses across his lips as she stared into his eyes. Eyes that had heated to molten silver.

  “Unbutton your shirt.”

  Heart thundering, she leaned back and popped all the snaps open on her Western shirt with one hard tug.

  Liam slipped the shirt off and slid his hands around to unhook her bra. His chin was nearly buried in her cleavage as he stripped the bra away. As soon as he glimpsed her hard nipples, a groan of appreciation escaped and he sucked the tip of one between his lips.

  Arching into him, Stirling jammed her hands into his hair, holding him in place.

  He sucked and bit her nipples. Licked her breasts to please himself, taking what he wanted, what he’d been waiting for.

  That made her hotter than she’d ever imagined.

  His hands spanned her waist and glided up, his thumbs caressing the bottom swell of her breasts while his mouth alternated between hard and soft sucks, between one nipple and the other.

  Stirling felt too confined in her clothes. In her skin. She needed to burn off this lust-fueled energy. Impatient to touch him, she attacked the buttons on his shirt.

  He slumped back in the seat, his mouth wet from sucking on her, watching as she undressed him, not uttering a word. The silence between them ratcheted the intensity to another level.

  Each button slipping free released more of the musky scent of his skin. She ruffled the springy hair on his chest and felt his belly quiver when she dragged her fingertips along the waistband of his pants.

  Liam brought her mouth to his. While the deliciously brut
al kiss destroyed the few clear paths of thought she had left, he gripped her ass and lifted her, giving her access to his belt.

  Stirling’s belt-unbuckling dexterity faltered when Liam’s hands cruised up the backs of her bare thighs and beneath her skirt.

  He didn’t ask permission to touch her. His husky rumble vibrated into the kiss when his fingers stroked her wet panties. He wrenched the material aside and followed her slit from bottom to top.

 
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