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       Roped In, p.6

         Part #6.5 of Blacktop Cowboys series by Lorelei James
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  What the hell was he waiting for?

  Maybe he’s been watching you for some sort of sign.

  She’d had a huge fucking neon sign over her head from the moment they’d met that flashed “Available Now!” What more did he need?

  Maybe he’s not attracted to you.

  Wrong. She’d felt his attraction when he’d kissed her. It’d been hard to miss or ignore as it’d dug into her belly.

  Maybe he wants to stick to your business deal.

  So he was saving his performance for the weekend when he’d have to be all over her?

  Performance. Why did that word turn her stomach? Because she wanted it to be more? To be real?

  It’d felt real on Saturday as those amazing eyes of his had eaten her up the way she knew his mouth wanted to. It’d felt real on Sunday, seeing his shy, flirting side behind the serious persona. But Monday morning he’d acted buddy-buddy—she’d half expected him to give her a noogie—and it’d been that way between them ever since, no matter how much she tried to turn the sweet saint into a red-hot sinner.

  After London parked at Sutton’s place, she opted to keep her sour mood to herself and headed straight for the corral rather than stopping inside the house first.

  The day had turned out to be a scorcher. She stripped out of her long-sleeved shirt to just her camisole. Grabbing her tack out of the barn, she draped it over the metal railing. She looped the rope around her neck and whistled twice, surprised when Dial came trotting over. They played catch and mouse for a bit, not in an ornery way, but playful and she was happy to see the reappearance of that side of the horse.

  This first week she’d planned on earning Dial’s trust. He’d balked but each day he made a baby step. Pushing too hard too fast caused backsliding into familiar behavior.

  Maybe that’s what’s going on with Sutton. You’re pushing a man to get what you want. What if that’s not what he wants?

  She’d get to the bottom of it tonight.

  Since Dial had shown improvement, London decided to treat him with some oats. She’d sprinkled too many in the bucket and reached in to scoop some back out when Dial tried to crowd her to get his face in the bucket.

  “Hey, rude boy, back off.” She turned to move the bucket aside and she felt a sharp, hard nip on her upper arm. “Motherfucking son of a whore!” She swung the bucket up and dropped it on the other side of the fence. Something hot and wet flowed down her arm. She expected to see horse slobber but it was blood.

  So much for the old wives’ tale about horses bolting at the scent of blood. Dial just stared at her, unmoving, his tail flicking back and forth, trying to intimidate her.

  Fuck that.

  London rose up, making herself as big as possible, staring him right in the eyes. “Back off,” she said sharply. “Now.”

  Dial backed up.

  She walked over to where she’d left her shirt. Her arm stung. Small, hard horse bites hurt worse than anything, tender flesh caught between that powerful jaw. It’d been a while since a bite had broken the skin.


  Shit, shit, shit. She’d hoped she could get inside and cleaned up before seeing Sutton. No such luck.

  “What’s wrong?” He tried to grab her injured arm to spin her around and she hissed at him, cradling her elbow with her hand. “What the hell happened?”

  “Dial bit me.”

  “Lemme see.”

  “Not a big deal. It’ll be fine once it’s cleaned out.”

  “Let me fucking see it, London. Now.”

  She glanced up at him.

  Fury blazed in his eyes when he saw the blood. “Let’s go inside and I’ll take a closer look.” He gently lifted her arm until it was parallel with her shoulder. Then he grabbed her shirt from her free hand and held it beneath the bite to catch the blood. “Hold it like this. Did he get you anywhere else?”

  “He’s not like a wolf or a dog with sewing machine teeth that just keep attacking. One chomp and that’s it.”

  Muttering something, he looked over at the corral then back at her. “Come on.”

  Sutton kept his hand on top of hers beneath the wound as he led her into the house through the patio door. She expected he’d stop in the kitchen but he directed her down the hallway opposite of her wing, into his bedroom. She got an image of heavy wood furniture before she found herself in a large bathroom.

  He seated her on the toilet—the lid had already been down, an extra point for that—and propped her forearm on a towel on the countertop. “How bad does it hurt?”

  “You don’t need to make a big deal about this. And don’t worry. I won’t cry.”

  Then Sutton was right in her face. “You don’t have to be the tough chick with me. Now tell me how bad it hurts.”

  “It stings. Worse than my foot getting tromped on but not as bad as getting bucked off and landing on my ass.”

  “That’s a starting point.” He pushed a loose hank of hair behind her ear. “Sit tight while I dig out my first aid kit.”

  While Sutton rummaged in a tall cabinet, she checked out the space. No bland white fixtures, tiles, or vanity in here. Gray cabinets with black accents. The countertop was black, the sinks were gray. The walls of the glass-fronted walk-in shower were frosted, but behind that she could see the walls were speckled with the same color scheme. The space was wholly masculine yet classy.

  “You ready for me to clean this out and gauge the damage?” he asked softly.

  “Shouldn’t I ask for your medical qualifications first?”

  “Helicopter medic in ’Nam. Did two tours in the medical corps during the Gulf War, then a stint in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

  London smiled. “And some people say you don’t have a sense of humor. Wait, is it considered bathroom humor if you actually crack jokes in the bathroom?”

  “Now who’s the funny one? So it’s okay if I poke around?”

  “Take off your belt so I have something to bite down on.”

  She watched as he uncapped a bottle of antiseptic. Every muscle in her body tightened.

  “You weren’t kiddin’ about needing the strap, were you, darlin’?”

  Whoa. She could take that the wrong way—but so could he. She said nothing and shook her head.

  “Maybe you’d better look away and focus on something else.”

  London locked onto the visage that’d distract her—Sutton’s handsome face. She knew he’d shaved this morning but dark stubble already coated his cheeks, jaw, and throat. She’d fallen into a fantasy where he left beard burns on her throat as he ravished her when he said, “Doin’ okay?”

  “I guess.” She hissed at the stinging spray.

  “This stuff will kick in soon and it has a numbing agent.”

  “How bad does it look? Is the skin flapping so I’ll need stitches?”

  “No. The bleeding’s mostly stopped now.” He pressed a gauze pad over the mark.

  “Fuck that stings.”

  “Almost done.”

  The way he said it... “No, you’re not. And if that’s the case? I’d rather sit on the counter than the toilet. Then you won’t have to bend down and get a crick in your neck.” She stood before he could argue. But he curled his hands around her hips and hoisted her up. She automatically widened her knees so he could step between them.

  When he reached for her arm, the backs of his knuckles brushed the outside of her breast and her nipple immediately puckered. Because Sutton had his head angled down, she couldn’t tell if he’d noticed or not.

  But she noticed everything about him. The scent of clean cotton mixed with the darker scent of oil emanating from beneath his starched collar. His full lips were parted as he concentrated on his task, but his breathing stayed steady. She wanted to run her fingers through his dark hair, trap his beautiful face in her hands and suck on those lips until his mouth opened for her kiss. Whisper secrets in his ear while his hair teased her cheek.

  Mostly she wanted to ask the question that’d b
een burning on her tongue for days.

  Do it.

  “Are you ever going to make a move on me?”

  That caught his attention. “What?”

  “That wasn’t a question to be answered by another question. Just tell me the truth.”

  Sutton lifted his head. “Where’s this coming from, friend?”

  Hey, was that sarcastic? She squinted at him. “It’s coming from the fact we’re supposed to be acting like boyfriend and girlfriend and you haven’t kissed me or touched me beyond a friendly pat since we were in the camper, and I’m pretty sure kissing and petting is something we need to practice. A lot. So to recap, you haven’t touched me since Saturday. It is now Wednesday.”

  “I know what day it is, London,” he said testily.

  “Oh yeah? Do you know what I call it? Hump day.”

  Silence as Sutton taped a chunk of gauze over the bite.

  “I thought you’d at least crack a smile at that.”

  “It’s really fucking hard to smile when you’re bleeding in my bathroom because my douche-nozzle horse took a bite of you. Sometimes I think that nasty motherfucker deserves to spend his life isolated, and I don’t know why I give a shit that he’s properly trained since I’d like to ship him off to the damn glue factory.”

  “He didn’t do it on purpose,” she said softly.

  His angry eyes finally met hers. “The fuck he didn’t.”

  Seeing that fierceness? For her? Immediate lady boner.

  “Can I tell you a secret, Sutton?”


  And then she couldn’t do it. Couldn’t tell him that Dial had shown remarkable progress in just four days. Because if she told him that...then what was his incentive to keep her here?


  She couldn’t take that chance.

  Even if she just had one quick run-in with Stitch this weekend, he’d see firsthand that she wasn’t crying in her camper over him. That she’d hooked up with a hot man who sometimes stared at her—when he thought she wasn’t looking—like he’d already stripped her naked and was fucking her over the back of his couch.

  If it made her a douche-nozzle to fantasize about the shock on her ex’s face when he realized his loss was a better man’s gain, then so be it; she’d take it.


  “I like the way you say my name. Classy and dignified, with a hint of sexiness. Makes me wonder how it’d feel to have your mouth on me when you moan it.”

  “Jesus, London, knock it off.”

  She frowned. “Okay, that wasn’t sexy at all.”

  “I’m not trying to be sexy with you right now,” he snarled—in a decidedly sexy way, not that she’d point that out.

  “You should be!” She poked him in the chest. “We’re in lurve, remember? We are in the throes of a new relationship and that means we oughta be talking about fucking all the time.”

  “Do you always say the first damn thing that pops into your head?” he demanded.

  “Pretty much. No reason to beat around the bush when you could be touching my bush, if you get my drift. See, alls I’d have to do is scoot my butt to the edge of this counter and you could slide inside me. After we’re done eating supper, you could spread me out on the dining room table and have me for dessert.” She allowed a small smile. “Or I could have you.”

  “Is there a point to your teasing?”

  “That’s the thing,” she mock-whispered. “I’m not teasing.”

  While he stood staring at her—through her really—she saw his eyes darken as he imagined the exact scenarios she’d just detailed. Then his eyes turned conflicted and a little frosty. “Bullshit.”


  “You’re bein’ a cock tease. You said you wanted to be friends, remember? Wasn’t what I wanted, wasn’t what I thought you wanted, but I’ve stuck to those parameters. So we’re friends. But every damn time you touch me or get close to me and say such blatantly sexual things, the last goddamn thing I’m thinking about is bein’ your friend. I’m a man, not a fucking saint, as I’ve heard you mutter loud enough for me to hear. You bein’ all cute, flirty, funny, and sweet ain’t helping me keep the parameters you set Sunday night.”

  Her jaw dropped. “That’s what you got from our conversation Sunday night? That I just wanted to be friends with you?”

  “How else was I supposed to take it?”

  “Like it was the talk you demanded we have before we got involved on any level! That we’d discuss it. I said friends because I didn’t think you’d appreciate me saying I’d rather ride you all damn night than your horse. And you jumped to the conclusion that all I wanted to be with you was friends? Bullshit. You ran away and pouted, bulldogger, when you jumped up and went to bed.”

  “What should I have done instead?”

  “This.” London curled her hand around the back of his neck and pulled his mouth to hers. No sweet kiss, no teasing. She fucked his mouth with her tongue like she wanted him to fuck her body. A hot, wet, drawn-out raw mating.

  Sutton clamped his hand on her ass and jerked her to the edge of the counter, pressing his groin to hers. Kissing her without pause, holding her in place so he could ravage her mouth and her throat.

  After his lips blazed a trail to her nipple, and he sucked on it through the fabric of her cami, she pulled back. “Tell me, bulldogger. Does that feel like I just wanna be friends with you?”

  “No. Now give it back. I’m not done with it.”

  She started to laugh, but it turned into a moan when he pinched the wet tip with his fingers as his mouth reclaimed hers.

  Holy hell could the man kiss. And touch. And rub and grind and get her so hot and bothered with her clothes on that she might’ve had a teeny orgasm right there.

  Four loud raps sounded on his outer bedroom door, followed by, “Sutton? Come on. Dad’s waiting in the truck.”

  Sutton froze. Then he broke the kiss and gazed into her face. Any chance she’d had of making light of the situation evaporated when she saw the sexual heat smoldering in those turquoise eyes.

  When he brought his thumb up and traced the lower swell of her lip, the intensity pouring from this man might’ve set off another mini O.

  “Sutton? Who’s at the door?”

  “Cres. We’re taking Dad out to the Moose Club for poker night.”

  “Shouldn’t you get going?”

  “Yeah. In a minute.” He pressed a kiss to her lips, then her chin, then her cheeks. “I’ll be back late.”

  That’s when she knew they were done for tonight—all night. She hopped down from the counter. “Thanks for the first aid. I’ll go lie down now, but have fun with your family and I’ll see you in the morning.”

  London pushed him out of his bathroom and locked the door.

  Let him meet his brother with a hard-on. It’d serve him right for being an idiot.

  Friends. What the hell had he been thinking?

  * * * *

  Sutton’s cell phone rang on his nightstand early the next morning, yanking him from a hot dream where he’d taken London up on her offer of an after-dinner treat—except in his version they were on the rug in front of his fireplace, him having his dessert while she also had hers. Sixty-nine usually didn’t appeal to him, but in his dream, he didn’t have to concentrate on both giving and receiving pleasure—just being naked with her was the pleasure. Warm skin beneath his hands, her skilled mouth, the long trail of her hair teasing up the inside of his thighs...

  His phone kept buzzing.

  He answered, “Yeah?”

  “Grant? It’s Ramsey.”

  Ramsey? Why the hell was his shooting buddy calling him so early? “Do you know what the fuck time it is?

  “Seven. I thought you ranching/cowboy types were up when the cock crows.”

  “I’m not a rancher, as you well know, so fuck off.”

  Ramsey laughed.

  “What’s up? Is your shooting range under fire?”

  “Ha. Ha. You’re
fucking hilarious first thing in the morning.”

  “Why else would you be calling me? Wait. Are you offering your favorite customers free day passes?”

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