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Hot buttered rum standal.., p.31
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       Hot Buttered Rum: Standalone Romance (Silk Stocking Inn Book 4), p.31

           Tess Oliver
 

  “Holy shit, woman.” Jackson’s green eyes darkened to emeralds as he boldly looked me up and down. “You trying to send me to an early grave?”

  I lifted my hands hesitantly to my sides. “Do you like it?”

  He stared far longer than would be considered chivalrous at my nearly naked breasts and then lifted his heavy, heated gaze to my face. “What the hell do you think? Came out to help you with your door, but sure didn’t expect this kind of a thank you. You just made my night, Spunky.”

  My body was trembling with nerves, but my mind was telling me to take the chance. It was my weekend away, away from everything that had happened. My new welcome to a decidedly more exciting social life.

  “I’d invite you in if I could get the door to open.”

  Without hesitation, he reached past me, shrouding me with his incredible body heat as he leaned forward stopping just inches from me. Behind me the door clicked easily open.

  His smooth brow arched, and he grinned down at me as if this had all been an act.

  “I promise you it wouldn’t open.”

  “I believe ya. I got the door open. Is the invite still good?”

  I hesitated, naturally. I hadn’t been with another man in six years. My confidence in that area was lacking completely. After so many years with the same man, sex had become rather pedestrian, unfortunately. We followed a plan, almost as if our entire sex life had been outlined and we had to stick to that outline or risk an unhappy ending. Maybe it was that routine in bed that had pushed Nate out the door? Even though I hadn’t been solely to blame for our dull, predictable sex life.

  Jackson took my hesitation as a no. “Well, I’ll leave you alone then. Just thought you might be up for some fun.” He glanced pointedly down at my erotic sleepwear. “Shame to waste that patch of satin on a night alone though.” He turned to walk back to his room. The smooth, well-toned expanse of his broad back made my pulse race.

  I took a deep breath. “Jackson?”

  He turned back to face me. A little shortness of breath accompanied my racing pulse.

  “The invitation still stands—if you’re interested.”

  “Interested?” A short laugh followed as he raked his fingers through his dark hair. “Looking at you standing there in that sexy nightgown, Becca, gives interested a whole new meaning.” He took hold of my arm and pulled me into his strong embrace. His mouth came down hard over mine.

  It was as if his kiss had lifted my feet from the floor and stopped time and motion. I hadn’t even felt myself move. I hadn’t heard the door shut behind us. By the time I’d gained my composure long enough to open my eyes and find out if I was dreaming or not, I was standing in Jackson’s arms inside the solitude of my lushly furnished bedroom.

  Jackson’s mouth stayed pressed against mine as he lowered his arms and slid his hands between the panels of the nightie. He stopped long enough to gaze down at the skin he’d exposed. “Every inch of you is fucking priceless, Becca,” he muttered quietly.

  His words made me smile. “I’ve been called many things,” I sighed as his hand smoothed over the skin of my stomach. “But never priceless.”

  Jackson lowered his head as his hands came up along my arms and slid the thin straps off my shoulders. The nearly transparent lace fell beneath my breasts.

  He pressed his mouth on the round swell. “Fucking priceless,” he muttered again.

  My arms wrapped around his head as I held him against my breast. His tongue flicked against my nipple, teasing it to a hard, tight bud. I ran my hands down over his rock hard shoulders and back. The muscles in his body tensed and stretched as he kissed and caressed my skin.

  My pussy was aching to be touched, kissed and caressed as well, but he took his time, almost as if he didn’t want to scare me off. A breath of disappointment ushered from my lips as he lifted his mouth away from me. His green eyes were enough to melt me into a puddle at his feet. But I held it together, even with the pulse between my legs nearly screaming out for him.

  “I meant what I said in the barn.” He reached up and dragged his callused thumb along my bottom lip. “These lips.” He dropped his gaze to my body. “These curves. Mine for the weekend.”

  A shiver of excitement coursed through me as he spoke, confident, demanding and impossible to say no to.

  “Do you trust me enough to give yourself to me for a weekend, Rebecca?”

  “Trust you? Heck no.”

  His face smoothed in disappointment.

  I reached up and curled my hands around his neck before he had a chance to pull away. “If I did, then this wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.”

  His mouth tilted slightly. “Is that a yes?”

  “You have forty-eight hours, cowboy, to make me believe that I’m truly priceless.”

  Jackson’s hands came up, and he took hold of my face. “Easy as buttermilk pie.” His mouth pressed against mine.

  Chapter 11

  Not wanting to be completely reckless in a world where reality could easily come back to bite you in the butt, Jackson and I had the obligatory conversation about protection. I was on the pill, and after discovering that my fiancé had been with someone else, I’d hastened myself to the doctor for a quick blood test. Jackson had recently donated blood. So we had those questions out of the way. He’d returned to his room to shower, something he’d been on his way to do before rescuing me from the hallway.

  I sat amongst the sea of pillows on the bed and flipped through a magazine that had been left on the nightstand, a periodical completely devoted to raising chickens. I was nearly a chick rearing expert by the time Jackson knocked on the door.

  The sound of it made me tremble with nerves. I’d never done anything remotely close to this, and I wished that in the interim, rather than increase my knowledge about chickens, I’d gone downstairs for a glass of wine. Maybe two.

  “Come in.” I sounded like a frightened child.

  Coco’s face poked inside, and I covered myself with the magazine. As if she’d read my mind, she walked in with a tray carrying a carafe half filled with red wine and a glass.

  “Coco, it’s as if I have my own personal fairy godmother this weekend. I was just thinking about a glass of wine. It will—it will help me sleep. Sometimes I have a hard time getting a good night’s rest in a strange place.” I’d lost the frightened child tone, and now I was talking overly loud and fast, like anyone with a guilty conscience might speak.

  She lowered the tray onto my nightstand. A few of the phantom age lines appeared and then smoothed away. “Then I’m glad to grant you this wish.” She winked as if there was far more to the quip than she was letting on. Magical or not, she always seemed to know what I was thinking.

  Coco looked pointedly at the magazine covering my nearly naked body. “I’ll let you get back to the chickens then.” She walked toward the door. “The section on chicken feed is very informative.” She closed the door behind her.

  I kept my fingers crossed that she would not run into Jackson coming across the hallway.

  ***

  Turned out there was no worry of Coco running into Jackson. I’d gotten through chicken feeding and even memorized the characteristics of certain breeds. There was still no sign of Jackson. The half bottle of wine was down to its last drops, and my excitement was too. Apparently, sleep had been far more alluring to Jackson than me in my skimpy baby doll. There was no way not to feel completely disappointed and embarrassed.

  I turned off the lamp, dropped the magazine on the nightstand and finished the drops of wine. Feeling sufficiently buzzed and humiliated, I burrowed down under the quilt and closed my eyes.

  I hadn’t drifted into sleep as much as I’d floated into a wine filled cloud. My head was spinning, and some of the harsh edges of being stood up were dulling. In the midst of the warm cocoon
of downy feathers and darkness, I felt fresh air brush over my forehead, the only part of me still above blankets.

  “You still in there, Spunky?” The deep voice zapped me from my wine haze. His big fingers pushed the top of the quilt down so my eyes were visible. His hair had been washed and brushed back, and he’d put on a blue shirt and jeans. He cleaned up spectacularly.

  “Thought you got swallowed up by this big ole bed.” Without another word or response from me, and in one swift movement, he had me peeled from my quilted cave and in his arms.

  He kissed me lightly on the mouth and then licked his bottom lip. “Hmm, wine. I like it. How much did you have?”

  I lifted my hand with about an inch of space between my thumb and forefinger.

  “With the way you’re struggling to keep those beautiful eyes open, I thought it had been more.”

  “Well, that’s how much I poured into the glass each time.”

  “Each time?”

  “Well, not each time. The last bit was so small, I decided to just chug it from the bottle. Not one of my classier moments, but I didn’t want to waste any.” I looked at him with as much direct focus as I could muster. “I thought you weren’t coming.”

  “No chance of that, baby.” He tossed me up a couple of inches to get a better grasp of me and headed to the door.

  “Where are you taking me in my state of undress?” Suddenly, the notion of my scanty attire shocked me closer to sobriety. I wriggled in his arms. “You’re not carrying me out of the room like this, are you?”

  “Uh, as I recall the last time I saw you, you were standing in this in the hallway with a cookie dangling from those amazing lips.”

  “That was accidental exposure and you know it.”

  He sighed and lowered my feet to the ground. “Guess it will be too cold anyhow. Just a minute.” He lifted a finger at me. “Don’t move.” He left the room, and I wondered if my bout of self-consciousness had spoiled the fun. He returned seconds later with a denim jacket. With a gentleman’s touch, he put the coat on me. I was swimming in it, and my hands disappeared at the ends of the sleeves. The bottom came mid-thigh. It was faded and soft and lined with flannel, flannel that had the distinct fragrance of the man himself. It was a leathery, grassy cowboy smell that made me feel homesick and, at the same time, giddy with the thought of being with Jackson.

  “We’re going outside?” I asked as I pulled the coat tighter around me. “Should I get my shoes?”

  “You won’t need them.” He swept me back into his arms.

  “I could get used to being transported around like this.” I curled against him and he carried me out of the room and down the stairs as if I weighed no more than a pillow.

  We crossed the foyer to the front door. He managed to keep a secure hold on me as he moved his hand to turn the knob. The front door swung open. He stepped out onto the porch and pushed the door shut with his foot. I lifted my head, heavy with the wine and the man, and squinted out to the front driveway.

  “A horse and carriage?” An old-fashioned horse drawn carriage, the open seat kind with a driver’s bench up front and cushioned back seat for passengers, was parked behind the draft horse I’d seen in the barn.

  “That’s what took me so long to come back for you. Riley, that Belgian cross you see in front of it, wasn’t completely cooperative when I went to harness him. It has been a while since he pulled a carriage.”

  “I forgive you for the delay then.” I smiled up at him. “Even if I’m not exactly dressed for a carriage ride, thank you for this.”

  Stars flooded the navy blue sky above, and the summer night air was just warm enough to keep my bare feet from getting cold. Jackson carried me down the steps to the waiting carriage. For a moment I allowed myself to imagine that I was back in time being carried off by my dream prince.

  Jackson lifted me up onto the driver’s bench and then circled around the horse and climbed up next to me. He glanced in my direction as he picked up the reins. “You might want to hang on to my arm. You’re looking a little unsteady from all that wine, Spunky.”

  My hands were still lost in the sleeves of his coat, but I managed to wrap one around his arm. He clucked his tongue and flicked the reins, and the stout horse snorted in protest before picking up his heavy feet and plodding forward.

  We rolled across the front yard to the back of the inn and to the long trail where we’d ridden the horses earlier. Once moving, I couldn’t hold back a giggle of excitement. The summer breeze carried every scent of nature and animal with it. It even seemed that some of the delicious aromas from Coco’s kitchen and bakery clung to the night air too.

  “I haven’t been on a carriage ride since my grandfather’s neighbor, Gracie, took us out on her annual Christmas sleigh ride.” I squeezed his arm tighter to keep from bouncing off the bench and to remind myself what great arms the man had. And that reminder revived some of the earlier sensations I’d been feeling. The heavy coat had almost made me forget that I was basically naked under the denim and flannel.

  I still had enough of a wine buzz to reach down and brazenly slide the hem of the coat up to expose most of my thighs. The coat stopped just short of displaying my lacy thong panties to the world and to the gaze of my hunky carriage driver.

  Jackson’s green eyes shifted down and a grin crossed his face. “Don’t tease. Push it all the way back, so I can see that lacy, little triangle and the sweet treat beneath it.”

  I glanced around at the surrounding landscape. Jackson laughed loud enough to spur Riley into a trot.

  “Are you expecting to see a dozen pairs of glowing eyes watching as you push that coat up? I assure you, we are completely alone out here, just man, woman and grumpy draft horse.” He leaned his head toward mine. “Mine for the weekend, remember?”

  I blushed at his words, thinking how badly I wanted to give myself over to him. If I could just get rid of those pesky inhibitions. If I didn’t give in to this crazy desire now, I might lose Jackson and my only chance at a fantasy weekend for good.

  Here I was in a carriage, under a starlit sky, with an incredible man, and I was over-thinking everything about it. Maybe that had been my problem all along.

  I pulled my arm from his and balanced myself as well as I could with the side to side motion of the carriage. I took hold of the sides of the coat and slowly parted them, exposing myself completely to the fresh night air and Jackson’s heated gaze.

  “That works,” he said with a slight hitch in his throat. “We’re almost at our destination, and it can’t come soon enough.”

  It was a little cool, being mostly naked on the top of a driver’s bench, rolling through the lush landscape. But heat surged through my belly and down to my pussy as I considered what my driver might have in mind. My mind drifted into a fictional world, as it often did with my career in television. I was in the middle of a sexy, gritty western riding through the Wild West with a very handsome coachman.

  Jackson must have caught my faraway look. “What’s the phrase? Penny for your thoughts? Although if they don’t include me, I’m not sure I want to know.”

  “Oh, they include you, my mysterious Wild West coachman who just picked me up in the middle of a deserted country road.”

  “In your unmentionables, no less,” he added to my narrative.

  “Yes, that’s because I ran out of the house so fast to get away from my terrible husband, a man with a sour temper and a belly as big as a watermelon.”

  “And I, the Wild West coachman, am still a little drunk and horny from a night in the saloon where I lost my week’s pay at the poker table. And now I’m without enough coin to even bed a whore for the night.”

  I looked up at him with a brow lift. “Jeez, men and their idea of romance.” I sighed. “You’re a hard-edged drifter who just never found the right woman to give his
heart to. Until, well, you get the idea . . .”

  “Strangely enough, your scenario is pretty damn close to the truth.” There was a touch of loneliness in his tone that pressed on my chest like a firm hand. “Not that parts of my unromantic version weren’t wedged in reality too. I’ve left more than one poker game drunk, horny and broke.”

  “Either way, I’m impressed with your story telling skills,” I said. “Nice imagination.”

  “Oh, I’ve got all kinds of imagination up in this head of mine. Especially when it comes to the distraught little lady sitting on the bench next to me in her pretty little unmentionables.”

  “See, and that brings me to the rest of the story. I’m in a complete state of despair. Nate, my wretched husband, has been an asshole once too often, and I find myself alone and unclothed and much in need of the right man’s considerate and loving attention. And that’s where you come in with your green eyes and Hollywood smile and, conveniently enough, carriage with a rather plush backseat.”

  He handled the reins so well, I didn’t notice that he’d directed Riley to turn off the trail.

  “Where are we going?”

  He flicked the reins to spur Riley on. “We’re going to act out an extremely satisfying end to that story.”

  Chapter 12

  Jackson steered the horse and carriage toward a patch of land that was situated between a green hillside and a meandering river. He stopped on a parcel of grass that was walled off by trees and the hill, with the night sky as our ceiling.

  It didn’t take much to bring Riley to a halt. Jackson tied off the reins and climbed down from the bench. He walked over to my side of the carriage. I turned toward him as he reached up and took hold of my waist. He kept me in his arms as he walked to the backseat of the carriage.

  Gently, he lowered me onto the seat. The smooth leather felt cold against the bare skin of my legs as I scooted over to make room for my western romance lead. He climbed up onto the seat. The carriage shifted slightly as he sat his long frame down. Riley took a steadying step, but, thankfully, didn’t move farther than that.

 
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