He rocked into her, letting that humming greed for release amplify until they were both panting.



When she rolled her hips side to side, he knew she teetered on the brink. For all his blustering about using her hard, he wouldn’t ever deny her an orgasm.

He whispered fiercely, “Give it to me.”

“Touch me. God, please…”

Brandt separated her pussy lips with his fingers and flicked his middle finger over the responsive flesh until he felt her clit expand. “Squeeze me harder. Yeah, like that—”

Before he finished speaking she unraveled. Her ass cheeks clenching against his groin, her cunt a vise-like grip around his cock, her clit pulsating beneath his finger, her nails digging into the back of his neck, her passion-dampened skin rubbing against his wherever they touched. She moaned his name, over and over. His name. No one else’s.

When the word mine flashed behind his lids, he lost it. Fucking her with fast jabs, slamming home with every stroke. Holding his breath until he was woozy. Heart thundering, blood blazing, skin slicked with sweat, every muscle coiled tighter and tighter until that perfect moment when everything unwound.

He shouted as his cock emptied in almost violent pulses, no coherent thoughts registered beyond the words again, again, again. Nothing in the world existed but the connection of their bodies locked together.

Then he felt Jessie lightly scraping her teeth along the rigid line of his jaw.

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His grip on her increased—mentally and physically—he never wanted to let her go. “I…Wow. I’m a little out of it.”

She murmured, “No worries.”

“Mmm.” He nuzzled her hair, breathing her in. Filling his lungs, his heart, his soul with everything this woman freely gave him, no matter how much he asked of her. “Thank you.”


“Jessie, I—”

She pressed her lips to his. “You don’t have to explain.”

“Even if I want to explain why, after I just fucked you like a madman, I have this overwhelming urge to spin you around and fuck you face to face against the wall?” He nipped the section of skin below her earlobe just to feel her entire body shiver while he was still inside her. Just to hear that sexy little moan she made. “And then I want to take you to my bed and keep you there all goddamn night?”

“You afraid I’ll say no?”

“No. I’m afraid you’ll say yes.”

Her purring laugh vibrated against his throat.

Then Brandt heard Landon rattling the bars on his crib.

They both froze.

He sighed. “Duty calls. At least he had good timing and didn’t interrupt us again like he did last night.”

The way Jessie’s whole body stiffened, he realized Landon hadn’t crossed her mind at all. But rather than laugh it off, chalking their oversight up to head-exploding orgasmic intensity, he knew she felt guilty.

She wiggled and demanded, “Let me down. I’ll get him.”

Later, when they were snuggled together on the couch, watching TV, Jessie reached for his hand and he winced.

“What’s wrong?”

“Ah, nothin’. Just a little sore.”

“From what?”

From beating the shit out of my barn today. “From workin’. No big deal.”

“Let me see.”


“If it’s no big deal then let me see it.”

Brandt held out his right hand and turned the palm side up. The glove had rubbed his skin raw. Where the glove had holes, he had slivers. Even his fingertips were scraped up.

“Oh, your poor hand. Are those wood slivers?”


“Stay put. I’ll be right back.” She returned with tweezers, a needle, a washcloth, and a tube of anti-bacterial ointment.

“Here I was hopin’ that was a bottle of lube.”

“Maybe later. Right now, I’m gonna get those slivers out.”

“You don’t have to bother because I hardly even noticed them.”

But Jessie wasn’t deterred. “I noticed them and I happen to excel at sliver removal, so you’re in luck.”

She bent her head close to his palm and started poking his skin with the needle.

As much as he didn’t want to ask if she’d done this for Luke, his mouth had other ideas. “How’s it that you’re so good with tweezers?”

“When me’n Josie were kids, there was this really cool abandoned tree fort in the woods behind our house. We weren’t supposed to go there, but we couldn’t resist. Problem was, it had an old rope to climb to reach the wooden platform and we both ended up with a lot of splinters. Since the tree fort had been expressly forbidden, we couldn’t tell Mom about the slivers, so me’n my little sister both got really good at picking them out.”

“Where was your mom when you were sneakin’ off to the woods?”


“And your dad?”

She snorted. “Billy? Off rodeoin’, where he always was.”

Jessie rarely talked about her family. In fact, that was the first time he’d heard she had a sister.

She worked in silence and with such a deft touch he didn’t feel a damn thing. And his hand was much more tender than he’d wanted to admit.

She said, “Almost done.”

“Thanks, but you didn’t have to do this for me.”

“Oh, I didn’t do it for you. I did it for me, for purely selfish reasons. See, I love the feel of your rough, manly hands on me, but not so much if they’re swollen and pus-infected.”

“Nice visual,” he said wryly.

“But it’s a reason you’ll accept a lot easier than me admitting I can’t stand to see you hurting. Not when I can do something to help you or something to stop it.”

That’s when Brandt knew he loved her. Not lusted after her. Not felt obligated to her. He loved her.

Loved who she was, this woman who tended to him in so many ways. Who touched him in ways he was only beginning to understand.

Jessie finally looked at him. She brought his hand to her mouth and placed a tender kiss in the center of his palm. “All better.”

“Now that you’re done, will you let me put my hands all over you?”

“Nope. I’m thinking these need to heal up so it’d be best if I put my hands all over you.” She smiled with wicked intent. “We still get to the same destination, but I hold the reins.”

Brandt groaned. “You’re gonna torture me, aren’t you?”

“Yep. But I promise you’ll love it.” She gave him a thoughtful look. “Now. What did I do with those ropes?”

Chapter Thirteen

“No. That’s okay. I understand.” Jessie forced a laugh. “Yeah, cell service is shitty in Wyoming.” She walked into the kitchen and set her empty coffee cup in the sink. “I’ll check the road conditions. Uh-huh.

I’ll let you know. Bye, Billy.”

Jessie punched the off button on her cell phone and stared at the snowy landscape out Brandt’s front window. They’d finished chores as quickly as possible this morning because of the bone chilling cold.

She’d looked forward to spending the whole day snuggled up with Brandt since Tell and Dalton had taken on babysitting duties.

But now…

Strong arms circled her waist. The clean scent of a freshly showered and shaved Brandt surrounded her. His warm, soft lips traveled up the side of her neck.

“Who was on the phone?” he asked.


“Billy…as in…your dad?”


Brandt quit kissing her neck and spun her to face him. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. He was just calling to let me know he’s competing at an event in Gillette. Today.”

“Today? He couldn’t’ve told you before now?”

She shook her head. “That’s how he operates, Brandt. In his own little rodeo world. Nothing else matters but chasing eight and winning that elusive gold buckle.”

“So, did he call you to tell you he’s just passin’ through?”

“What’s funny is he probably drove within ten miles of my place and he couldn’t be bothered…”

Jessie extricated herself from Brandt’s arms, hating the girlish, whining tone to her voice. So Billy didn’t care enough to pop in and say howdy. Hell. She should be happy he remembered she lived in Wyoming.

Happy. Right. The man flat out didn’t give a damn about her.

Like his apathy is news, Jessie.

True. But it didn’t stop the hollow feeling from expanding, a feeling she only got when she heard from her vagabond father.

But Brandt wouldn’t let her shut herself off, especially not after she’d pushed him to deal with his mood the other day. “Jess. Baby, talk to me. What did he want?”

“He asked me to come to Gillette to watch him ride and he wants us to catch up. Jesus. I haven’t seen him for three years. The last time was at the Niobrara Rodeo with Luke. And to say Billy and Luke didn’t hit it off is putting it mildly. Luke told him a grown man should face up to his responsibilities, not run off and join the damn rodeo.”

Brandt whistled. “Not that I disagree with anything Luke said, but I imagine that didn’t go over well.”

“Actually, Billy laughed it off. Said he’d take his judgment before God, not men.” She brooded, remembering just how mortifying that conversation had been. It’d gotten worse after Luke had spouted off that being brave on the back of a bronc didn’t mean shit when Billy was too much of a coward to stay with his wife and kids.

“What else did they say? Because I can tell you’re holding something back.”

“Billy reminded Luke that paying lip service to a sacred vow was a sin. Talk about humiliating. Billy knew Luke was cheating on me. Which made me wonder if cheaters recognize cheaters, or if Billy knew I wasn’t enough to hold Luke’s interest for the long haul.”

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